Wildcamping in Wales
This adventure is with our wildcamping trips in the Ardennes and Sweden under our belts, our third trip to a top EU wildcamping location. I didn’t really have a choice; I moved to the UK for work, so Microadventures in the Netherlands have become slightly more difficult.
Luckily, the UK is a great place to continue the tradition, but I did have to make due without Arjen this time. English microadventurer Mike took me on a Tuesday, after work, to an easily accessible but beautiful location in the North of Wales: Moel Famau (which translates to ‘barren rock’. Expectations were high…). Wildcamping in Wales isn’t really something you’re supposed to do, but as long as you’re not bothering anyone and stick to the code, no one really seems to care.
Moel Famau is with its 555 meter one of the highest peaks in the Clwydian Range in Wales. The area is mostly covered in heath (comfy sleeping!) and is labelled an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, and as such just shy of being a National Park. At its summit you can see quite a lot in every direction, including the cities of Manchester and Liverpool, as well as the tower of Blackpool and the peaks of Snowdonia. After nightfall, it’s striking how England is lit up with artificial light, and Wales seems to be pitch black.
On the summit stands what should have been an imposing tower. When George III was celebrating his 50th year as king in 1810, Thomas Harrison thought it to be a good idea to build an enormous tower on the highest peak in the area in celebration of that fact. IT was supposed to be an three-piece obelisk, but due to lack of funds and a the fact that a storm levelled the construction site in 1862, it was never completed. What’s left today is the foot of the tower.
Wildcamping in Wales
We chose the coldest day of the year to make the climb (-6 degrees celcius). We did warm up our food next to Jubilee Tower, but after finishing it, we quickly descended on the leeward side of the hill, allowing us to sleep in a somewhat less cold environment. The biggest difference with wildcamping in the Netherlands is the complete lack of light; in Holland, a motorway or greenhouse is never far away, so there’s always the comforting sound of cars and artificial light being reflected off the clouds. Wales is nothing like that; you really can be far away from everything. On the one hand, this makes wildcamping in Wales a lot easier, as you don’t risk running into anyone, but also harder; finding a spot to sleep on a moonless night is a lot more difficult. We had to work hard to plough our way through the heath in our ski-gear (protip btw! It’s heavy, but will keep you warm and dry) to find a suitable location.
Wildcamping in Wales is very different from what we have experienced so far in the Netherlands. The views are better, the routes more challenging, the landscape more varied. Yet, the idea of an adventure in your own backyard still has its charms: you explore your own surroundings and find things you would never have known about otherwise, you learn to observe and see your own area differently, and will learn to appreciate the nature and layout of the Netherlands. But now that my backyard is in the UK, I’m determined to explore my new surroundings as well.