Overnighter with a novice in the cold Scottish woods.

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Nov 29, 2016
I have been promising to Lindsey for a while to take her out camping in the woods once it got warmer, and we managed to get out recently for a little overnighter.

I must admit I was pretty nervous. I usually go out on trips to relax and be alone with some peace and quiet, and I was worried a second person would spoil it. Lindsey's also never wild camped before, and we would be cooking on fire and sleeping in a floorless pyramid tent, so I want sure how she'd cope.
It was a very different trip from usual, but it ended up going well.

I had a few new bits of kit I was taking out for the first time on this one too, including a new cook set, second hand trousers and wool shirt and a belt kit system I put together. I'll sum up how those were at the end.

We were heading up to dunkeld. I had a little spot in mind, somewhere I discovered on my last trip when I got a bit lost. Best places are always found that way! It wasn't far from the train station, only about 2 miles, but Lindsey has back and foot tendon problems so that was plenty.

Despite me oversleeping and being woken up at the time we were supposed to leave, grabbing my gear and running out the door, we managed to get the train on time. We arrived in a very very sunny dunkeld, crossed the river Tay and were off!

You'll notice I have a much larger pack compared to Lindsey, I was carrying the tent, axe and saw, all the cooking stuff, most the food and her sleeping matt on account of her back.
It was good to know that on solo trips I could probably just about get away with a smaller pack at this time of year, or that I would be okay carrying food for much longer trips. Not hot tenting saves a lot of pack space.

I love the forests around Dunkeld. Despite camping here a few times I have never seen them in the sun before so it was quite special!

Lindsey's shoes were getting on her nerves so she decided to go barefoot

And I decided to join her shortly after! Walking barefoot in the woods is a really special feeling, I recommend everyone try it. The heavy pack make it a little more challenging as bing well balanced and nimble footed is useful, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. We also got to play hobbit :eek:

We arrived in the area I got lost in a few weeks before and decided to put our packs down and explore. This section of wood feels quite wild. It sits between two forest tracks, one on a steep hill above and the other a steep hill below. A fairly level but boggy section in the middle has been logged, with forest left either side, leaving lots of dry dead firewood! The woodland was mostly spruce and larch with the occasional rowan and birch here and there. A bit of bushwhacking was required to get to the spot and subsequently the only signs of use in the area other than the old logging are from deer! There was lots of fur everywhere, from them shedding their winter coat.

Finding a flat dry spot near a water source with a suitable area for a fire was tricky but we managed eventually. Lindsey was very very excited to put the tent up. She immediately got tucked in her sleeping bag - at 3pm!!

Meanwhile, I was very excited about my new knife I bought from Leshy of this parish. Just a little 77mm but thats was plenty. The antler handle fit in my hand really nicely and it was good and sharp. On the second day I couldn't find any decent birchbark and managed to cut feather sticks fine enough to catch a spark from the worlds worst ferro rod with it.
I was also looking forward to using the axe too, as I had recently reprofiled it to give more bite for better limbing. Considering how light it is it performed pretty well, the new profile made a lot of difference.

As evening approached it was time to cook. Lindsey was quite excited about the fire at first but got bored by the time it was ready for cooking and returned to the campsite.
The water source was in a little gulley, not far from the campsite but down a steep hill and through some steep bush. We were cooking there too, it wasn't ideal but it was the only place we could put a fire, on account of the peat soil in the rest of the woodland. I've asked for a stick stove for my birthday at the end of the month which should solve this problem.

It was at this point I realised in my rush to leave I had forgotten the (vegetarian) sausages!! Safe to say this was devastating! :( :(

We were left with just the instant mash, but at least it was something. In a cruel twist of fate I had also lost the wooden spoon I made on my last trip, so had to knock something up quickly from what I could find! After mash I made some bannock in my new titanium plate/frying pan. The pan performed well but making the slot for a suitable handle took a couple of attempts.

We were pretty exhausted (or at least I was) by the time it was dark and I fell asleep to Lindsey talking.

I woke up briefly at 3am, thinking it was morning on account of the unusually bright moon.

I stayed awake for half an hour with one side of the tent open watching the starts but fell back asleep soon after. It was a colder night than had been forecast, the clear skies causing a nighttime low of -1C. I forgot my fleece buff, hat and gloves and was sleeping in a summer bag with a thin wool blanket so I was pretty chilly, but not intolerably so.

I don't think it helped that I wore all my clothes in the sleeping bag. I've heard that doing this can prevent the bag from insulating, as the clothes prevent a microclimate building inside the bag. I didn't really believe this until last night. In the morning, when I was getting changed I noticed the bag felt a whole lot warmer without my thermal leggings , wool shirt and wool baselayer... but it might have even my imagination, anyone have experience in this?

Waking up to a very pretty morning, I relit the fire to make us porridge. Lindsey woke to the sound of chopping wood, and after the 'runny oatmeal' (she's american) we packed up camp and hiked back.

All in all, and despite some blunders it was an enjoyable trip. The dynamic is very different from going solo, the focus being more on socialising and less on nature. I definitely prefer solo trips, but it might be different if I was out with another bushcrafter rather than a novice.
Showing Lindsey new skills techniques and places was really fun but sometimes the slight babysitting feeling detracted from things, and feeling responsible for how she will view camping in the wilderness in future meant I couldn't truly relax.

