I can’t underestimate the comfort my James Baroud roof tent and associated kit such as my Petromax Atago firepit, KX50 Coolbox and camp kitchen etc give me when I’m normally away camping in my Landy. And there’s not many places my trusty Land Rover 110 can’t get me. However, long before I was lucky enough to own my 4WD vehicle, my love for camping was born out of trips away with like-minded friends, slinging rucksacks on our backs with tents and sleeping bags and heading off into the countryside, normally drawn towards mountains, and relishing the challenge of trekking up to the highest point for the views and sleeping under the stars away from ambient light sources and life in general.
Fortunately, many years later (more than I’d care to count), I still have a close group of like-minded friends who love nights away wild camping in spots even the trusty 110 can’t reach. And so it was in late September myself and two mates headed up to the stunning landscape of the Lake District in N.W. England with the intention of scaling England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike (3,210ft), and a few nights wild camping miles from anyone else.
These trips really provide the best of both worlds, with the opportunity to not only drive great roads across breath-taking landscape, (this time the infamous Hard Knott Pass), but to also then leave the vehicles behind for a night or two ground tent camping deep into the landscape only reachable by foot.
During the current pandemic the idea of getting away from it all has unsurprisingly sounded appealing to more people than ever, and once free from the confines of the lockdown, many headed out into the countryside with tents and camping gear to ‘wild camp’. Sadly however, many went about it in totally the wrong way and weren’t really ‘wild camping’ but rather just illegally camping in any empty field they could find. Unsurprisingly ugly paper headlines accompanied by even uglier photos of the awful mess and litter left behind by these thoughtless individuals made for painful viewing for those of us who know much better. Their behaviour started to tarnish the term ‘wild camping’ with calls from locals to make any sort of wild camping illegal. Indeed, the laws around wild camping already vary greatly from area to area. For instance, in much of England wild camping is illegal without first seeking land owner’s permission, whereas in Scotland thanks to the Land Reform Act 2003 you are free to camp on almost all unenclosed land.
To wild camp respectively no matter where you are though there’s a few simple guidelines that everyone should follow, much of it common sense:
Leave no trace
Camp high on open hills away from tracks and settlements
Try to pitch late in the evening and be packed up and gone early in the morning
Don’t light open fires, use a proper camping stove for cooking
Don’t use streams or rivers for washing with soaps or detergents
Toileting should be done well away from any water source or path (50m or more)
Bag up and carry out all litter, food scraps etc.
Don’t remain in the same spot for more than two nights
If you are asked by a landowner to move on, do so courteously with no argument
Maintain the peace and quiet you yourself have gone there to seek by being as quiet as possible during your stay
And just for good measure, worth mentioning again… LEAVE NO TRACE!
If all those venturing out could simply follow these simple guidelines then this great activity can be enjoyed by many without repercussion, just as myself and my couple of mates did in September.
For those thinking of doing Scafell Pike, I can highly recommend a less trodden route we took. Having left the 4WD in a roadside parking spot between Boot and Cockley Beck, we swapped horse power for trusty leg power and headed deeper and upwards into the more remote reaches of the national park, following the path alongside the meandering River Esk, and eventually camping in a picturesque and remote spot on the banks of the river at around 1,600ft just opposite Sampsons Stones.
After a great night’s camp we then headed up the valley and scaled the steep sides to top Scafell Pike in some of the most stunning weather I think I’ve ever encountered in The Lakes. Then took a looped route back down to the opposite end of the valley in which we’d camped and trekked back alongside the meandering river to our tents. On returning in good time we realised we’d enough daylight left for us to undertake the 3 hour walk back out to our vehicle. Somewhat comically, my friend Richard’s tent had already decided to pack itself down in the strong winds whilst we were scaling Scafell, much to Rory and my delight, so we packed down, cleared up and retraced our route back out to our vehicle and drove a short distance to camp that night at the small and uncrowded Eskdale campsite run by The National Trust, handily placed close to the excellent Brook House Inn just up the road where a couple of local beverages were most welcome.
Clearly none of us are undertaking particularly intrepid trips and certainly not of the sort that George Mallory referred to when he uttered his famous words reasoning why he wanted to climb Everest. But, there are peak’s and areas of natural beauty close enough to us all albeit sometimes out reach of even the best of 4×4’s and getting amongst them are good for the soul, particularly in these pandemic hit times. So follow the guidelines and get out and enjoy it… ‘Because it’s there!’
And be sure to tag us on Instagram
@turasadventures with your shots from your trips so we can see where you get to.