Wild Camping on Kinder Scout
Photos & Words by Athena Mellor
The idea of packing an overnight rucksack and heading out on a solo adventure in the hills might not appeal to a lot of people, but to me it’s the best way to find a little adventure in normal day to day life. Living in Manchester, the Peak District is only one hour away, so I can be in the countryside in no time at all. Whenever I catch that first sight of the hills, dropping down from Mam Tor into the vale of Edale, my eyes come alive with views of those heather strewn moors and windswept peaks. On this particular day, I am heading wild camping - a way for me to feel at one with nature, far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. A way to refresh, find peace and calm on the moors.
My journey took me from Edale, along the Pennine Way and up Jacob’s Ladder onto the plateau of Kinder Scout, where I was planning to set up camp for the night. I laced on my boots and heaved my pack over my shoulders at around lunchtime, and with just a quick stop for a pork pie and cup-a-soup with a view, I hit Jacob’s Ladder just as the masses of day ramblers were heading home to warm sofas and glasses of wine. They must have been confused seeing just me and my 55L backpack heading up into the windswept moors of the Dark Peak. I pitched my tent at around 5pm, as dusk settled on the barren hills, and by 8pm my light was out and I slept soundly until sunrise the next morning."I love wild camping; for those isolated, peaceful mornings on a hilltop when the rest of the world is still sleeping"
I awoke to a dusty pink sky and a gentle haze over the moors that surrounded my tent and I. Not a sound could be heard, nor another soul seen; I had the whole of the Kinder Skyline to myself. I scrambled up gritstone rocks and my feet pounded on the narrow trail, the biggest smile plastered to my face all morning despite the overcast skies. Whatever the weather, this is the reason I love wild camping; for those isolated, peaceful mornings on a hilltop when the rest of the world is still sleeping, or so it seems.
At Grindslow Knoll, I descended back to Edale where a bacon sarnie awaited, and I was back in Manchester by 2pm to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea for the rest of the day. Wild camping never fails to leave me feeling calm and refreshed, with that hilltop glow on my cheeks and the wind still tangled in my hair for a few days afterwards. The perfect escape from the city, even if just for the night.
Five Ways to ‘Go Wild’
Know Your Navigation Skills
It is essential to know good navigation if you’re heading out onto the moors, so brush up on your map-reading and compass skills beforehand. Rain, fog and high winds can make navigating much more challenging. It’s not too difficult with just a bit of practise!
Check the Forecast
No matter what time of year, the weather can be unpredictable when heading into the hills. Check the forecast for signs of rain, fog or wind, even in Spring and Summer! Make sure you also check sunset and sunrise hours so you know when to pitch up and pack down your tent.
The more wild camping you decide to do, the more you’ll start investing in better quality and lighter gear. It just makes the experience more pleasurable when you’re not carrying as much weight on your back. Some of my essentials are the MSR Pocket Rocket, and a light sleeping bag like the Mythic series from Rab.
It can be hard to know how much water to bring for a wild camp. My best advice would be to hydrate as much as you can beforehand, then I usually carry a 2L Osprey Hydration Reservoir and 1L Nalgene for an overnight adventure. Check if there is anywhere you can fill your water enroute, or bring a water purification system like tablets, a Lifestraw or filter water bottle.
Leave No Trace
One of the most important things to consider if you’re wanting to wild camp in a National Park is the principal of Leave No Trace. This means, leaving your camping pitch exactly as you found it - don’t leave rubbish, fire-pits, or any sign of your presence on the hill. Protect your natural landscapes and respect those who are dedicated to looking after them.
* Please note in England and Wales you do not have the right to camp just anywhere and should seek landowner's permission before doing so. If this is impractical or impossible you should pitch late and break camp early.