No 378 – Wild Camp 1


This is the first podcast in a 12 part series challenge I have set myself, to do a simple lightweight, bivvy, tarp or hammock type camp, once a month, in all weathers, around the country. Recorded in October 2014.

The purpose is two fold. (1) to encourage others to try sleeping in the wild side, but to do it simply, safely, quietly and with low impact, and (2) to educate and explain that Wild Camping is a luxury that we should treasure in this country and therefore whenever and wherever you do it, to always keep in mind to leave no trace, if at all possible.

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Simply put Wild Camping is illegal in the UK except for two areas.

In Scotland where under Land Reform Act of 2003 it is permissible with certain restrictions throughout Scotland. This includes beyond the curtilage of houses and gardens, out of site of roads, away from crops and so on.

The other place is Dartmoor where the same kind of restrictions apply. Camping for one or two nights on the open land on Dartmoor is perfectly acceptable provided that you choose your spot sensibly and don’t pitch your tent on farmland, on moorland enclosed by walls, on flood plains or on archaeological sites. Lightweight camping equipment should be used and large family frame tents should not be used.

There’s plenty of information on the internet relating to both, in particular a map for Dartmoor showing the appropriate areas, however they all share the same requests that you are responsible for your own actions. To respect the interests of others and most importantly to care for the environment.
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On the Malvern Hills there’s actually a bylaw stating no camping, so I was on very legal thin ice doing this trip. Was I camping or just waiting for sunrise? However the most important rule number one is to respect your surroundings, and leave no trace. Please review the pictures here for images of where I stayed and you’ll see the low impact I made. This should be the priority for all wild campers and it breaks my heart when people abuse their surrounds. You see so much damage across the net, on Facebook and on Social Media all falling under the guise of Wild Camping.

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So much so that there is now a series of bans coming in to Scotland especially around Loch Lomond following the abuse which has taken place. Just Google it and you’ll see what the irresponsible few can do to an are of beauty. So please folks think about minimum impact whenever you go.

Wild-Camp-2

This is all I took with me. A pair of walking poles, Thermarest Prolite 3 short, a military bivibag, a Vango 300 down sleeping bag, a flask of tea, water and an Inov8 32 lt rucksack. (The OMM pouch contained my camera and recorder). The blue material in the pack is a Montane Fireball Smock in case it got cold.

As stated in the podcast, if you would like to try it for the first time and join me, or have any suggestions as to where to visit which would make for an interesting location, then please drop me a line at our email address (info@theoutdoorsstation.co.uk), or leave a comment on this web page.

18 Comments

  1. Darren Holliday

    Great podcast Bob. Perhaps you can arrange a night with Ronald Turnbull and combine the ‘night wild camping’ with a bit of a catch up seeing as it’s been six years or so since the last interview?

    Reply

  2. Rich

    Hi bob
    Back to what you do best.
    listened to this at work last night Have missed your mini adventures enjoy listening to these podcasts my favourite’s being three men in the Cairngorm’s-the cape wrath trail-and of course your trips with Andy Howell.
    These inspired me to get out and have done some small adventures myself.This will be a great series to listen to and will get peoples imagination working overtime.Will be great with added photos as the series progresses,great sound quality truly professional would be great to get all your team back together to do a adventure again.Lee wells/Tony bow/Andy Howell I can hear the banter already.
    Keep this going bob I for one thourghly enjoy listening to these type of productions,and it does inspire people to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
    Great well done and thank you.
    Richard

    Reply

    • theoutdoorsstation

      Thanks Richard, it seems the simplest adventures create the best stories in the mind 🙂

      I certainly will be nudging the ‘usual suspects’ for a walk on the wild side at some stage during the 12 challenge.

      Reply

  3. Will

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the podcast. Can I get your opinion on something?

    I walked the Coast to Coast this summer, and wild camped most of the way with a bivibag, and a BPL tarp. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But there is one thing that has put me off using a bivibag in future: SLUGS!

    I found that in some spots they were absolutely everywhere and I woke up regularly with slime trails all across me. I really enjoy using the bag when I can leave it open and fall asleep under the stars, knowing I can close it if it rains. But in some spots there were so many slugs around that I closed it from nightfall till morning for fear of getting one on my face!

    What are thoughts on this? Do I have to just accept the slugs and deal with it? Or is there a secret to not getting slimed?

    Cheers!

    Will

    Reply

    • theoutdoorsstation

      Yes they are a bugger aren’t they?

      My worst experience was waking up when one decided that crawling into my mouth was a good idea lol! Like you, I don’t feel the slimy trails doing anything for the look of my gear.

      Two solutions, firstly use a Bivi with a bug netting to at least prevent close contact, the other is set up a beer trap.

      This consists of a receptacle of beer left open for them to fall into and drown. Neither are perfect but it might help. Of course you can drink some of the beer first to make sure it is ‘approved’!

      I’ll ask around some of my gardening friends, surely there must be an easier solution to bring to camp?

