Our first camping trip together was exciting on many levels - for me, it was my first experience wild camping. Yup. And that's what got me hooked. I've been camping for years, since I was a child, but always in campsites, like Blair Atholl. The thought of wild camping was far too much excitement for me - and being a sunny, dry day, I was gleaming whilst heading out of the city into the countryside with my loved one.
*In the car, ready to set off!*
Our aim was Loch of Lintrathen. We wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been before, and after hours of street-viewing as close as possible to the loch, and reading camping forums online, we decided to give it a go.
Being my first wild camping trip, and Ryan's first without his Dad, we made a crucial error: no map. I know right??! NO. MAP. The sat nav got us fairly far, but eventually my iPhone - which I ultimately found out did not work with the car charger - gave up.
But we can read road signs, and loch's are often fairly well sign posted, so we continued along, happy as can be. We reached the loch with excitement...
...only to find it was boggy. A muddy, wet, sinking boggy mess surrounded the loch. No place to pitch the tent and no place at the edge of the road to leave the car.
NOTE: TO ALL THOSE ONLINE WHO SAID THEY'VE CAMPED THERE BEFORE: ARE YOU SURE YOU GOT THE LOCH NAME CORRECT?!!!!
Next move: The Cairngorms. Sign-posted well, and being a National Park, we figured there MUST be a place to camp.... Nat. Zilch. Nout. The majority of areas were fenced off and private, or covered with "NO CAMPING" signs.
As we kept driving, the sun began to drop, the wind picked up, the rain started to trickle down and the petrol dial eased closer to the red zone. It's funny to look back, as the two of us could feel the tension in the air, yet we both continued to joke and smile, because there was no way our first camping trip was going to begin with an argument or any negativity. Eventually the petrol light came on, and we were pressured to find something. It was almost dark now, and we had absolutely no idea where on Earth we were.
Thankfully, we eventually found an open space next to a stream. We immediately built the tent, collected fire wood and got the barbecue heating up. We actually have a good little routine: I set up the tent (as much I can with only me) while Ryan collects firewood. I have a vivid memory of Ryan realising the closest firewood was across the stream, stripping down into his boxers and wading across the thigh-deep water in the heavy wind to get some decent wood. Wish I'd taken a photo, but that memory is just for me!
I have to note here: You may notice in the photographs some rubbish, mainly bottles. This was here when we arrived. It's infuriating - Scotland has such a wonderful "freedom to roam" act that allows us to camp almost anywhere in the country. But gradually more and more areas are becoming off-limits due to people not picking up after themselves. The saying to follow: "Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints". We had 2 big black bags worth of rubbish to take away with us in the morning - only one bag was our own rubbish. RAGE.
*The stunning view - shame the bottles littered in the background ruin it*
Once the camping gear was packed, it was time to head off. But which direction? No map or phones remember! It was purely down to guess work. Thankfully we guessed correctly, and found ourselves heading for Pitlochry - finally some where I know! And in Pitlochry? We nabbed a chippy, some petrol and a map. Essentials. We decided over fish and chips that we would head to a nearby loch in Perthshire that Ryan had visited with his Dad numerous times - at least we'd have a rough idea where we were and how to get home again. Our night in Perthshire was wet and windy, but comfortable. We knew where we were, so it was romantic and relaxed.
I love camping with Ryan - even though we live together, it's refreshing to get away from TV and work, and escape to the countryside for a night or two together to just enjoy each other's company. Our first trip could be classed as slightly disastrous - but it was also adventurous and fun, and we found places we would have never gone otherwise :) Isn't that what adventure is all about?!
*Frolicking in the very, very cold loch*
*This particular photo was the same loch but a different camping weekend. I had to share it, as it was an unexpectedly stunning sunset. It is still one of my favourite photos.*
Do you go camping with your other half? Tell me all about it in the comments!
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