My husband Andy and I have camped together ever since we met. We would wild camp all year round. We love camping…. We would happily sleep under canvas in the depths of winter on climbing or skiing trips. However, when our daughter was 4 weeks old we made the decision to buy a campervan (that is a different post), and so camping wild under canvas stopped for a few years, and is something we have only recently resumed.
We however did make one painful foray into wild camping when Jasmine was 3 and Harris 18 months old. Our running club organised an away weekend, running from Dalwhinnie to Fort William, with an overnight stop at Loch Ossian Youth Hostel. We were both really keen to get involved, but in the end decided that just one of us would run on the first day. The other would come and join everyone in the youth hostel, and bring the kids. Awesome! Great plan! How hard could it be …? Andy was to have the day running and I’d sort the kids. Now that I think about it I seem to remember that the majority of this “great” plan was his idea…
Somehow Andy’s contribution to our preparation was to sort his own kit and hand me a bottle of whisky to bring along. The rest he kindly left to me…
My plan was to get the train from Crianlarich and then walk the mile or so from Corrour Station to the youth hostel. I started to pack the following:
- Most importantly (according to my ahem, lovely husband…) – 1 x bottle of Highland Park finest whisky for him and his mates – one of the straws that broke the camel’s back
- 1 x 2 man tent (2 adults + 2 small people, we’ll fit no problem…)
- 2 x adult sleeping bags – err.. what are the kids going to sleep in?
- 2 x yaks wool blankets for the kids to sleep in…
- 2 x thermorests (because we only have 2, not 4…)
- Food for 4 people for 3 meals.(heavy)
- Nappies – oh blimey, nappies weigh a lot, especially the re-usable ones we were using with the kids. And they weigh even more when you’re carrying them home full…
- Baby wipes
- Spare underwear (for me. none for Andy. he won’t care about stuff like that once he’s drunk his stupid whisky…)
- Spare clothes for the kids
- Kids bottles and cups
I somehow managed to fit everything into the biggest rucksack we owned. It was really, really heavy. I almost couldn’t lift it, and I’ve carried some heavy packs in my time, full of ammunition, radio batteries and plastic bags of my own poo… (again, for another post, maybe…) It was all getting a bit ridiculous. I started to really wonder if I was going to be able to get myself and the two kids the mile from the station to the youth hostel, as Harris couldn’t walk that far.
Staying at home wasn’t an option. Andy wasn’t booked into the youth hostel, would have no food and nowhere to sleep. Or any whisky… And there was no way of telling him that I wasn’t at all sure about this “great idea” of his.
Right, ok, Jasmine can ride on her balance bike, with me pushing Harris on his trike. Genius?
I just had a small word with myself, got everything into the car, plus kids and set off for the station. Getting onto the train was horrendous, struggling with a bag the size of a house, two kids who keep running off, a balance bike and a trike. I nearly cried… Getting off was no better, with no one to lend me a hand either.
Anyway, I pulled myself together, Jas got on her bike, I put Harris on the trike and off we went down the track the mile to the youth hostel. Two hours later after lots of stops, two nappy changes, some tears (mine), a very sore back and two hungry children I was looking for camping spots near the youth hostel. Nothing suitable. I headed back up the track, herding the kids who were by now pretty grisly, to a small carved-out area beside the path that I had seen. Pitched the tent on what turned out to be an ants’ nest, cried again as Jasmine screamed her head off, covered head to foot in biting ants. I abandoned camp to throw myself on the mercies of the Youth Hostel, with only the kids and bottle in hand, wondering why there was no drink for me? Unsurprisingly, that was the night I leaned to drink single malt…