Why Go Wild Camping & How?!

What made three Devon women ditch their duvets one chilly February night and sleep out under the stars?

        And how might you have a go?

Photo Credit: Fi Darby

If a picture tells a thousand words!
For me this is the epitome of why I love to GetOutside.
It’s about laughing, feeling truly alive and being outdoors with great mates.
The fact that I look ridiculously like a pupating caterpillar is an absolute bonus.
The photo was snapped in mid-February by fellow Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion Fi Darby of Two Blondes Walking.

Me, Fi & Ju

It was about 7.30am on a drizzly Saturday morning. We were on Dartmoor. I, Fi, and adventure chum Ju had just had a wonderfully wild night out. We’d been bivvying – wild camping without a tent – and had just woken to a soft, still dawn. During the night I’d felt a fleeting scatter of rain on my face.

As the skies lightened the outlines of the rocks surrounding us became clear. The slope that dipped away just below us emerged. Way down in the valley was a village, with a tall church tower and a snake of smoke signalling someone’s fire.


It was a gift. And one that, one way or another, even if we often can’t take it, we’re offered each day.

It’s made made me think about seizing these GetOutside moments. About the friends, knowledge and places that mean we can be outdoors – can laugh and truly feel alive. And that if we can look more than a little ridiculous as we do it – what a bonus.

So that’s the Why GetOutside and bivvy.

What about the How To GetOutside and bivvy?
I’m no expert, but luckily others are – see this great GetOutside post from Two Blondes Walking on How To Go Wild Camping on Dartmoor. It covers the simple but strict rules you need to abide by and the places on the moor where responsible wild camping is allowed. It has a link to a map of those locations, and outlines environmental concerns, safety, kit and – the thing everyone wonders about- what to do about waste; yep, the toilet stuff.

I’d recommend reading it. Then you never know where you might wake up …

How the evening unfolded
So how did we get to wake up on that Dartmoor tor? First supper in a local pub, then a torch-lit hike up the hill. We saw lights on the tor Fi and Ju had tagged as a possible sleep spot, so detoured to the one next door.

Then followed what was actually a rather short amount of dithering considering the many things we needed to consider. Such as whether we wanted to put up a tarp (“Shall we bother?” “No”). The need to be out of the wind – although warmer than forecast (around 4 degrees), the wind was chilling. The preference for flat-ish ground (“what about here?” “Great”). And the need to have rocks to our backs because one of our number really doesn’t like cows (I mean, who wants a cow walking onto them in the middle of the night, right?).

Then it was time to roll out the roll mats, slide sleeping bags into bivvy bags, decide how many layers to keep on, stow rucksacks in case it really rained and hunker down on the hill. Then chat sleepily and drift off under clouds that (apparently) cleared occasionally to reveal stars. Waking in the middle of the night to look up straight at the plough is always rather fun.

I’d love to hear your wild camping stories – do leave a note below.

And if you’d like to camp wild but don’t – what tends to get in the way?

A huge thank you to Fi Darby and Ju Lewis for masterminding the bivvying.

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy Live, Laugh, Love – the three GetOutside resolutions I’ll love to keep

Published by Belinda Dixon

I'm a travel & adventure writer (Lonely Planet), broadcaster (BBC Radio Devon & BBC Guernsey) and the British Exploring Society's media Leader on its 2016 Himalaya expedition. I write a blog that aims to inspire adventures; deliver inspiring training and record and edit powerful oral history archives.

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