Micro adventure and wild camping are a popular concept at the moment. I like to think that life is one big micro adventure and as for the wild camping? Well, dragging three children out with limited provision, especially when mum refuses to pee in a bush – it just seems a little too much like hard work.
Fortunately Wicken fen offer a great alternative. A Wild Camping Site in the middle of the reserve which you can hire.
Open wooden shelters to sleep in and a compost toilet on site. The height of comfort, luxury and sophistication. 😉
The team have mixed views. Mr muddy is a bit of a modern day cave man, he’s ecstatic. The eldest mudling adores the outdoor lifestyle we embrace and is equally thrilled. The boy is like his mother and wondering where on earth we can plug our gadgets in, and the mini diva – well she’s off for a night at Grandma’s.
On the whole I was quite excited to be off on a mini adventure of the unknown but equally scared. I’m sure at night Wicken Fen becomes a wilderness full of prowling beasts and mass murderers. Eek!
Being regular campers we have most of the gear but facing the elements was going to be a bit more challenging. The kid’s sleeping bags were no way up to the job so I ordered some bivvy bags to try and ensure we have a warm and dry night. Just the fact I now own a bivvy bag – makes me feel proper hardcore!
We also invested in some decent self inflating mats, I may have had a mini meltdown when the day before the post office helpfully lost them. ‘I’ve no idea where it is love, give me your number and I’ll give you a call over the weekend if we can track it down.’
Turning to Twitter in my turmoil my prayers were answered and the fab folk at Alpkit were on standby to promptly rush some replacements out. Legends!
Packed and ready we collected the kids from school and set off on a Friday night adventure.
The site has a drop off point to dump your gear and the access drove to the barn gives you a true idea of the isolation of the site.
Gear dumped and the bottom of the car removed – that’s a seriously bumpy road, we then parked our car for the night at nearby Anglesy Abbey. We trekked back to the site, the track through the middle of the fen adding to the sense of adventure.
Once we had arrived at the camp the first priority was to get the fire going. We were all hungry, there was a nip in the air and just because it’s exciting to have a campfire.
With the fire started, my thoughts turned to Geocaching (of course!), I hadn’t found a cache yet that day and I knew there were some on the fen I still had yet to find. Checking my phone I was ecstatic to discover the nearest was 45 m away. Awesome.
A short stroll to the obvious tree and all I could find was two lids of destroyed caches. Not awesome.
(In the vain hope that somebody from The national trust reads this – I’m back in August, can you fix the cache for then please! 😁)
Luckily the next closest cache wasn’t too far away and off we went searching whilst dinner did its thing.
As dusk arrived the wind picked up and the fire was truly appreciated. Unfortunately the wind was also doing a stunning job of blowing the thick cloud coverage away. We were in for a clear night. Oh heck!
As we sat eating dinner Mr Muddy spotted somebody walking close to the camp, somebody circling the tree we happen to know should be home to a geocache. Somebody forgot to switch to stealth mode! 😉
Sadly the cacher didn’t log their DNF, I’m curious to find out who it was but also relieved that they didn’t make a find after I’d just left a needs maintenance log – that would have been embarrassing!
As darkness fell it was time to explore. Armed with torches and a bat detector (yep, I’ve been out-geeked by my daughter!) we set off across the fens in search of bats, bugs and creatures and hopefully keep clear of the ghostly Monks, marching Romans and black hounds which according to legend stalk the fens by night. Spooky!
After spotting a barn owl and picking up a Daubenton’s bat on the bat detector the children were happy with their discoveries and desperate to go and toast marshmallows – you can’t have a campfire without marshmallows!
With our beds made up in the hut nearest the fire it was time to snuggle down in out winter coats, blankets, sleeping bags and bivvys.
I fell asleep surprisingly quickly but was woken at 12.30 by a shivering child. The wind had dropped but the clear skies remained. It was absolutely bloody freezing.
After warming her up in my bag for a bit it was time to play musical sleeping bags to ensure the children were warm. Mr Muddy being Ex TA/Reserves and much tougher than the rest of us ended up with the short straw, looking particularly fetching in a pink polka dot number.
I was quite happy to go home at this point, only we were 2 miles away from the car, which was locked up until morning anyway.
I’d brought the children for fun and adventure, not hypothermia!
With the fire built up again and the children much cosier it was time to attempt some sleep again. I dozed on and off and take no shame in the fact I regularly woke up Mr Muddy to build up the fire again and again.
I did drift off eventually and was soon awoken by the dawn chorus, a riotous affair of cuckoos and song birds greeting the morning. The sunrise was amazing and as I looked out at my frosty view a lone deer wandered past.
Who cares about being cold – this is flipping awesome!
I’m not a lover of mornings but waking up in such a beautiful place certainly made getting up easier. A sharp frost had turned our surroundings sparkly white and the water in the kettle to ice.
A warm campfire breakfast was a priority. I was on bacon duty – a very important job!
Refuelled and warming as the sun rose it was time to explore once more, it was still early but that was fortunate, hopefully we’d bump into no other people. After little sleep and spending the night on a smoke filled camp we were looking a little special.
Checking my phone I saw we were within walking distance of another geocache. This one located at Swaffham Lock on the river Cam. An area we’ve never visited before and an ideal time to search for this isolated cache.
A peaceful walk to the lock on a lovely sunny morning, a great hide (up in a tree.), in a nice location with some fab views. The type of cache that has me flicking the favourite point switch.
Such a great cache the cherry on the cake of what was a truly exciting adventure.