At the start of the year, I set myself the objective of camping out every month of the year. Twelve camps that shouldn’t be too hard should it ? After all I tend to do more than that each year. But what I’ve struggled to do is maintain my tent-dwelling evenly over a year, and I’ve tended to do it in fits and starts. So it wouldn’t be the number of camps that would be the challenge, but the timing of them.
I resigned myself to the prospect of having to do some camps in unpleasant conditions. I also realised that I would really need to crack the local wild camp thing to have even a chance of meeting the target this year. To my shame I’d never done a local wild camp. I’d used a camp site that was pretty much just like camping wild in the woods, but I’d paid money to do that, so it didn’t count. Now I’d need to properly wild camp locally – I don’t do enough “proper” hill trips to do them that way, although I’d let myself count them too.
So how did I do ? ………….
A sunset walk out from Princetown to King’s Tor saw me celebrate a cold first camp of the year, waking to a stunning sunrise [6-Jan-2015, Luxe Hexpeak]
At the end of a few snowy days with friends based around Princetown, I drove to Okehampton, left the car and set out on a 2-day backpack on the north Moor. I camped in a blizzard on Wild Tor. [2-Feb-2015, Tarptent Scarp1]
A camp amongst fruit trees on after the first day of the Wealdway. A cold night when I wished I wasn’t experimenting with my shelter set-up and new backpacking food. [17-Feb-2015, Luxe Heapeak outer / Oookworks Banana Bivvy]
The forecast for my Lake District trip in March was really poor, so I decided not to camp, and hence my only camp that month was this:
A camp in Ashdown Forest. [22-Mar-2015, HiGear Soloista]
My big Lake District trip of the year, saw me finish the Wainwrights. I also had 4 camps:
Camp at High Nook Tarn. Not the best tarn camp I’ve ever had. [13-Apr-2015, Tarptent Scarp1]
A view of the Scafells from the camp on Seatallan. [15-Apr-2015, Tarptent Scarp1]
The camp on Lingmell, a long-standing camp on my wishlist. [16-Apr-2015, Tarptent Scarp1]
The final camp on my carless Wainwright round – by Blackbeck Tarn overlooking Buttermere. [17-Apr-2015, Tarptent Scarp1]
A camp at Black-a-tor Copse. A lovely bright afternoon and evening turned into a foggy morning. [23-May-2015, Tarptent Scarp1]
A wet day cleared while we took refuge in the pub to decide our next move. Eventually Phil (@DaylightGambler), Col (colinastbury) and I walked out to Foggintor to spend the night. [24-May-2015, Tarptent Scarp1]
The Official Annual Birthday Camp – a sneaky last minute affair in “Slug Meadow” on the North Downs with @klingondragon. [13-Jun-2015, Luxe Hexpeak and HiGear Soloista]
A weekend backpack in the Radnor Forest with Stuart (@LoneWalkerUK), returning to a camp spot from my last visit in the area. [4-Jul-2015, Luxe Hexpeak]
Using a ditch at the edge of a field in the Cuckmere Valley, on the 3rd section of the Wealdway. [1-Aug-2015, HiGear Soloista]
Trying out the replacement for the Soloista on another North Downs camp – this time on “Pheasant Down”. [5-Sep-2015, Snugpak Ionosphere]
A backpack with Paul (@paulgbuck) and Rich (@FlintyRich) in the south west of Dartmoor. [12-Sep-2015, Tarptent Scarp1]
A day’s slow meander over Helm Crag, Gibson Knott, Calf Crag and Codale Head brought Cath (@wellycath) and I to High Raise just before a magical sunset. Another wishlist camp done. [27-Sep-2015, Luxe Hexpeak x2]
The next day, with Cath returned home, I set off up onto Red Screes for another wishlist camp. A weaker sunset faded to a cold clear night. I woke in the small hours to look out at the Blood Moon of the lunar eclipse. Another memorable camp. [28-Sep-2015, Lux Hexpeak]
With Stuart (@LoneWalkerUK) down my way, we took the opportunity for a lethargic walk over my local patch of the North Downs, ending up with this camp in “Screech Wood”, finding the remnants of a previous visitor’s bivvy and fireplace. [3-Oct-2015, Snugpak Ionosphere]
I stopped off at a spot I’d made a mental note of on a previous stretch of Wealdway, for a quick doss down before the final stretch of the Wealdway. A cold cold night that saw the winter bag exit from its summer hibernation. [27-Nov-2015, Snugpak Ionosphere]
Having passed up an easy opportunity just before Christmas to slot in December’s camp, I pinned my hopes on a New Year’s Eve camp on Dartmoor, but with the forecast looking very uncertain with Storm Frank heading towards the UK, I needed an insurance policy. A quick night out in Essex with Col (@colinastbury) was arranged:
A camp overlooking the lower Thames in Essex [29-Dec-2015, Snugpack Ionosphere]
And I haven’t totally given up on the chance of a final camp on NYE yet…
I’m really glad I set myself this challenge, as it brought a number of benefits:
- it got me out all year around
- it made me finally attempt a local wild camp
- it helped massively with breaking up the monotony of the return to work, after nearly a year off
- it enabled me to justify the cost of the replacement for the HiGear Soloista. In the Snugpak Ionosphere I now have what is for me a perfect stealth tent for lowland camps.
So much so, that I’m going to carry the challenge on into 2016, but for this year I’m going to make it harder and aim for a local camp in addition to whatever I do on my longer hill trips.
So what was the Camp of the Year ?
Well, a number of camps were highly memorable – my first Dartmoor camp on King’s Tor, the snow camp on Wild Tor, the 4 camps as I finished my Wainwright round. But the Camp of the Year has to be the camp on High Raise in September. A high camp with glorious sunset and sunrise and all-round views just can’t be beaten. This is arguably one of my finest camps ever too.
With thanks to the following for accompanying me on some of the camps above: Phil (@DaylightGambler), Col (@colinastbury), Paul (@paulgbuck), Rich (@FlintyRich), David (@klingondragon), Stuart (@LoneWalkerUK) and Cath (@wellycath).