Wild camping - something every hiker should try at least once

wild camping, lake district, lakes, walks, best views, vango, tent, banshee 200
There's nothing quite like a wild camp - it's an experience I'd recommend to anyone who loves walking and the outdoors. When everyone else have left the mountains you have the place to yourself - and the chance to see spectacular sunsets and sunrises and the most amazing dark and stary night skies you'll ever see if you are lucky. This particular spot is overlooking my favourite tarn in the English Lake District - Blea Tarn with Langdale Pikes in the distance. It's idyllic - and if you'd like to experience a wild camp yourself - check out my tips and camping essentials below.




Wild camping - an experience everyone should try, and hopefully you will after seeing these photos :-)

Whilst I love my home comforts, it's a good tonic for the soul getting out into the great outdoors - and even better if there is a wild camp involved. There's nothing quite like the peace and quiet perched high up a mountain side, with no one else about, no mobile phone signal and the only sounds being the sound of the breeze and running water from distant waterfalls. As long as you've got the right kit (and the weather forecast is kind) then it's the perfect place to chill.

Below are a few photos of a recent wild camp to the Lake District one summers evening - to try and inspire you to try out a spot of wild camping and experience that unique solitude.

blea tarn, lake district, best views
Overlooking Blea Tarn - my favourite place in the Lakes.

wild camping, lake district, lakes, walks, best views, vango, tent, banshee 200
A perfect flat spot to set up my Vango Banshee 200 tent for the evening. The breeze is light on this particular warm summers evening  - so this exposed spot is not a problem.

The sun is going down - and I thought we might have been treated to a roaring sunset - but it wasn't to be on this night. You can just about see my tent in the bottom left corner.

wild camping, lake district, lakes, walks, best views, vango, tent, banshee 200
As the sun goes down - the moon comes up!

The light is fading now and it's nearly time for a kip!


wild camping, lake district, lakes, walks, best views, vango, tent, banshee 200
The time now must be about 11pm - as it's mid summer - the skies are not dark for long

Morning time! When wild camping is natural to set your body clock to natures pattern - so go to sleep when it get's dark and wake up when it gets light! This is about 6am and it's a bit murky with the mist hanging around.

wild camping, lake district, lakes, walks, best views, vango, tent, banshee 200
I'm not a morning person by any means - so a bacon sarnie and a cup of tea helps to shape me up :-)

Wild camping tips


Location - it's vital to get the spot for your wild camp right - and I would recommend your first wild camp being somewhere you are familiar with. Whenever I'm out on day walks on the fells - I'll make a mental note of somewhere that I think would be a good spot for a wild camp. I personally prefer somewhere with great views and a stream near by for water and a wash :) If it's overlooking a tarn or lake even better. You should note though that you can't just pitch up anywhere - legally you should have the permission of the land owner. However, in the English Lake District, which is my wild camping area of choice - wild camping is tolerated as long as you pitch up above the highest fell wall,  stay for only one night and leave no trace that you where ever there.

Camping spot - like most tips on pitching a tent - whether on a campsite or out on the fells - pick a bit of flat ground so you don't end up rolling about in your tent. Also take into consideration the weather conditions and forecast - if its windy or likely to get windier in the night - then you don't want to be in too an exposed a position. Also if it's forecast to rain - then is your spot going to turn into a bog? A bit of raised ground that is flat is ideal.

The right gear - I'll expand in detail below on what gear I like to take on wild camps - but 2 of the most essential bits of kit to get right are your tent and sleeping bag - if yo forget everything else - these 2 items should get you through a night :-) Your tent should be up to the weather conditions and big enough for you and anyone else - but also light and easy to carry. Currently I'm using the Vango Banshee 200 tent (A good value tent for my needs) . In terms of sleeping bags - again it needs to be warm enough for the weather conditions and easy to pack away and carry. I have a review here of the tent & sleeping bag I'm currently using.


Essential wild camping gear list

So here is a list of the essentials I take on a wild camp - and where possible the links take you to actual products you can buy and read further reviews. I'm someone who prefers the best value options for maximum technical quality so everything I take is good value.


Equipment















• Phone - your unlikely to get signal - but on many occasions I've actually got a signal on various peaks because they are high up - and you never know - you might need to try and get a signal in an emergency


• Kettle / Cup / Pan / Frying pan - all travel versions which are light weight and make all the difference in making eating and drinking that little bit easier

• Knife/fork/spoon - don't forget something to eat with!

Food & drink

• Its vital to take enough drinking water with you on your trip - I always take a few bottles of mineral water but if you know you are going to be camping where there is fresh water - then there are quite a few good instant water filtration bottles out there - such as this water filtration bottle from Water to Go

• Snacks - it's not good to be hungry out on your trip - so take plenty of snacks that won't perish easily such as cereal bars, nuts, dried fruit and bananas
• For evening meals I like to keep things simple - so foods that just need water really - weather thats noodles that you can add water too or boil in the bag stuff like pasta/rice or even meals you can get from outdoor stores
• For drinks other than water - I'll take some tea bags, and a little bit of milk/sugar, and for a treat maybe a couple of bottles of lager, or little bottle of wine or a can of G&T 
• For breakfast I'll take a porridge pot which just requires water and for a treat some bacon and bread buns :-) If I take bacon I'll pack it in a cool box with an ice pack- which is usually good to last the night.

Toileteries

• Insect repellant - it's an absolute essential this - often you'll get midges hanging around your tent - even more so if you are pitched up next to some water - so you'll want a repellant either with Feet in it (but may be a bit overkill for UK needs) - another option which comes with great reviews in the walking community is Avon Skin so soft which you can pick up online for about £5

• Ear plugs - always a camping necessity for me - I'm a light sleeper!
• Toilet roll - you never know when you need to go!
• Baby wipes - good for a little clean in the morning
• Sun cream - if it's sunny then you'll need this!
• Another little home comfort for me is my Tooth brush & paste


Clothes

• You'll no doubt be travelling/walking in the right gear (walking boots, top/trousers/jacket etc) so here are a few little extras:
- Take spare socks - it's nice to put fresh ones on in the morning
- I also take flip flops - it's nice to give the feet an airing, especially after having boots on all day!
- Pack an insulated jacket and extra layers - it does tend to get chilly at night - even in summer - so best to have layers too put on - it's not fun being cold
- Depending on the weather - take thermals too to sleep in - long-johns and a top  again better to be too warm than too cold



So that's my list of essentials for a wild camp and I hope it help's you in planning yours :-)

Blog Post by Stuart Hodgson, 'The Hiking Photographer'


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