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What is Your Absolute Favourite Thing To Do While Camping?

It’s one of those campfire perennials. What do you enjoy the most when you’re camping? Ask a dozen people and you may well get a dozen different answers. Ask one person and you could still get a dozen replies as they repeatedly change their minds over and over again. 

That’s the thing about camping, isn’t it? You can be pretty clear in your mind what it is that floats your boat the most but then something else comes into your head. The cop out is to give an answer listing your top 5 alternatives. But I’m pretty much set on an answer. 

My absolute favourite thing to do while camping is to escape. It’s both a physical thing and at the same time it’s equally about a state of mind.

The act of going camping is an escape in itself, getting out of your everyday environment and existence. Packing up the car, closing the door to your home and leaving behind your work and your worries. Escaping the everyday  that is the routine of our daily lives. It doesn’t matter whether that life is one you really enjoy. The fact is, heading off camping is in every sense a breath of fresh air. An escape.

To arrive at your site, whether it’s near or far, is always a liberating moment. A weight lifted off your shoulders and a smile put on your face. You’ve successfully escaped.  

But here’s the funny thing. The campsite that’s so lifted my spirits is the place I can’t wait to leave. For me the real moment of pleasure is when I put on my boots, do up my laces, make a final check of my gear and sling my daypack over my shoulders. 

Then there’s a small ritual that I always follow. I take a moment before I actually head off. It’s just a few seconds to pause, savour the moment and be grateful that I’m about to step outdoors into freedom. It’s a cocktail of anticipation and excitement and for me an intoxicating part of every camping trip. It always gives me a feeling of gratitude that I’m there and about to do  something I love. 

And then off I stride with a smile on my face. It’s important not to take these moments for granted.

We work long and hard so when you finally get to escape, make sure you really acknowledge and appreciate it.

Walking off the campsite and out onto a trail is the start of something special.

If it’s a first time hike the journey ahead is something to really get the heart racing.

The lure of something fresh, new and unseen.

And for me the very best of these are in the more out of the way or even remote areas where your day is truly yours and there aren’t throngs of walkers. This is real escape. 

Getting time and space to yourself, even on a hike, is getting harder. But it’s far from impossible.

You can still get to see some of the spectacular sights that the British landscape has to offer and, with a bit of luck, you can have them pretty much to yourself. 

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But there’s also the special sauce ingredient in all of this – the peace and quiet.

Too often the soundtrack of our lives is the frenetic and constant beat of the modern world. It’s only when we truly escape that the restful sound of nature takes over.

It might be the wind sifting through the trees, water running over rocks or the birdsong that is mostly absent in the cities. In the great outdoors it all comes together to create calm.

As much as starting off on a hike is such a great feeling, we all know the joy of returning to our tents after a day out hiking. Sometimes a little weary, other times pretty much whacked.

But that first drink, whether it’s a cuppa, a cabernet or a Coors, is like nectar. 

And as long as you’ve got yourself a quiet pitch you get to escape all over again. Sitting in silence, satisfied and contemplating the day you’ve had. These are the moments that for me make camping so special.

And if you sit out into the night in a dark place you get to escape with the stars. 

There’s another version of this day – camping at the beach.

There are plenty of campsites in the UK right next to the sand. Growing up in North Wales, I had my fair share of these. No boots to lace up here.

No campsites to stride out from. Just the beach outside your tent. 

It might be tougher to escape people at the coast but it’s still possible to walk miles along the water’s edge or on clifftops, lost in your own world.

Not exactly silence but in its place you get the soothing sounds of the sea. And at night I love to sit outside or simply lie in my tent and just listen to the hypnotic rhythms of the waves. 

Camping gives you options.

It’s so easy to meet people and enjoy the company of strangers.

But equally, if it’s what you want, you can simply just escape into your own special piece of planet earth.   

Arthur Penlington
Author: Arthur Penlington

Arthur Penlington is the former Senior Editor of the BBC TV News Channel. He spent 18 years with the corporation. He covered three wars from the frontlines and stories from five continents. He’s passionate about travel and the outdoors. After moving to Australia he sold his house and travelled the world for almost eight years. He’s written a top 3 travel humour book - Around The World In Wonder Socks - based on a year backpacking the world with no plan. Destinations were decided by the toss of a coin. He’s camped in Australia, Asia, Europe and Africa and spent time with a former headhunter tribe, deep in the Borneo Jungle.

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