Late last year I decided to go on a weekend trip of wild camping in Wales with a friend (who stayed in his own van). As our van is still in the early conversion stage only having a bed frame and an air bed which deflates by its self (and no toilet facilities), April decided she would sit this one out. That didn’t stop me and off we went on our very unplanned trip to wales!
Unplanned you say?
Yep! We chose the weekend months in advance but didn’t actually plan what was happening until about 1 hour before we planned to head off. We eventually set off 3 hours late at 9:30pm for what was going to be a 3.5 hour drive. Crazy I no, but life’s an adventure, and we still had no idea what was happening. Our plan:
- Drive to wales
- Go to a rough location we found online looking at maps and just see what happens (take a look at our camping resources page for ideas for finding places!)
It all worked out in the end, but I think it added to the excitement not knowing what I was going to be heading into.
Yep, you read it right. Wild camping, as in just turning up and sleeping the night. It goes by different names but it’s essentially staying the night in remote locations, car parks, lay-by’s that type of thing.
Friday Evening (Travel)
After leaving at 9:30pm we arrived in Wales about 00:30am. We used radios on the drive to allow us to communicate with each other. We drove around the initial area for about 20 minutes trying to decide where to park up for the night, but there were signs up everywhere stating no parking between 10pm and 7am, and no overnight staying / camping.
After taking a look around, we decided to park in one of the furthest car parks. The road lead to a small airfield and a farm house so we expected it to be barely used during the night and it was also December, so it was well outside of the usual camping season so patrols are very unlikely.
We were by the sea and it was one of those nights where the moon is fully out and you can see for miles which added to the excitement of our first wild camp. We made some quick wraps, sat around for about 30 minutes and then went to sleep about 2am.
Since it was my first night wild camping I was very nervous, what if someone started knocking on the van window? What if the police turned up? Luckily none of this happened, and we didn’t hear one vehicle passing by, just the sound of the sea rocking in and out all night I woke up about 6am and the first dog walkers started arriving about 7am, not a single problem.
As we had no plans, we sat around for a couple hours, had some hot drinks and browsed the various maps we used for possible locations for Saturday night. I found a lake which seemed promising, so we decided to head off in that direction, scout it out then decide what to do from there. As it was a first wild trip we didn’t want to leave it too late and then find out it was unsuitable to stay the night and be left struggling to find a place during the night.
The drive to the lake was exciting and scary all in one, when we got to about 10 miles away the roads turned to single track walls on both sides with tight turns. My friend was able to get around much easier as he has a small wheel base but the tight bends were a bit more of a struggle for me, but I got through in the end. You need to be a confident driver and know the size of your van!
We arrived to find a field where people park the day to complete the roman road walk up into the mountains. There was a couple cars as it was cold and wet I doubt many people wanted to try the walk. There was an honesty box with a washed-out price sign and my research during the morning showed a picture of the sign which said it was £5 per vehicle overnight and £1 per person. We decided to stay here for a while and relax then decide what to do.
It had been an hour or two and we decided let’s stay the night here. There was no phone reception and I hadn’t told April what was going on, so decided I either must drive out until I find signal or try walk up the old roman road into the mountains…. Roman road it was. Or should I say waterfall – the path due to the rain had turned into a waterfall, but the actual walk was nice with some rivers. I kept checking phone signal every now and again until I finally had enough to make a call.
As the rain was getting worse and a fog was moving in we decided to head back down. It was only a couple days later when I did some research into the walk that I realised we were almost at the top anyway! It continues down the other side and splits into other walks and we were almost at that point. We will definitely be going back at some point as it would be a good area to wild camp (tent) at the top.
The night consisted of music and board games, as I said there as no phone signal, no internet, it was a complete escape from the world which was very exciting and relaxing all in one. There was sheep randomly walking around which also added to the relaxation. It hit about 9pm and decided to call it a night and headed to bed.
Probably one of the best night sleeps I have ever had, it was absolute silent, no ambient lights in the distance, sound of a river right next to us with the odd sheep sounds during the night. I got up about 8am, got ready and just sat on the bed with the back doors open and watched the mountains, river and sheep for an hour, it was very relaxing.
It was about 9am when Mark started to move about, we shorlty cooked some hot drinks, we then sat around for another hour just relaxing and taking in the area, and realisation the vans offer us so much flexibility!
Turns out my boots are no longer waterproof and where soaked from the previous days walk, had to put bags on my feet! I stupidly only took the one pair of boots, wont be doing that again.
Mark needed to be back home to complete some work that afternoon so we decided to head off about 10am or 11am, cant remember. We drove following the satnav back home and decided to stop randomly on the way to have somthing to eat, I saw a sign for a beach and decided lets give that a shot.
As normal, the car park has a high barrier so we couldnt get in, but there was plenty room to park outside, we pulled up, cooked some breakfast and then took a walk down to the beach for a quick view, the sun had decided to show it self so was a lovely finish to the week.
That was it for the weekend, back into the vans and back to England.
It was definatly exciting and I will be doing it again, I was a very enjoyable weekend even thought we didnt do much, it was very relaxing and a break from the world.
My only concern is lack of respect from other campers, we stayed in two locations, and we we left no one would know we had been there other than some tyre marks, we took all rubish.
The lake we stayed at, someone had left about a weeks worth of rubish for the land owner to clean up, the sheep had started digging throught the bags, if people dont start cleaning up after them selfs we are going to find it harder to find locations to stay, every year new signs and restrictions are placed stopping vehcles staying overnight due to disrespectful campers!