One of the most enjoyable and rewarding activities we started pursuing this year is wild camping in the UK.
A lack of available activities in the city caused us to lean towards nature more than ever.
Staying surrounded by lonely skyscrapers abandoned high streets and empty pavements felt far from desirable.
It is a very special experience to make a piece of land your home for the night.
Waking up early to chirping birds and peaceful greenery is a truly magical and underrated experience.
I won’t discuss legalities, but pretty much if you are respectful to your surroundings and pick a good stealthy spot, you should be fine.
With all these precautions I want to take you through in this guide, you should be prepared to go on your first adventure out in the wilderness very soon!
Pitch late, pack early
By limiting the time you have your tent pitched, it is also less likely for you to be discovered.
Some forests are patrolled more than others, especially if they are Nature Reserves or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – so I would recommend going for the easy wins as much as possible.
Sometimes we pitch our tent before the sun goes down, so we get some nice golden-hour light and can shoot pictures for our blog.
For stealthy camping, I recommend pitching when it’s already dark, or just before.
Leave no trace
No plastic, equipment, or rubbish should be left behind around your pitched spot.
This has some fair reasons – first of all, no one will notice that this spot has been used for camping.
So on one side, it’s less likely that a patrol will be checking on this location specifically, but also it can be YOUR spot only – as others will not know that it’s safe to stay here.
Anyway, who thinks it’s a good idea to leave the mess they made and not clean up after themselves?
Be creative with tools to carry less
Wild camping is all about simplicity unless you like to carry kilograms of gear which has very little use to them.
Always pick equipment that can be used in many ways.
For me, the most useful pieces of equipment so far were:
- a bandana – you can use it as a headband, handle holder for iron cast pan or metal cup when cooking
- metal camping cup – can double as a pot to boil just enough water for coffee and can be attached outside the backpack you carry. You can also temporarily store anything you forage up on the way, like wild berries.
It does make a difference to carry only essentials, but some emergency or spare tools may come in handy earlier than you may expect.
It will vary depending on climate and conditions you will be camping in, but for the UK and camping in the forest, I recommend few of these to consider:
- Socks – in case somehow, yours get wet!
- Thermal or insulated layer – this can be easily double-up as pyjamas.
- Raincoat – even just a small, packable one
- Power bank – that goes for all the times you camp and have your camera and phone with you.
Check your gear beforehand
The moment of buying your gear is always super exciting, and we get it too!
What is also important, is to check how it works and familiarise yourself with the manuals and overall handling.
Also, check for any rips, dents and any other faults regularly in you existing gear.
Noticing any faults will mean than they can be repaired before you head out and will help you to avoid any unwanted situations!
Pitch on fairly flat ground – or you will slide!
Picking a great camping spot should be more about not being visible from the trails around, rather than a great tent door view.
If you can find a balance between the two, fantastic!
In the end, the goal is to not be discovered so you can enjoy the whole night.
Look for fallen trees, bushy enclosures, and less accessible hills.
What is another thing to look out for, is fairly even and levelled ground.
Otherwise, you might see that all tent content (including you) is slowly sliding towards one side during the night.
Have a spare plastic bag for your rubbish / dirty dishes
Plastic bags, as bad rep as they get, will come very useful when you wild camp.
You can get a few spare ones from the drawer you always put them away after grocery shopping.
Use them as bin bags for any plastic your food was potentially wrapped with.
Also, it’s great to store all cooking equipment which has been ‘cleaned’ in camping conditions.
If you keep these in your backpack, it will be much easier to keep them clean
Wet wipes and tissues always come handy
These are almost essential on a wild camping trip – if you don’t get access to water, this is your last help if you want to refresh yourself after an active day.
DIY washable cutlery roll
The other positive side of wild camping is that you may get to be creative and design some simple pieces of gear, which fit our needs and is one of a kind.
One of the first projects I picked up was making a cutlery roll.
It’s not perfect by any means, but was very quick to make and just looks cheerful.
Also, it handles the washing very well.
Pro tip: measure your longest tool (usually a knife) and add one inch extra so everything will be nicely contained in the roll.
Also, using sewing machine is recommended as it just takes very little time compared to hand-sewn projects.
Don’t be too scared!
Hey, this is all adventure and it’s not too likely that you will be in any danger if you follow the basic rules and use common sense to plan your trip.
I remember on our first camping excursion we were very stressed and cautious about every single noise we could hear.
Our senses were overly active and seeking every opportunity to make us anxious.
There are virtually no harmful animals in the UK (beware of the ticks, though!) and it’s not too likely that you will be discovered by a patrol or other people.
Good luck with your adventure and hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!