Woodland Wildcamp in Kent: May 2017

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Sep 16, 2013
Rochester, Kent
Hi all,

I thought I'd regale a tale of my most recent camping trip to my local woodland. I've posted the write up below, but please feel free to click on to my blog (link in signature below) to see the photo's and even a few more trip reports that I've yet to post up here.

Note to mods: my blog contains no advertising or other promotions - it's simply my ramblings of camping and the outdoors!

Woodland Wildcamp - May 2017:

What a great time to be out camping, the woods are calling, the sun is shining, the days are long, nature's in full song!

Time for another camping trip in my local woodland. May is always a good time to be getting out in the woods. Then again, is there ever a bad time to get out?

With the weather being so mild, I thought it might be a good opportunity to scale down on the kit that I take out on a wild camp. I didn't fancy lugging my huge rucksack with my big sleeping bag, big tarp, extensive cook kit and additional layers of clothing. I figured it was time to keep things simple. I therefore opted to bring my small 7ft by 5ft tarp with a simple blanket and a small sleeping mat. For cooking, I just needed to bring my small billy can. I also left the axe at home as I didn't see much need to be spitting wood and relied upon my Mora knife and Laplander saw. It's fair to say that the bulk of my rucksack was taken up with food and water (I like food!). When all is said and done it's surprising how little you need in order to be comfortable in the woods.

Off I set with my camp mate, bright and early for a nice day and night in the woods, carrying a refreshinglying light rucksack. Walking through the woods at 6am on a late spring day is quite the pleasure. You feel as though you are immersed in a world that is governed by nature. As you walk through the woodland, the speaker of this parliament is very much the noisy little Wren! With undertones from the Great Tit backbenchers crying out "Teacher Teacher Teacher".

But then as you emerge out onto a field, you are overwhelmed by the tuneful sound of the Skylark hovering up in the sky. The fields nearby my local woodland seem to be awash with them, nestled in amongst the thickets of grass. They're unlikely to headline the mainstage of Glastonbury, but they are in my mind, the quintessential sound of summer.

Having arrived at our camping spot which was well and truly off the beaten track, we were greeted by friends who had camped out the previous night. They had re-kindle the previous nights fire, which meant it was time to get the kettle on and make camp!

This picture appears very dark despite the fact that it was daytime! Alas the clouds had descended upon us for the thundery showers that were forecast! The tree canopy did well to protect us from the rain, but there remains something soothing about the sound of rain pitter-pattering on the tarp.

Here you see my simplistic set-up. It may not look it but it was surprisingly comfortable. I saw no need to bring a bivvy bag in this trip as, apart from a morning shower, the weather was dry and mild.

This patch of woodland was a relatively new area that I've not previously camped in and seldom explored. I therefore spent some of the day wandering around the area, listening to nature and searching for sign of Deer and Badger. I was delighted to see that there were lots of animal trails meandering through the woodland, we carefully followed some and discovered flattened patches of grass and bracken where Deer have most likely stopped to rest. We also discovered a badger sett which appears to still be active (I might add that it wasn’t close to our camp site so I don’t think our presence would have disturbed them). I think it may be good to return to these locations soon to set-up a trail camera and see what the animals get up to when I’m not stomping around on their patch!

The days are long at this time of year, this makes life a little more relaxed when camping. After our bimble around the woods, we returned to camp for the remainder of the day where I spent much of it pottering about camp, gathering fire wood and relaxing in my hammock! One of my camp mates crafted a very neat pot hanging system over the fire and I made very good use of it boiling water for tea!

As dusk set-in I was keen to try and capture some nice landscape photos and experiment with some of the different exposure settings on the camera. I’ve still lots to learn but am reasonably pleased with these photos.

Later on at night I also ventured out to the field to attempt some long exposure photos of the night sky. I opened up the shutter for 30 seconds in the hope that it would suck up as much ambient light as it could from the sky, I got some pictures but am not entirely happy with them just yet. To be fair though the stars weren’t shining as brightly as they have done on other camping trips, maybe next time!

The next morning, I awoke ridiculously early to the sound of the dawn chorus. It’s kind of like natures alarm clock! This time though something else caught my attention – the snap of a twig! I look over my shoulder and, in my sleepy gaze, see something that resembles a young cow! My brain was still asleep and I think to myself that cows don’t usually roam around woodland…or do they!! I put my glasses on and look again. It’s a deer! And not just one deer but two fallow deer, one of which happened to be white. I really need to go to specsavers!!

I lay still under my tarp staring at it while slowly reaching for the camera in my rucksack (why did I put it in such an awkward place!). The deer were very inquisitive staring at me and no doubt wondering who this idiot was. The result of my stealthy efforts is this grainy photo of the white fallow deer. I simply had to get a photograph of it as there’s no way my camp mates (nor you lot!) would have believed me otherwise. They are very illusive animals in this woodland. I have been exploring the woods for much of my life. I’ve often seen deer sign but this was only the second occasion that I’ve actually seen them.

Having reached the conclusion that they were staring at a prize pillock, the deer got bored of looking at me and went on with their day roaming the woodland. Adrenalin surged through my veins and all of a sudden I felt very awake. Like a young David Attenborough, I quickly put my boots on, grabbed the camera and set off in pursuit of them. Hoping, just hoping to get an opportunity to take a better photograph. I followed them in the general direction that they travelled, sticking to some of the trails that we had followed yesterday and trying my very best not to get stung by the nettles (why did I wear shorts!).

But, like woodland ninja’s the deer simply disappeared into the woodland, hopefully I’ll see them again next time. I gave up in my search and headed off to the fields to take advantage of the photo opportunities presented by the early morning sunlight.

I returned to camp a little while later and sat in my hammock chair studying the images as my camp mates begun to arise from their slumber. I was only to eager to announce my discovery and exhibit the evidence! What an amazing way to end the camp.

After a breakfast of tea and porridge, we set about striking camp and ensuring that we left no trace. Rubbish was collected up to be taken home and the fire scar was thoroughly cleared and returned to nature. I shall look forward to returning to this camp spot.

I’ll leave you with this passage of a poem which, in my mind, nicely sums up the joy of escaping suburbia for the peace and serenity of the woods.

'...Scattered rocks are graced with flowers
Breathing in perennial showers
On the brink of Nature's towers
Far above the bustling towns.
Never could an earthly City
Paint a picture half so pretty
Not could sing such lovely ditty
As the Woodland's captive sounds...'

Isaiah Zerbst

Thanks for reading

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