Wild camping done right
Wild camping is re-connecting with nature. It is camping somewhere away from facilities, in a wild place. It is stepping outside your comfort zone, to experience new things. Wild camping helps you escape the manic world in which we live, and find some inner calm.
I base my guided WeCycle wild camping experiences on Dartmoor, for several very valid reasons:
- Dartmoor is the last remaining wilderness in England, and is hauntingly beautiful in its own way.
- It can easily be a car-free adventure, and you can get to the start by train. Be sure to read my Bikes on Trains guide first though.
- Dartmoor is the only part of England where wild camping is perfectly legal.
- Dartmoor is ancient and near to where we’ll be camping there’s a Bronze Age village that’s at least 3 700 years old. Yes, that village predates the beginning of the Roman Empire by over 1 500 years!
Why choose WillCycle?
That’s a great question. For starters, I’m a highly experienced, fully-trained ride leader, and I’ve taken hundreds of groups of cyclists out on rides. I’m First Aid trained and with my military background, I offer a wealth of experience.
More important than that is my passionate belief in treating people fairly, and as equals. You won’t be made fun of, you won’t be laughed at, and you won’t be lectured at. Instead, you will find a WeCycle ride to be a fun, challenging and growing experience, all underpinned by my deep-rooted ethical approach.
You will be encouraged to do as much as possible for yourself, as that will increase your skills and confidence. At the same time, help and guidance will be available, in a supportive environment. Mutual support and respect together form the basis for my WeCycle experiences, and you will leave having learned new skills, while having a bunch of fun.
Why should YOU sign up?
That’s an even better question. Have you ever laid on your back, to look up at the stars in a night sky unpolluted by light? Have you ever watched the sun set over open moorland, or even better, watched it rise again in the morning? Have you ever gone wild swimming in a deep pond on Dartmoor?
Have you ever pitched a tent yourself, slept in the tent overnight, and woke to the early light, with the magic of Dartmoor all around you? Have you ever wanted to go wild camping, but were too nervous to do so? Or, have you ever wanted to go wild camping, but felt unsafe to do so on your own, while none of your friends wanted to try it out? You can even have the opportunity to go wild swimming at night!
When you join me on a WeCycle guided wild camping experience, you will have a great time. You’ll learn new skills, or perhaps hone existing ones. As a bonus, you’ll be in a group of like-minded people (group sizes are limited to maximum eight).
Women are welcome, and more importantly, are welcome as equals.
But I’m a single woman – will I be safe?
The words below is by Katy, the first woman to go wild camping with me. My WeCycle guided wild camping experiences only go ahead if there is a minimum of three participants, and I take great care to create a safe and supportive environment for all.
“You’re expected to bring your kit and get on with it – this is not some Sherpa thing, it’s training really – you do exactly what you would if you were alone, but you actually have the security of company, which as a woman is a good stepping stone.
I’ve met at least three women, or more, who wild camp alone, but it’s like cycling alone, not everyone is comfortable doing that and therefore finding company who also like doing that thing is the option you need.”
What exactly would you be signing up for?
We’ll have a pre-adventure meet, and a kit-check. You’d ideally want to arrive early enough to have lunch. Especially if you signed up to do this in February, a kit-check is essential. Part of the kit-check will be to check our own bikes over. When done, we may have a final hot (or cold!) drink, then we’ll set off.
Initially riding on tar, the road will very soon ramp uphill, but soon enough the off-road bit starts. On at least part of the route I can’t ride my (touring) bike, and will be getting off to walk it. You might be better than me, in which case, I’ll see you at the top!
After the initial big climb, we’ll be on a nearly constant 4% gradient most of the rest of the way, and the riding will become easier. If it’s a mid-winter ride, and there’s enough snow on the ground to hide the stones in the way, we’ll be going quite slow!
We may, or may not, encounter cattle, sheep, or Dartmoor ponies. On clear days (which I obviously can’t guarantee) the views would be great at times, and you’ll soon get a feel for how old this landscape really is.
Soon enough we’ll arrive at our camping spot, and pitch tents. You’re free to pick your favourite spot, but I will point out factors to consider, such as drainage, slope, and shelter from any wind. Shelter is vital, which is why pitching tents is the first thing we’ll do. When done, we’ll start focusing on the evening meal, but not before lighting a bunch of citronella candles, to help keep midges and mosquitoes away. If you haven’t yet done so, at that point I’d suggest you start lathering on insect-repellent, too.
We’ll set up a water-filtration system, so we can get safe drinking water, and start replenishing water bottles. Water filtration is slow, so we’ll still need to be careful with water, especially if it’s hot.
