When it comes to wild camping, the internet seems to be full of fears and apprehensions about the dangers of camping in the countryside. Maybe it’s time to debunk some common myths…
The countryside isn’t very full at all, so why it would be full of axe murderers is a complete mystery to us! You’re far more likely to find unsavoury characters in our towns and cities than you are roaming the hills. Just think about how many people you bump into while you’re walking in the countryside – how many of them have been wielding an axe?
Highly unlikely. We don’t have lynx, wolves or bears in the wild here in the UK. In fact, our largest predators are foxes and badgers. Unless they feel threatened, both will leave you well alone. Rural foxes and badgers generally dislike being anywhere near humans, so as soon as they spot you, they’ll make themselves scarce.
Again, highly unlikely. In the very rare and unfortunate event that you are approached by a landowner or a land agent such as a gamekeeper, stay calm, be polite and follow our advice on what to do if you get moved on.
There are plenty of creepy crawlies in the UK, but we’re lucky enough that almost all are relatively harmless. Just remember, insects are attracted to light, so if you’re someone who doesn’t appreciate creepy crawlies then keep your fly sheet zipped and turn off your head torch as you get in and out of your tent.
The one bug we do need to be mindful of is ticks, as some carry Lyme disease. These tiny eight-legged creatures live in woods and areas with long grass or bracken. Ticks wait at knee height to attach to a warm-blooded passerby. They then bite into your skin to feed on blood. It’s unlikely you’ll feel a tick bite, which is why it’s important to check yourself for ticks and to carry tick tweezers or a tick removal tool in case you do get bitten. This makes it easy to remove ticks safely and correctly.
There almost certainly isn’t. That rustling you can hear that sounds really loud is most likely to be a sheep or another harmless animal in the undergrowth. We once thought a large animal was in the porch of our tent. It turned out to be a hedgehog! But at night, in the countryside, without the near-constant drone of road noise, honking horns and the chatter of people coming out of pubs, things just sound loud. And if it’s dark, ask yourself this. Who would actually be out there near your tent? Most sensible people are sat with their feet up in front of the telly. And should a farmer be out late at night the first thing you’ll likely notice is the light of their torch, not the cracking of twigs beneath their feet.
Unless you’ve decided to camp in a super popular dog walking spot, in the middle of the path, and have pitched up way before nightfall, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll get caught. Even if someone does spot a tent, it’s unlikely they’ll come over to find out what you’re doing as they’re likely to be as wary of you as you are them. And unless you are trashing the place and causing criminal damage you won’t get arrested, because wild camping is a civil offence, not a criminal one.
There are many women who enjoy solo wild camps. However, we understand that you might feel apprehensive on your first camp. For women and men alike, we’d recommend taking a few steps to help ensure your peace of mind and safety. It feels far less scary to do something with friends rather than alone, so why not buddy up and go on your first wild camp with a like-minded adventurous soul. You can laugh together at the sounds that make you jump during the night, and talk the night away if you find you can’t relax enough to get a good night’s sleep. Eventually you become accustomed to the sounds of a night in the countryside under the stars and don’t think twice about the rustling. Having said that, it’s always important to let someone know of your plans – let them know where you’re going and when you are aiming to be back, and let them know when you get back to civilisation.