Sunday 3 February 2013

Winter Wild Camping

in Cowclose Woodland

I lifted one side of the tarp during the day but at night it was secured down like the otherside

I had a week off first of this year in fact, a planned camp in woodland, so that I could relax unwind, cook some awesome food and try my new toy out, the Tenth Wonder Hornet.

My initial thoughts on where to go was close to home no further than an hours drive, cash is tight so to save a little this would be a radius of where to camp, choosing some woods would be the difficult bit, using Google maps to search for a decent woods was a time taking mess on.

Dave and Paul would also be joining me on this trip, with me being off for the week I decided to start the trip on Thursday and be back home Saturday afternoon.  Doing a two nighter in woods would be difficult as I don't have permission from any land owners (yet) and I didn't want to be sitting in the same spot wondering if someone would come along and pinch my gear.

I know of a place in the northeast that offers his woods for £8 a night, its a bit like a campsite but in woods with no toilets or showers, so it would just be like camping out in any woods, I phoned up to book after asking the lads if they were ok with this, all in agreement it would be sweet, I made the phone call.

An old man answered and I asked if I could book, he replied "its not a piss up weekend, we have it quite around here." I thought it to be a bit unfair from our ages range from 34-50, nevertheless, I asked if I could book it by card, which I got the reply "you have to book online, bye."

Me being at work at the time of me trying to book up, I asked Joanne if she would go online and book as I know its a very popular and busy place.  Joanne couldn't find any booking form so phoned up, this time she spoke to a woman, very snotty and was told basically to book online.  Joanne explained that there was no form to book only an email address, the woman replied "you have to send me an email with the dates you want to camp and I will send you one back to let you know if there is any available space."

Now the man and the woman both knew it was to be Thursday and Friday night, yet they still wanted us to send an email to ask for them dates, when Joanne told me of the conversation with the woman I thought fuck yas, I would take my hard earned cash somewhere else.

I haven't mentioned the name of the site simply because people running business like this deserve no money from me or free advertisement.

Dave in the mean time had found another place, so this time when I phoned I was greeted by a friendly man, who went out of his way to help. The place Cowclose Woodland, Gaz who runs the woods had the advertisement on only for a couple of weeks and I was to be the first to camp there. Just to plug it for him you can also visit his facebook page here.

So now we had a place to go I was looking forward to it, like a kid at Christmas.  So the plan was for me to go there Thursday and camp alone in the woods another first, and then for me to meet up with Paul and Dave.

Keeping in contact with Gaz when I would arrive his friend Farmer Steve was going to let me park my car at the farm, so it was safe for the 3days 2 nights.  I would meet him on the street near the farm and I would follow him to the farm then he would take me to the woods in his 4x4.  

So off I went on Thursday to meet Gaz at about 12 but using the A1 a truck had been blown over and the road closed, due to gale force winds, it was forecast 60mph+, I was stuck on a stretch of the A1 for over half an hour it should have took me 2 mins.  I got to the meeting spot and text Gaz, he was there in minutes, I followed him up to the farm, where I also met Steve, who took me into his home to show me a map of the surrounding area and where things were, top bloke he even offered me 2 birds to eat, I refused as I had already bought enough meat and food, I was quite taken back from it.
The track down to the woods

So off me and Gaz went to the other side of the woods where another farm track leads into the woods, this track was more suited for a tractor but his 4x4 did the job.  Once at his log hut I paid for my 2 nights stay £20, a little steep if am honest but I had being taxi down which with all the gear I had a back pack weighing 35kgs and 3 plastic carry bags and a bag of logs,so walking the mile down the track would have being me buggered to be honest.

Once there Gaz left and off I went it was very muddy on the ground till I reached higher ground, as I walked up towards a field I thought a horse was running to jump the fence into the woods but in fact it was a wild deer, I had been here 5 mins and a deer had been seen, excited by my stay and now seeing wildlife, I didn't expect to see, was ace to say the least.

I carried on and found a sweet little place a little bit uneven for a tent but for the hammock or a bivi it was good. I dumped the bag my back felt like I had being carrying a house. I carried on a little further to make sure there wasn't any better places but I had picked the spot, I seen a couple of rabbits running around and disturbed a couple of pheasants, these woods were  filled with wildlife.

I setup my Hammock and tarp as it was getting late by now and light was going fast, I gather some dead wood that was lying about, there was loads of twigs and branches lying all over for me to pick up and use.  I got the fire on and sat back in my camping chair drinking a can of Carling, my holiday had begun.
frying the roast tattys
I put on a boil in the bag meal for a quick fix but I had beef brisket and potatoes with gravy made from the substance from the beef, it was all going to be cooked by me over the fire with a Dutch oven.  I can say it cooked well, I took the tattys out and fried them on the lid meat out for cutting and tossed some oxos and thickner, the meal was amazing to say the least.
This meal was something else

After my meal I finished my can off and headed to my hammock for a nice relaxing hang, with a film on my mobile I lay there till 1am, before calling it a night.

I woke up a few times during the night wind was still strong but I was pretty much sheltered but the cool breeze was cutting my face off and I was just say warm on my back, using a pipedream sleeping bag and a 5 season roll mat I had a down jacket on and softie trousers, yet still not as snug as I like to be when outdoors.

