Record-breaking British adventurer James Forrest, who has climbed all 1,001 UK mountains – and camped out on a fair few of them – offers ten tips for a successful camping trip…
The uncertainty wreaked on the overseas travel industry by coronavirus means domestic holidays or ‘staycations’ are set to become the new norm. And months of self-isolation during lockdown have left Brits craving the escapism of a getaway, with recent research suggesting 86 per cent of UK holidaymakers are planning a domestic break in the countryside and 44 per cent are looking for a budget retreat.
Camping is wholesome, adventurous, back-to-basics fun, and there are different options to suit different needs. For the family-friendly approach, simply pitch a tent at one of the thousands of official campsites across the UK; or for the joys of the open road, rent or buy a campervan, caravan or even get a roof tent for your car.
If you don’t like roughing it, there’s luxurious alternative known as ‘glamping’ (glamorous camping), featuring real beds, cosy fires and perhaps even a hot tub; or for the adventurers out there, the intrepid approach is wild camping – getting off-grid atop a mountain or in a forest, as part of a long-distance cycling, hiking or kayaking expedition.
1. Rent a Campervan
“You don’t have to buy a campervan or motorhome to experience the joys of the open road,” advises Forrest. “Hire companies offer short-term leases, giving you a cost-effective opportunity to try out ‘van life’ for yourself.”
2. Go Phone-Free
Glamping doesn’t mean you still need the internet. Put your phone on airplane mode instead. A digital detox will give you much-needed time for self-reflection and quiet – it’s great for your mental wellbeing.
3. Do a Kit Check
“Test your cooking equipment in advance of your first trip of the year,” advises expedition chef and MSR Cooking Ambassador Kieran Creevy (kierancreevy.com). “Get your gear out at home and check that everything is in full working order. Light up your stove in the back garden, or in a safe open space with no fire restrictions.”
4. Prep Ahead
“Do as much prep work at home, in advance of heading outdoors, as you can,” says Creevy. “Dice veggies, grind spice mixes, make your breakfast oatmeal (milk powder, sugar, seeds, oats etc.). The less work you have to do in camp, the better.”
5. Go the Distance
“The best way to fully immerse yourself in the camping experience,” says Forrest, “is to embark on a long-distance journey by foot, bike or kayak, travelling between different camps each day.” You’ll feel like an intrepid wanderer in no time.
6. Tour a Country
Give your campervan adventures some structure by completing a spectacular driving route. “Explore Ireland’s coastal beauty on the 1,600-mile Wild Atlantic Way,” suggests Forrest, “or experience the rugged grandeur of Scotland on the 516-mile NC500.”
7. Sleep Soundly
Sleeping outdoors is sometimes difficult, with wind, rain, noisy campers and that early morning cockerel all capable of disturbing your shut-eye. “Take ear plugs and an eye mask to help guarantee a good night’s sleep,” advises Forrest.
8. Go Solo
“Wild camping alone is a liberating experience that everyone should try,” says Forrest. That means learning how to make decisions without consulting Google, your mum or your best mate. “Much of our lives are influenced
by others,” Forrest continues, “but a solo trip will build self-reliance and self-confidence.”
9. Keep Warm
“No-one wants to shiver through the night,” says Forrest, “so check the temperature rating of your sleeping bag and the R-value of your sleeping mat. Kit suitable for ‘three-season’ use should work effectively in all conditions, except the height of winter.”
10. Stay Dry
If you’re camping in Britain, be ready for the rain. Pack waterproofs and wellies, use dry bags to protect your possessions, and regularly re-proof your tent with a product like Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof.