Many of the endurance athletes I respect have managed to cover long distances by camping in farms and gardens or using bothies, rescue huts, hostels and bunkhouses. In spite of this, wild camping seems to have become a by-word for outdoor proficiency. Listening to the excellent Tough Girl Podcast, I have realised that many women share my apprehension about wild camping. It has been such a relief to hear this discussed by people with really amazing achievements under their belts.
To rewind a bit, I backpacked the Pennine Way, staying in some very small campsites, on farms and in gardens, and my first wild camp was with a group of Twitter friends in the Peak District, shortly after I had finished this hike. On the whole this was good a humoured and enjoyable introduction to wild camping. I learned a lot by simply watching what was going on around me and left feeling encouraged.
About 6 months later I was pleased to be invited out for a second wild camp by someone else on Twitter. This trip didn’t go so well. I hadn’t discussed it on my blog but I have begun to realise that if I don’t discuss it then other people will.
After a winter which was largely spent indoors supporting my father, I was a bit out of condition, but I didn’t regard it as a competition. I joined my fellow walker at Jedburgh for a bright and sunny day of walking on the St Cuthbert’s Way, which I had walked once before using hostels and B&Bs. Unfortunately by the time we pitched our tents, the invisible enemies of dehydration and sunstroke were causing me to feel very unwell. I had a throbbing headache, my head was spinning, I felt sick and a bit delirious. Most rescue people advise that if you don’t feel well you should turn back and that is what I did. In retrospect I think this was the right decision.
I left my companion, but by the time I reached the road in the dark, I was feeling too sick to walk. I finally decided to call the hotel we had passed earlier in the day. The owner heroically came out in his car to pluck me up from the side of the road in the dark and take me back to the hotel where I was given tea and a much needed room for the night.
When I got home I emailed my fellow walker to apologise and to explain that I had had too much sun. I mentioned all this in a Trip Advisor review of the hotel made at the time, and I hadn’t thought much more about it since then. Sadly I now realise that if you say nothing then that nothing seems to quickly get filled by inaccurate gossip which is why I decided to give my account of the trip.
Anyway, to return to the much more interesting present, and to answer some questions about the TGO Challenge, which I am thrilled to be doing, the main reasons that I haven’t wild camped recently are:
- I have been completing an MA for the last year
- I have been supporting my father
- I have no car and not much money
- I am an assault survivor and this has meant that I have a stupid fear that it could happen again, which still makes me afraid of some situations.
- Once my new sleeping bag arrives I plan to go out wild camping by myself and begin training for the TGO Challenge
I have mentioned some or all of these issues to some Twitter friends, but I’d much rather not be feeling pressured into announcing them on here. I don’t really want to be defined by things that have happened to me in the past, so forgive me if, having explained this, I now focus on my training for the TGO Challenge, hoping that I can now do this in a less censorious and more supportive atmosphere. Apologies to my readers for having to use my blog to counter gossip rather than just write about the outdoors which is all I really want to do.