Welcome back everyone!
Today I share with you one of my camping trips!
One of the things I vastly enjoy during summer and early autumn, is camping. If you follow my blog, you’re probably aware of my never-ending passion for nature, forests, travelling, night sky and most importantly – photography! Camping allows me to experience all these aspects at once while supplying my soul with complete tranquillity.
Spending time in the womb of nature is very rewarding! I love the simplicity of it, the simple goals of finding the best camping spot, pitching a tent, cooking some food. And the little things- like having some down time to read books and drink freshly brewed coffee… ahhh just thinking about it makes me burst with joy!
I went for this trip with 2 other people. I packed my very crooked tent with holes sealed by duct tape (I have brilliant fixing skills…MacGyver would approve). Then I also packed a sleeping bag, a portable cooker, never ending supply of coffee and other camping essentials. I got snacks from the grocery store and very early in the morning we began the journey!
Undeniably, I ended up stopping a lot of times on the way to admire some beautiful sights! I like these impromptu car journeys because like having freedom to explore stops en-route, that I would of missed otherwise. I stopped in a beautiful spot amidst the Welsh mountains and enjoyed my pre-packed sandwiches with some coffee, with the wind gently swaying tall grass and the sheep bleating in the distance. Having freedom to stop-off at anytime and anywhere, also means that I might not stick to the original planned time of reaching the destination and this was the case at this time.
I decided to explore the Elan Valley region and hike throughout the day to scout for some good camping locations. Though, because of my impromptu stops, it was apparent there won’t be much time for hiking or scouting left, Oops. Yes, they have a camping ground but personally I can’t think of a more boring place to camp than the perfectly cut lawns of camping sites, positioned far from anything interesting and surrounded with fellow tourists and holidaymakers…. And the fact that you have to pay to stay there! Did I already mention my duct-taped, crooked tent? If that isn’t a good indication of my budget, I don’t know what is.
Elan Valley is a beautiful area with vast forest landscapes and valleys, some stunning hiking trails and 6 dams that were constructed in 1893 that are breath-taking in their architecture design! After QUICKLY scouting the surrounding area and exploring one of the hiking trails, we have found the perfect place to set the tents up. We have chosen a forest area, just off a hiking trail with a beautiful view -overlooking the valleys with the lake. I could just picture the sheer excitement of waking up to this view.
After fighting with my tent for an extended period of time, I’ve finally managed to set it up. I started heating up the tomato soup for restoring my energy that the tent just consumed! We started a small fire, heated our soup and munched away with a buttered piece of bread. Food tastes so much better when you’re camping! Anyone else agree?
It was still fairly early but so dark, we couldn’t really see past the fire. There was something comforting about the gentle glow of the fire and a warm cup of soup in my hands amidst dark trees and shadows surrounding me. Soon enough we whipped out some marshmallows and began exchanging some horror stories which seemed like a pretty great idea at the time, until a BIG SHADOW FIGURE started emerging from the forest… I think all of us almost peed ourselves.
It was a park ranger that told us that we were camping on the private grounds illegally. Oops. He told us to put the fire out but said we could stay for the night as packing the equipment in the dark and hiking back could be dangerous. We got off VERY easy. But without the warmth and light of the fire, sitting down outside our tent became less pleasant. So, I wrapped up in multiple sweaters and a coat and went down the hiking path with a flashlight.
Without any light pollution the night sky was as clear as ever. I looked up in amazement and was truly stunned by the amount of stars I was able to see with my bare eyes. So, as you do in this type of situation- we laid down on the path to watch the night sky for a few hours. It’s my go to, whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed, ever since I was a kid. I just step outside at night and watch the stars. Everything becomes peaceful at night, the air gets crisper and fresher, you’re looking up at lots of twinkling stars that are located light years away, it’s magical. Through that- I always get a sense of clarity and gratitude.
With this beautiful sight, I could not pass the opportunity to photograph it and seal that memory forever. One downside- I am a chronic-tripod forgetter. The number of trips I took that I had to improvise on positioning and balancing my camera for long exposure is a bit embarrassing. I’ve used all sorts of tools and ways to stabilize my camera and it this case, I used a shoe. Yes, A SHOE.
The shoe worked better than I thought it would. Perhaps it found its new calling as a tripod. I’ve set it up and managed to take a few photos of the view. And I really love it! Not just because it isn’t completely terrible, but also because it captured this wonderful memory for me. Just laying on the hiking trail looking up at the night sky watching stars with the little forest we were camping at in the shot!
After a while we all started to get a bit too cold despite our piled on layers of clothing, so we decided to head back to the tents. And go to sleep.
The sleep was brilliant, the fresh air really does wonders for the body and the mind. It was the most restful night sleep and I woke up at the crack of dawn. Although initially, I had a bit of terror when I woke up in the morning. It was very early and in short words…I needed to pee. The idea of going out of my warm sleeping bag into the cold forest was so heartbreaking…. But then, I saw it… A creature was sniffing my tent, I saw it poking its face into the tent and heard it make some chewing noises… At this point my mind was going a little crazy- as I just woke up. I had to make some decisions…
-Stay safe in tent and let my bladder explode
-Go out to pee and get eaten by a bear… (though there isn’t any in Wales)
Of course, in the time I’ve lived in Wales, I never heard or seen a particularly deadly wild animal… Besides birds… Maybe some hedgehogs… or myself if I don’t get a coffee in the morning…
So, after rationalising with myself that whatever it is – probably won’t eat me- I went outside… and I was right… it was DAMN sheep. We got surrounded by sheep! Upon arrival there was none in sight in this area. So, I’m unsure as to where they all came from. But then again, it’s Wales so I’m not even that surprised.
Getting out of the tent was rewarding though. I was welcomed by misty forest and valley views. After that, I returned to the tent and read my book while waiting on everyone else to wake up. It was 8 am and the sun started peeking through the valleys with such warmth that the tent became all stuffy in no time.
We came outside and prepared some bacon on the portable cooker for breakfast. I made some black coffee for myself to drink and poured extra in the flask for the rest of the day. And then we packed up and went on our way to explore more hiking trails. There is so many different hiking trails in this area. Many that loop around various viewing points, all varied in the hiking difficulty. The afternoon sun was shining bright and I was sweating like crazy, carrying all the equipment, but the views were truly worth it.
Eventually the evening started approaching and after a few hours of hikes we were all ready for some boost of energy. We settled on of the hiking trail paths, where we found a picnic bench overlooking the lake and once again- I whipped out my portable cooker to make some scrambled eggs. I then had some coffee and a piece of chocolate with a beautiful view in front of me. I was overflown with positive emotion and gratitude for this trip. All the beauty I witnessed and the simple yet priceless things, such as drinking a coffee with such a beautiful view.
But the best was yet to come, time has flown by fast and before we knew it – the sun was beginning to set. It gave everything a truly golden glow -which, on the way back to the car- made for some stunning views of the dams and the lakes.
Driving back, the vibrant sunset hues intensified, making the valleys seem golden and on fire. It was honestly so beautiful; I can’t find words to describe it! I wanted to stay in this place and watch the sunset, but my curiosity couldn’t help but wonder what other amazing views were laying ahead.
So, we drove on, passing some more amazing sunset views, the colours were starting to show more intensity and then I finally decided to stop on the side of the forest- to watch the sun go under the horizon.
It was a beautiful stone archway that framed the sunset perfectly. I admired this beautiful view in awe until the sun disappeared. What a beautiful way to end this trip!
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