Did you know it was legal to wild camp in Scotland, thank you to the "Right to Roam" laws? There are still certain rules to follow, and you can’t just pitch up in someone’s garden, but you are petty free to set up camp in the most amazing locations. When we were on our most recent photo shoot in the Highlands we stumbled across a couple who were doing just this, they were pitched in an open wood, on the side of a fresh flowing stream near Loch Ness. They would wake up to the sound of this babbling water, take a quick dip, hike all day, and explore the local area, then come back to build a cosy fire and cook up their dinner.
It can get very cold but as long as you have the right equipment and you have some basic survival skills, this can be an incredible way to get really in touch with nature, and enjoy the wilderness. Not popping to Scotland anytime soon? What’s to stop you pitching your tent in your own back garden? Start a small fire and toast some marshmallows while gazing up at the stars. Here are some tips on equipment and things you need to know.
We had to mention fishing didn’t we? But it is such a great outdoor activity which can be done in so many different ways. From the sea, rivers, lakes, off a boat, off the shore, or in the stream, catching for your supper, or just catching and releasing for the sport, it is an underrated activity, that can be tried by anyone, you just need to find the right way for you.
Countryfile have a good guide to some of the best spots in the UK for fishing, to suit all budgets and wants, then we have the togs for you. Being out on the water for hours usually means warm, comfortable clothing is key, with something like our Tyburn, shacket, you get the thick warmth of the fleece lined inner, but you can wear it open if things heat up and you need to cool off.
Just as it sounds, off roading is taking a 4x4 vehicle out of the suburban landscape, and into the rural where it belongs! We don’t advise you just detour into the woods after the school run one morning on your own, but book through a company who have the rights to roam the tracks, plus you don’t have to worry about knackering the suspension on your own car.
This type of bone shaking day out has plenty of options depending on where abouts in the country you are. We have found some great ones here, including everything from comfy Range Rovers, to down and dirty old Landies. Pop on your best country coat such as our Deveron, and get out there.
Hiking is always on our list, it is one of the simplest forms of exercise, which requires the least amount of equipment (depending on how far you are going). You can choose to head for somewhere close to home, or drive yourself out to a famous rural area for some fresh air and some great photographs. For ideas on places to go, try the National Trail website who offer great inspiration on tracks and trails all across the UK, you can pick your preferred times, distance and difficulty, then see what the best points of interest are, and find the ideal resources you need to guide you on your adventure.
Hiking this time of year is all about layers, making sure you have lots of smart layers which aren’t too heavy and that will keep you the right temperature. We take our Macaroni sweatshirts everywhere with us, as they are excellent for most situations. Try our Caddis for him and Aria for her, they are hardwearing and comfortable, plus they don’t crease so you can stuff them in a bag if you are blessed with warm weather.
Cold Water Swimming
Brave enough for a dip even in those cooler months? Cold water swimming is said to have a ton of health benefits such as improving your immunity, (which can only be a good thing, especially in these times) improving circulation, boosting your mood, and even socialising. There is bound to be a favoured spot nearer than you think where other cold-water enthusiasts start their day in the most invigorating way. For some of the best spots to dip your toe into in the UK see more info here.
Of course it doesn’t come without risk, so know your limits, make sure you have the right kit such as a wetsuit or neoprene gloves and boots, plus plenty of warm blankets and clothes to hand when you get out. You lose a good deal of your body heat through your head, so we suggest you actually pop on a woolly hat after your dip, how about the Toba or Livvy from our latest collection?
Is there any better way of feeling in the wild by watching wildlife itself? The UK is teaming with incredible wildlife if you know where to look, and being an island we have an abundance of coastline, and numeral places you can spot seals. These squishy sea cows might look adorable but they can be dangerous, so it is always best to observe from a distance, and leave them to enjoy their natural habit in peace.
In places such as Blakeney National Nature Reserve from November to January you can see the seal pups alone the huge sandbank as this is the time of year they are in abundance. You can also take boat trips and see the seals in the water all across the UK, Countryfile has some great locations on their website. Binoculars are an essential tool so you can view from afar, plus some cosy outerwear such as the Lora or Laurent coats.
The prospect of getting out on the water during the Winter months might not be appealing to some, but if you get a cold, sunny, crisp day, with no-one else around, it can be a dream to jump in a boat and explore a local river or coastline. There are many places you can go where you can hire a kayak or bring your own if you have one, try this website for some tips.
We like to make a day of it, take a small amount of food, paddle around to a secluded beach and cook up some sausages or similar on a fire. Tell a few stories over the fire until it burns down, then back in the kayak to splash your way back home, or to a local pub with a cosy fire to warm up. Kayaking is another great way to spot wildlife such as seals, countless sea birds, and maybe even some dolphins!
A bit out of the norm, but something to take you back to your ancestral roots. Bushcraft is a common term for a group of what you could deem “survival skills” but really they are the types of things everyone would have known and had to do before we evolved to invent houses, toasters and Netflix! From guides on how to build a shelter, purify water so you can drink it, catching or foraging for food, and how to prepare it with some fire building too.
There is a huge range of courses and skills available out there, such as here. Ranging from day courses covering the basics, to whole survival weekends, and even axe throwing (great for any impending zombie apocalypse). Anyone can be Bear Grills for the day under the right supervision.
What is a bothy I hear you say? Traditionally it is a term for a very basic type of accommodation, frequently found in rural areas, especially across the Scottish Highlands. They are free shelters for any hikers and wanderers in the area, to rest out of the elements, or even sleep for the night. They can be as basic as an empty hut, or well equipped with wood burners and cosy seating areas. Being free it is expected that the users are kind enough to keep them as they find them, and you might find you have to share with other walkers too, which just adds to the fun and charm of them.
We have come across many in our years on rural photoshoots, in Norway we even found one stocked with drink and musical instruments to encourage all those who used it to enjoy an entertaining evening as they rested in from the cold. On our recent photoshoot in Scotland we were lucky enough to visit The Bothy Project based in the grounds of Inshriach House. Based on the basic idea of a bothy, but with more home comforts, this is a fully equipped glamping spot you can rent to stay in, complete with the cosiest mezzanine sleeping area, wood burner and kitchenette. Definitely more amenities than you might find in a traditional bothy, but with all the charm of a rural glamping experience.
Wild Hot Tub