For many people, Wild Night Out might be your first experience of wild camping and, as any seasoned wild camper will tell you, a bit of forward planning and scoping out potential sites makes all the difference.
I’m quite lucky, living on the edge of the Peak District, I spend a lot of time hiking and climbing. Whilst there, I’m always making a mental note of any potential wild camping spots in case I want to use them at any time. For example, I was up near Stanage Edge recently, just following a sheep track across the moor to see where it would take me, when I came across a tiny area where a few tonnes of gritstone had been excavated some time in the distant past.
The area was perfectly flat with just enough room for a couple of tents and, being basically a hole in the ground, was completely sheltered from the wind and totally invisible until you got within a few yards from it. So, needless to say, this spot has been added to the list.
If you are a climber, you will no doubt know of numerous disused quarries that have been taken over for rock climbing. These make great spots for wild camping, especially if you want to make an early start on the rock face before the crowds show up.
A bit of prior recon can make a huge difference to your wild camping experience, especially if this is your first time. The whole essence of wild camping is that you should be as unobtrusive as possible. Ideally, as technically it isn’t allowed in England except for a few places, nobody should be aware that you were ever there.
The fading evening light is not really the ideal time to start hunting around for a spot to pitch your tent, tarp or bivvy bag. Blundering around the hillside or forest searching for a pitch as it’s getting dark and maybe raining will more than likely lead you to making a hurried and bad choice unless you’re very lucky. You could end up spending a lumpy, damp and sleepless night out, or have a grumpy landowner with a big dog giving it some of the “Git orf moy laand!” scenario in the middle of the night. This will pretty much ensure you never try wild camping again and is the opposite of what we’re trying to encourage here.
If you’re not a seasoned outdoor person and Wild Night Out is your first experience of wild camping, I’d recommend that sometime beforehand, you go out and pick the spot where you intend to camp. You can check if it’s dry, the ground is flat and comfortable enough to lie on, that it’s reasonably out of the way and you can easily find your way there again.
This way you’ll have a fairly comfortable and positive experience and one you’ll want to repeat whenever you get the opportunity.
Written by Tim Mellor, WildNightOut contributor