Fear and the outdoors

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.

View on my first solo wild-camping trip in Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland

View on my first solo wild-camping trip in Upper Coquetdale, 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.

Sunrise from Shillhope Law, Northumberland in winter

Sunrise from Shillhope Law, Northumberland in winter

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.

Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland in winter

Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland in winter

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.

About rucksackrose

Hiker, designer & writer passionate about the outdoors, hiking, wild places, camping, trails & the environment.
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17 Responses to Fear and the outdoors

  1. Jak says:

    It looked lovely. I’m reading this with interest as I too am nervous of solo wild camping but you are inspiring me to give it a go. I think I’ll wait until later on in the year though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thedihedral says:

    Thanks for the insights Rose, great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. milligan308 says:

    Beautiful read Rose, we all have fears from time to time, maybe it’s not overcoming them but getting past them. happy wildcamping 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. brilliant – good for you and I’m so pleased for you! Solo wild camping can be both magical and scary at times. I try not to let the fear stop me from doing stuff, but as you say – it serves a pretty crucial purpose!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well said and well done on braving your fears 🙂

    Fear and overcoming that fear is an important part of becoming more comfortable and safer in the outdoors. And I agree it’s important to talk about it. I remember my first couple of wild camps were within easy bailing out options as it comforted me in knowing I could run home if all failed (I didn’t). So I admire you for starting straight away out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rucksackrose says:

      Thanks very much for posting Alyssa. I find it so reassuring when people admit to feeling like that at times. It’s not a huge failing at all, for me it’s just a sign of being human 😊

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  6. Hi Rose,

    Are you in or have you ever thought of joining the Backpackers Club (backpackersclub.co.uk). We have been a members for a few years now and they are a wonderful bunch with many many years experience of backpacking and wild camping. I learn new things every time I go out with them. They have regular ‘meets’ across the UK and have a diary on their website listing dates and times. Once you are a member, you will have access to their Long Distance Path and exclusive Farm Pitch Directories – both very useful when planning routes off the beaten track. However, and more importantly, it would be a way of building confidence for solo outings.

    Best,

    Trevor

    Liked by 1 person

    • rucksackrose says:

      Hello Trevor and thanks for your post and link to the club site. I was a member of the Backpackers Club for a year but because I didn’t have a car, I didn’t make it along to many of their meets or events. The local meetings also clashed with the local LDWA meetings which made it difficult. I have just joined a car scheme which I guess I should take advantage of really so I will give some thought to re-joining. 😊
      Rose

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  7. Colleen says:

    WOW! I am equally afraid of a number of things which hampers my trail choices… I’m in awe of your achievement… great photos too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • rucksackrose says:

      Hi Colleen and thanks for posting. Nothing to be awed by honestly. I could not have imagined I would ever spend a night on a hill in north Northumberland on my own in January if you’d asked me five years ago! If you approach it as the same as camping in the garden, as a Twitter friend suggested, it helps to change your mindset which is key to most achievements 😊

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  8. Dave says:

    Well done, Rose. To experience the true wild-campers’ kingdom is very liberating.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Andrew says:

    Wonderful pics and inspiring narrative, I reckon The Cheviot is great for wild camping, apart from some heathery pitches and a general lack of water high up. There’s a lovely pitch right on top of The Schil, but it’s getting a bit cold up there now 😉 Your blog shows how to wild camp, mine is more like how not to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • rucksackrose says:

      Thanks for your positive comments Andrew. Beware the top of Cheviot is a bit boggy but the Schil would be brilliant in the right conditions. I wish I could show how to wild camp because a lot of people out there are interested. Maybe in five years time 😊

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