Why I Wild Camp

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Wild camping by a river in Dartmoor

My boots tread heavy on the dusty path. I can't quite catch my breath. My pack digs in to my back. I stop, taking a moment to yank the straps of my rucksack and drink some much needed water. Straps tightened, I continue upwards, my chipped aluminium mug dinging lightly against the metal of my flask. As I walk I look out across the empty moorland. The day is fading to night and the clouds are tinted orange. In the distance I can see where the land dips back down in to a steep valley, in the depths of which winds the silver ribbon of a river. I check my map and nod my head. That’s the spot.

Hiking girl stood on a hill in Dartmoor

We follow a gorse edged path, thick with spikes and yellow flowers, down in to the valley and to the edge of the river. The sun is flirting with us from behind the clouds, and as we set our packs on to the ground, the evening sun turns the Dartmoor grass a burnished gold. Tired and sweaty from our hike, we collapse for a moment on the ground. Aaron pulls out a flask of whisky and passes it to me. I swig and the liquid burns my throat, settling to warm my stomach. We set up our tent and the evening passes quietly, watching as the sun dips in to the valley and stars begin to peek out at us.

Girl staring at a sunset over Dartmoor

Wild camping. Of all the trips I’ve taken, of all the cabins, hotels and campsites I’ve stayed in, nothing beats wild camping. Not only is it free, once you’ve invested in your initial kit, but the views are a solid five stars. Mountain tops, glaciers, valleys, river banks, forests: we’ve camped everywhere we can find a piece of flat land to place our tent. I am a water baby, so most of our camp spots tend to be close to water. Nothing beats a morning swim to clear away that camping fatigue, or a tipsy evening paddle as the sun goes down. And then there’s the quiet; going to sleep and waking up to silence, no car or people noise, just the sounds of nature doing its thing on the other side of the canvas.

Girl wild swimming in the river Dart in Dartmoor

It’s not all flowers and bunnies and sunsets however. Wild camping can be tiring and even at times stressful. Surprise fog, galloping horses, snoring animals, curious mice, torrential rain, pulled muscles, aches and pains, midges, getting lost, getting wet, getting tired… sometimes it feels like the nature that you love so much is chewing you up and spitting you out. Your pack feels like slinging a bag of rocks and when you arrive at your camp spot, there's no hot bath and hotel dinner, instead you put on all your clothes at once to keep warm and boil up a packet of instant noodles. And then there’s the toilet situation…

But despite the exhaustion, and the pooping in a hole, wild camping is still my favourite way to go. And when I look back at our trips, I don’t remember the flabby bowls of pasta or torrential rain, or the aching muscles and biting insects, instead I remember the sunsets and peaceful mornings. The star speckled nights and views beautiful enough to tear your heart in two. Now campers, off you go, good luck, and don’t forget your shovel.

Post a Comment

© The Salt Life. Design by FCD.