“You’ve been getting increasingly nervous as the sun starts getting lower in the sky, knowing that tonight will be your very first time ever wild-camping, on your own.
With a determined expression on your face, you pedal on, relieved that your tired legs will soon get a break from powering your loaded bike up hills, while trying to ignore the growing concern about setting up camp…”
The very first time you go wild-camping, especially if doing so on your own, will be nerve-wracking for most people. Suddenly, all sense of familiarity will have been stripped away from you, and you will probably feel vulnerable.
Wild camping (especially in the UK) isn’t remotely close to what your ancestors had to face (who were far tougher than either you , or me) but you will realise that out there, in whatever camping spot you ended up picking for the night, you are on your own. When you’re not used to that (and most of us aren’t) it can feel overwhelming.
Wild camping is a phrase I only became familiar with, after moving to the UK. To most British people, camping means camping at a formal camp site, which will have all sorts of facilities, while wild camping refers to camping somewhere, well, wild. Or if not wild, at least not a formal camp site.
At this stage, I’d strongly urge you to watch Kajsa Tylen’s superb video about wild-camping (and while you’re at it, subscribe to her YouTube channel, and follow her on Twitter – you won’t be disappointed).
For your first time wild-camping, it would really help if you had someone else along (ideally someone who has wild-camped before!) as that would mean you’d feel far more reassured, but of course that’s not essential.
What is important is your mindset, and that you prepare yourself for what you might encounter. Even in densely-populated England, there can be a surprising amount of wild creatures out at night, and some of them might be intrigued by your tent, and so might come over to investigate.
A badger sniffing around your tent – effectively centimetres away from where you’re lying sleeping – can sound big and scary, but to be honest, so can a hedgehog. Your imagination can easily run away with you, so be prepared for strange sounds. These are normal, as you’re not sleeping in your own bed at home.
Wild-camping in the UK is perfectly safe. In 2018, a camper was murdered, while on a fishing trip, but apparently, that was done by his friend(!) who went camping with him, and I’ve not been able to find anything else. Statistically speaking, that means you’ll be even safer when doing solo wild-camping than when doing so with friend!
That first time
When wild-camping for the very first time, you will probably wake up several times during the night. Don’t worry about it – it’s simply your mind adjusting to a completely unfamiliar environment. You may find yourself waking very early, too. If you’re lucky, you might even wake before sunrise, so you can sit outside your tent, sipping that first coffee for the day, while watching the sun rising.
Starting your day by watching the sun rising is an excellent experience. Sunrise is every bit as stunning as sunset, but it’s not nearly as crowded.
I suggest you read my post about cycle camping first, as it contains some practical tips about camping, then set off on your first solo wild-camping trip.
Believe me, you’re going to love it!