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Backpack camping along the Ridgeway from Goring to Kennett(5 Posts)
This year will be my first summer with DD since she started school and we're planning an adventure!
The idea is to walk or cycle at a leisurely pace along the Ridgeway from Goring to Kennett, stopping along the way at campsites/b&bs if no campsites available. Having arrived in Kennett we're then going to explore Wiltshire and go White Horse spotting. We are not putting a time limit on it and if it rains too much we'll get a train home!
So... as a confirmed maximalist estate-car glamper, does anyone have any advice re. backpack/cycle camping? We're fully prepared to rough it, but any tips and hints would be very much appreciated.
Also, DD is 8 and although she loves walking/cycling, I can see that just doing White Horses is going to pall with her so if anyone can recommend child-friendly stuff to do in Wilts and the surrounding area that too would be fab
I would invest in some good mats and sleeping bags - whatever else you skimp on, you will be miserable if you haven't slept! What works in a big tent with electric hook up and a car, doesn't work if you have to carry it. I like down sleeping bags because they are lightweight for their warmth and pack small. Investigate mats carefully: I can't sleep on a thermarest type if it packs small enough for me to carry. We have Exped synmats and down mats, but we have carried a normal inflatable mat and a battery opperated inflater. They are quite heavy if you are backpacking though.
Don't try to cover too far in a day - you will be miserable if you are aiming for a campsite that is still 20 miles away at teatime. 20 miles of whinging is a loooong way. You can always re-evaluate your distance if it is easier than you expect the first day. (My stepson has asbergers - we have regularly had to have a shorted day because he had to be literally tipped out of his tent in the morning so we didn't leave the site till midday!)
Try and do at least one weekend away camping or backpacking beforehand so that you can see what you really need - we manage without a kettle and chairs (although now I'm pregnant, I have invested in a Helinox chair one so that I don't have to heave myself off the floor all the time), but do carry exped pillows and a groundsheet that others may consider optional - I can't sleep without a reasonable pillow and is much easier to pack up if you have a ground sheet to sort everything on, as well as giving you something to sit on, especially if it is a bit muddy. We always carry sit mats as well.
Be prepared to stop at cafes when you see them - we have been known to cover half a mile from the campsite and stop for brunch! We have on occasion also suffered from big gaps with no cafes of pubs open, and a good stash of emergency rations helps - mars bars, cereal bars, jelly sweets and so on. One of the problems of cyclecamping is that the roads you want to cycle on are often the ones that avoid towns, so there are fewer opportunities to find places to eat or buy supplies, so we often plan a specific route that takes in at least one town or big village.
Look out for fun things on the OS maps - we plan routes through places with silly names or via museums or windmills and so on. Things like mazes are sometimes marked which might be fun too.
Lovecat, I am planning 3-4 of the circular routes on the Ridgeway this half term, but we will be in the Wiltshire parts, and B&B'ing. Have you seen this
I will report back next week if there is anything in particular to recommend.
Thanks cyclecamper and Quint, much appreciated I'm looking at my lovely 3 season snuggly sleeping bag that takes up an entire suitcase and thinking perhaps I'll just drive...<wibble> - thanks for the advice on what's needed and what's not
I've checked out that National Trails site and using that have planned a sort of itinerary (although it's v. loose at present) that involves only walking/cycling 3-4 hours a day (DD likes walking but I want to ease her into this, not put her off for life! So have devised a v. gentle introduction!) and stopping off at B&Bs where there's no campsite, also staying a few nights at a time at the campsites so as not to be constantly pitching/packing up:
The original plan was to take our bikes, but we may just walk and hire bikes from campsites for days out...
Day 1 - train to Goring for middayish, walk to East Ilsley (8.5 miles, 3 hr walk) and stay in prebooked B&B
Day 2 - walk East Ilsley to Uffington (9 miles, Google maps refuses to recognise the Ridgeway at this point so can't estimate time but would say 3.5 hours walking), campsite stay for 2-3 nights visiting the White Horse, Waylands Smithy etc.
Day 5 - walk to Chiseldon (9.3 miles, c. 3.25 hrs walking), B&B stay
Day 6 - White Horse spotting via Broad Hill, Hackpen Hill & Marlborough, back to Chiseldon B&B
Day 7/8 - Chiseldon to campsite in Melksham, (10 mile walk to Avebury, nose around, either overnight B&B in Avebury or taxi/bus to campsite if time allows).
Day 8 - Melksham if not reached the night before, 3 nights here to explore Devizes, Bath, etc.
Day 11 - Walk/bus to Pewsey, overnight in Pewsey campsite
Day 12 - Bus to Swindon, train to Cookham, camp on Cookham Lock.
Day 13 - Stanley Spencer Gallery, meet some friends, laze around, back to lock campsite.
Day 14 - leisurely brekkie & train home!
On first glance the distances sound perfectly fine for walking with an 8 year old.
My initial thought is to check where you can pick up food and water along the way, don't underestimate how much liquid you'll need, during a hot day it can soon disappear. Water points are indicated on the National Trails site often a shop may seem only a short walk off the track but it can be a pita walking down and then back up again. Then you find that the pub or shop is closed or doesn't sell anything useful, before you know it over an hour has gone and you still need to get back up to the path.
My only cooking equipment for hike camping trips is a light weight quick boil stove, 2 Sporks, lightweight mug, some of those nasty back packing meals, measured out coffee and dried milk. I only bank on a shop or pub if I've researched that it really is there, yes. I've been caught out before! It wouldn't be hard to add in another lightweight pan and just get by on disposable bBq's etc on your longer stays.
Also do some practice walks, carrying your kit. What are often advertised as lightweight tents can soon feel a bit heavy after a while. You may find that your estimated times may start to stretch out with your dd also carrying some stuff and that 2 miles per hour is more accurate.
If you decide to camp along the way then practice with a few garden camps to check that you'll both be warm enough. Even in summer I sleep in thermals when doing that kind of camping.
Have fun I've done a few long distance walks carrying all my gear but never with the children.
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