Camp of the Year 2019

This year I only managed 18 wild camps (plus an additional 4 tame camps on the TGO Challenge) against a loose target of 24, falling short largely because I shelved plans for weekends away in September and November due to indifferent weather. In any case, 24 would have been well short of some yearly totals, which reflects a year largely tied to work. And 2020 looks like being similar.

Since there were so few, I can give space here to each camp, so here we go…

Wildcamp #141: North East Essex Coast

Having started walking the Essex Way on New Years Day 2018, I couldn’t quite manage to complete inside the calendar year, but I set off in January 2019 on a mission to tick it off, walking the last section backwards and fitting in a camp on the beach. In 140+ wildcamps this was the only time I got “discovered” to an extent that I was apprehensive, but the only harm that came my way was a still lit cigarette arcing over the top of the tent.

Onwards and upwards, literally, as March saw me in the Lakes for a TGO Challenge warm up and a chance to fit in a camp with Cath and Rich before striking off for a second night on my tod.

Wildcamp #142: Yoke
Wildcamp #143: The Knott

And that was it before TGO Challenge No. 3:

Wildcamp #144: Loch Quoich
Wildcamp #145: Allt Odhar
Wildcamp #146: River Eskin
Wildcamp #147: Red Bothy
Wildcamp #148: River Dee
Wildcamp #149: Above Glen Muick
Wildcamp #150: Stables of Lee

Back home a night out at Fur Tor on Dartmoor with Paul, Jason, Dave, Mole, Richard, #Foxgate

Wildcamp #151: Fur Tor

Missing my old Lunar Solo, (largely because I saw how comfortable Paul was in my old one that wild night on Fur Tor), I got back in the game and promptly took the new improved model to the Arans for 2 days of heather bashing and general hard work, along with great lonely camps.

Wildcamp #152: Moel y Cerrig Duon
Wildcamp #153: Waun Camddwr

The Arans trip was so good, I repeated the trick the following month in the Beacons:

Wildcamp #154: Fan Fawr
Wildcamp #155: Fan y Big

That night on Fan y Big saw me besieged in the tent by a massive swarm of flying ants, who had dogged the summits all day. But it won the prize for the best view, sunset and sunrise, the last of which also had a bit of an inversion going on.

Wildcamp #156: Water Crag
Wildcamp #157: Seathwaite Tarn

Next up was a backpack from Ravenglass to Coniston and visits to a few places that have been on the to do list for a long time. A great camp on a breezy Water Crag where I managed to find some good shelter, although I massively failed to repeat the trick the following night at Seathwaite Tarn.

I managed to squeeze in a final camp at Wild Tor on Dartmoor due to stunning mild weather between Christmas and New Year.

Wildcamp #158: Wild Tor

Walks and Backpacks in General

As I’ve already said, it’s been a quiet year, and this is entirely because for the first time since 2010, I’ve been working the whole year. Usually my contracts start and end partway through through a year and are always separated by a few months of downtime, so there’s usually a period of more intense outdoors activity. Not so in 2019. The main casualty of this has actually been the smaller local walks, and the local overnighters. I’ve still found time for trips to the hills, but they have tended to be shorter.

The Highlights

Most sociable camp: Fur Tor. That was the whole point, albeit we weren’t expecting an extra guest. Of course, all of the TGO Challenge camps were also in company as Paul and I walked as a duo this year.

Highest camp: The Knott, 739m. I plan to beat this, and indeed my 866m highest camp record, on the Challenge next year.

Favourite Tent of the Year: Lunar Solo. A new found love for this shelter, which I previously felt was too cold, being only single skin. But it’s a tough little shelter, light and quick and easy to put up. I think I just wasn’t ready for it when I had my first one. This one’s going nowhere (except on the hills, obvs). It’s even a contender for the TGO Challenge next year, but I think I’ll only take her if it looks like we’re in for reasonable conditions (so that’s probably a no then!)

Most used shelter: Scarp 1. Pretty much whatever I take on the TGO Challenge is guaranteed to win this. Sadly the two other shelters used this year have now moved onto pastures new – the Helm 1 was a casualty of my lost lowland camping mojo, and the DCF Duomid, although great, has been swapped out for something even better.

Overall Camp of the Year: Fan y Big (despite the ants). Although Wild Tor came a close second.

Looking Forward

2020 promises to be a similar sort of year, largely constrained by work. I am on the 2020 TGO Challenge though, for my fourth in a row. And the plan is to camp more on the Challenge next time around, as I’ve found myself rather underwhelmed by the fixed-roof accommodation we had this year, so I’ll be making more use of campsites as a near-civilisation accommodation option, whilst also wild camping whenever possible. Looking at the route plan, there should be some enjoyable camps in there – one or two potential stunners, if conditions permit, and a good number that should be good from a social perspective.

Of course I will try to get out for a warm up or two prior to the Challenge, but I don’t think they’ll be big trips at all. My enthusiasm for lowland camping has also paled somewhat, so I don’t think I’ll be replacing lost trips with local camps much.

So it promises to be a relatively quiet year, and if it turns out to be so, I’ll certainly make up for it in 2021, when a big birthday looms and my work contract is likely to be done with.

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