Wild camping and me

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 Tough Girl Podcast, I have realised that some other 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.

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Campsite Pics. Clockwise: My garden, Wasdale, Edale and Knarsdale

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 a fairly good humoured and enjoyable introduction to wild camping. I learned a lot by simply watching what was going on around me and left feeling encouraged.

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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.

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 another walker (and her partner briefly) at their motorhome 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. I was feeling happy and carefree, but unfortunately by the time we pitched our tents, the invisible enemies of dehydration and heat exhaustion were causing me to feel very unwell. I had a throbbing headache, my head was spinning, I felt sick and a bit delirious. Whatever assessment the other walker claims to have made of my condition was made from zipped inside her tent.

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.

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St Cuthbert’s Way

I packed up and left the other walker, who had refused (from inside her tent) to make a call out or come with me, 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.

St Cuthbert's Way

St Cuthbert’s Way II

I mentioned some of this in a Trip Advisor review of the hotel made at the time in early 2014, and I have not seen either of the people involved since that time. A month or so later I discovered that I had been blocked by the walker on Twitter, so I emailed her again to apologise and reiterate that I had had too much sun.

I may be useless at some things, but I can recognise the symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration, having suffered from both before. The other walker was criticised by the people at the hotel at the time for not coming with me. Her decision left me quite hurt but, because she had offered to take me out, I spared her blushes by not discussing what had happened on social media for over two years. Sadly I now realise that saying nothing has given this couple the opportunity to claim that they know me far better than they do and to spread malicious untruths about me within the outdoor community while I was doing my M.A. This caused me to withdraw from the TGO Challenge 2017.

I don’t tend to gossip and I didn’t know how to respond to any of this unpleasantness after my course, but I began writing this blog, which is dedicated to my mum, for pleasure, and this is still being marred by the reactions of this couple over three years later. So reader beware of apparently kind offers from strangers on Twitter which can turn toxic.

My own appraisal of the day.

For what it’s worth, my own appraisal of that day is that I was affected by the sun because it was a bright & sunny day and I had been indoors all winter. I had not taken a sunhat as I thought it was too early in the year to need one, but this was the wrong decision. I had also recently abandoned my rucksack hydration system with a hose because several had leaked whilst I was camping. Instead I had put a 1.5L plastic bottle of water in the back pocket of my rucksack, which meant that I had to stop and take my rucksack off whenever I wanted a drink. During the course of that day I only did this once or twice at the most which caused me to become dehydrated.

[I have since taken advice regarding the problems I have been having with this couple and reported them. When I tried to post a link to this post on the walker’s partner’s blog, it was deleted and I was threatened with legal action for slander and libel. The advice I have been given is that something cannot be libellous or slanderous if it is true which it is, and so].

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Camping in Wasdale

Anyway, to return to the much more interesting present, and to answer some questions, the main reasons that I haven’t wild camped again until recently are:

  • I have been completing an M.A. for the last year
  • I have been trying to support my father
  • I have no car
  • I am an assault survivor which still makes me afraid of some situations.
  • I was really put off wild camping after the trip I have just described

I have mentioned some or all of these issues to some Twitter friends, but I’d rather not be feeling pressured into announcing them on here. I would prefer not 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 outdoor activities, 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 on here.

Thanks very much to the people who have stopped by since I first published this post in December of 2016. It really does mean a huge amount to me.

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About rucksackrose

Hiker, designer & writer passionate about the outdoors, hiking, wild places, camping, trails & the environment.
This entry was posted in About me, blog, Camping, Charity, walking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Wild camping and me

  1. rucksackrose says:

    I just wanted to say a big thank you to the people who have stopped by to comment on and like this post. It really means a great deal to me.

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  2. Andrew says:

    Hello Rose, I’ve been working on a PW blog featuring quite a lot of wild camping (some great, some a bit pointlessly challenging!) so if your interested in the pros and cons of potential wild campsites along the PW have a look. Some of the sites I chose were a bit rubbish 😉 I found four nights on the trot was the most wild camping I could stand, but that was in October and it was pretty damp up there. Your blog is great and an inspiration for getting mine finally written. Bw, Andrew

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    • rucksackrose says:

      Hi Andrew. Thanks for posting and for your kind comments. I will definitely take a look at your blog as I love reading accounts of the PW which will always have a soft spot in my heart. I am very flattered to be an inspiration for any literary or outdoor feats. Rose 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave says:

    It’s always good to talk and admit these things rucksackrose. I did St Cuthbert’s Way in 2014 and enjoyed it very much. This year I did Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path, but found the first 50 miles a bit tedious walking in a straight line on flat ground. Neither of these walks would I chose to wild camp along, but when I did the Pennine Way over several years, completing in 2015 I wish I had wild camped some of it, especially in the remote Cheviots towards the end. I would have felt perfectly safe there in the ‘wilderness’ and trust the locals from that region of England like no-where else. I have also had my share of looking after elderly parents, bless, and know the importance of taking a break and regain spiritual renewal every so often. Walking is my way of finding well being, as I am sure you can appreciate. Hoping one day you will retry the experience of the wild camp.
    Dave

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    • rucksackrose says:

      Hello Dave and thanks for posting. I know what you mean about wishing you had wild camped in hindsight. I certainly regret that I didn’t wild camp on parts of my long distance trails including the Pennine Way and some of my day walks. Sometimes I just happen upon a spot and wish I had my camping gear on me. I agree that there is something replenishing about walking in the hills and I sometimes wish I could just drop everything and stay there. I hope to start wild camping again as soon as my sleeping bag arrives so hopefully I will be posting about my experiences soon

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  4. What a brave decision to make that statement. Now those who filled ‘nothing’ with guesswork and judgement can remain quiet and perhaps reflect on their thoughts. I am training for the (2018) TGO Challenge. I imagine it is 2017 challenge you wil be participating in but I look forward to meeting you at some point on the journey – which ever year it is. This will be my first and, at 64 as I will be them, will definately be a challenge. However, I have been told once the TGO bug bites one is hooked. I will continue to follow your blog with interest. Have a great TGOC.

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    • rucksackrose says:

      Hello and thanks for posting. I didn’t realise that you could get a place on the 2018 TGO without going through the normal selection process in October. I hope your crossing and your training go well for you.

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      • I will have to enter like everyone else for the 2018 event – and I may not get in. I had planned to do it in 2017 but left it too late to submit my routes. At least I have those ready for next time.

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  5. Hi I’ve just read you’re latest post on your blog and I’m saddened and horrified to hear you felt you had to disclose so much personal information because of the bad behaviour of others Hope you are ok. Best Wishes Dorothy Whittaker

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  6. Sometimes it might feel good to let go. And here will be always gossiping. In the last three years I have learned to put everything in perspective. And I am able to do this thanks to the walking and the moments in nature.
    So weather your camp near a farm, a campsite or setting a bivouac for the night. I think the mean objective is to enjoy the outdoors. How people enjoy it is different for every person.
    Good luck with the TGO Challenge.

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