Author Topic: Wild camping in the South Downs in February  (Read 2000 times)

rosam

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Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« on: 07:18:32, 06/02/19 »
Hi everyone,
I am planing to do the South Downs in a couple of weeks and I am planning to wild camp (all but 2 nights)
Although this is not my first long distance walking experience, it is the first time I would be camping (I know, I know, I did choose a funny time)
I have planned the route and I have the right gear (or so I hope) but there are some things that worry me and hence this post.


1. Where to refill my water. I was counting on using the taps along the route, but they might be closed in winter. Obviously some pubs along the way but is there any other way? I could take a sawyer mini if necessary.
2.  Dealing with wet and cold . I am aware I will get wet, that I expect. But is there any way I should be organising my tent / camp to make the best of whatever conditions I get?
3. Food: I am aware there are pubs along the way, is there any area where I will definitely will need to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner due to the lack of public houses?


Any other suggestions will be welcomed!


Rosa

richardh1905

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #1 on: 07:24:18, 06/02/19 »

Hi Rosa.


One tip for keeping your stuff dry - pack your tent last, or strap it on to the outside of the rucksack, so that you can get your tent up without having to get all your stuff out in the rain.

WILDWALKINGUK

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #2 on: 08:22:04, 06/02/19 »
Hello


I camp rough a lot and always carry a MSR Gaurdian water purifier pump. Yes it is heavy but I carry less water to counteract that because I know I will be able to filter water easily when I need it. It will go with me on my LEJOG later this month.
I always carry my tent on the out side of my pack so the rucksack can be packed or unpacked in the dry if raining. Tent put up or down without undoing my pack.
Best of luck
Mark

fernman

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #3 on: 09:27:06, 06/02/19 »
Ah! So that's how so many folk get away with carrying a smaller ruckack, is it?
My tent goes inside my 75L pack, in a heavy-duty black bin bag but it's fairly near the top where I can hook it out without any trouble. Pole bag is down one side and peg bag down the other side, again little fuss to get out. The bin bag doubles as something to kneel on / sit on in the porch.

For water I have a folding 5L plastic water carrier, Chinese. I make sure I pitch near a water supply (stream, lake or pool, no taps where I go) and I fill the carrier up then. A little collapsible funnel, also Chinese, helps me fill it quickly with my mug as a scoop.That's enough for me for drinking, cooking and washing; there's usually a bit left to tip away when I pack up in the morning.

For drinking I clip a Steripen Prefilter on a Nalgene Cantene 1L collapsible water bottle to stop any bits getting in (the standard 'solid' Nalgene bottle is more indestructible but weighs more) and then I sterilise it with a small Steripen.

vghikers

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #4 on: 12:16:32, 06/02/19 »
Quote
1. Where to refill my water. I was counting on using the taps along the route, but they might be closed in winter. Obviously some pubs along the way but is there any other way? I could take a sawyer mini if necessary.

The SDW is a low level route, there will be very few reliable natural sources of water even with a filter. On routes like these that pass through towns and villages, if the taps are unavailable, it's far easier to fill up at pubs and cafes as you say, or simply buy it as we have done in the past, e.g on routes like the Ridgeway to supplement the refills from the supplied taps.

Quote
2.  Dealing with wet and cold . I am aware I will get wet, that I expect. But is there any way I should be organising my tent / camp to make the best of whatever conditions I get?

To confirm Richard's post, we always ensure that the tent can be fully pitched before the pack is even opened. Similarly for striking camp, all contents are packed away and the pack closed before taking down the tent.
All our packs have good external pockets where the inner, fly and poles can be easily stowed.

Quote
3. Food: I am aware there are pubs along the way, is there any area where I will definitely will need to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner due to the lack of public houses?

You don't need to cook - we never do. Again it shoud be easy to restock food supplies at intervals in villages. If I was doing it I'd carry a 'base' supply of food for the whole walk and supplement it with extra food bought in the shops along the way.

bricam2096

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #5 on: 12:25:00, 06/02/19 »
If the taps aren't switched on in winter (I would contact the SDW website to ask though), there are plenty of shops on the route or not far off it. A problem with this however is that to get to some of the villages means heading down from the ridge meaning a steep climb back after the shop. The villages of Amberley and Upper Beeding though didn't require much ascent/decent.

Not sure if this might help (and a shameless plug to my website  :D) but I listed some of the shops along the route... http://brians-walks.co.uk/south-downs-way-shops.html

I would still contact the SDW website about the water situation though as you don't want to wander down into a village to get some only to find a working tap once you regain the path.

Enjoy the SDW, I really enjoyed my walk. I used campsites along the way, some were quite a distance from the SDW but I'm not brave enough to hope that I can find a wild camping spot at the end of the day.
LDWs done - 32 in total including 16 National Trails and 3 C2C

Wainwrights 176
www.brians-walks.co.uk

vghikers

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #6 on: 12:33:04, 06/02/19 »
Quote
I'm not brave enough to hope that I can find a wild camping spot at the end of the day.

