Living in the “Oh so flat” Midlands doesn’t leave much chance for hilltop wild camping but if your prepared to do a spot of traveling there’s at least a few places to try out. They don’t have the sheer size of areas like Snowdonia, still its more than enough for an easy quick outing.
One such place is the Lickey Hills Park, located just to the south of Birmingham and about 8 miles from my home. With a train track running right to the bottom of the hills, the travel time is next to nothing when compared to dragging ourselves across the country for the higher peaks.
I could have got the train there and back but badly needing the exercise before hitting the big mountains this year, decided to walk out and take the lazy train back in the morning. Being a lot more rural than most of the remote places I like to wild camp a good deal of effort was spent finding an out of the way spot to hide in, there’s nothing more annoying than being disturbed during the night.
From its highest peak (which like so many others is called Beacon Point) there’s clear views right across Birmingham to the north and on a good day you’ve got an excellent look at the Malvern Hills to the south.
As the weather wasn’t going to be too bad with an overnight temperature that I would be just about comfortable with, this was a “no tent” camping trip. Cutting back on the amount of gear was further possible by leaving out any sort of bed role, there’s some nice and comfortable spots to curl up in on the Lickeys and after being a little inactive over the winter I could do with the minimum amount of weight on my back.
Michelle wasn’t up for this trip due to 2 reasons, she doesn’t like sleeping on the Lickey’s because there’s too many people hanging around and its still a little cold at night for her (and I wasn’t carrying a tent).
Another reason this spot gets plenty of my attention throughout the year is its relative height and proximity to Birmingham. Along with camping I have another passion in radio communications, a fact I try to keep out of this blog (there’s another blog for that) if only to avoid boring you, but it boils down to this. A good high spot overlooking a major populated area gives more chance for receiving and sending out radio signals.
Took some video of this trip (below), it was supposed to be much longer than it is but most of the audio was crap?? and had to savagely trim it 🙁 I think the camera has a problem and will be having a look to see if it can be fixed before the next trip.
Turned up at Beacon point with about 30 minutes of light left, more than enough time to find a spot to sleep (made easier because I know the area well). That thing of not making camp until the last minute is more crucial here than anywhere because people tend to hang around as it gets dark, unlike the bigger mountains where (almost) everybody will be off the mountain well before it gets dark.
Had to wait around for what seemed like ages for a group of kids to wander off before making camp. Schools are closed at the moment and if I remember my youth correctly, places like the Lickey’s are prime targets for a spot of late night drinking 🙂
As with all the wild camping done this near to populated areas, sleep didn’t come that easily and I enjoyed a fair bit of walking around in the dark until tired enough to finally doze off.
Just About Warm Enough
Those hard working people who forecast the weather got it bang on with the nighttime temperature, making for an almost bearable sleep (the little I had) without the need to drag a tent around.
Woke up to a slightly cold morning with my sleeping bag covered in dew but soon warmed up after a quick stroll around.
The 4 hours it took me to walk to the Lickey Hills from home turns into a 45 minute train and bus journey home. Bonus was the ticket machine in the train station was spitting out blanks and the lack of conductor meant a completely free ride home 🙂