      Reply

      • Will

        Many thanks for your input Bob. I’ve got a Rab bag, with an integrated net which got used quite a bit! I’ll give some thought to how I can use a beer trap. In the meantime I might just reserve the use of a bag to sleeping up high where there are fewer slugs (I think?!?). At least, I haven’t seen too many up there. Hopefully with time I’ll just man up!

        Reply

  4. Ronald Turnbull

    Hullo Bob – I see you’re going to be giving me a call… I do have an idea or two for a bit of bivvy action (if falling asleep in a bag counts as action).
    Don’t quite go along with you on wild camping being illegal. In Scotland there’s a legal right of responsible wild camping almost anywhere. On Dartmoor, there’s a permissive right. Elsewhere, wild camping is I believe still not a crime. It’s more a case of, the land manager can require you to leave if she wishes. In 50 years of inconspicuous wild camping I’ve never been asked to move. Mostly of course that’s because they’re unaware I’m there.

    Reply

    • theoutdoorsstation

      Indeed contact made already 🙂 Good to have you drop by Ronald and in the Podcast you’ll hear that I agree with everything you state regarding legality.

      I’m looking forward to whatever we can arrange in the next few months. I’m sure many people will enjoy your thoughts on the pleasures of using a Bivi.

      Reply

  5. Mark

    Great podcast Bob… it really struck a chord with me – firstly as a big nostalgia trip because the first hikes I did were as a teenager when I used to catch the train from Brum to Malvern to walk the hills and stay at the YHA there. Secondly I’ve got the walking bug again after finishing the South Downs Way staying mostly in campsites, and now I want to do more multi-day hikes. There are loads of longish footpaths down in Hampshire (where I live now) which have no official camping, so bivvying looks like the way to go. So I’ve bought my army surplus bivvy off ebay and can’t wait to give it a try on the Test Way. Thanks again for the inspiration… I’m looking forward to hearing about your next wild camp.

    Reply

    • theoutdoorsstation

      Thanks Mark, and look forward to seeing you up the hill one day 😉

      Reply

  6. chris yapp

    Hi Bob i really enjoyed listening to your podcast and am looking forward to hearing more . keep up the good work .

    Reply

  7. Keith

    How I haven’t found this site earlier I’ll never know. Great site, and really looking forward to your wild camping series.

    All the best.

    Keefusoutdoors.

    Reply

  8. Mark Janes

    Sounds like a great first trip of the series, and just shows that you don’t have to travel far for the “outdoor experience”

    Re. “Leave No Trace”, I was listening to an interview with one of the estate managers up here in Northeast Scotland recently, and he made a couple of points about less obvious things for wild campers to be aware of:

    1. Paracord. Sometimes this can inadvertently be left tied to trees when shelters, tarps, etc. are dismantled. There have been cases of animals ingesting it and dying as a result. The advice was, either remove all traces of the shelter or, if one wished to leave a shelter to return to later, to use a natural fibre or home-made cordage from foraged materials.

    2. Hammocks. There have been cases where a hammock has been erected and the campers have left it to go on a day hike, and deer have become entangled in the hammock while running through the woodland. The advice was to place some kind of obstruction in the way to divert the deer before they run into the hammock.

    I thought these were good points and (the hammock one especially) not immediately obvious. It illustrates the importance of engaging where possible with the people who live in and manage the environment in which one wishes to camp, so you can see the environment through their eyes.

    Reply

  9. Shiona

    Hi!
    Really pleased to have a series on wild camping, downloading them to listen to on my way home from work.

    I did laugh though when you said you were going back to basics, and using an OLD army bivy bag, and then you said it was made of gortex. For me, that was not basic or old. My bivy bags are essentially plastic bags! The big strong plastic survival bags. It is true I haven’t bivied for about 20 years now – I have been living in Africa a lot of years (though I have used a survival bag to shelter from a rain storm) and now have a family.

    On that point my two sons (14 and 9) and I are in the process of walking the Icknield Way – was not too far from home, but now getting further away and harder to access and have thought of wild camping. The challenge is is it really possible to wild camp in East Anglia where all land is private, intensely farmed, and particularly to do it as a group and with children – harder to be discrete, keep quiet and leave early in the morning. I would hope we can leave few traces of our stay but I am not sure we can go unnoticed while we are there. I would be interested in some advice on wild camping with kids.

    Thanks, Shiona

    Reply

    • theoutdoorsstation

      Thanks Shiona. Wild camping with kids is another whole new area with challenges 🙂 I think the biggest education you could give them is to understand and respect the environment, not only nature, but also noise and disturbance to others. This latest trip I’m currently editing had us camping at a spot which had easy access from the road and sadly the whole area was abused beyond belief. Fire damage, tree damage, litter and so on. I hear the same bad things up at Loch Lomond which due to the ease of access, has now implemented new rules to prevent Wild Camping following years of damage, litter and nuisance. I’m sure you are instructing your youngsters about such things however it does seem inevitable that if parents show disregard for nature, their children will assume the same attitude as well.

      Reply

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