Junior wild camp


I bundled into the back of our next door neighbours car with the wicker basket a cool bag and our fishing rods, I’m eight years old and off night fishing with my dad for the first time ever.

We didn’t have a car until I was 16 so was given a lift the ten miles or so out the village to the lake, in true style it was on an private estate in the heart of the national forest. Once dropped off we made our way around the lake to the favourite spots, set up and got settled in.

The lake for me at that age was as big as the sea and surrounded by big old tree’s so tall I couldn’t see the top, we were remote I mean remote enough that the lake was on the RAF flight path every now and then they’d buzz over the top so low there’s a V in the tree line…

Its summer so it doesn’t get dark for what seems like another day, I’ve never stayed up this late. We’ve got settled in, my sleeping arrangement is two bin bags and my school winter parka coat, Blue with a heavy metal zip, orange lining and big hood with grey fur around the trim, I loved that coat, apart from the time I got my chin caught in the zip on the playground at school… OUCH!

A simple cheese sandwich and mini Cadbury’s rolls for fuel, cups of tea made from the kettle my dad still uses today and the even uncomfortable wicker basket my dad gave up for me to sit on, looking back he had the good deal with the floor….

My dad hammered in the brolly pole to shelter us from the wind best he could, and we settled down with crisps and a sausage roll. My dad ensuring I was ok and safe walked the 15 minutes to the narrow bank that rose some 6ft from the waters edge all we had was candles in jam jars for lighting, not even a head torch between us. Behind him the moon sat high and bright lighting up the cattle field behind with the sporadic enormous pine tree setting the silloet. He made his way to the staging that seemed to be in the utter darkness at the waters edge, I lay on my side moon shimmering the back drop of cattle in the field and tree’s high above and my dad seemingly floating by candle light by the edge of the lake.

The wind hammered through the tree’s every blow seemed to twist my mind to a new animal waiting in the shadows to pounce, with each wave of the water against the bank a creature lay in wait….

Alone in the darkness, by candle light I found my passion for the outdoors, the seemly endless exploring to be done, tree’s unclimbed, sunsets unseen and paths to who knows where untraveled.

This lake hold dear to me my formative years, from first time fishing at both day and night, the first time I was allowed on the motorbike, our destination the lake. The school holidays where I first walked 6 hours just to sit for an hour in peace, the first place I drove after passing my driving test and as a grown man I’ve sat in contemplation.

The outdoors, the place of nature, natural beauty and a place we should all feel at home. We can put our joy in things, jobs, possessions’ and property, these can all be taken away. My joy from being outside, the friends I’ve made, things I’ve learnt and places my desires taken me will never die out or be taken away. My experience and memories are mine alone and the chance to share them and inspire others to explore outdoors keeps the fire fuelled….