Stealth Camping - part 3 - locating camp

At the moment I am planning for a wintery trip to Dartmoor, surely one of the least friendly places to visit in February. As such this, and any trip for that matter, deserves proper planning.

And this brings me onto the subject of stealth camping as on this trip myself and my hiking companion will be bashaing up and going into stealth mood - to a lesser or greater extent. 

Stealth camp north downs way 

So how do we go about locating a good site for a stealth camp? Well a simple rule of thumb is look for somewhere as far away from people as possible ........ but its rarely that simple, indeed on one outing three of us once camping for the night in a birch wood located between a golf course and a housing estate! Another time myself and Steve got our heads down in a strip wood barely 100 meters wide between houses.

With that said the first thing I always do is a recce - time spent in recce is time seldom wasted, if your able to visit the area brilliant - pop down and do a walk through to get a feel for the lay of the land. Hike the trails there and see if you can evaluate how much human traffic there is. Look for the boots and paw prints of dog walkers - are the trails and paths over grown or well worn? Also consider your location from a on lookers prospective how easily would you be seen? Usually site location is a compromise the ideal site doesnt exist all we can do is make the best of what we have to work with.

Stealth camp beside a wall with a road the other side - would you know that we were there?

If we can find a location thats big enough for our camp - not close or over looked by foot paths and which offers our material needs (firewood and water) then we are lucky.

If we cant visit our potential site then a map recce is our next option. This can be done in advance ie before a trip, or as often happens with me while hiking during the day as we near the end of the hike. On a map recce I look for several things, firstly a decent sized lump of woodland. Secondly its location, this being as far from any property as possible. I look at the access points, is there one or twenty paths leading in and out? Also us the OS map to check out the foliage ........ is your wood decidious?? In winter it will be a bare arse place so better to find a pine wood or similar for example. Spend time on the map it will tell you a lot but also use modern media too - google earth the location as this will give you a birds eye view but be aware of the date of the image taken. The last thing I usually do on the map is to look for the largest clump of trees and then work out the very centre of its mass -- take a grid reference for this, if you have a gps its a handy device to help you locate the spot on the ground when surrounded by trees and thick foliage 

Winter stealth camp - little foliage for cover.

Then move out and hike in - as you tab in be aware of other potential sites you pass - more than once I have arrived at a good location to find it occupied or worse gone (all the trees cut down) - as you may need to go back to one of these.

Upon reaching the potential site, if you havent been there before, its advisable to do a clearance patrol. This literally means a walk around the perimeter of the site. Here we are to be mind fall of the above but we can also read the land and assess its potential. One way to do this is to circle the outer edge of the site/woods and then in ever decreasing circles slowly make your way in. 

Now if I am happy I will usually drop my pack close to a potential spot and have a little walk around assessing the site. Generally I aim to hit camp with an hour or two of day light at least for this reason.

If all goes well you will have located a site that is hidden from view, comfortable to use and with a good supply of fire wood and access to a decent water source and if you follow the advise thus far given you should be able to set up your camp without incident.

In our next post we will talk about camp set up and a few of the do's and dont's of stealth camping.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks for your continued support ................

  Above camp in open - exposed to elements and over view etc - below camp hidden in trees no overview and protection from the elements as a bonus.


Bushraft guru's .......... double standards or just greedy?

Ray Mears has been dumped from a 10,000 pound gig for bad mouthing caravans.

Does this incident highlight the double standards and greed of someone like Ray?

Morally, if you hated caravans you would turn down a gig at a show of caravaning enthusiasts wouldn't you?

Its not just Ray either but if someone could lie about something like that what else would they lie about? For example is the whole Myth about his learning, his childhood spent tracking foxes built on falsehoods? Dave Canterbury did similar, so why not Bear Grylls or one/many of the self proclaimed experts running schools?

I am sure there are many good and honest guys out there too - I like to think I was one when I ran courses etc but it is a shame for the individual and his fans as well as for the subject/hobby as a whole when something like this comes to light.


The shemagh

Had someone ask me how to wear the shemagh like an arab ............. heres how


New Knife ................

I am a very lucky man. I have made some great friends over the years and both received and given some great gifts.

One such gift I received many years ago was a blade blank from my Finnish friend Perkele. The blade, I believe, was one he made when he was learning to forge and it has always been my intention to put a set of scales on it - but due to the trials of life I never found time.

However, thanks to the ever hungry mind and crafty hands of my good friend Paul of Waldgiest I got the chance to get a set of scales put on. Paul, who has gone from spoons to all manner of wood craving, has recently started making handles for stick tangs ( and mentioned he fancied trying a full tang ................ well guess who had one handy!!

So dutifully I posted it off and he did his magic. My criteria was simple - do what you want. Trusting to his ability 100% and this paid off. He, being over critical is conscious of any and all minor faults. I however think these add character and give my knife a rustic look I really do like.

I definitely owe a BIG THANK YOU to both guys and can not wait to get this beautiful tool into the woods to see what she can do.

The knife is yet to be tested, so a follow up blog will be in order, but I have sharpened her up and she has taken a razor edge.

I will tell you more once I have had a play for now here is some porn ...........