4.11.14

Stealth camping part one - why?

This, dear reader, will be a short post (thank God you say!)
 
The reason for my writing is simple, it is merely to outline what I feel pertinent with regards to stealth camping.
 
Unless someone can prove otherwise I believe I was instrumental in coining the phrase back at the end of the 20th century. Not that that matters although I thought I'd point it out in case someone trade marks the words (lol) ....... seriously with the way these forums are these days who knows what their up to?
 
And with a few of the lesser known schools out there now offering courses in stealth camping (yes they do!) I thought I'd write a brief piece too.
 
So why stealth camp??
 
Well, I don't know about my overseas friends but here in UK every square inch of land is owned by someone and usually that someone isn't inclined to share it. Now this I can understand in some ways as some places are SSSI or similar, others are used as businesses from farming to lumber etc ..... but a lot of these areas aren't. A lot of wooded areas are owned by faceless corporations or universities for example and as such are never used or managed in anyway.
 
Those that aren't, those whose owners work them in someway or have other interests in them are usually protected from strangers because the owners (often rightly) fear that trespassers will damage something and in the process probably cost them money having the clean up a mess or repair something.
 
Sadly this is a common fear among land owners and one not in a small part caused by them. How so I hear you say? Well, generations of banishing the common man from the land has lead to the present  progeny being so far removed from the field and stream as to seeing them as almost alien landscapes, landscapes void of xbox or other forms of entertainment and as such fit for little more than destruction or to be used as dumping grounds.
 
Worse in some ways are those bushcrafters or outdoorsy types who half understand the importance of a outdoor life, who actively seek the forests seclusion but who, possibly through no fault of the their own don't understand the etiquette and the rules of its usage and as such drop littler, damaged plants and trees or light fires and leave ugly fire rings filled with burnt beer cans and other rubbish. Take for instance the humble dog walker who instinctively knows walking Rover through the woods is good for both hound and master and as such will make the pilgrimage. Yet let Rover do his business and the walker will obediently pick up their poop and then against all logic throw the plastic bag into the bushes - their education tells them the poop is a bad thing but their lack of education doesn't stretch to allowing them to understand that said poop in the woods would break down naturally and join in someway the food chain, so they pick it up like they should on the city street however wrapped as it now is in a plastic time capsule it'll be around a lot longe!!  
 
We have no right to roam or All mans rights as Scotland or Sweden respectively do, so here in England and Wales we have little choice about how we go about our bushcraft.
 
Generally, the choices are limited to,
 
1. Day hikes around the semi-wild woodland areas such as woodland trust or forestry commission lands.
2. Campsites, usually manicure lawned and campfire barred.
3. Going on courses or similar - where we can at least practise our skills.
4. Back yard bushcraft - probably more common than we think, or people let on, especially among our forum friends.
5. Hiking and camping trips above the dry stone wall line although these usually mean little or no trees etc
6. Trips overseas to countries where a better outdoor culture exists.
 
All the above except maybe 6 usually mean no campfire and little by way of wood to practice fire lighting or carving etc.
 
Or we are forced to stealth camp.  
 
Readers may have heard me liken stealth camping to the exploited of the American frontiersmen or mountain men as I find this a simplified but fun way to look at things. We, the bushcrafter, are of course the Daniel Boone or Jim Bridger character while the land owner and their agents, in their many forms, are the native Americans, the savage of classical literature.
 
For us being discovered and "captured" will probably mean being moved on as trespass is a civil offence and as long as you don't argue and haven't damaged anything then there is no issue that will require the Police or further action. Our frontiersmen on the other hand if captured might at best be faced with slavery at worse be faced with a slow torture or even being roasted over the fire - so the level of danger and the risks taken are slightly different but the thrill and skill are similar.
 
 
In part two we will talk about how to stealth camp and a few simple ground rules to abide by ...........key among these is the use of common sense!!