22nd April 2020
It's been funny year. I had planned to complete the Wainwrights before turning 50 in June. I'd booked off a number of days in March and April, plus a week at Easter and another in late May. That should have been plenty of time to climb the remaining 35, especially as most of them are clumped together in the Northern Fells. That was the idea anyway. Unfortunately though, a particularly stubborn virus with grand ideas of world domination has interfered with my carefully laid plans. And to add insult to injury, the recent weather has been glorious. We are now 4 weeks, or is it 5, into the Covid-19 lockdown. I lose count. Being an NHS key worker has thankfully spared me from the boredom of weekday 9-5 lockdown but there was no escape from my planned Easter week off. So having completed my list of garden chores I thought it would be a good time to update my old tarp pitching video on YouTube from 2015. Since then, nearly all my wild camps have been under a tarp and I've become much more adept at pitching them. I've learnt which shelters work well in the Cumbrian fells, particularly on windy summits where I seem to find myself more often than not. So here is my updated video showing, in my humble opinion, the best 5 tarp configurations using 2 trekking poles and my 9x5 foot silnylon tarp (the solo tarp, £55 from https://www.backpackinglight.co.uk/).
The A-Frame and the Cave are probably the least useful for my needs, the former being only suitable for really calm weather and the latter as a 'hunker down in a storm' shelter. Others may find them helpful though. The A-Frame would be the best option for a sheltered woodland camp and can be pitched between 2 trees instead of trekking poles. The Cave would be much more useful with a bigger tarp, but that's not really my thing.
The other 3 shelters (the lean-to, the 'closed end' lean-to and the Flying-V) are my favourites and ones I use most. They can all stave off the wind which is usually my primary objective, and they all represent what wild camping with a tarp is all about for me. Wide open vistas, a real feeling of space and an open view of the sky. One of the best things about the tarp and/or bivvy is being able to lie supine in the comfort of a down bag and slowly allow your night vision to soak up the celestial arena. To fall asleep under a pitch black sky studded with countless stars and bisected by a glowing milky way that is hardly ever seen in 'urbandom'. To have wandering satellites, distant galaxies and streaking meteors for company. You just don't get that experience in a tent. Of course its not always like that and I've had plenty of camps where the weather has unexpectedly turned for the worse. Where wind and rain have rattled the tarp and sleep has been sporadic, but even those experiences are special. Yep … I must admit that I've really fallen for the tarp.
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