We always encourage our readers to get in touch and share their views when they feel strongly about something. Freddy Phillips did just that and got in touch to respond to our article on wild camping. You can read Freddy’s response below.
On the matter of wild camping, I do this routinely on multi-day walks and now that I have disengaged myself from the restrictions of a working life I have time to tackle the many long distance walks that excite the imagination and itch the footfall.
Personally, I quickly worked out that B&B options were beyond my pocket, and campsites seem to be ratcheting up their charges as well; £8-£10 per night is not unusual, and it mounts up. On longer walks, say four or five days out, I will use the occasional campsite to enjoy the amenity of hot water and a shower. But I always feel out of place surrounded by tents and caravans and often noise, cars and too much coming and going take away any pleasure in the experience. So I decided to take up “wild-camping” and I have been doing this for a couple of years now.
During 2009 I have completed The Dales Way, The Abbey’s Way, The Ayrshire Coastal Path, The Ribble Way, The Inn Way to Northumberland and the excellent Tour of the Lake District. I have wild-camped throughout without incident or challenge. Clearly, camping and overnight costs have been eliminated completely but much more important to my mind is that by camping on or near the route the essence of the walk is maintained, the wild-camper keeps close to nature and there is an element of satisfaction that comes from the ability to move uninhibited across wild or open country making independent decisions about where to spend the night. My preference is to walk until sunset and then keep my eyes open for a convenient spot but sometimes an idyllic pitch presents itself and I can’t pass it by, coastal walks are particularly prone to this hazard. My guiding principle is to attempt to leave the land in a better condition than upon my arrival if at all possible, in other words I will leave no litter and pack out any I find. I don’t worry too much about the legal niceties; wild camping in the Langdale Valley would not be tolerated (but I have bivouacked there) whereas up on the high fells presents no problems, and I which I prefer.
I always try to be completely out of sight and find the edges of woods and the junctions of stone wall provide good pitch opportunities and I like to get up and away as early as possible. I never camp in a field with any livestock, cattle can be curious and dangerous, sheep present no problems of that kind but they do attract the attention of shepherds.
I always carry a bivi-sac which I use as an outer cover on my sleeping bag, and that gives me the additional confidence that if at the end of the day I find myself in a place where a tent would be highly visible, I have the option of spending the night in my bivi sac, which requires minimal countryside cover to ensure privacy. I have used it a few times and in summer is a pleasure in its own right, another part of the great experience of “touching the land”
Finally, I don’t think it wise to campaign for legalisation, my own experience confirms that regardless of “law,” wild camping done with care for the environment and reverence for property is both feasible and trouble free. Wild campers have generally come to their craft through a mature process of love for the countryside, which we seek to enhance and nurture though a more intimate experience of long trails and the far horizons of our remaining and inspiring wild and lonely places. I do not believe an argument could be won with landowners that Joe Public can camp where he or she likes and attempts to do so may lead to a more effective prosecution of the current legal status quo, which by benign design or tolerant neglect is very favourable to Going Wild, let’s keep it that way.
We’d like to thank Freddy for getting in touch and sharing his insight on wild camping.
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