I got the fire going again using the embers and very small twigs, it caught pretty easy and I built it up enough so I could use the lid of my dutch oven to cook my bacon and sausages.  It went down lovely, I had treat  myself to the dear bacon smoked and cured it didn't shrink and was very nice indeed.

I had a very relaxing approach to what I was going to do today, I was meeting Paul at the farm for about 12 and Dave had cancelled, I took my time to sit there next to the fire and relax taking in the sounds of the woods. I could hear the deer's and pheasants, the winds had died down and after a while I got washed and ready to go for a walk and explore the woods.

Steve the farmer had given me a map of the area so off I went with camera but on my first day the base plate what mounts the camera to the tripod had fallen off, its the screw type and I should screw it in with a driver but I always just finger tighten it and this is the second one I have lost.  This would prevent me making the video I had planned.
Out for my walk, this is looking back, right in the distance is where I camped

Exploring the woods and trying to find an easy way to the farm was fun, the woods is in a valley with stream running at the bottom I was on the opposite side to the farm and getting over to the other side was being tricky, I crossed over and 3 deer's seen me jumped the fence (barbed wire) before I could take the lens cap and turn my camera on they had gone.

I walked on the opposite side from where I had camped and headed to see Gaz, he was trying out an oven he had built with his Girlfriend, making pizza.  I asked which is the quickest way to the farm and headed over to meet Paul, it was getting late after 1pm.

Heading to the farm I seen Steve round his sheep into the field before I got to where my car was parked, no sign of Paul so I phoned him and no answer.  I thought he probablys be driving so after a few mins I tried again this time he answered.

I asked where he was and his reply was he was heading down the track to meet me, this was strange as I could see down the track and there was no sign of him, then I twigged he had followed the first postcode and turned down the wrong track, he was to turn round and get himself stuck, the track was more for tractors pot holes bumps and still massive chunks of snow, I couldn't believe he had gone down it.

After ten minutes of him trying to get his car unstuck I phoned him back and told him to wait there I would drive round and walk down and see if I could push him out, I was heading down the track when Paul was coming up laughing and smiling behind was Gaz in his 4x4 he had helped him.

Paul's setup
I decided to leave cars in the car park at the top of the track and walk back down but Gaz give us a lift down, saving our legs, we headed to camp and it was time for a few cans and a beef dip.  Fire on again I put some gravy on to warm up with the beef I had cooked the night before I cut it up tossed it in a bun, poured gravy all over it, we had a few cans before Paul went to setup his tarp and bivi.

Chatting away like two fish wifes we had a good laugh drink was flowing, the fire was nice and warm, it was time for supper so I got the spit out and put the lamb on too cook. We chatted and drank till after 12, the Lamb was nice with tattys and gravy.

Once the drink had been drunk and the food ate we headed off to bed it was late, I had brought my summer bag I use in the woods what I got from tesco I put this in my Hammock and sleeping bag on top, my what a difference it made I slept like a baby so warm and comfortable, I didn't wake up till 9:40am which is late for me.

We spent the rest of the morning next to the fire me cooking bacon again and Paul had some sort of fish, sobering up we took our time to pack up and head out, it must have taken an hour, I cleaned the fire area and I hope all people reading this stand by the code L.N.T. (leave no trace).

The next part was the walking out 1 mile through mud and up hill 31 kgs still on my back I had reduced the weight by about 4 kgs, a few stops were needed, the hardest thing was getting the bugger on my back which my good friend Paul captured on film all in fun.

To sum up the trip and woods, the trip was fun and very relaxing, shame Dave had to cancel, as I like his company always has something crazy to talk about, the woods was a great spot I felt safe no need to worry about your gear being left, I will be going back but the only down side is the getting to the woods, if you could park up next to the log cabin it would be first class.

All in all it was a top trip just wish I could have down more filming but without a tripod to be honest is a waste of time. Thanks for reading leave a comment if you wish.


  1. Looks like that place is a keeper for next time

    I'm sat on the plane hungry now


    1. It is mate defo going again. The food was ace was hoping to do a full video on it but lost the base plate and the was the end of that idea

  2. Really enjoyed your write up mate about this trip. Must of been bloody cold at first with them winds.

    1. Thanks very much for the comment, glad you liked it, yep it was cold felt colder on the last morning prob the brandy cooling my blood lol

    2. Food looked great. Top video :-)

    3. Cheers Alex it was a great trip, spending a night in a forest on your own is a little daunting but once your there doing it, it was so relaxing just pleasing myself chilling by the fire and cooking that amazing meal

  3. This is looking good I could sit in the woods eating and drinking by a big fire or should I sit on top of a mountain with boil in the bag. Looks good Paul I think you're found a great way to spend your time in the great outdoors hope to see more great trip reports in the future. Here's a idea by a full pig and do a spit roast but I don't think your spit will take the weight.

    Spit Roasted Pig Served With Apple Sauce, Stuffing & Crispy Crackling

    yum yum


    I'am hungry LOL

    1. your right mate need a much bigger spit lol I'll stick with lamb and beef, its nice to enjoy going out camping where ever, but I will say as much as I love camping high its also nice to camp in the woods, something about sitting next to a fire and relaxing without the big walk, thanks for the comment mate

  4. When are you cooking Spit Roasted Pig Served With Apple Sauce, Stuffing & Crispy Crackling :-)