My First Solo Wild Camp
Updated: Mar 21
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April 2021 - Wild Camping at Angle Tarn, The Lake District
So after a few solo hikes, I felt like I was ready for my first wild camp. I had a strong feeling that I was going to love it. Still, there was always a chance that I didn't, or I was too scared of being out there alone. So I bought myself some kit to start me off, thinking I may have to upgrade if I started to do it more. I bought myself a £50 Vango tent, a Mountain Warehouse sleeping bag weighing around 2KG each (which I would eventually realise was far too heavy), a little stove and a Sleeping Mat. Finally, I also bought myself one of the freeze-dried meals from Summit to Eat, and I felt like I was ready to go along with the hiking clothing I had already purchased.
After my hike in The Lake District earlier in the month, I had decided that I didn't want to camp around Haystacks; I wasn't really sure why but I just didn't get a feel for that place to be my first camp. It was probably something to do with the fact that I had picked the steepest route up there, which had put me off 😂 (See blog post here). So after watching numerous YouTube videos on wild camping, I decided I wanted to head to Angle Tarn. However, I didn't want to be surrounded by other people, which Angle Tarn is notorious for, but I thought I could camp away from the Tarn and get myself a view of the surrounding mountains and maybe sunrise over the Tarn.
The morning of my first solo wild camp had arrived, and I felt really nervous. What was I doing heading off into the mountains, on my own, with a tent and the intention to sleep up there? I must be crazy! I had spent quite a bit on kit and told everyone what I was doing; I couldn't back out now. I left my approximate camp spot at home, packed my Garmin inReach Mini, and went off. I arrived in Patterdale, and according to the map, there was a car park behind a pub. I turned up a steep incline on arrival at the pub, thinking the car park must be behind the pub. No, I ended up in someone's back garden on the tiniest rockiest road imaginable with what seemed like no way of turning around; that's nerves for you! Embarrassingly a woman came out of her house and said that if I could drive a bit further into the garden, there was somewhere I could turn around at her shed. As my legs shook, I couldn't manage a hand break start, and my heart was ten to the dozen. I don't know how, but I managed to compose myself and get out of there; I even took a plant pot with me under the car. 🤦♀️
I finally found a car park and parked up; I had to take some serious deep breaths before getting my stuff together and heading off. I managed to do this hurriedly because of the nerves, so I was just glad that I hadn't forgotten anything after I had set off. Thankfully, there was a flat section of the walk before heading up the steep side of Place Fell towards Angle Tarn because my bag weighed around 18kg!!! Unfortunately, I had stupidly decided to pack my SLR and tripod (which I never used) and far more stuff than needed. You learn very quickly that gear weight is very important. On the way up the side of Place Fell, I felt like I wasn't going to make it, my bag was too heavy, and my phone kept buzzing as my mum was panicking about me being out on my own. If I wasn't stopping to take a breath, I was stopping to tell my mum to stop messaging me and let me get up the bloody hill. It took me about 2 hours to get to Angle Tarn, and I was absolutely knackered.
As I thought there were already a few campers dotted around the Tarn, so I walked west away from the Tarn, back towards the valley below. I found myself on a little flat pitch just in front of Cat Crag, which gave me the most fantastic view of St. Sundays Crag, Hart Crag, Fairfield and beyond. I set my tent up, blew up my mat, set up the stove and then sat down and watched the sun slowly set behind the mountains in front of me. It was a gorgeous day with very little cloud, so that I couldn't have asked for better weather whilst it was pretty cold. It was so peaceful, I could hear the birds and the odd sheep, and it was heaven. It was a different feeling from a hike because now I didn't have to leave; I could stay there and soak it all up; it was liberating. Just as the sun was about to disappear and the golden colours lightened up the sky, a group of lads camping down at the Tarn decided to go and sit up on Cat Crag and ruin my peace and quiet. Now fair play, they wanted to watch the sunset just like I did, but I didn't like it; it made me feel uncomfortable. It shouldn't have because they were not doing anything wrong, but their booming voices ruined my peace, and because it was three lads and I was one solo female, I couldn't help but feel a bit vulnerable. Thankfully, they weren't there that long before heading back to the Tarn. I suppose this is an issue if you camp near a popular spot. The sun had set, and I tucked into my dinner. Unfortunately, I have to say the meals leave much to be desired. Maybe I will find a nice one someday.
The golden colours disappeared with the sun gone, the birds were not as loud, and there was hardly a sound. I had thought at this point I might start to feel a bit anxious, but I wasn't; you get so used to your surroundings that you just become part of them and soon realise there is nothing to be fearful of; I knew I was safer up there than in a city centre. Being up in the mountains with everything you need for the night in your backpack is exhilarating. Like on my first solo hike, realising hiking would become a big part of my life blog post here, I felt the same about wild camping; I loved it. The stars started to come out, and it began to get very chilly even though I had my thermals on and my down jacket. I crawled into my sleeping bag and zipped up the tent. It was strange at first to think of what was outside, knowing you were miles from anywhere and it was pitch black, but it didn't take long to feel at ease, and soon I drifted off to sleep. I did wake once in the night to a slight rustling outside the tent. I have to say I didn't want to venture out even though I needed the toilet, but the rustling didn't last long, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up to my alarm.
I had set my alarm for 5:30, 30 minutes before sunrise, and for a split second, I had forgotten where I was, then I realised I had survived the night 😁. So I opened the door and was faced with the most gorgeous sky; the sun was due to rise in the direction of Angle Tarn, so I got my stove on to make myself a very needed coffee, and I took the short walk over to the Tarn and sat and watched the sun come up. What a feeling to wake up to this; the sense of peace that takes over is extraordinary. Not only did I get a fantastic sunrise, but a herd of deer also appeared and made its way around the Tarn, a truly incredible sight. After more coffee, I begrudgingly packed away my gear and then set off on the path back to the car, knowing that wild camping was now a big part of my life. The walk back to the car was serene, it was about 7:30 am, and no one else was about, my bag was lighter, and I was back at the car in no time. Before I even got back home, I couldn't wait until my next solo wild camp.
If you're thinking about wild camping in England or Wales, it is illegal. However, you could get permission from the landowner or follow these simple rules, which should be tolerated.
Leave no trace
Set up just before sunset and leave just after sunrise, only staying one night
Camp about the highest fell wall.
Do not camp on paths or too close to the water.
Do not light fires unless you use something like a bush box, and ensure it doesn't scorch the ground.
oh, and LEAVE NO TRACE
If you are worried about camping on your own, try camping at a campsite first to see if you like it and take it from there. I have written a review on the perfect campsite in The Lake District where you get a 'nearly' wild camp feel. Read here.
Please always check the weather before you head out, I use The Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS), and I look on The Met Office too. As I'm out on my own, I always leave a map of my route with loved ones at home, and I check in throughout the day. I now also use a Garmin Mini, so I can still be in contact, and they can track me if I don't have a phone signal.
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See The Beginners Guide to Wild Camping here
If you have any questions or comments on anything you have read, please contact me here
If you don't already use the Ordnance Survey App, you can download it here, enabling you to download the GPX route from above straight into it. I use this App to plan all my hikes, and as its OS, it mirrors the paper map you should always use in conjunction.
Disclaimer: At the time of doing this walk, all the rights of way were open, and the terrain was easy to navigate, I followed all rights of way as per the OS maps, but things can change. Please be aware that the weather/farmers etc., can change things and therefore, the route may not be as possible as it was for me. Please make your own checks beforehand. Please get in touch with me if any information that I have included has now changed.