I recently took a look through my Wildcamp Gallery, which I started back in 2013 as a visual record I could look back on. The idea was to post one photograph for each wild camp done, and watch it build up over time.
As the number of camps grew, the idea was that every time I dipped into the page, I’d rediscover some wonderful memories that had blurred together. And so it has proved.
This weekend I was idly wondering what my best camps have been, and that set me off working through the archive. This post, and a handful to follow, are the result.
At the time of writing with 158 wild camps under my belt, it’s really difficult to answer the question as to which was the best, so I looked at it from several angles and broke them down into some categories to make it a bit easier.
Thus, I was able to decide on what were my best camps on summits; by lakes/tarns/llyns/lochs; in winter; by the coast; and in forests. There was also a sizeable bulk of camps that didn’t fit into these broad categories which I labelled “other”. Finally, there was a magical category of “phenomena” to cover specifically camps with especially stunning sunsets/sunrises, inversions and the like.
This first post in the series covers Tarn Camps, by which I also mean assorted lakes, llyns and lochs (it’s just the majority of these have been tarns, so that’s the term I’m going with). There now follows a run down of some of the best Tarn (etc) camps.
Best Tarn Camps
In chronological order.
Camp 1 – Codale Tarn
It feels right to start off a series like this with my first ever wild camp, and as I deliberately chose a tarn to be the location for my first one, then it’s right that we look at tarn camps first.
I chose Codale Tarn as it was in reasonably familiar terrain and had a (mostly) good path up to it, and importantly back down (in case I needed to bail out). It also fitted in with the travel schedule to get there from Essex. So I turned up, found a spot on a little rise next to the tarn, and stuck my new tent up.
It was great, and the next day I discovered the job of a day’s walking sandwich between a wild camp at the start and end of the day. Camp number 2 was a tarn as well (Tarn at Leaves), but that didn’t make the list of best ones.
Camp 6 – Angle Tarn
From May to September 2012 on the second night of a four night trip in the Far Eastern fells.
Luckily I had the place to myself.
Camp 27 – Angle Tarn (again)
Again, but 18 months later, I never intended to camp here that night, but just decided to stop here on a whim. It was a nice day, I’d had a good walk, so I thought why not. Again I had the place to myself – well apart from some very active and noisy geese. This one also just about makes it into my top 20 or so wild camps of all types.
Camp 33 Llyn y Fan Fawr
The last camp of my second chunk of Cambrian Way, reached after a seemingly endless slog from Storey Arms, with a couple of climbs late in the day. It was a relief to get here. I found an okayish spot, slightly constrained by there being one other tent in the vicinity, which set up well for sunrise over the eastern beacons.
Camp 46 Blackbeck Tarn
Also known as the camp the night before I finished the Wainwrights, in April 2015. I just found it a really calm place, with a nice bit of a view down into Buttermere. As well as being well placed for the finale on Haystacks. One of those camps where everything is right with the world. It won’t be any surprise to hear that this is probably in my top half dozen of all camps. It’s certainly my favourite tarn/lake camp of all.
Camp 95 Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin
Nearly 50 camps on from the last really good lakeside camp. This was night 2 of my first TGO Challenge in 2017, the first night camping, and the first one solo. So it’s special for that. I had a quiet pitch on the shoreline. I love this sort of camp. It was a bugger to get to though.
Camp 122 Lochan Urr
And there now follows a bit of a run of loch camps from TGO Challenges.
This one was night 2 of my second Challenge. A view of Buachaille Etive Mor thrown in. Another one that took a bit of getting to.
Camp 123 Tom da Chloiche, Rannoch Moor
Yes, this was the very next night. The picture tells it all really.
Camp 124 Loch Ericht
Why break up a sequence when you don’t have to. The third night in succession. A hard trudge to Rannoch and over to the foot of Loch Ericht. A very low day mentally, but I’d do it again to repeat this camp. I pitched up by the loch and explored the exposed shoreline. One of my most memorable camps in Scotland, or anywhere for that matter.
So there you have it: my best lake/tarn/llyn/loch camps. Next time we’ll be looking at the best summit camps.