Having completed my first solo wild camp this week, I have rather ambitiously begun a separate tab called Camps on this blog in which you can follow (or not) my attempts to conquer my fears and become experienced at wild camping. There you can read about my first trip to Upper Coquetdale in Northumberland.
My fear of solo wild camping has hampered my walking and my long distance trails for a few years now, restricting me to accommodation schedules and adding to the cost of my trips. Several things have helped me to begin to overcome this fear.
The first is to set myself some hard and fast goal/s which would give me a reason to wild camp, and some deadlines to work towards (although one of my first goals fell through). The second has been to gradually assemble a kit in which I have confidence, and the third has been to use small campsites and gardens as an intermediate stage. The fourth continues to be the advice and support of the more patient people on social media, who have been encouraging. The final suggestion I would now offer is to beware of people who try to undermine you, under the guise of helping you, because it is your development which matters most in that situation.
My advice to ‘experts’ is not to put pressure on or bully people who are afraid of any outdoor situations. Fear is natural and inevitable at certain times and in certain situations in the outdoors. The truth is that many outdoors people have had experiences which have made them afraid, and it is much more helpful to people with less experience if we can be honest with ourselves and eachother about this. After all, fear performs a necessary function, keeping our senses alert and sharpening our survival instincts.
Even as an adult, my mind was full of ingrained childhood imagery in which the dark and everything outside the enclosed spaces of home, were full of unknown terrors. That is the kind of childhood I had. As the walls became virtually non existent at recent campsites, and I have been forced to walk in the dark several times on long distance trails, the childhood spectres began to disintegrate, and it became an easier transition into wild camping. Those old spectres have now been replaced by beautiful images of the first rays of the sun hitting the tops of the hills in Upper Coquetdale on a beautiful, if chilly, January morning, making the whole journey worthwhile.