One of the best ways in the world to experience nature, have a great break and learn more about yourself and the environment is in no-frills wild camping. There’s an honesty in the type of personal development that comes with building your own shelters, finding your own food and surviving whatever Mother Nature throws at you. My next few posts will discuss some of the best places in the world to go free camping, share experiences that I hope will inspire, then discuss the best way to start and what to do next.
Providing an ideal first taste for those wanting a great wild camping experience, Trueways offers a camp in Carlisle that first trains you in all you need to sample nature at its rawest. It then provides the ultimate free camping challenge by leaving you alone with – theoretically – everything you need.
Mags Lowe describes her experience; “It was freezing cold. We unpacked, it started raining and I wondered what on Earth we were doing here. We were taken into the forest, shown how to build a shelter and were put into teams of four. We went in separate directions to find our raw materials (leaves for our roof and good wood for the shelter’s crossbar and for fire) but the others got lost, leaving me alone and thinking they had left me alone. That lasted nearly two hours. We slept under our shelter, made fire using flint and shavings of silver birch and were careful to leave no lasting footprint in the environment we inhabited. The people we met there were great company and we’re still in touch. In fact the only really bad bit was something I hadn’t imagined; that I would have to contend with ticks. I found one on the entrance to my sleeping bag and one on my leg! Despite this and the appalling weather I had a fantastic time. I now feel both closer to nature and more capable of looking after myself, but if we go wild camping again we’ll be using a tent.”
You’re likely to encounter quite a bit of wildlife in Carlisle’s forests, and if you get permission to camp on local farmers’ fields will be able to witness some of their traditional farming methods first hand. Camping in any forest should be undertaken either in cooperation with an organising entity or after gaining permission directly from the local forestry commission representatives (a rare thing indeed).
Wild camping (camping anywhere on a whim) is illegal in Britain and Wales without the landowner’s permission but in Scotland the right to camp anywhere is enshrined by law.
If you like this idea, why not try:
- High on the Peak District Hills (permission is required, all types of camping are banned when the moors are very dry because of the fire risk)
- Loch Lomond (check with the authorities first as camping is banned in certain areas of this region)
- Snowdownia (check with the authorities, both for permission and for advice as to safe areas)
- Brecon Beacons (a beautiful part of Wales, it’s best to get permission before setting up camp)
- The Scottish Highlands (while free camping is legal here it’s best to let people know you’re here and polite to get permission)
The next post in this series is Short Breaks in the Wilderness