By: Blonde Two
Backpack or wild camping alone is something I have only experienced once but I definitely have plans to add a few solo camping nights to my 50 Outdoor Sleeps for 50 Years 2018 challenge. We Blondes are often asked questions about whether or not it is safe for women to go wild camping alone, here are some of the top questions and our (obviously top) answers:
Why do you want to go wild camping alone?
For me camping alone is about both independence and challenge. Being entirely dependent on your own resources is good for us, it allows us to make our own decisions and, maybe more importantly, live with the consequences of those decisions. There can be no doubt, that for most women (and a lot of men) wild camping alone represents a step outside the comfort zone.
Is wild camping safer than campsite camping?
This is one that is open to debate. For me, the more remote I am, the safer I feel. As far as wild camping is concerned, it depends which type of ‘safe’ you mean. On a campsite you have access to a phone, can often find another human and are accessible to the emergency services. When you are wild camping phone signal can be intermittent, people are in short supply and getting help out to you will take much longer. On the other hand, if you are worried about unpleasant types finding you alone in your tent, this is far less likely to happen if you are in the middle of nowhere.
How can careful planning make a wild camping trip safer?
Within reason, thinking about what could go wrong can help you to feel safer when you are wild camping. The preparedness of your camping kit can make a big difference and camping gear for women is pretty much the same as camping gear for men. Always carry a first aid kit, emergency dry clothing, emergency rations, a mobile phone (tucked safely in a dry bag at the bottom of your rucksack) and a map and compass. Planning your route can also increase your safety when wild camping, if you are on your own, plan a route that is well within your capability, you don’t have to walk for miles to find a wild and empty spot. You might want to avoid, for example, areas of bog, river crossings and crags. OS Maps offers great aerial and 3D options, which can help you to visualise a route before you try it.
What skills do I need to go wild camping safely?
It would be foolish to head into the hills without navigation skills (we can help you with that), if you don’t have these you run the risk of walking into trouble or not knowing where you are should you need to ask for help.
Basic camping skills are also useful but we have taken people wild camping who have never camped before and the majority of useful camping skills come through experience! We would also recommend at least a basic first aid course so that you know what to do if you (or someone else you meet) requires help.
Whom should I tell that I am wild camping alone?
This question might be better phrased, ‘Who shouldn’t I tell when I am wild camping alone?’ Be wary of posting too much information about what you are doing on social media. Shout about your achievements when you arrive safely home but don’t give away that you are planning to be on your own, where you are planning to camp or even exactly when you are heading out. You should tell at least one trusted person where you are planning to camp, what your route will be and what time they can expect you to call and say you are home. Leaving a route card in your vehicle is no longer advised but leaving a phone number for your trusted contact could save a well-meaning passer by from raising an unnecessary alarm.
Were you scared when you went wild camping alone on Dartmoor?
I had moments of being scared but for most of the time I was very relaxed. It was interesting to note at exactly which point during my solo Dartmoor wild camping trip the fear started to creep in. I was happy being a woman alone, in the middle of North Dartmoor with nobody knowing exactly where I was, until an army helicopter buzzed around overhead and I realised that ‘someone’ then did know where I was. At that point I zipped up the tent and didn’t come out until daylight.
What advice would you give to a woman who is planning a solo camping expedition?
Definitely to go for it but maybe to break the challenge down into steps. Go for a longish day walk alone first, then perhaps camp with some friends in the area you are planning for your solo camp. Even if you get a bit chilly, end up eating cold dinner and hardly sleep, you will come home with a story to tell… and another adventure idea up your sleeve!
For mountain and hill walking safety advice we would definitely recommend the Mountain Safety website.
For information on what to do in an emergency we couldn’t recommend higher than Mountain Rescue.