WON 16 – An English Country Garden

  • Location: Silverbridge Lake
  • Date: Thursday 27th April
  • OSGrid: SX574542 (E:257463, N:054257)
  • Travel: 45 minute drive
  • Style: Tent

 

Introduction

My favourite thing about the WON website (probably) is The Adventure Map, in the last few weeks it’s really started to fill out, and of course, it’s only going to get better as time goes on. This week we decided to choose where to go by looking at the dots on the map and trying to fill in a gap. It turns out there’s a lot of privately owned land around though, and finding a place to sleep is no easy challenge.

 

The Diary

It’s currently not legal to sleep anywhere in England (except on part of Dartmoor), without permission from the landowner. –A huge problem if you happen to be one of a (conservatively) estimated 250,000 homeless people in the UK… or, in our case – trying to find 52 places to camp within an hour of where you work.

There are plenty of reminders that you’re approaching someone’s land; walls, gates, fences, hedges, signs… but with enough time and determination there’s a way into most boxes. In this case – a lack of signs on the Battisford Road did the trick!

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End of the road

Now this isn’t the first time we’ve bent the rules a little bit with our camping. For the most part, we’ve been camping in publicly accessible places, albeit sometimes without permission to camp per se, but abiding by the principles of responsible wild camping / bivvying – arrive late, leave early, leave no trace, and if anyone does have a problem, be prepared to leave without a fuss. …This time though, there’s a reasonable chance (I’m still not 100% sure, even now!) that we’d picked a very private spot, and that changes the game somewhat!

…so rather than post lots of photos of Paul and I trespassing (in a very respectful and low impact manner!), I’ve opted to keep it brief this week. (Joe has recently published WON 17, and there are some great shots in that one, for those of you looking for a photofix!).

You can see Silverbridge Lake clearly on Google Maps; it’s part of a watercourse that crosses the A379, pooling again in Fish Pond, before emptying out into the River Yealm where it runs on to meet the sea between Noss Mayo and Wembury. Switching to the satellite image it’s easy to make out the large lake nestled in lush woodland – ideal hammock habitat? The image also shows what look suspiciously like well-maintained lawns along sections of the lake, which presumably, would make splendid tent pitches.

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Setting out to camp in the privately owned luxury grounds of a rich rural estate sounds like a pretty audacious plan. I certainly wouldn’t condone it. HOWEVER. If someone told me they fancied giving it a go, here’s what I’d say:

Top tips from the trip

Arrive late

If you’re unsure if you’re even allowed to be there, walk around the site without your camping stuff for a while to check out the chances of being discovered, and at least that way you can claim you were just lost ramblers without looking like you’re trying to move in!

Once you’ve got the lay of the land, and are reasonably confident you won’t be disturbed, bring out the camping stuff.

If you used private transport (car, bike etc), try to camp close to it so you can make a quick and easy escape if needed. This also means all evidence of you being there is in one area, and your presence less likely to be discovered by someone in another part of the property.

Have some spare cash or other potential bribe material on you in case you are discovered by a gardener or groundskeeper early in the morning. (or security guard in the night)

Leave early

 

On a final note, here’s a lovely photo of some Bluebells – if we HAD ventured onto the estate for a camp, I bet there would have been loads of Bluebells in the woods at this time of year 🙂 …

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-Happy adventure camping everyone!

 


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