Preparing for your first solo wild-camping trip can be a little daunting but the rewards in the long run can be great. I still clearly remember my first time solo camping. I was cycling from London to Edinburgh and had pitched up in a secluded spot behind a small church in Norfolk; that night every creak and rustle sounded like the creeping footsteps of some lurking murderer. I was petrified. Needless to say, I didn’t get much rest that night. Since that first time wild camping alone I have come to enjoy venturing out alone and actually really look forward to it.
Obviously my fears were a little irrational and the reality of the situation was a lot safer than I had given credence to. Logically, I think anyone would agree that walking down a city street at night is far more risky than wild-camping alone in a rural area somewhere, yet most of us would be much more comfortable facing the former than the latter. Fortunately, overcoming this logical-lapse really is just a matter of experience. A few times out under the stars on your own and you should start to feel a little more at ease and before you know it you’ll be confident heading out on solo adventures whenever the need calls you.
If you’re wondering at this point why the hell you’d ever want to head out into the wilderness alone here’s five reasons I’d give to persuade you to give it a try sometime:
If you are anything like me, you probably spend too much time looking at screens, whether it’s at work or at home. Many of us spend our lives in a state of hyper-connection, checking what our friends are up to, what’s happening in the news, and binge watching the latest netflix hit show from the minute we wake up to the minute we go to bed. Get outside, lose signal, and relax.
Trying something new and getting out of our comfort zone is something we all know we’re supposed to do but it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day and before you know it life has become like a real-life Groundhog day. A microadventure is an easy way to reboot. Choose somewhere beautiful, throw caution to the wind, pack your bags and go.
Do your feet hurt? Stop walking. Are you hungry? Eat. Have you found a view you want to stop and take in? Take all the time you need. Spotted an interesting detour? Go. When you travel solo you are the master of your own destiny. No one can tell you what to do and there is no need to negotiate plans, you are free to go where you want and at whatever pace you like. Independence is freedom.
Living in solitude for longs periods of time can be unhealthy and is certainly undesirable as us Humans are inherently sociable creatures. However, finding solitude once in awhile can actually be beneficial to your creativity and sense of personal identity. For hundreds of years religious types like them monks have used solitude to bolster their spirituality (so there’s that, if that sort of thing floats your boat).
Without sounding too hippy-ish, travelling alone can be rewarding in that you feel a little more connected to the environment around you. You’ll have plenty of time to take in the sights and sounds of your surroundings on your solo trip. Something that always gives me great pleasure is the moment when I pause on a summer cycle and the sound of the whirring tyres on tarmac and the clanking gears give way to sound of skylarks in the fields and the breeze through the trees. Ok, I’m getting a little sentimental but you get the idea!
My most recent Soloventure was into the hills and mountains of the English Lake District; a stunningly beautiful place that I really ought to visit more often. I made a quick plan and hopped in the car and punched ‘Keswick’ into my satnav. Four hours later I had arrived at my destination. I grabbed some supplies from the shop and was on my way.
I headed up the popular summit of Cat Bells and kept walking. I passed High Spy and descended into the saddle beneath Dale Head. This wasn’t any expeditionary feat, in fact the hike was fairly easy and not particularly long. I had considered staying in a Youth Hostel when I had made my initial plan for the day but I found an old and decrepit sheepfold beside a small tarn that looked a perfect place to set up camp. I unstrapped my bag and set up my tent. It’s worth noting here that although wild camping in the lakes is technically illegal - like anywhere else in England, it is de facto that once above the highest drystone walls wild-camping is permitted. Obviously I followed the same principles I would for any camp: leave no trace, arrive late and leave early, and be generally respectful. Normally when camping I’d would like to have a fire but in the Lake District this is strictly forbidden and should be avoided.
The next day I headed down the hill and after a leisurely walk along the shores of Derwent Water I was soon in my car and headed for home. It had been a great trip, super simple, super cheap, and very satisfying and completed in just 24 hours. I would recommend it to anyone. Next time you feel a little at odds with your work/life balance, looking for spiritual enlightenment, or simply all your adventure buddies are busy, why not take a Soloventure and see for yourself how good it is!
More photos from my Lake district Soloventure: