After five years of hillwalking, I have finally wild camped up the hills! Years of excuses and not finding the time or money to do it are finally over. Not wanting to go too far from home for my first outing, I thought Dumyat up the Ochil Hills in Stirling would be my best bet seeing as it’s only a 10 minute drive away. I decided to go on a Sunday night though which was risky with work the next morning.
As usual, I got the maps out and planned a route. I didn’t want to walk too far with all my gear on for the first time and I wanted to be close enough to the car for a quick walk back in the morning. I had walked Dumyat a few days prior to this with Jack who spotted a perfect area next to a nearby forest so I decided to head for there.
With all my new gear packed, I tried the bag on and immediately regretted the decision. It was brutally heavy. This was going to be tough!
It was worth the effort though as the weather was looking good for an April evening and the setting sun was starting to light up the hills with a beautiful orange and yellow hue. What made the walk even better was that I surprisingly had the path to myself which is not very common for this popular wee hill. Not only was this a positive for the peace and quiet but also for the fact that no-one had to see my puffing and panting with this huge bag on my back that I wasn’t used to carrying!
I made really good time to the top considering the weight on my back and the noises I was making in getting there. I think that was partly because it was almost 8 o’clock and I was now ravenous. Having been up Dumyat several times now, I didn’t feel the need to hang around. I still had a tent to pitch and a dinner to cook on a camping stove, both of which were firsts for me. So I pressed on, down past Lossburn Reservoir and up the hill again to pass the old farmsteads of Ashentrool and find a spot for the night by the forest.
After much deliberation, I finally settled on a spot I thought good enough to pitch on. I guess this will come more naturally and quicker the more I camp out on the hills. I was just glad to finally stop and get the weight off my shoulders.
With everything set up and dinner cooked without a hitch, I could finally sit down and enjoy the views over Stirling in the dark. Although overlooking a city is not a typical spot for wild camping, it was a perfect place to start. Even though I could see the lights of Stirling so close, I was engulfed in blackness up on the hill myself which made it seem a lot creepier than I was expecting, with every groan of an animal or blow of the wind startling me.
I survived though! You’d think a 5am alarm to rush down a hill for work would be tough but it was so easy to wake up to when my first morning view outside the tent was as fantastic as this.
I cooked breakfast while watching the sun rise higher and higher, lighting up the hills all around me. It was the best roll and scrambled egg I’ve ever had!
An hour after waking I was fully fed, had the tent packed up and on my way again, practically running back down the hill with joy after a successful first nights camp. The sun was out in full force by now and I was enjoying the views of Ben Lomond to the west and the Wallace Monument right in front of me.
Although this was not wild camping up some extremely remote Munro in the wilderness of the highlands, it was still a great introduction to the activity for me. The small hill and great weather made it the perfect place to start and probably the most excited I’ve ever felt heading to work on a Monday morning!