Vatsal is a techie and a coffee junkie. Most often he’s caught watching a film with Guinness for company. Preeti loves everything about the mountains. She always has her head buried in a book sipping tea.
We both love traveling and watching films so we decided to document some of it. Hope you enjoy reading as much as we’ve enjoyed traveling and writing about them 🙂
Summer is for camping!
A holiday always demands a holiday. The August Bank holiday in the UK is the last holiday before Christmas so we decided to do something different. Enough weekends with binge watching films and riverside walk. I spent hours pouring over various websites for information on climbing the Ben Nevis (the highest peak in Britain) in Scotland, the plan was canned and then many more hours on Snowdonia in Wales which was again dropped for Peak District in Derbyshire. Yes, I can understand if you don’t want to scroll down further, doesn’t sound exciting enough? I was very disappointed too and left all the bookings and research up to Vatsal. He suggested we go camping since it was already too late to find a budget accommodation but I doubt he was plain lazy. Well, camping got me super excited but I pretended otherwise.
Vatsal had been camping once, many years ago in Ladakh, India but this was my first camping trip. The little camping gear that we own is still back home in India so first thing we needed to do was buy the camping paraphernalia. We spent the next few weeks deciding on the tent and the sleeping bags. The weather forecast for the weekend wasn’t the best, it was raining. By now we got ourselves so kicked about the trip that nothing could stop us, so we didn’t talk about the weather at all. Three days prior to the trip we realized that we’d forgotten to book a camping site. So, we spend the next two days making calls to most of the sites and at last we found one that generously allowed us space to pitch two tents, Haddon Grove Caravan and Camping Site. The site had three farms and decent facilities, the closest village was 4 miles away and was a perfect place to switch off for three days.
When we got there, it was pouring, the rain stopped play, we had to wait in the car to pitch our tents. When we finally started, trying to read the manual out aloud to Vatsal in the drizzle was nothing short of an adventure. Anyways, we managed to pitch both the tents and head back to the nearest village, Bakewell to pick some chilled beer. We had about a two-hour window in the evening when we barbecued some food in the outdoors and downed few beers. As we were done, it started to pour again. We just about managed to dump everything in the car boot and enjoyed the food inside the car looking out at our tents. The ground was thoroughly soaked so we retired early that evening, spent the rest of the evening reading inside the tent. Rain. Reading. Camping. Bliss! And that was our first camping day. The forecast for the next day was exactly the same.
We woke up to an overcast sky the next morning but the sun began to peep out in a short while. There is nothing quite like camping, to wake up in a tent surrounded by trees and watching the crawlies trapped between the net of the tent. Stepping out of the tent to a hot cup of Masala Tea was the best thing.
We spend the next two days hiking and a bit of rock climbing. We weren’t prepared for rock climbing but we wanted to give it a go anyways. We nearly reached the top, unable to conquer the last big boulder, we sat there for a while and enjoyed the vastness of the region. A rock climber was trying to get to the boulder where we were, after many failed attempts of plugging his rope onto the boulder, he asked Vatsal for help. We stayed on and watched him climb to the top.
We hiked on the Monsal trail, a relatively easy stretch to hike to through abandoned railway tunnels and bridges. It is a traffic-free route for walkers, cyclists, and horse riders. The trail starts at Bakewell and runs for 8.5 miles to Chee Dale.The road along the trail was well laid out, a little too easy for the adventure we were looking forward to, so, we decided to jump over the stone walls and walk through the farmland instead.
One of the best parts about living in England is the ease of enjoying the spectacular countryside. And it’s no secret that being attuned to nature’s rhythms brings out the best in us. Apart from the nostalgia from the reading of Virginia Woolf and Emily Bronte in my younger days, the countryside with lambs frolicking on the hillside, house facade covered in creepers, cherry-laden trees, flower-decked country pubs, fields dotted with round bales of hay, scattered country homes, and the vast green meadows is worth all the aching feet after the hike.
There are many Camping and Caravan sites all over the UK. The campsite have to be booked in advance since they allow only a specific number of pitches per site. The camp sites are priced differently, some charge according to per person per night while others charge according to the tent size with or without an awning. The price can range from 4 pp/night to 20pp/night. Most campsites have a toilet, shower and washing facilities, some even provide an electric socket.
Most people in the UK are likely to drive to campsites. If you are not driving, then it’s important to look up the timing and frequency of the public transport.
Camping can be incredibly fun if you have the essential gear. You can save up hundreds of pounds on hotels. An essential requirement is a good waterproof and windproof tent. Depending on your budget and how often you plan to use the tent, there are zillion options suitable for all kinds of budget. To grab a deal, look for a tent in August (UK) when most camping gear is on sale.
The most important thing on a camping trip is to keep yourself dry and warm so that you can spend rest of the time enjoying. These are some tips from our personal experience.
- Look for at least a 3-4 season sleeping bag to ensure you’ll be warm enough to doze off without a care.
- And if you are camping in spring and autumn (although summer nights can get very cold too) then you must bring an airbed and a roll up mat along. Placing the sleeping bag directly on the ground will not keep you warm at all, especially if it begins to rain. Hence, placing a mat on top of an airbed will insulate you further. If you are still cold, sleep in your jacket and woolen bed socks.
- The good old hot water bottle can solve all problems.
- If you like me, are always cold, then I’d suggest you take some disposable heat packs. I didn’t carry them with me this time around but they can be really handy if the temperature were to fall.
- Take a stove and kettle even if you think you won’t need it in summer. You can thank me once you’ve enjoyed the hot cup of coffee in the cold morning. Believe me, morning cuppa never tasted so good.
- Another important factor about keeping yourself warm is keeping the tent warm. If you have a large tent then it’s not going to warm up. We had a small two man tent and were very cozy in a short while.
Don’t forget to carry a headlight. And another light which can be hung on the hook of the tent.
Carry a first-aid kit with the essentials.
A power bank to charge your phone. A portable speaker if you fancy and some playing cards and games in case you’re stuck inside the tent. A few outdoor games and a book to read.
It’s important to remember where you’ve pitched your tent in case you need to use the facilities in the middle of the night. You can use fairy lights to mark your tent.
The most important part of being outdoors is to leave no trace. Pick up your garbage and leave the place as you found it. Travel responsibly.
Though we did not camp deep in the wilderness but it was enough to realize the importance of the security of a ‘home’ where one is not at the mercy of the elements. Camping is not a smooth experience but the memories are great. The incessant rain ruining our barbecue on the first day makes for a great story. My new found love for camping, especially since I tend to feel the cold acutely, has come as a surprise to myself.
There can never be enough of such experiences. It gave us an opportunity to connect intimately with nature in a profound way. It was so magical and difficult to shake off that feeling. Now, that we’ve tasted the lure of sleeping under a blanket of stars, we’re hoping to get more of the outdoors next summer.
Which is your favorite camping spot?