It may seem a little early to start thinking about camping out, but Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions start from March 1st and Easter Holidays are just around the corner.
Bronze and Silver DofE award candidates walk from campsite to campsite and enjoy some basic facilities, but Gold candidates are expected to walk in wild country and if the opportunity presents to wild camp during their journey.
What do I mean by wild camping? Not on a campsite, away from the road, away from people, away from facilities.
Why do it? A sense of peace and self sufficiency, the ability to explore deep into wild country by walking for more than a day before turning around.
It is not necessarily either hard work or uncomfortable. You do have to carry everything you need, and you will need to acquire a tent, sleeping bag and mat, a stove and a rucksack to carry it all in. If you get hooked (be careful, you might) it’s possible but not necessary to spend a lot of money on warmer and lighter kit.
Choose your location with care. Wild camping is not legal, without a landowners permission, in most of England and Wales. There is a specified area on Dartmoor where wild camping is allowed. In Scotland wild camping is permitted over most of the country although in some areas, notably around the shores of Loch Lomond, it is forbidden.
Arrive late and leave early. Choose a sheltered spot where you are out of the wind and difficult to see. No one should know you are or have been there. There is a great deal of satisfaction when walking away from a wild camping spot knowing the only evidence of your night is some flattened grass which will have recovered before you stop for your first coffee.