You will be required to prepare your own meal, and bring your own gas stove to cook on, but I’ll be available to help (in between brewing fresh coffee for everyone). After food, we’ll look at environmentally-friendly ways of washing up, then it will be time to learn all about the on-suite toilet facilities! Bet you’re excited!
Going to the loo!
Going to the loo when wild camping is most certainly not the same as stumbling to the bathroom in the morning! We’ll discuss what to do, and where to go, ensuring especially women would have the privacy they deserve. Importantly, you’ll be asked to walk that route once or twice in daylight, so you gain some familiarity.
Next, the USB-powered lights will go up, to provide some general illumination of our camp site. Only then, if there’s sufficient daylight left, will we go exploring the immediate vicinity.
Star-gazing (weather dependent!)
As darkness falls, and provided we have clear skies, we’ll gaze up at the night sky in wonder. You get to see far more stars from there than you would from any city. Finally, before we go to sleep, we’ll light up some battery-powered, small lights, to show the way towards the toilet area when it’s dark. That’s just in case you need to go wandering there in the dark.
I expect you will wake early. We won’t set any alarms, and people will wake up when they wake up (but if by 9am you’re still asleep, we’ll start making a lot of noise!)
My day always starts with coffee, and I’ll be brewing coffee for anyone that wants one. After that, it’ll be time for breakfast.
Once we’ve had our breakfast, it’ll be time for a small hike, which would include a compass and map session. Learning how to use a compass and map is optional, as is the hike. If you opted to skip on that, you can laze around the pond (can’t quite call it a lake) or explore nearby. If it’s a mid-winter trip, we’ll probably skip on the hike.
By the time we get back, it will be time to pack up. After everything’s been packed up, we’ll do a sweep of the area, and pick up all rubbish we encounter. Yes, even if it’s not ours. Once we’re happy that we’re leaving no trace, it’ll be time to get back on our bikes and cycle back to civilisation with smiles on our faces.
What if I don’t own a tent?
Tents can be expensive, and I understand why you wouldn’t want to buy one that you might never use (but do consider this one). If you don’t have a tent, I can provide with one to use overnight, but please speak to me about that first. There’s a Contact Me form below that you can use.
What if I own no camping kit?
To a limited degree, I can help with that, and either lend you some of my kit, or share some of it with you. For example, I can let you use my camping stove. However, please don’t assume any of this will be available, unless confirmed with me, as I have limited spare kit.
The Small Print
I like to be clear about things, so forgive me if some of what I write here seems obvious. For starters, I can’t promise you clear starry nights, or blue skies during the day. The weather on Dartmoor is changeable, but that simply adds to the adventure. The rides will go ahead regardless of the weather, with the exception being if 40+mph winds are forecast.
The route is challenging. If you’re just a moderately fit, moderately skilled rider, you should cope with it. The route is intentionally designed to be challenging. However, we will travel as a group, and we will stop as often as you need us to. Nobody will be rushing you along all the time. Equally, if you find the pace slower than you’d like, I expect you to be supportive towards others who may be struggling more than you.
It’s not a race. If you want to show off your amazing athletic skills, high speed cycling and supreme off-road cycling talent, please stay away? A WeCycle experience is intentionally not a competitive environment.
You must carry a minimum of two litres of water on your bike. On a sweltering hot summer’s weekend, you will need every last drop. Equally, you will need to carry all your gear on your bike. Panniers will be easier for most people to use, and usually offer more storage space, but you’re free to choose your own luggage system. Just do yourself a favour and don’t use a backpack!
The route is rough in places. You might fall over. You might step on uneven terrain (well, it is Dartmoor, after all) and twist your ankle, or you might even get bitten by a horsefly (they love me, for some reason!). In fact, there’s a very remote possibility that you might even see an adder, but consider yourself exceptionally lucky of you do. These are ordinary risks, and you agree that you’ll be undertaking this adventure at your own risk. From my side, I promise to do my very best to keep you safe, while also allowing you to make your own decisions. I will not treat you like a 5yo!
Abusive behaviour will not be tolerated. I’m sorry that this even needs saying. Anyone being abusive towards others will be asked to leave. Abuse includes being racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, or similar. Equally, anyone lighting fires, littering and refusing to clear that up, or causing harm to Dartmoor will be asked to leave. If I was forced to ask you to leave, I’m afraid there will be no refund at all for you. A WeCycle adventure is a respectful environment.
This adventure is only £150 per person, but reduced to £120 if you sign up early enough. If you’re desperate to do a trip like this, but can’t afford it, talk to me, so we can see what we can do.
I also offer a payment scheme, allowing you to pay £51 deposit, then three instalments of £33. If you sign up early enough, that deposit drops to £30, with three more instalments of £30.
How do I sign up?
Easy: use the Contact Me form below to send me a message, and I’ll email you back. All payments will be handled via PayPal, so you’ll have buyer protection.