A Wild Camp In The Hills - Jay Birmingham

A Wild Camp In The Hills

In recent months, we have seen some amazing pictures taken by talented photographers of sunrises high in the mountains. It seems that if you want to get the best shots, staying out there all night is the way to do so. We haven’t done much wild camping before now – only when using our kayaks (which means extra weight only makes a difference when you’re portaging), but we have come to realise that if we want to get cloud inversions, and hills and valleys spilling away from us in the morning light, we need to shoulder our packs, and wild camp!

We thought we would start on a Friday night and got to Pen Y Fan. My wife was keen not to start with anything too high, with us having to carry all our kit! Pen Y Fan is the tallest mountain in South Wales, but at 886 metres, and with a very clear path, not too difficult, and a good one to start these new adventures with!

We spent a portion of Friday night in a traffic jam on the motorway (as we like to spend all our Friday nights!) but arrived in the Brecon Beacons in plenty of time to walk up and witness sunset at the top. The views as the sun set weren’t bad, with a nice band of cloud above, and we decided to pitch our tent on the subsidiary summit of Corn Du (about 0.3 of a mile away from Pen Y Fan summit).

It was really peaceful in the evening, and I’ve been thinking about taking shots of tents at night, so had a chance to experiment with that. I didn’t get what I was looking for, but have some ideas for next time. We went to sleep with anticipation, as we thought the weather pointed to a cloud inversion, which was the shot we’d been dreaming of, and had gone there with the intention of taking, and we’d seen a lovely photograph someone else had taken on Thursday, so hoped the conditions would be similar.

When the alarm went off just after 4am, we were quite disappointed, as there was no cloud, no mist and no inversion. However, as we’d made the effort to camp, we still went over to the summit of Pen Y Fan to have a look at the sunrise. We were not the only ones there – we counted over 30 hikers (possibly some of them were doing the Beacons way, or possibly they were just keen to summit and get back in time to watch the Royal Wedding!). The sunrise wasn’t what we’d hoped for, but still a nice way to start the morning. We consoled ourselves with the knowledge that we have got up far earlier in the past for no sunrises at all! The view from the top was clear at least, and I made my wife very nervous by standing on a rock on the side of the hill to do some self-timer silhouettes!

This was a fun way to start our wild camping adventures, and I’m sure there will be more to come - hopefully with cloud inversions!

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