Yes indeed, good isolated pitch spots on low-level routes, especially in the south, are rare. Even when they do appear it's almost always at the wrong time - in the north I passed a few on the Wolds Way during the morning  :(.

fernman

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #7 on: 13:38:29, 06/02/19 »
Don't place too much reliance on getting water from a pub.
I came unstuck on a day walk last year when I forgot to pack anything to drink during my walk and with the sandwiches that I had remembered to take. It had to be bottled water because I had nothing to put any in, and all the pub could offer me was very expensive slightly-fizzy stuff in glass bottles.
Naturally you will have a container, but on the SDW the barman might be a bit peed off if you're the tenth person to ask that day (though less likely in February).

rosam

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #8 on: 19:09:47, 06/02/19 »
If the taps aren't switched on in winter (I would contact the SDW website to ask though), there are plenty of shops on the route or not far off it. A problem with this however is that to get to some of the villages means heading down from the ridge meaning a steep climb back after the shop. The villages of Amberley and Upper Beeding though didn't require much ascent/decent.

Not sure if this might help (and a shameless plug to my website  :D ) but I listed some of the shops along the route... http://brians-walks.co.uk/south-downs-way-shops.html

I would still contact the SDW website about the water situation though as you don't want to wander down into a village to get some only to find a working tap once you regain the path.

Enjoy the SDW, I really enjoyed my walk. I used campsites along the way, some were quite a distance from the SDW but I'm not brave enough to hope that I can find a wild camping spot at the end of the day.


Brian thank you so much for the link. It has given me so much information!
I have read in the national trail website about the taps, I guess that's as official as it gets but they all say the might be closed, not that they are!  However I will contact the SDW and double check.


Regarding wild camping.... yes, that's not  clever one but most campsites I checked are closed till April, so not much choice.

rosam

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #9 on: 19:12:05, 06/02/19 »


You don't need to cook - we never do. Again it shoud be easy to restock food supplies at intervals in villages. If I was doing it I'd carry a 'base' supply of food for the whole walk and supplement it with extra food bought in the shops along the way.


That's the plan!

Rather be walking

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #10 on: 12:28:00, 08/02/19 »
Couple of useful sites.I often walk the whole south-downs way, the last time was two years ago.The best is West to East.
https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/sites/default/files/sd_way_drinking_water_2013.pdf--
https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/south-downs-way/accommodation/high-titten-wild-camping-plot
Jon.
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Stube

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #11 on: 19:22:57, 08/02/19 »
In February very few campsites will be open and the majority that are are to the west of the Meon valley.

The few streams that you cross will be brackish with salt water - the Meon valley is the exception.

The SDW is sheep country, the many troughs provide water if you carry a filter.

Between the Meon and Amberley you will not pass any shops or pubs. The café in Queen Elizabeth Country Park visitor centre may be open.

Hope this helps.

gunwharfman

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #12 on: 19:07:03, 11/02/19 »
I once cycled the South Downs Way, quite a few years ago now. I dont rember many pubs on route but I do rember there was one when I had to cross the main road between Lewis and Brighton. My memory is that I spend some time finding pubs downhill from the hiking route and then having to cycle up to the path again. There is a cafe and water in Queen Elizabeth Coutry Park, I know this because I still visit the park often. I am always in to the routine of filling up my water container when I vist pubs, etc, I've never had a problem to date.

When available I also make good use of cattle/sheep water troughs. There are some designs where its faily easy to use my cup to fill my rucksack bladder. I just place my cup under the water outlet and lift up the valve to getr the water flowing. Unfortunately some designs stop you doing this. I never use the water from the trough itself. As I hike I also keep my eyes peeled for an outside tap, and if no one is around I just help myself. If a farmer or work hand is nearby I ask permission.

fernman

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #13 on: 20:12:45, 11/02/19 »
As I hike I also keep my eyes peeled for an outside tap, and if no one is around I just help myself.
 

You've jogged my memory. In North Wales I saw a tap on the side of a cottage as I was I passing it, and I wasted no time in filling my flask up. I still sterilised it, though, in case the water came from a tank rather than mains.

After pitching my tent later in the same day, I walked in the dusk with my water carrier back to a similar isolated cottage where I hoped to repeat the experience. I couldn't see a tap at the front or side of the property and as it was evident that nobody was home at the time, I searched right around the building and outhouses. It's a good job there was no-one to see me, for they would have called the police! I'm sure "I was looking for a water tap, officer" would have sounded a bit lame.

Stube

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Re: Wild camping in the South Downs in February
« Reply #14 on: 21:45:37, 12/02/19 »
Further to my earlier post, the SDW is generally very open with little shelter. There are no walls only (wire) fences. The main wooded sections are to either side of the stretch between Butser Hill (former start/finish) and Amberley. On the other hand you have wonderful views most of the time.

There is an official wild camp site at High Titten, Amberley water from taps or the PH.

Other possibilities {drawbacks in brackets}

Butser Hill - hide in hedgerows {nature reserve} water from toilets or kiosk if open.

Chanctonbury Ring  {reputedy haunted} water from adjacent trough.

Truleigh YHA permits camping if open.

The NT site at Saddlescombe Farm may permit out of season overnight camping.

It's  my local National Trail, and I've packpacked twice (once each way) and the adjacent Monarchs Way to the south. I usually have the odd overnighter on it most years.