Reaction to the news that I am taking on a massive thousand-plus mile walk raises a number of questions, some of which I have dealt with in my ‘About’ page and others elsewhere. One that I haven’t is the “are you going to be camping?” one. There is one answer and one answer only: “No”.
Camping is supposed to be fun, but I know it isn’t. I’ve done it once before and never again. Statisticians might well, perhaps with some justification, that it was once and that you shouldn’t generalise from a single event. It would, yes, save quite a bit of my own money, but at the same time cost me any remaining sanity. The chances of me completing Land’s End to John O’Groats with the camping option is nil. Not even 0.1 per cent, no, NIL. I would sooner spend considerable amounts of my own (some say hard-earned) money on B&Bs, with roofs (or rooves – no, it is roofs, I gather) over my head than suffer this. Camping: reasons not to be cheerful:
- extra weight and, particularly, awkwardness. Not just the tent, but all the gubbins, you know, base sheet, pegs, mallet, sleeping bag, pillow…… The weight may not sound that much, perhaps less than 5 kg, but when you’re already carrying a rucksack for survival over ten and a bit weeks, it is a lot. The additional volume brings difficulty venturing into shops, cafes etc and you probably don’t save any money at all having paid for all the things you’ve broken with your extra super size appendage. The rucksack, I mean.
- you’re knackered after 20 miles, it’s dark, it’s chucking it down and blowing a gale. Last thing you want to do is have to put up a tent.
- the cold – see above. You just try to dry wet or sweaty clothes. Good luck with that one….
- noisy neighbours
- the ensuing sleepless nights
- having to queue for a shower, in the cold
It’s just rubbish. Why do people want to do it? The specialist camping website http://camping.about.com/b/2010/10/29/bad-camping-experiences.htm does describe further bad experiences of others (though many are down just to people acting like idiots, and not just the campers, I hasten to add). It advises “Take notes and learn to avoid bad situations in the future” and does provide help for those who want to put themselves through living in a tent. It does, however, fail to provide the most important nugget that would hit the nail on the head, namely, “Don’t do it.” If it was such a brilliant thing to do, why does everybody want so much to get themselves on the housing ladder, getting a mortgage, struggling to pay it in the first few years and hang on the interest rate announcements each month? No, don’t do that, forget the central heating, get yourself a bit of canvas, stick it up and live under that. Madness.