Wild Camping – The Next Generation   17 comments


The delights of Wild Camping are not always obvious to the younger members of the family. We’ve been hatching a plan for a couple of years to get more of the kids involved after Mark took A out on a couple of trips and me, TJS, the Hardman and his eldest did the same last year

To coordinate a weekend is easier said than done so we just picked a date and agreed to decide closer to the time to see if was a goer.

Right on cue the forecast was really poor. I almost bailed out, not fancying spending a weekend in the rain with grumpy kids. However it was said kids who convinced me I was the grumpy one and we decided to give it a go. We had planned a trip to upper Eskdale but the weather looked truly awful so we plumped on a less ambitious route into the Howgills.

The Saturday morning was as horrid as the forecast, several hours of ceaseless rain had us lounging about Mark’s place while he filled us up with a nourishing soup. We headed out anyway and as luck would have it got delayed by a traffic jam on the M6 long enough for the rain to have pretty much stopped by the time we parked up. All packed and ready to go we headed for the hills




The original plan had been to walk up Carlingill Beck. Its a superb valley and has possible camp spots at the far end. The wet weather had the streams in spate though and crossing them would have been a challenge. We changed tack and headed up and around the head of Carlingill by going over Linghaw and picking up an interesting looking traversing path high above the waterfalls at the head of the valley


The horses kept us company clearly waiting for us to disappear so they could get up to mischief, more of this later



Considering how poor the forecast had been the weather wasn’t all that bad. It had stopped raining and whilst it was windy, the cloud lifted a bit and we had views of a sort


We easily picked up the high level traversing path and what a find (thanks to Mark). Even in gloomy weather it was a real delight, easy, yet elevated high above the deep cleft of Carlingill Beck



We even had a few glimpses of sunshine on the valley below


The path cut across the top of the dramatic Black Force



The kids seemed in great spirits and were enjoying the challenge of the walk into the wilds


There were even steam crossings to delight and amuse for young and old alike




It was just a short walk from there to Blakethwaite Bottom, our intended pitch, having read favourable reviews online as a great spot. It was seriously windy and exposed but we found a great spot on the far side sheltered enough to make sitting outside the tents quite pleasent.

The Hardman had a new tent to try out, an enormous 3 -person Vango affair, in a discrete scarlet colour


I lent Mark my large Lightwave 3 person tent for him and two of his dangerous offspring. He was very taken with it. So taken I’ve lent it to him long term as his kids are really taking to the wild camping and this tent really hits that 3 person spot. I don’t have much use for it any more (TJS prefers to sleep solo when there’s the three of us – I snore apparently as well) and I’d much rather see it in use than under my bed gathering dust


We had a really enjoyable time cooking tea, messing about and having a laugh. The kids seemed to really enjoy themselves and being outdoors with a trio of middle-aged grey hikers


We even had some brief sunny spells and decided to take an evening walk up Uldale Head




It was brutally steep and when crested the top, amazingly windy.



We had a few fleeting views but the real fun was had from surfing in the wind. The smiles on the faces below tell how much we all enjoyed being kids. We also discovered that turning cagoules inside out made a fairly effective parachute to drag us around the summit. I forgot to take photos alas


It had been cracking day, all the better for the fact we hadn’t expected to get much out of it other than a soaking and long periods sat in the tent. In the event we only went under canvas when it was time for bed after an improvised game of Petanques with rocks, many brews of tea and lots of biscuits


We woke the next morning with company. A small gathering of wild horses and ponies on our doorstep. A bacon breakfast got the day off to a grand start



Soon there was celebrity death-match between some cows and the horses. The cows won and spent an age just stood close by looking at us curiously, nudging each other out the way for a closer look. Very comical. I’ve had a few run ins with cows recently but these were harmless if a little disconcerting but soon dispersed with a little encouragement


We didn’t want to hang around as the forecast was for strengthening winds and rain in the afternoon. We packed up and headed back down but were hit by the only bad weather of the weekend. We walked straight into a cold deluge that had us all soaked within seconds and for a short period it was deeply unpleasent. It stopped soon enough though and apart from a few short sprinkles we stayed dry the rest of the day


We dropped back down to Carlingill Beck by the side of Black Force. An impressive ravine and extremely steep so we took our time. Again I think the kids enjoyed the challenge and the rain hadn’t doused their spirits in any way



We had a brief lunch by the river and embraced the challenge of a couple of river crossings



The walk along Carlingill Beck is superb and provided a fitting finish to what was a superb if short trip out to the wilds







I wasn’t sure how the kids would take to a wild camp in less than perfect conditions but they were all superb company. My abiding memory of the weekend was smiles and laughter. They took everything in their stride and were a pleasure to be with from start to finish. For me, there was a real sense of pride that they enjoyed it far more than I hoped and seemed to share in the simple pleasures of just being out in the mountains. Their youthful enthusiasm was infectious and I hope we can do this on a much more regular basis. Cracking stuff. If only those pesky ponies I mentioned hadn’t sheltered by my car and barged into it, denting the front wing, the little pests. Still that’s why we have insurance I guess


