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Sunday, 30 August 2015

Camping?

Thoughts arising from The Two Blondes’ post:

Camping for me is  a means to an end. 

At 75 my view may be cynical.

In the 50s & 60s a gang of us regularly camped in Langdale for rock climbing and beer drinking, combined with that never again experienced camaraderie and “friends for life” atmosphere of youth, but when the Yorkshire Mountaineering Club obtained a cottage near Keswick we promptly re-located.

At best the tent provides versatility for backpacking trips because logistics place you in wilderness when you can go no further. Having said that, awakening on the shore of a remote Scottish loch surrounded by magic mountains can provide fulfilling compensation, and I revel in the romance of such (so long as the weather is ok).

But it is not always like that.

On my LEJOG I “wild camped” in Easton-in-Gordano on a posh village green and was attacked by yobs shouting and throwing things at the tent at one in the morning resulting in me phoning for the police - scary!

A wild camp whilst backpacking involves carrying the extra weight of water from the last place it can be obtained, or carrying weighty sterilising equipment, or suffering those foul iodine tablets.

Often I have camped at non-accommodation pubs, or in kind people’s gardens, when otherwise I may have slept under a hedge. I prefer to use a campsite with the comfort of lavatories in the morning. But that is not always the panacea one might expect. Many times I have suffered loud music, hooligan teenagers, and radios on badly supervised sites.

Mainly for reasons of cost, we had family car/camping holidays when weight and space for carrying bigger tents and items of comfort was possible, and that was ok, but we soon graduated to a trailer tent, then a caravan.


Camping in some countryside location just for the sake of it would have no appeal for me, but I agree with the Blondes, it is good to see youngsters getting out and about and having fun - we all have to learn.

Loch an Nid NH 083 374 on my LEJOG - 2008



Wild camp on a Munro bagging trip with Gimmer -1993 - the old Good Companions Major subject of a recent post. We were using the car, not backpacking this monster

Family with the trailer tent - circa 1975

11 comments:

Blonde Two said...

Camping out in the wilds for the sake of it is an interesting phenomena. I like the feeling that it gives me afterward; of having done something a bit different, a bit on the edge.

Sir Hugh said...

Blonde Two - I can understand that. It's just that I would prefer it to be part of an encompassing objective. Even for one night it would enable you to reach more remote locations.

Alan Sloman said...

Blimey, Conrad! This is all a bit grumpy!
:-)

I love wild camping; this May Phil & I deliberately chose a shorter route across Scotland just so we could enjoy more time camping. It's blissful being wonderfully idle, listening to wind, water and birdsong, (or, even rain hammering against the flysheet) occasionally popping the kettle on for a brew.

That's a lovely spot you camped on your LEJOG - I stopped a couple of miles further on and regretted it - eaten alive by midges!

Cheer up fella!
All the best
Alan

bowlandclimber said...

Love these old photos you keep digging out. Nostalgia is my middle name.

afootinthehills said...

I agree with AlanS though I haven't done as much wild camping as I would have liked in the last couple of years. Plans are afoot to correct that next year. Your LEJOG experience sounds a tad too exciting for comfort Conrad.

Sir Hugh said...

Alan S. - At 75 I'm allowed to be a bit grumpy (I think).

A post just saying that wild camping is "nice" would have a been boring - I'm telling it how it is. I applaud your decisions on the TGO and I would probably do the same; it fits in with what I said in reply to Blonde 2 being part of an all encompassing project. I did emphasise that I appreciate the romance of camping in wild places, and I think my record demonstrates my affinity with all that we are talking about here.

I feel quite cheery this morning.

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BC - There are plenty more where that came from. A while ago I had about a thousand old 35mm. slides digitalised some going back to the 60s. I will use some more when the occasion arises, or as you have set me thinking, I might create occasions.
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Afoot - There was probably no real harm in those youths, but you never know. A quick, ill-considered and stupid slip with a knife and bingo...

AlanR said...

I am a wild camping fan and love to find a view and then pitch. I can lie in my tent and stare all day if i have the time. I also really enjoy being in a tent when its raining. The sound of the wind and rain is wonderful.
I hate camp sites even though one of my best mates has a campsite in the Lake District. I have tried to persuade him to have a small backpackers section away from the glampers but so far i havn’t had success. He doesn’t understand how expensive backpacking tents are and how easily damaged they can be when kids are tripping over guy lines and kicking footballs against them. Teenagers can be down right rude and annoying and the swearing is atrocious. (thats some and not all).
Give me a hillside any day.

Sir Hugh said...

A;an R - Most campsite owners don't understand backpackers which unfortunately often leads them to charge you for a large pitch, when you have no need for it. I am often asked if I want mains electric hook-up, and then have to patiently explain that I left the microwave at home.

Roderick Robinson said...

No one seems to go the lightweight route these days - like Wilfred Thesiger and Eric Shipton. Bundled up at night in just a sleeping bag (perhaps a llama skin for true authenticity), come rain, snow or blizzard. But then if one rids oneself of a tent, no doubt one looks around critically at other non-essentials. Is it absolutely essential to cook things, for instance? I mean a cup of tea may be all very nice but if it encourages retrospective whingeing (at the weight of the primus) isn't one missing the point? Using a tent promotes a sense of independence, going without a tent increases that sense. Independence isn't merely a synonym for saving weight, it's a different way of life.

Sleeping is merely an interlude between what matters. Discomfort may have its advantages in that one isn't disposed to linger.

On one occasion, on a twosome camping overnight at Wasdale Head, my companion ate a whole cake bite by bite. I laboriously started a fire, peeled and boiled potatoes, added corned beef and ate the result (much later when every crumb of cake had disappeared) in an aura of infinite smugness. It's a state of mind that is worthy of cultivation. And it weighs nothing.

Sir Hugh said...

RR - I am off on another backpack on Saturday. I will carry the tent, but coincidentally have opted to exclude cooking equipment in the interests of reduced weight. Unfortunately I haven't got a llama skin, and I think Amazon would fail me now at such short notice - anyway, it would probably outweigh by some margin the whole of my present packed rucksack.
By ingenious means I have also been able to use a smaller rucksack. My tent has poles at each end which are slightly longer than the width of my rucksack. I cut the poles in half then sleeved them with tubing so that they can be re-slotted, et voila, the tent now fits inside the top of my rucksack, on top of the waterproof liner, so that it is immediately accessible, and if it has to be packed wet it will not affect the other contents,

afootinthehills said...

I wonder where you are off to this time.