Wild camping in the Lake District – Originally published April 2012:

I’ve been so busy lately and kept meaning and meaning to get this post up for some time. In the not so distant past, you may remember we had a bit of an heat wave and lucky old me had a long weekend off from work and decided, even before the promise of good weather I was going up to the Lake District to do a bit of wild camping.

I bought a bit of a posh sleeping bag back in January, capable of winter conditions but only just had a free weekend to do some wild camping.

I have been wild camping once before, in the Peaks but as nice as it was it in truth didn’t feel as wild as it should. The Peaks is my stomping ground, I know I can go most places and be back at my car within the hour and in my bed not long after. There are places sure I have in mind for some wild camps in the Peaks, but for something a little different the National Parks with the bigger mountains are always more enticing, to me anyway.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Three Tarns in the Lake District. Situated between Bowfell and Crinkle Crags, the tarns lie in a little col. What this means, not only are you between some fantastic mountains you’ve got cracking views over to the Langdales and the valley as well as the Scafell Range. Thats two very different area’s of the Lakes all in one 360 degrees panoramic.

So, this was my chosen spot. I arrived at the Lakes, giving myself about an extra hours walking time than required just in case. I took it steady up the band, knowing from previous experiences my wild camping kit along with heavy camera kit can very tiring to carry. I put my headphones in and actually found it a little easier than expected and arrived at Three Tarns after about 2 hours of trudging, but with a smile on my face.

On the way up, it did sort of dawn on me that I was going to camp at mountain level, on my own with little experience, despite weather conditions being good. I felt I knew the area well enough and I was competent, but there was that “what if?” feeling. However, on arriving, bearing in mind it was a Friday in early spring I was surprised to meet another two guys camping up there too. At least I wasn’t the only insane person.

With plenty of time to spare, I pitched up (I would have waited until after sunset but the other guys were pitched, so it made no difference in reality) and took in some of the sights. There was a thick persistent haze which had been around all day, the Langdales were barely visible, but thankfully in the direction of the setting sun over the Scafells it was a little better. I set up a shot I thought I was going to stick with, then had a wander around leaving the camera set up by a tarn. However, after hunting I found a better composition and sat myself down there, blissfully watching the sun set over the Scafell Range:


Sunset at Three Tarns while wild camping looking to the Scafell Range

Sunset at Three Tarns while wild camping looking to the Scafell Range


So now came the real test, dealing with the fact it was only half 6 and it was going dark and I wasn’t tired. This has got to be the hardest part of wild camping, especially when alone. Alas I had come prepared, I had bought my tablet PC up with me, a weight I felt justified for the extra happiness it would give me at night. Unfortunately though. typical luck would have it that it had managed to turn itself in on my bag and drained its battery as the screen wasn’t set to auto turn off. Disaster! Instead I put some more music on and twiddled my thumbs a bit. I went to sleep at about 8!

I had set the alarm for about 11pm, the idea being that with a clear night I’d do some night shots, in particular star trails. Luck not on my side again, despite the good weather the cloud had come in and there were no stars to be seen, back to sleep then!

So, the next morning when I woke up, the cloud had cleared up and promising clear skies above. I got out of the tent and took a little walk to look over the Langdale Valley, to a spot I had sighted the night before for a potential shooting spot and the valley was filled with a fog/mist. The Langdales and Pike O’Blisco just managing to pop their heads out. It wasn’t quite thick enough to be fog…but too murky to be mist. It was strange and admittedly not what I was hoping for, but you work with what the gods give you.


Sunrise from Three Tarns looking into a misty Langdale Valley after a sucessful night wild camping

Sunrise from Three Tarns looking into a misty Langdale Valley after a sucessful night wild camping


I had packed up prior to taking the sunrise shot. I started to go and explore Crinkle Crags but with visibility down to Langdale zero I decided not to carry on knowing I wouldn’t get the shots I wanted. It was a slightly lonely walk down I have to admit, I’m not a fan of walking alone, I think too much and start to feel a little down. However, a small price to pay for the night I had and the sights I witnessed.

I arrived back at the car, always thankful it hasn’t been broken into before any walkers had even started ascending for the day.

So my thoughts on wild camping? Definitely something worth doing, with or without a camera. If you have a DSLR camera set up with lots of gear, be prepared for the weight. But at the end of the day it allows you to see things people just don’t see. I want to start doing more high up mountain images rather than Lake view images and this is the perfect route allowing me to work in my preferred hours of the day. Watch this space.