The new kit all performed well. Ive mentioned the sharps and the cookset, but not the others. The clothes worked well - together they were a total of around £20. The wool shirt was a bit short but good and warm and I'm otherwise happy.
My belt kit, consisted of one molle pouch for hand sanitiser, kendall mint cake, bits and bobs and anything else I need quick access to, two leather cases one containing multitool, compass, watch and firesteel, the other containing paracord. I also put my knife on it in camp. It was really useful to have this. It meant I wasn't constantly searching for stuff and didn't have to put anything down and loose it. Its also more convenient than pockets while hiking. I want to upgrade it later with a firesteel holder and an axe loop.

All in all, I very much recommend convincing a novice to come out into the woods, its a very rewarding experience and their childlike wonder reminds you just how special and unique a thing to do it is.

I arrived back home to a couple of parcels - A Ridgeline Bushmaster smock that I won fairly cheap on eBay before the trip and some lanolin that I'll use to proof the wool shirt. I must say the bushmaster is brilliant. I tried it on and wondered around my warm room for a bit and didn't get hot at all. For a waterproof the fabric is really pleasant too, much better than my surplus gore-tex coat! Anyway now I'm rambling, as I do, hope you liked the report!
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Nice write up, thanks.

Like you I find wearing too many clothes in the sleeping bag is counter-productive. You can always drape clothes over the bag. On cold nights I wear just merino T and merino longjohns along with a silk sleeping bag liner (weighs nothing and squishes down smaller than my fist). On very cold nights I'll also start off the night wearing down bootees as warm feet help one get off to sleep. But, saying all that, I do value a good sleeping bag.


Nov 29, 2016
Thanks bearbait, I've worn booties on winter trips and I must say I missed them on this trip. They seem to work better than socks because they leave a bit of space for your feet. I had wool socks instead on this trip and they weren't warm! I want to do another trip next week so i'll try out wearing less in the bag and see how it goes.
My wife crams on every single item of clothing she has packed then steals some of mine. Complains she is cold
I sleep in merino baselayers in winter and just a tshirt n pants in summer. Sleep nice n cosy.
If its real cold i have a pair of the tog rated fleece socks i wear and a wooly hat.

Great pics and trip report btw


Full Member
Jun 14, 2016
Beautiful spot there Forest girl !
It's nice to know that knife fits your hand perfectly , and I'm glad the knife was sharp enough for your needs!

Good on you for giving up the comfortable solo peace and taking a good friend with you to share the passion for the great outdoors !

You're right , there is great pleasure to be had from walking barefoot in the woods, to actually feel the mud and the dirt get between your toes and feel the transition from stress to relaxed come right from your feet all the way up to your head...

I agree , it's a wonderful feeling.

As for the sleeping with or without thermals or clothes I'm curious to see what folk will say here, as I've never been brave enough in the winter to strip the base layer once I'm in the bag...
Unless i was to get too hot !

I suppose the body temp will warm the bag and insulation will do the rest...but it will be interesting to see what the others say here.

Either way , cool report, beautiful forest and look forward to your next adventure! 👍👍

PS- by the way , what axe is that ? Can't really make out the logo or manufacturers mark...


Nov 29, 2016
Thanks leshy! I'm the same, I'm not quite brave enough to take cloth off when i'm cold - but I might have to try it next time!! The axe is actually a gardening axe, made by DeWitt. I was tired of lugging round my hatchet in my pack and after extensive searching for a bearded axe I came across it, heres a link: http://www.crocus.co.uk/product/_/de-wit-gardeners-axe/classid.2000020789/

It's really lightweight weighs about half what my hatchet weighs, which means I can justify bringing it in addition to a knife and saw. It had a really short bevel so didn't bite very well originally but I took a file to it, then sharpened it up and now its pretty good.

I look forward to my next adventure too - is it bad i'm hoping for some really heavy rain so I can put the new ridgeline smock to the test? :rolleyes:

haha floatcoud maybe I should start a highland bushcraft tour company!! :p


Nov 29, 2016
will gladly send you some rain :)

One thing I have been surprised by when moving to scotland is how little it actually rains, at least on the east coast. And when it does rain, its a fine drizzle with a few spots... Ive been here for almost a year and I have only seen it bucket down once or twice, and only for half an hour! Growing up down south I've seen pouring rain for three days straight.

CrosslandKelly I go into a bit of detail about the pack in this trip report http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=143214&highlight=dunkeld
Basically it's an eBay find that I souped up by adding modified mole belt and straps. I wouldn't be using it so late in the year if I wasn't carrying someone else's gear too. As you can see it sits quite high which makes undergrowth tricky. I have an LK35 which I prefer for summer.


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 28, 2014
Great share thanks for taking us along, if i wear anymore than wool base layers in my sleeping bag i have experienced the restricted thermal swapping and reduced insulation between me and the bag, socks in particular if i keep my wool socks on my feet end up cold


Full Member
Nov 17, 2016
East Kilbride
Good report there forest girl, enjoyed reading and looking at your photos.

Looks like a nice part of the country, i must take a drive up that way next time I'm doing an overnighter.


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Nov 29, 2016
socks in particular if i keep my wool socks on my feet end up cold

I think that is probably what I was experiencing. For winter I have loose fleece booties and I think because they are loose they work much better.

Allans865 it is probably my favourite little chunk of the UK! Definitely worth the visit.

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