The Camping Duel 2017

After last year’s formal camping out duel between myself and my daughter Rebecca, we decided to give it another go this year. Both of us enjoyed taunting each other about the race, and for my part it did help motivate me to camp out with fair regularity. A slight tweak to the rules this year though:

  1. Each of us get 1 point for each “standard” camp we do – standard meaning the type of camp we do most of. So for Rebecca that’s a campsite (tame) camp, and for me it’s a wildcamp.
  2. Wildcamps count double compared with tame camps – so for Rebecca she gets 2 points for a wildcamp, and I get 0.5 point for a tame camp.

This caused some controversy though, as for a start it meant I was including tame camps for the first time. Luckily this didn’t affect the result. What caused more acrimony was the fact that we both did a form of sleeping out that the rules hadn’t allowed for, meaning we had to make something up on the fly.

In my case, it was a night in a bothy. Rebecca argued that as no tent was involved and I was indoors it didn’t count at all. On my side, I was sleeping on the floor, and there was no toilet or running water, so it was arguably almost a full wild camp. We compromised on counting it the same as a tame camp (so 0.5 point for me).

Rebecca though, didn’t just sleep out tentless, she built a shelter. Both of us felt this should be worth more than simply erecting a pre-made tent. She wanted it to count as a wild camp, but I couldn’t let her have that as it was on a scout camp site. So we split the difference and awarded 1.5 points.

The Camps

I was out of the blocks quickly and raced to an early lead with a camp on 3 January at Shelstone Tor on Dartmoor. A camp not without incident – a mistake taking my Hexpeak which is so big inside it never really warmed up on a really cold night. Having said that the problem I had with my stove helped heat things up a bit, even if it does mean my groundsheet is no longer whole.

Wildcamp #85: Shelstone Tor

February was a bit of a lean month in terms of actually getting out, and I seem to have spent my time experimenting with home dehydrating (a huge success – I’ve not bought a commercial backpacking meal all year), and planning for May’s TGO Challenge.

March also started slow in camping terms, as I headed to the Lakes with the car for once. This was a trip planned to attend Andy Beck’s launch of the Wainwrights in Watercolour, but ultimately he had to put the launch date back. I still went on the trip anyway, and this allowed me to revisit some fells that are awkward to reach just on foot, as well as do some plein air painting and meet up with a few people.

Painting at Blea Tarn

The following week, I headed out for a bivvy locally, just beating sunset to the planned spot. It’s safe to say it wasn’t an exotic spot.

Wildcamp #86: Orsett Fen

Later that month, and I started to get into the swing of my TGO Challenge preparations and headed to Wales to knock off another section of the Cambrian Way – from Ponterwyd to Mallwyd (Part 1, Part 2). This gave me a chance to use the Duomid with the Aliexpress inner. I didn’t get on with it at all, and promptly ordered a proper inner from Sean (at Oookworks). This trip added 3 more camps to my bag:

Wildcamp #87: Drybedd, Plynlimon
Wildcamp #88: Bryn y Fedwen
Wildcamp #89: Mynydd y Cemmaes

I just about managed to squeeze another local walk into March, before the other party entered the competition.

Wildcamp #90: North Downs

While I was up in Northumberland finding out about all of the great scenery and walking to be had there, Rebecca headed for the Isle of Wight for the first Scout camp of the year, bringing her up to a total of 4 camps (vs my 6). Conscious that she was going to advance in similar spurts throughout the summer, I focused on getting in as many as I could, whenever I could.

Back from Northumberland, I headed down to Dartmoor for a 4 day backpack with Paul, yielding 3 camps at Eastern White Barrow, at Wacka Tor (“Dead Lamb Tor”) and North Tor. The camp at North Tor being easily the camp of the year up to that point.

Wildcamp #91: Eastern White Barrow, Dartmoor
Wildcamp #92: Wacka Tor, Dartmoor
Wildcamp #93: North Tor, Dartmoor

My final camp before heading to Scotland was another quick one on the North Downs, trying out a spot I’d had my eye on for some time.

Wildcamp #94: North Downs

And then it was the big one…

I headed up to Scotland for my first TGO Challenge, expecting to build an unassailable lead in the duel. The first night was spent in Camban Bothy, and was the main reason for me needing to buy a fresh bottle of Scotch in Drumnadrochit a couple of days later.

Camban Bothy

Several proper camps followed:

Wildcamp #95: Loch Mheadhoin
Cannich campsite
Wildcamp #96: Glen Mazeran
Wildcamp #97: Allt Steallaig, Monadhliath
Wildcamp #98: Corrour Bothy
Braemar campsite
Wildcamp #99: Glen Isla
Foresterseat campsite, Forfar

I made it to the coast at Lunan Bay and decided to camp on the beach. A great night, buoyed by the knowledge I’d just walked across Scotland, a nice sunrise. Camp of the year.

Wildcamp #100: Lunan Bay

Back from Scotland and the score was 18-4, which seemed like a decent cushion. Rebecca promptly went off for two nights of Scout camping and with the extra points for building her own bivouac pulled it back to 18-7.

Next up for me was a trip to the Peak District for the Official Annual Birthday Camp. A group of us camped at Monsal Head, did a couple of walks and then while they headed home, I went to meet up with Geoff Crowther for a wild camp on the slopes of Kinder:

Camping at Monsal Head

Wildcamp #101: Kinder area

Rebecca now started to reel in my lead, with cub camp, beaver’s sleepover, Gilwell 24, a week at Kandersteg in Switzerland, and a week at the local scout site helping run the summer playscheme. By the end of August she was on 24 points. In that time, I only added a further two local bivvies, bringing me to 22 points:

Wildcamp #102: Hadleigh Downs
Wildcamp #103: Belhus

Two points behind, but 2 ahead in total number of camps, showing the mischief our scoring system can cause. But by this point, I knew Rebecca was running out of opportunity, and she added one further two night camp in September, giving her a final total of 26 points from 25 camps.

My target now clear, I set about clawing the gap back. First with a weekend in the Lakes Far Eastern Fells walking from Windermere to Pooley Bridge:

Wildcamp #104: Sour Howes
Wildcamp #105: Bonscale Pike

September also gave me the chance to get out with Colin for a bivvy:

Wildcamp #106: Hadleigh

Only 1 point behind now, I headed to Dartmoor in October knowing that I’d win:

Wildcamp #107: Black Hill, Haytor Down, Dartmoor
Wildcamp #108: Hayne Down, Dartmoor

November’s trip was back to the Lakes for a short backpack in the Central fells:

Wildcamp #109: Ecton Crag, Lake District
Wildcamp #110: High Raise,Lake District

So that was 2017. For me 32 camps (26 of them wild, 5 tame and a bothy) netting me 29 points, meaning I won by 3 points. Not sure whether we’ll continue the competition in 2018, as Rebecca will probably reduce her scouting commitments which will drastically affect her chances in the duel, such that it might not be fair. And of course with her getting 2 points to my 1 for every wild camp we go on, there’s not much incentive there to take her wild camping!!

As always, pictures from every one of my wildcamps are on my Wildcamp Gallery.

 

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