Wild camping and bushcraft weekend…

Post written by Chris

Date visited: July 2018

During our amazing adventures in 2016, we realised that some of the more memorable times were spent in basic accommodation.

An old storage barn in Thailand* where the clear night sky filtered through the broken slats in the roof or the wonderful Batad rice terraces where a cold water bucket shower was a true wake up call.

With these memories fixed in our minds, we wanted to recapture some of those feelings of isolation. After discussing our adventures with some friends we decided a wild camping weekend was in order.

We wanted somewhere fairly remote with limited facilities so our friend Mark who has a wealth of knowledge in wild camping suggested a campsite located just 2 miles from Abergavenny in Wales. Although not quite ‘Bear Grylls Island’ the site offers a real feeling of the wild outdoors.

Middle Ninfa Bunkhouse and Campsite (also known as Middle Ninfa Farm) is situated to the south-east of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

20180720_172544.jpgThe site is situated on a large hillside and consists of 23-acres of beautiful countryside where wooded areas mingle with fern covered slopes and meadows.

DSC_4119The original cottage or the cottage of the charcoal burners (Ninfa) was built over 300 years ago and an old barn on the site was converted into a 6-bed bunkhouse by the present owners over 20 years ago. Since then the owners have added several camping pitches which are thoughtfully spread out across the site offering campers some privacy which some sites sadly lack.
For us, this is what true camping is all about, no wannabe campers singing ‘My Way’ at 2 am whilst swigging their warm Prosecco.

The trip was planned and we all agreed on the end of July when the 6 of us would head off to Sunny Wales.

With the weather being dry and hot for much of June and July we were hopeful for a rain-free weekend.

Laura and I left home around Friday lunchtime and arrived around 4 pm.
We were warmly greeted by the owner and his wife who pointed in the direction of some far off conifer trees to our chosen pitch the ‘stone circle’.

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wheelbarrow“You’ll need to use the wheelbarrow to get your gear up there,” he said!
So 3 trips up and down and an hour later we finally started to set up camp. It was at this point…Yep…after 3 months of dry weather back in sunny Bedfordshire it started to rain! So with slightly dampened spirits and the tent finally secured it was time to start a fire before the others arrived.20180720_203024-1.jpg We found some nearby rocks to build our own ‘stone circle’, added a couple of bags of twigs and small chopped logs (available to buy from the owner at £3 a bag) and before long we were warming up in the now cool evening air.

around the fireWith the others soon arriving (with food) it wasn’t long before we were tucking in with true bushcraft style.

So after a long drive followed by fully laden wobbly wheelbarrow trips, it was time for us all to crash.

We awoke to a slight breeze in the nearby trees and the warm morning sunlight filtering through the branches of an old nearby oak.

oakWith the fire still feeling warm from the previous night we were keen to get breakfast started, although there was not enough heat within the dying embers to re-start the fire. As always Mark was equipped with the essentials needed for our intro to bushcraft and showed each of us in turn how to start a fire with a firesteel.

After a delicious breakfast and somewhere in between a quick trip to a local superstore for more food and beverage supplies, Mark introduced us to the art of wood carving!

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Beginning with a small branch, he showed us how to use a range of knives to carve and create our little masterpieces!

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The process was helped along with a glass of gin or two!

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A very handy wooden spoon 🙂

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After our efforts it was time for a wander to find a local pub before returning back to base for Saturday night campsite dinner.

Symonds Yat

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After packing up our gear on Sunday morning we drove for about 30 minutes to Symonds Yat, a popular tourist destination which was in the general direction of home. Above is a feature of Symonds Yat, a ferry system where people are pulled across the water by cable!

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Cutting through the Wye Valley is the River Wye where activities such as kayaking are popular.

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