It was S’s last day of work as she’s going freelance, so we decided to celebrate by taking a weekend trip to go wild camping on Dartmoor! One of the only places in England where wild camping is permitted! The sun was out, and we were excited to get going! This was going to be both a fun getaway, and a trial run for our week in Ben Nevis that’s coming up next month!
As we packed, we quickly found we’d have to be as economic as possible to save space and make sure we only take what’s absolutely necessary. We have a 30 and a 45 Litre bag, so with a weekend of clothes (and emergency rain gear!), two of our 2kg sleeping bags, two self-inflating roll mats, a kelly kettle and a tent – it was a hard squeeze to fit it all without strapping everything to the outside and toppling over from the weight!
When we were finally packed and satisfied with our efforts, we started our drive – about 2 hours including a quick stop to get fresh water and some tinned food. Not bad for a break from civilisation!
We hadn’t really planned out where to go! Although we’d planned this trip for a while, we hadn’t really planned much more than “Camp in the wild, and see pretty things!”
As soon as you get to Dartmoor, you’re met by cattle grids and vast expanses of land all around you! An area of beautiful moorland left entirely to nature! It’s not long before you see all the wildlife too! Sheep EVERYWHERE! and because it’s spring, this meant hundreds of adorable baby lambs! Both gob-smacked by the landscape so close to our home, and by the cute little fuzzy white things beside (and often lying in) the road we were driving pretty slow and had to let a few people pass us so we could appreciate our surroundings!
As we drove we saw some woods in the distance, and S said: “I want to go there!” With the Google and OS map apps, we planned a route to reach them.
And reach them we did!
As we walked with all our gear, the light grew dim and the temperature started dropping – we had a couple of great spots, but unfortunately – being woods – there were many roots and branches in the way that we either couldn’t or didn’t want to disturb! We were very concerned with not leaving a trace of our trip! eventually, we found a spot – not perfectly level, but clear of any debris and situated in a clearing!
Up goes the tent!
With little wind and no rain, the conditions were perfect for a night under the stars. The tent wasn’t huge (and can barely fit my 6ft height) but we managed to squeeze us both in, with the sleeping gear and our ‘luggage’! The priority now was food!!
Using our incredible Kelly Kettle, we gathered some dry fuel and a flat rock base (to keep the area safe) and boiled a tin of stew we had bought earlier! We’d forgotten to bring cutlery, though! So slices of bread were used to pry the food out of the tiny travel pan. Full and exhausted from our somewhat unplanned trip we packed everything up, wrapped our waste in the bread bag (to guard against any creatures sniffing us out in hunger!) and set ourselves to bed. This is where we first realised just how much of a slope we had set the tent on! it doesn’t look like much in the image above, but with our self-inflating mats and our sleeping bags, we were constantly sliding down towards the back! we positioned bags to prop our feet up, and clothes under our head, and eventually fell into a slumber. I awoke a few times uncomfortably squished up in the tent – it’s one I bought for a festival some years ago and isn’t really cut out for heavy camping. I originally used it myself, and lay diagonally quite comfortably! I now realise that with S next to me, and with both our bags, that it’s impossible! My head and feet constantly touched the sides of the tent, so I either woke up shivering or woke up squashed! S, however, seemed to sleep quite soundly with the advantage of being smaller than myself!
After a few false starts, I awoke properly – I could hear birds chirping and red-tinted light shone all around me. I was warm, I was awake and I was restless! I threw on some warm clothes (quietly, so as not to wake S) and went for a quick walk to explore the area – it’s so peaceful there. All you can hear is birds and the wind in the trees. No people, no traffic, no sirens. Just peace! It’s so relaxing being ‘in nature’ for a change, instead of being surrounded by buildings and a man-made environment. I think everyone should ‘escape’ and immerse themselves in the natural world as often as possible, and appreciate the little things.
By the time I’d explored and arrived back at the tent, S was stirring and we prepared for another day – this time on the moors!
Stay tuned for wild camping on Dartmoor: Day 2!