If you are the outdoorsy type and fancy a go at wild camping in the snow, why not try it in the relatively remote and safe environment that is Axe Edge ‘White-Winter’ Farm? I did !
There are a few books written on the subject but they are targeted at the American audience. The books are still great, they just contain a great deal of information about rifle & ammo choice and different types of Kayak to pack onto your 20 metre long RV. Interesting stuff but not practical here in Blighty. If you visit and are interested in wild camping please let me know.
One bitterly cold night in February this year I pitched one of my tents in our field in the snow and spent a freezing cold night there! The sky was crystal clear and the stars were shining. It was a beautiful cold night. My tent is nothing special although it does have a “snow skirt” to prevent snow creeping in between the inner and outer parts of the tent.
The key thing for winter camping is warmth. Quite obvious you may think but the idea is to pack more insulation below you than on top of you. The planet earth will try its best to achieve thermal equilibrium with your body – and it will win every time. I had a blanket, thermarest, gym mat and sleeping bag and even that wasn’t good enough. Next time I’ll use a camp bed!
For heat and light I wanted something warmer than a torch but safer than an oil/gas powered storm lamp so I bought an UCO candle lantern from Amazon. I was able to read my book in the tent and it did output a small but noticeable amount of heat too. I left the candle burning all night.
I wore a balaclava and gloves along with some thermal underwear and used a silk sleeping bag liner which supposedly adds an extra “season” to a sleeping bag. To add another element of warmth to the tent I also had a wee tot of whisky too.
Despite all the above it was still bitterly cold. Next time I will dig out the snow before pitching the tent and put some sheepskin rugs in the tent too. I’ll also revisit my winter camping book for any more tips.
For my next attempt I’ll also try and improve my night time sky photography skills! The sky was crystal clear but I left the shutter open for two long – hence the stars that make up the constellation ‘Orion’ are slightly blurred. Given that the stars are generally moving away from us at 70Km/s per mega parsec, I suppose every second of shutter speed counts!
Finally, I lit a small campfire to further test my bushcraft skills. I’d prepared some kindling earlier in the day and using a flint to light the camp fire worked a treat. I’ll cover campfires and fire safety in a later blog.
It was a great, if very cold, night and this coming winter, I’ll give it another go.
Written by Ian Butterworth