That brings my blog back up to date. I’m out of action for a few weeks having just had some minor surgery on my left knee. All went well and healing nicely so blog service will be resumed in a couple of weeks


17 responses to “Wild Camping – The Next Generation

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  1. Really enjoyed reliving that! A top notch post about a brilliant weekend. You’re absolutely right: we must do that again.
    Looking at your photos, I was struck by the Gaffer Tape on my waterproofs – still the same stuff I put on them after I tore them, the day I fell in the bog when we were at Ninebanks. It’s lasted well – I think I may just make a pair of trousers entirely from Gaffer Tape rather than ever getting around to replacing my old trews.
    Thanks for widely sharing (again) that photo of me on Uldale Head – I look like a demented loon.


    • I enjoyed writing and I love all the photos. The kids were just brilliant, great company. I really love that photo, it just sums up the vibe for the whole weekend for me. Wonder how we’d coped if we’d gone the past weekend in a different kind of extreme weather (although I guess we’d have been swimming in Eskdale to cool off.
      The image of you in gaffa tape trousers has put me off my breakfast

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Isn’t it nice when the weatherman gets it wrong? Glad you had a good camping trip.


  3. Pingback: Blakethwaite Bottom Wild-Camp – Beating The Bounds

  4. Brilliant, it is really great to see kids getting out on the hills and actually enjoying. Glad one and all had a great trip.


    Brenda-Dawn Linney
    • I think its really important to get the kids to appreciate the outdoors to help protect it in the future. A life away from electronic devices. It was a delight to see them rise to the challenge of mixed weather day and really enjoy it. To their eternal credit they never complained once (even in a horrendous cold rain shower that had me wincing)


  5. That looks like a thoroughly enjoyable outing; and reads like one too.

    This is the time of year when we see lots of youngsters out on the Shropshire hills doing their DofE awards. Hopefully lifelong habits are being formed.


    • We all had a great time and trip to remember for many a year.
      I fear a bit for the DofE youngsters as to whether it encourages or discourages. My son (who loves walking and backpacking) hated the idea of DofE, just a route march with no real sense of adventure or fun and being compelled to carry all sorts of unnecessary stuff. I see them out in the hills all the time and sadly they rarely look happy or perhaps that’s just the teenage angst look they all practice (my son has it down to a fine art) 🙂


      • I must admit we have wondered about some of the loads we’ve seen being carried and whether it was all really needed. Funnily enough, the adults we see accompanying them never seem to be carrying anything like as much; either experience has taught them to lighten the load, or maybe they’re using the kids as sherpas.


        • Apparently you are made to carry a prescribed list of kit including bivvy bags etc even though they rarely traverse any sort of high mountain terrain. I suppose its good practice to realise that sometimes staying safe involves a bit of weight (backpacking in winter conditions with axe, crampons and the like makes for a very heavy pack). I bought one of those luggage weighing things to see how much my packs weigh and we had great fun seeing who’s pack was the heaviest/lightest on this trip


  6. I’ve found time to have a wonderful read of all your hikes while I was absent. I loved our time in the the Swiss Alps and the Dolomites. The UK trails however may not have their grandeur, but they do have a much more open feel, that I love. This old body complained about the steep ascents and descents.
    Have a fabulous time on your rail adventure.


    • Thanks Helen, I’m enjoying following your European tour and looking forward to the Swiss Alps and Dolomites. I spent a lot of my youth climbing mountains in Switzerland although I’ve never been to the Dolomites. Steep ascents and descents – I remember those!


  7. The Howgills are on my to do list as we keep passing them going to the Lake District. If you do get children interested in walking and the outdoors and that passion to explore stays with them and they enjoy it then that’s a great gift for life they will always have or can go back to later on… and one that can be done anywhere, in any area you visit, for free or for little outlay.. And you never run out of new exciting places to visit. I usually think of that and smile when I pass expensive indoor gyms in the city with people running on treadmills behind glass… and paying for the privilege of getting some exercise and health benefits that’s already all around them outside for nothing.


    Blue Sky Scotland
    • The Howgills are well worth an explore, some great valleys and waterfalls and a complex system of tops and ridges. The kids surpassed themselves with their enthusiasm and enjoyment and the hope is that will continue. As you say great free exercise and a healthy respect for the environment. I went through a Gym phase but quickly realised there was no point, and it costs a small fortune


      • There’s a pretty upmarket hotel right on the bank of the River Tay in Dunkeld; you can often see people in the gym there, running on treadmills and looking out through the big windows. I’ve always wondered why they would do that, rather than stepping outside and running along the riverside trail. I suppose we’re all different…


        • It is really bizarre – they probably like the controlled environment but there is is always somewhere outdoors to enjoy a little exercise. Even on the office park where I work the walk around the estate road and the landscaped ponds/lakes is a pleasant way to spend a lunch hour.


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