First night Wild Camping

Yes, I actually got out for a night wild camping ! My first ever 🙂

Again this was a bit of a learning curve and I have certainly learnt a few things before I start my South Downs Way walk in just over a weeks time… The plan was to walk about 20 miles on the Saturday, camp overnight and then walk the last couple of miles home on the Sunday morning. The theory behind this is that if it all went badly wrong I could pack up in the middle of the night and wouldn’t have far to go; I was also in an area that I’m used to running through in the dark so I know the paths really well.

My pack with all my kit in weighed in at 35lbs.

The first issue I hit (before I left home) was when my pack was packed the 3l water bladder I have leaks….. It was only a little leak but enough to seep through the bottom of the pack and I didn’t want to risk not having water when I needed it so this had to come out and was replaced by a smaller non leaking bladder and two 500ml bottles. While I’m talking about water I will continue…. A water bladder is great for sipping while you are walking but it is a PIA to get out and back in to the backpack when you need to refill it. It also isn’t the easiest of things to use in camp when you are trying to get the water to cook dinner (a very slow flow or you try opening the top and pour it everywhere…) So, for the long walk I’m going to take bottles. 1) I can easily see how much water I have left 2) they are easy to refill 3) they are easier to use in camp.

The next kit issue occurred when I tried lighting my stove to make a coffee and found I couldn’t get my lighter to work. This is the same lighter that had gas in it before I left and worked perfectly when I tested it. It has a little adjustment screw on the bottom and I don’t know how but this had turned down to its minimum setting. All I needed was a screwdriver to adjust this and the lighter worked again… luckily I had my weatherman with me complete with screwdriver ! This did highlight one issue. If my lighter did fail I would have no other way of lighting my cooker so I do need to carry a secondary method of lighting it (couscous made with cold water is not an appealing option !)

The other major issue was the time I had allowed to walk the 20 miles… I had based this on 3mph which I think is an ok speed if it is a single day but I don’t think I would be able to maintain this for 5 days and I didn’t allow sufficient time to eat and drink. The long walk isn’t a race to complete as fast as I can, I need to get to the end of each day knowing I can complete the next day and to do this I need to slow the pace down a fraction and allow a few more breaks. I also need to make sure that if my backpack “shifts” when I go over stiles I take the time to readjust it otherwise I will end up with some very painful bruising… The 20 miles took me just under 7.5 hrs including a couple of short stops, I’m going to allow 10 – 12 hrs walking each day for the same distance.

Weight – I’m not used to walking carrying this weight and I will be going through my kit removing anything that isn’t absolutely necessary… I’ve decided not to take a camera and tripod, it was too fiddly stopping and unpacking it all to use it that often and I found it frustrating not having the lenses with me that I would normally use…. and I really don’t want to carry that much !

Sleeping – I slept quite well but did wake up cold about 4:30am. I now have a sleeping bag liner to use with the OMM sleeping bag. I also found that where I was warm and the sleeping bag cold the sleeping bag ended up with condensation on the inside. A breathable liner should help with this and also extend the temperature range I can use the sleeping bag in. The other thing I still need to sort is a pillow… I found having spare clothes stuffed in a waterproof bag didn’t give me a very good nights sleep and to make the whole trip more comfortable good sleep is going to be important.

Millie was a star. She wore her night fleece and curled up with me. She does become very protective and when someone (who was also camping in the same area) wandered over for a chat she was having none of it and took a bit of persuading that it was ok…

I’ll be keeping a diary when I’m away. This will be an old fashioned thing on paper so I can write in it each day but I’ll most probably type out parts of it when I get back 🙂

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