|Solo camp in the Cairngorms in February|
Why solo walking and camping? What makes going alone special? I think it’s because it’s only when you are on your own that you can really experience the natural world, really experience the landscape. At least that’s how it is for me. Solitude allows me to feel aware of the world around me and in touch with nature. An obvious reason for this is the lack of distraction from companions. When I walk with others a key part of the trip is being with them and sharing the experience with them. Nothing wrong with that of course but it does create a barrier between you and nature, a barrier that’s there even if you walk in silence or far apart much of the time. Just the presence of another person changes the feeling of the walk and the connection with the wild. Alone I see more, notice more. The details of the world become clear.
|In the Fannichs in July on my solo Scottish Watershed walk|
Going solo gives the freedom to make decisions on the spur of the moment, to change plans at will, without the need to consult a companion. This freedom makes me feel more at home in the wilds because I’m able to react immediately to how I feel and to the weather, wildlife, scenery and more. If it rains in the morning I can delay departure, lying in the tent listening to the rain on the flysheet. If my camp is in a beautiful spot I can spend an hour or more just sitting there or wandering slowly round the area absorbing the feel of the place before starting out for the day. Once underway I can stop whenever I like, make camp early because I’ve found a site too good to miss, or walk long into the night because I’m feeling energetic.
This piece first appeared in The Great Outdoors last year.