Author Topic: walking and camping on the ridgeway alone -is it sensible?  (Read 5540 times)

whitehorse

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Hi
one of my lifelong dreams is to walk/ride the ridgeway and Wessex ridgeway. unfortunately none of my friends or family share my dream and I'd rather do it alone than not do it at all! I'm planning to take my horse and my camping things rather than use b&b's. the only thing concerning me is camping alone as a woman- and it's concerning me more on the east part of the ridgeway which is in a more populated areas. I'm not bothered about camping in the middle of nowhere, it's other people that worry me!
I'm thinking of maybe using some busy campsites for the eastern part of the route, possibly doing some wild camping in the remotest sections, and then also possibly seeing if I can get permission to camp in some farmer's fields.
although out of all my years and miles of riding it's mainly been trouble free, I have occasionally bumped into the odd weirdo (generally in more built up areas) and it's this that's playing on my mind.
do you think it's sensible? and if so i'd love to hear any advice anyone can give.
many thanks :-)
« Last Edit: 10:12:27, 08/10/15 by whitehorse »

April

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I know exactly where you are coming from Whitehorse, I've had the same dilemna in the past. I've felt safe enough wild camping on my own on the Lakeland fells or the Cheviots, I haven't had any bother and haven't had any problems on campsites when I've been on my own. Like you it is in the more built up areas that you meet people you wouldn't want to be near if you are wild camping. I don't know the Ridgeway so I can't give any specific advice about that or places you can camp. If it were me, in the more urban areas I would try to camp on a campsite maybe? Good luck with this I hope you do get out there and do it  :)
"Who would've thought...... you are light and darkness coming through" words by Tim Armstrong

youradvocate

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I'm not sure about this country but I have been surprised that when on European hikes, I have seen and met a few young women that were hiking alone. For what its worth (I write as a male here) I have wild camped a lot in the UK and to date I have never experienced a problem. I do not think this is solely because I am a bloke, I have always taken the view its because when I am wild camping I do not tend to pitch my tent until dusk and I make the effort to camp in discrete places. The type of person that people might worry about, the petty thief, the chancers, sex fiends and so on, I would suggest are most unlikely to make the effort to go to places where people like us would go.

Four years ago I once had a conversation and an en-route lunch with a young women from Herts who was going north on the Pennine Way, I was going south. She was slim, mid twenties and about 5' 2" and an accountant (I mention this because she kept talking about her job) and while we were eating it started to rain. Without moving away from me she suddenly took off her no-sleeves vest down to her bra, fumbled around in her rucksack for a long sleeved one and then put it on. She then whilst talking, she just dropped her shorts down to her briefs and fumbled again in her rucksack to bring out a long pair of trousers and put them on. She had no concern about me sitting there at all!

I must admit the experience scared me and I told her so! She just laughed and said she doesn't worry about men on hiking trails, they are always worn out anyway, so they would never try anything! I thought she was a fool and within 5 minutes I walked on, shaking my head and tutting!

Years ago a manager I worked with always said "Be discrete lad, be discrete", personally in wild camping terms its not bad advice.

Slogger

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Have I read that right "planning to take my 'horse'". It's not a hike them but a ride?

whitehorse

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many thanks for replying April and youradvocate and for the reassurance  :)

it never helps when you tell people about your plans and the first thing they say is will it be safe? it starts to put doubt into your head that you should be doing it!

it sounds like the best plan will be to camp in the middle of nowhere and when I can't, use a proper campsite.

sounds like an interesting lady you met youradvocate- quite a lot of self confidence! I'm 5'2'' also but that's where the similarities end!!

Slogger- I'll probably walk most of the way. My horse is really a pony and I'll mainly use him as a pack animal. You could call me lazy for not carrying the stuff myself but I love horses and the bond you develop with them on long journeys- plus sometimes they're better company than humans!



youradvocate

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Just a suggestion for a hike with your pony. Download and read 'Travels with a Donkey in the Cevenne' by Robert Louise Stevenson. Once your on page two or three it will be self apparent why I suggest this. Once read, do the walk! All the small hotels en route have a small paddock for visiting horses and donkeys.

ninthace

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Just a suggestion for a hike with your pony. Download and read 'Travels with a Donkey in the Cevenne' by Robert Louise Stevenson. Once your on page two or three it will be self apparent why I suggest this. Once read, do the walk! All the small hotels en route have a small paddock for visiting horses and donkeys.

