As Britain escapes lockdown, home-grown adventure is set to explode this summer. But what special skills do you need to know if you’re heading up into the wilds of our hills and mountains? To help everyone Respect The Wild, we've launched a new series of advice codes and films that reveal the secrets for sustainable and successful wilderness trips.
Leave no trace when you wild camp
A wild camp in the mountains, miles from anywhere, is one of the great wilderness experiences. Yet this remoteness means that your impact – or lack of it – is the most important thing. When you pack up in the morning, let the memory of your night be the only trace of your presence.
Be inconspicuous. Choose your location wisely: only use remote locations, well above the highest wall line and out of sight of civilisation. Stay for one night only. Pitch camp late and leave early, and don’t leave tents up during the day.
Don’t use camp fires or BBQs. They are highly destructive in sensitive mountain landscapes. Use a camping stove instead. During high fire risk periods, don’t use any open flame.
Need the toilet? Removing all human waste using a packable toilet kit is the best solution. Away from popular spots, as a last resort, bury solid waste 15cm deep, replacing the earth afterwards. Pack out your toilet paper and sanitary products in a zip-lock bag. Wash up and toilet a minimum of 50m from any water sources.
Choose durable ground. Pitch your tent on well drained ground that won’t be easily damaged or leave traces of your visit.
Leave no trace. If you take it in, take it out. Try to remove any litter you find too. Pack out all food waste - it takes much longer than you think to decompose. Replace any rocks you’ve moved.
Use lights on their lowest setting around camp. Light and noise is very noticeable at night and can disturb wildlife and people.
Keep group sizes small. Large groups can have a huge impact.
Use campsites in the valleys. If you want to camp in the valley floor, always use a formal campsite with facilities to minimise your impact and help the local economy.
Think of others and leave no trace when van camping
A van can give the ultimate freedom to take the comforts of home anywhere you want, putting mountains and crags literally on your doorstep. It’s no surprise it’s called living the dream. But make sure your dream isn’t someone else’s nightmare, and leave no trace when you hit the road.
Use campsites whenever available. This is the best way to minimise your impact on the environment (and you’ll probably have a more relaxed night’s sleep). Where this isn’t possible, stay low profile by avoiding residential areas, honeypot overnight spots and other vans. Some pubs allow overnight parking for customers, but check first.
Look out for signs. If there are signs asking for no overnight parking, respect them and go elsewhere.
Arrive late and leave early. Don’t stay in one spot for more than a single night.
Consider your waste. Leaving your poo outside is no longer acceptable when van camping. Either have toilet facilities on board, use public toilets or use a packable toilet kit. Dispose of toilet and grey water waste properly. Never dump it in the countryside - it can damage the environment, is unsanitary, smelly and a real eyesore.
Don’t use campfires and BBQs. These draw attention and can be highly destructive, so don’t use them away from campsites which allow them.
Be self-contained. Don’t sprawl with awnings or other equipment: keep everything in your vehicle.
Leave no trace. Take everything away with you and do your bit to remove existing litter wherever possible.
Park considerately. Parking areas are often limited, so don’t take up multiple spaces.
How to poo like a pro
One poo not too bad; two poos start to stink. But it’s all too easy for the poo to pile high so you need to stop and think. Everybody has to do it, no one can argue with that, but all those places we love so much can be spoiled with too much crap. So it’s time to stop and think, about your needs and others’ wants, before you slope off behind a tree, unbuckle and drop your pants.
Go before you go. The best option is not needing the toilet at all. It’s not always possible but use the toilet before you head out.
Find a proper toilet. If you’re caught short, local hospitality (after buying something) or public toilets are the next best option.
Pack out your waste. If you can’t find a toilet, removing everything from the environment and disposing of it responsibly is best. This is easy with a commercially available toilet kit/wag bag, or make your own using sturdy zip lock bags, cat litter (optional), toilet paper and alcohol gel.
Last resort? Bury it. With no other option and only away from popular spots, burying your poo is the last resort. Dig a hole 15cm deep and replace the earth after. Remove toilet paper and sanitary products in a sturdy zip lock bag – paper dug up by animals is never a good look.
Remember that in many hotspots such as crags, summits and popular overnight or picnic spots, burying poo is not a good option. Do your bit and pack it out instead.
We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.
From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.
Did you know that we've just launched a new U27 membership offer for just £1 / month? And with full membership from £1.66 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work: