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 group trip to Shining Tor in the Peak District and my first solo trip to Shillhope Law in Northumberland.
In my young imagination darkness and the outside were always full of terrors. I was the kind of child who wanted to sleep with the light on, and that shaped my view of the outdoors and wild camping in particular. This fear hampered my walking and my long distance trails for a few years, restricting me to accommodation schedules and adding to the cost of my trips. Several things have helped me 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 devise a game plan in which I progress gradually from bed and breakfasts to wild camping on my long distance trails. The fourth continues to be the advice and support of some people who have been very helpful (hopefully they know who they are). The fifth is learning 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 is not to put pressure on 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.
As the enclosures became virtually non existent at recent campsites, and I was forced to walk in darkness several times on long distance trails, my fears began to disintegrate, and it became an easier transition into wild camping. The old spectres have hopefully now been replaced by beautiful images of the first rays of the sun hitting the tops of the hills in Upper Coquetdale on a beautiful, if chilly, January morning, making my journey worthwhile.