Training via Wild Camping – Embracing Freedom!
Since learning of my dad’s cancer diagnosis, I have been pretty quiet on the writing front. Processing all the information also led to a social media hiatus, surprisingly good for the soul.
Cliché, but it does put into perspective how fragile life is, and I want to look back on my life and see it full of adventure. Working full-time, you have to work hard at finding the time to get out there. But these short adventures can sometimes be more memorable.
So, over the last two months, I have signed up to do the Macmillan Mighty Hike, which takes place in July. Twenty-six miles of hilly tortuous fun! When putting together a training plan, wild camping was at the forefront of this. Despite the short distances, the steep accents with a heavy rucksack increase your leg strength, stamina and perseverance.
With lockdown finally easing, I have managed three wild camping adventures so far! All of which have been amazing in their own little way.
The first wild camp of the year was from Buttermere up to Rannderdale Knotts. This was my first trip to Buttermere, and I fell in love instantly. Driving in from Keswick navigates some very narrow, high, windy roads, my ultimate pet hate! I don’t mind narrow, high ledges providing I am in control of my own legs going across, but as it turns out, Buttermere is worth the anxiety-inducing near-death experience.
Starting from the centre of Buttermere, we took the slightly longer, less craggy route up. It’s quite a steep ascent the whole way, my short legs doing three steps to my taller friend’s one. My asthma means I have to go slow and steady, but why rush when you are surrounded by views over both Buttermere and Crummock Water. Once you start gaining a little height, the wind farms at Whitehaven come into view and, with it, the North Sea.
After navigating a few craggy sections, trying not to be pulled down with the weight of my rucksack, we found a nice little spot with some curious sheep for company. The views from this camp were truly spectacular! The only downside is that you are very close to the road and village here, so you don’t get the same feeling of remoteness as in other spots. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed cracking open a gin and watching the sunset – we even managed to catch some shooting stars!
Living in Yorkshire, this was a nice easy Friday night ramble. The amazing thing about the Y3P is how accessible they are. The Settle to Carlisle railway has been an absolute saviour for non-drivers like me.
This little patch of Yorkshire is soon to become the stage for the next phase in my Macmillan training plan! Lots of excellent long-distance walks with the aid of the train stations!
For this wild camp, I chose to go up the route most people come down from. It avoids all the scrambly parts of Pen-y-Ghent and offers a nice gravel path all the way up. This is quite a long, steady steep walk. Climbing a total of 1,500ft / 457m, its more than both of my recent camps in the Lakes.
The downside of wild camping here is that you don’t get the same dramatic landscapes as the Lakes, Wales or Scotland. But you do get stunning views across Ingleborough and the Howgills on a clear day. There is also a choice of nice grassy spots to pitch up a couple of tents!
What this camp offered was an incredible night sky! It was a crystal clear, sub-zero night. Frost started to develop on the tents, and I was wearing about 12 layers, including a RAB down jacket and an insulated Acrytex jacket (really is no hope for me).
I find seeing such clear night skies a luxury in the UK, so I will happily freeze to death for the privilege. I have found certain areas of the Dales to be great dark sky spots where you can literally see thousands upon thousands of stars. With much vodka to warm me up, I embraced the cold night for an early walk down, however not quite early enough to avoid all the Y3P walkers!
I think for anyone considering wild camping for the first time, this is an excellent option. There are 24-hour car parks in Grasmere, and the hike is very easy to navigate with a relatively straightforward, steady ascent.
This one also popped by Grasmere cherry! Another beautiful part of the lakes I can’t believe I have never been. Climbing a modest 800ft /243m, it felt substantially easier than Rannerdale despite a similar elevation. The walk up follows the path of Easdale Waterfall. Approximately halfway up, there is a fantastic spot for a dip under the waterfall (if you are that way inclined).
The view also spans right across the valley, with Helm Crag on your left and Grasmere straight ahead. We opted for a camp spot just above the Tarn on a wee hill/lump, meaning we got the best of both views. If you nestle in beside the Tarn, you do miss out on the sunset over Grasmere.
This was another camp accompanied by gin and good company. I imagine this spot may be very popular at the weekends. Luckily, going mid-week meant we had it all to ourselves.
That’s it for now – more adventures coming soon!
P.s If you would like to contribute to my fundraising for Macmillan