By: Blonde Two

Six hours of continuous sleep has to be some kind of wild camping record for me but that is what I managed last week whilst out on sleep number 7 of my 50 Sleeps for 50 years. It is interesting to note that this sleep record was not achieved in mid-summer and a cosy tent, it happened in February and in (well nearly in) a bivvy bag. I have a theory that, just as cold water swimmers become acclimatised to icy dips, wild campers maybe become inured to long, cold nights and aching bladders. Three of us were wild camping on Dartmoor following a delicious pub meal at the Old Inn in Widecombe (thanks to them for allowing us to leave the cars there). We didn’t leave the pub until quite late and it was a hefty walk up the hill (all routes are up from Widecombe) to our chosen wild camp spot (well within one of the Dartmoor wild camping areas). All of which meant that we set up camp (or rolled out our bivvy bags) in the really-quite dark.

Anyone who has ever pitched a tent in the dark (I think we Blondes may have notched up more dark camps than daylight ones) will appreciate that, ‘so that is where I am’ feeling in the morning. No matter how much you think you know the territory, can see lights in the distance or understand what the terrain should look like from your map, the specifics of your chosen wild camping location remain a mystery until daylight. Of course, on Dartmoor they may always remain a mystery, never emerging from their cloud blanket and shuffled off into the mists of time.

If you are a clever wild camper you will pitch your tent where you can view sunset from outside it and sunrise from inside it. If you have two doors on your tent and are willing to stay in bed for long enough, you can have sleeping bag views for both. This type of direction-specific tent pitching requires a compass and often a willingness to sleep at an odd angle just to catch a glimpse of the orange vistas. Of course, in a bivvy bag you have more of a 360 degree view but only if you are willing to sleep right on the exposed top of a hill.

Last week we had other priorities when choosing our perfect Dartmoor wild camping spot. We were after a cosy rock nest with enough flat ground for three, what we got was a fantastic view down across the valley and up to the stars as well as a reassuring view of each other. In the morning the view was just as good… of the views and of each other!

Thanks to Ju Lewis and Belinda Dixon for their fabulous company, interesting chatter and wicked senses of humour.


Update on Dartmoor wild camping

January 23rd 2023

The picture for wild camping on Dartmoor has changed following a well-publicised High Court decision. This is a developing and controversial situation. Thanks to efforts by the Dartmoor Commons Owners’ Association and Dartmoor National Park Authority, there are currently some areas on Dartmoor where you are still permitted to backpack/wild camp. You can read the news release from Dartmoor National Park Authority here. Please find below a summary.
  • You can currently wild camp on a reduced area of Dartmoor
  • You can view the new Dartmoor wild camping map here
  • If you camp within this area, you don’t need to seek the landowner’s permission
  • If you camp within this area, you don’t need to make an individual payment
  • This is a permissive agreement, which means it can be removed
  • Which means it’s more important than ever to make sure you adopt a leave-no-trace approach
  • Large groups, barbecues and campfires on Dartmoor are still prohibited

What Do Wild Camping Women Need to Know?

Toilet Paper? Wild Camping? What exactly are you supposed to do?