I’m in the Lake District at the moment. I’m collecting our daughter’s gear from university on Tuesday, so I thought I’d steal a few days backpacking. Unfortunately the weather looks awful tomorrow, so I had to reduce a three day backpacking trip to two days. I’ve not been in the Northern Fells for a while so I decided to re-visit Wiley Gill where I knew there was a good place to camp.
I arrived at Wiley Gill at about 2:30pm and was pleased that no one else had chosen to do the same thing, especially as it was Saturday and even the Northern Fells were quite busy with hikers and bikers. What followed was one of the most extraordinary incidents in my forty five years of backpacking.
After putting the tent up, collecting some water and sorting out my gear, I was standing outside my tent in glorious sunshine. A couple of walkers passed close by on the path and I shouted “good afternoon”. The woman turned to me and demanded to know whether I was wild camping. “Yes”, I replied. She told me in no uncertain terms that it was far too early to be wild camping (it was 3:15). Then she started berating me that wild camping was a blot on the landscape, which was a bit ironic as I had camped in possibly one of the most inconspicuous places in the fells (in a sheepfold and largely hidden from the path).
At this point I was a bit nonplussed. I thought about giving her the Agincourt salute and an Anglo-Saxon instruction. However, I decided she wasn’t worth it, turned my back on her and went inside my tent, leaving her to climb the path, chuntering away before, mercifully, she passed out of earshot and sight.
As David Coleman might have said “quite remarkable!”