Now when I spend nights out in the fells I feel as comfortable as I do in my bed at home, but it wasn’t always that way. My first ventures into wild camping were fraught with mistakes, poor kit and the wrong attitude towards what should be a ‘fun’ experience.
''Anyone can rough it'' a saying I heard a long time ago but one that has stuck with me. On my first trips out I thought a certain amount of suffering was just all part of the experience, and yeah anyone can rough it, but what’s the point?
Kind of a no-brainer but so many still choose to compromise. It took me a long time to be convinced that I needed a proper sleeping mat. During a 12 day crossing of Scotland, I borrowed a friend’s Thermarest neo air and I’ve never looked back. In the winter I introduced a liner for inside my sleeping bag and it increased my warmth massively. I will admit for a pillow I still use a rolled up fleece or even a dry bag with spare clothes in for comfort. Ensuring you get a good night sleep makes all the difference, especially if you have a long day in the hills the next day.
I’ve gone through a lot of food on the hill! Finding what works for you is the key to making sure you have good energy levels for whatever you are doing. The main attraction (apart from the views!) for me is a good evening meal. After walking all day, potentially in rubbish weather... Your evening meal is something to look forward to so don’t scrimp on going that extra mile. Lots of prep can be done at home to keep things as simple as possible too. Making meals beforehand so they just need to be warmed up saves time and potentially mess and faff in the tent. Sometimes I just don't have the time to prepare meals before so camping meals can be ideal. Not to forget a good breakfast, but can anything beat porridge? So go ahead, treat yourself… you’ve earned it.
Once you take your first steps into wild camping the leap from Saturday night tv and a take away on the sofa can be quite a big one. Apart from Leaving no trace, there aren’t any rules when it comes to wild camping, anything goes. To take the edge of initially don’t deprive yourself of home comforts. Your phone loaded up with your favorite show/music can help with taking the edge off. For those of us who struggle with anxiety’s these comforts help us to get out and enjoy the experience and not come away having a bad time. For me, battery-powered lights (fairy lights!) are my secret camping hack. As well as making your tent look great in photos, they are super practical. They pack down small and save the battery in your head torch too!
Once you’re out don’t forget to enjoy the experience. As of anything take time to be mindful of your surroundings and how different the mountains are at night. It’s a fantastic opportunity to disconnect from everything and reconnect with nature. Whether this is a break from technology or putting the stresses of life on pause for a moment, being out in the mountains with friends or alone is an extraordinary experience.
For some of the finer details about wild camping, the Lake District National Park have put together this handy guide... Wild camping etiquette - dos and don't