microadventure

Dartmoor Microadventure – legal wild camp

In the summer while we were down in Devon we took the opportunity to go for a microadventure in one of the only places in England where you can wild camp legally – Dartmoor. Amazingly in England and Wales (but not Scotland) it is illegal to wild camp pretty much everywhere, this site gives some good info. As it says on there, you can in practice get away with wild camping in lots of places where it is technically illegal, like Ditchling Beacon, but it’s great on Dartmoor to not have to worry at all about being discreet.

So we walked up during the afternoon (I can’t remember exactly where we parked or camped) and although we had grand plans about a big walk before pitching camp, pretty soon we got a bit tired and bored of walking and started looking for a place to pitch the tarp.

Thinking about not walking any more...
Thinking about not walking any more…

The weather was fantastic with amazing visibility although it was quite windy. So we went and found a flat spot with a hill behind us where we were a bit sheltered from the wind.

Lean to setup blocks wind from behind...
Lean to setup blocks wind from behind…
...while giving great views in front
…while giving great views in front

We’d picked up a stick from earlier in the walk to use as a lifter and set up the tarp in the same lean to way. We’d obviously got a bit out of practice on the knots though as I woke up during the night to the sound of one of the guylines flapping around and had to jump out of my bag to go and re-tie it. This was more difficult than it might have been as I had drunk a fair amount of wine and whisky before bed. I did though manage to catch sight of a fox who was sniffing round our camp.

We cooked a reasonable 2 course dinner of pasta and steamed pudding and then wrapped up to watch the stars and also the firework displays celebrating the various regattas along the coast. Seeing fireworks from above is quite strange but it was great being able to see them.

Don't have to be subtle when wild camping on Dartmoor
Don’t have to be subtle when wild camping on Dartmoor

Fairy lights threaded through the tarp attachment points make a great lightweight lighting solution.

The neighbourhood fox, during daylight
The neighbourhood fox, during daylight
Catching sunrise is one of the biggest upsides of wild camping
Catching sunrise is one of the biggest upsides of wild camping

I was surprised how cold it was overnight considering it was during summer. It was a completely clear night though and we were in a pretty exposed spot. Having said that I was very cosy in my sleeping bag and bivvy bag combo and just wore a t-shirt and boxer shorts to sleep. In the morning it took us a long time to get out of our bags because they were so snug, but we did get up, had a quick breakfast and walked back down to the car. Microadventures are great.

What would I do differently next time?

  • Take nicer food for dinner and focus the evening more on dinner than the walking
  • Tie the knots right first time
  • That’s about it

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