See also Spanish Steps by Tim Moore. Walking with a donkey along the Camino de Santiago.  ISBN 0-099-47194-9
Solvitur Ambulando

Rajboy

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AND.....don't forget,
                           Dervla Murphy..'In Ethiopia on a mule.'
Fantastic lady.

Slogger

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As the Ridgeway is predominately a footpath and not a continuous Bridleway, I assume you have planned for diversions off the route for where the Bridleway sections end, to where they begin again?

whitehorse

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Thank you for the book suggestions, they will be perfect for some winter night reading and dreaming!

The western section of the Ridgeway is all bridleway but on the eastern part you can use the swan's way and icknield rider's route as an alternative. The wessex ridgeway seems to be a hotch potch of bridleway and footpath but since planning a route is almost as much fun as doing it, it hopefully won't be too much of a problem!

Slogger

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I have to say I think the way you are doing it with your Pony, is a brilliant idea, and certainly saves on baggage carrier charges.

Jac

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I am curious to know how you will 'accommodate' your four-legged friend when wild camping. Would have loved to  do a journey like this when I had a horse.
The Wessex ridgeway is indeed a hotch-potch of waymarking. Hope the planning comes to fruition.
Most walks start by finding the way out of the car park

whitehorse

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thank you slogger :) possibly more to go wrong but it should be an adventure!

I think wild camping will only be possible on the most remote sections and where there are wide grassy trackways to utilise. On farmland I'll hopefully get farmer's permission to use a field corner for the night. it's not easy to camp discreetly with a pony in tow! he's a very quiet pony so I'll tether him for the night. thanks though, I hope it all works out too!  :)

Valvebloke

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For what it's worth I walked the 30 miles or so of the Ridgeway National Trail from Avebury to Wantage on Saturday. Parts of it were fairly quiet, but other parts were pretty busy, particularly towards the start. I met perhaps half a dozen lone women, albeit all either on bikes or walking dogs and in broad daylight, so there are certainly women out there who haven't been put off.
 
Only once did I think that something 'odd' might be going on, but it turned out I'd completely misinterpreted it. I saw a woman walking towards me, maybe a hundred yards away, with a chap on the path in front of her waving his arms a bit and walking backwards as if trying to block her way. I began to think I might have to intervene, but I was suddenly distracted by a bird of prey climbing into the sky and swooping back down into the bracken. Then, to my surprise, I saw it reappear and fly to the woman's wrist. It turned out to be a Harris hawk and was hers, of course. The chap was a friend (maybe an instructor ?) who was helping her with it - hence the face-to-face arm waving. It was a really lovely, if somewhat scary, animal and it was very nice to be able to get up close and to chat with them about it.
 
In the last few years the authorities have encouraged the police to share the details of crime with the public, partly I think to show that it's not nearly as prevalent as some of the tabloids would have us believe. I don't know if it would be worth getting in touch with the police who cover parts of the route and simply asking them if there's any significant problem with lone women reporting trouble. The answers might take a little 'interpreting' but at least it would give another view.
 
VB

Innominate Man

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I very much admire your spirit and intention to do this.
Unfortunately I cannot offer any advice except mention two further sets of books I read many years ago;
Firstly (and ignore the tacky sounding title - the book is worth the read) is " Trigger in Europe " by William Holt. Quite amazing what this chap got up to
He wrote other tales of his adventures but this one is the most appropriate to your planned trip.
Then is the series of books by John Wyatt ... who amongst other things is quite a prolific writer. He has written three books with the title "Saddle Tramp in ..."  His first book was ' The Lake District ', he followed this up with two further journeys , one in the Isle of Man and his last was in Scotland.
He planned routes following old pack horse trails and rode the routes.
As well as amusing yourself in the winter nights you may pick up the odd tip from what these chaps did.


John Wyatt also went by the name of John Parker and wrote guide books (walking) for the Lake District. The 'joke' in his pseudonym was that at the time he was THE National Park Ranger for the Lake District. He may still write periodically in one of the Westmorland/Lake District publications - I know he did up until a few years ago anyhow.
Good luck and don't forget to post a TR  O0


PS - I should have Googled JW before writing this as I learn he died in 2006.
« Last Edit: 00:45:46, 15/10/15 by Innominate Man »
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