We have wanted to go wild camping as a family for a while. But, the timing had not been right, the destination couldn’t be sourced and we wondered if we had the right equipment.
In the end, I booked a Saturday off work, and we headed to the Lake District for a weekend of adventure. Wild camping is not as frowned upon in the lakes as it is in other areas of the U.K. (it is perfectly legal in Scotland though) so we felt safer knowing that if we kept to the rules, we would be OK.
Rules for wild camping.
Arrive late. We had sourced an area to camp on but didn’t get our bags and equipment ready until it was getting dark. Approximately 7 o’clock we gathered our supplies and headed to the hills.
Leave early. As soon as we woke up, at about 6.00 am, the kids had a small box of cereal each and we packed up to leave. We were in the village of Coniston by 8.00 am.
Leave no trace. All rubbish was taken with us. We didn’t have a fire, so no marks were left on the ground.
Respect your environment. We camped in a flat spot so there was no need to rip up grass or cut down trees for any reason. We simply put our tent down, and picked it back up again.
Where did we go?
Coniston Old Man had been recommended to us through Instagram, as you can park on Walna Scar Road and walk straight up onto the fell. We arrived at 2.30 in the afternoon after having a big lunch at The Crown Inn in Coniston. We climbed the Old Man while scouring for a place to camp and then walked back down to the car before gathering our belongings. With each of the kids carrying a bag, we strolled back up to where we wanted to pitch the tent.
By this time, head torches were required and the kids happily played around in the dark while Husband (Dicky) and I set up the tent. We should have perhaps had a trial run, as it was a new tent and, as usual, nothing was working properly! Eventually, the tent was up, the tarp laid out and the kids kicked their shoes off and made the tent their home.
Food had already been prepared. Tuna pasta can be eaten hot or cold, so after we had made a cup of tea (priorities, right?!) the pasta was warmed through in a mess tin. The kids all shared together using their sporks to delve in and devour their meal. This was a great novelty to them, and they enjoyed it throughly.
After we had filled our bellies, the tent was closed up and we chatted for a while inside. I wish I had taken a pack of cards or something to entertain us a bit more. But, the kids were tired after a long day travelling and hiking to the summit of Coniston Old Man, so they were happy to hunker down in their sleeping bags for a night of sleep. Myself and the kids were lying on the air bed, and Dicky had nestled himself along side it. Considering the tent is a 3 man tent, it is spacious, and we felt very comfortable.
Before I knew it, there were sounds of quiet snoring, and louder snoring in the corner from Dicky! We were all sleeping in our clothes, so the kids were fairly warm. They had taken their coats off for comfort, and the cold didn’t seem to bother them. If I’m honest, I was cold. But the tent did have vent openings on it, that we didn’t know how to close. Again, we should have had a trial run! I nestled down next to Molly and tried to get some shut eye.
In the morning.
The morning greeted us with a cold wind, but nothing too worrisome. The views were magnificent from our camping spot and we caught the sun just over the mountains, appearing in its golden glory. We worked together as a team to deflate the air bed, roll up the tarp and put everything back in the bags. And miraculously, it all fit! Walking back down to the road, with the sun on our backs, and the kids hopping along happily, was just magnificent. The area was peaceful, the birds were singing, and not another soul could be seen.
It was glorious.
What did we take?
To pack for a night in the open, and for it to fit on our backs was quite the feat. We took:
- A 3 man tent
- 3 single sleeping bags
- 1 double sleeping bag
- double air bed and battery operated inflator
- stove and gas – we have this one from Decathlon, and Dicky made a little burner out of an empty hair gel tin for extra heat.
- large tarp with extra ropes and tent pegs
- 2 large mess tins
- 2 camping mugs
- 2 head torches
- Power banks to charge mobile phones
- Baby wipes – biodegradable from Jackson and Reece
- microfibre towel
- first aid kit and spare contact lenses in case Oliver’s glasses broke!
- Food! Nestle have brought out cereal in a box, which was great for the kids. The milk pours in and they eat it from the box. Tuna pasta bake was already cooked so it just needed a warm through. And we also took packet mashed potato and a tin of beans and sausages. An extra packet of biscuits, cereal bars and some sweets for pudding were thrown in too.
In the car, there are extra clothes, sandwiches and other accompaniments for a picnic.
What would I do different?
I would love to have NOT taken the air bed. Next time we go, we will try camping mats and make sure it is a warmer month!
I felt a bit rushed. Next time, I will try and savour the moments a bit more, and not worry about being caught. I know that sounds a bit wrong, but the most anyone will do is move us on, I presume?! Somebody please tell me if we can be thrown in jail for this, then I’ll try not to encourage my children to do it!
Take a pack of playing cards for some entertainment.
Learn how to use my ‘Big’ camera for better night pictures! If anybody can point me in the right direction for a tutorial for dummies, I’d be grateful!
Wild camping is an exhilarating, freeing experience. The kids absolutely loved it, and had not a single care in the world while we were out there. We all worked together and bonded well as a family. I would definitely recommend trying it, safely of course, and we will be looking for more destinations in the summer time.