Keep the campfires burning…

Having read an excellent post over at Selfpowered in which David Lintern recounts his recent epic traverse of the HRP through some of his camping pitches, accompanied by some cracking pics, I was inspired to dig out some photos of favourite camping pitches in recent years for a post of my own. I noticed that many of my favourite pitches seemed to be accompanied by a roaring campfire, so I thought ‘why not have a campfire picture post’, so here you have it.

The handsome lad sporting the Manfur (TM) face muffler (whatever) in the above pic is the famous James Boulter, he of Backpackingbongos – probably the best walking blog in the world. The pic was taken at Harris Bay on the wild and wonderful Isle of Rum earlier this year. This is James and Rich being hypnotised by the same fire a little later:

The following pic was taken at Luskentyre on the Isle of Harris a few years ago when myself and The Lovely Fiona were cycling up through the Outer Hebrides:

There’s something wonderful about a campfire; you pitch your tent, go gather some driftwood or deadwood – depending on where you are – and get a blaze going. A fire keeps you warm during the chillier months, but it provides something far more than physical warmth alone. A campfire also seems to satisfy a primal human need – I don’t know about you, but I always feel more secure, relaxed and happy sitting in front of a fire, staring into it’s dancing heart. Look at James and Rich’s expressions in the picture above – they’re totally entranced. Literally.

Anyway, enough of this hippy nonsense, here’s some more pics. Here’s a couple from Shian Bay on the Isle of Jura – one of my favourite wild camping spots:

Here’s a few from winter trips in the Romanian Carpathians, when temperatures of -20C meant that a fire was absolutely essential in my book:

I fancy putting up a few more campfire pics if anyone has favourites that they’d like appended to this post. Email Jpegs to me at melancholicsanonymous@yahoo.co.uk go on…

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30 responses

  1. No greater feeling than a campfire – must be a bloke thing – give me a campfire and stick to poke and prod it with and I’m as happy as Larry. I’ll send over a couple of fire pics for ya

    • I don’t know about it being a bloke thing, Andy, The Lovely Fiona is a devotee of the campfire blaze – especially if I’ve done the work… Thanks for the pics.

  2. I totally agree about the campfire, and it’s one of the many things I love about backpacking in the States – everyone has a fire going there when wild camping, whatever the temperature. Might have couple of piccies myself – although I suspect some of them might be from a time before digital photography when we used to use slides…

    • Hello Chrissie, go on, dig those piccies out! In other news, myself, Dougal and The Lovely Fiona will be spending the weekend down in the Southern Uplands, so we’ll file a ground report before you head up for your walk.

  3. -20?! good heavens/great scott (or something more sweary). And not less, but more hippy nonsense, I say! Release the inner treehugger, there’s one in every outdoors blogger.

    Looking back at that trip, alot of the best camps were ones where we had the time to kick back. Trouble with backpacking is that you can get locked into always moving…which of course is a great problem to have. But its nice to break the pattern and pull up, take the time to really appreciate where you are, just be (ahem, man)… if there’s enough food to hold out until resupply. Andy and I were big fire builders when there was a circle around, a well oiled machine by the end, graded woodpile and all. Camp routine is ace.

    • Much below -10C and it’s all a bit academic. The thing was to remember not to touch anything metal with bare hands…

      Like you, I didn’t often find the opportunity to get a campfire going on the HRP, largely because you’re above the treeline for much of the time and in many places fires aren’t allowed. I also found that by the time I’d done my day’s walk, pitched, cooked and eaten I was knackered and there was precious little time left for wood-gathering and fire-lighting anyway.

      My inner tree-hugger has been on the loose and roaming round the woods for quite some considerable time…

  4. I have to say that the night at Harris bay was probably one of my favourite wild camping experiences ever. There was something magical about it, probably sitting by a campfire in the darkness, with the sound of the waves on the shore. Obviously the company was damn fine too. Looking forward to sitting in front of a bothy fire in just over a week with you Pete. I have a new manfur product to show you……………

    Somehow that last sentence just does not sound right seeing it in print.

    • I know I keep saying it James, but you’re going to enjoy the wild camping opportunities on Jura.

      Obviously i’m a little nervous about the new Manfur product, especially having already read Andy’s scandalous comment below, but i’ll try to be brave. Other than that I too am looking forward to that bothy fire. On the subject of which, I’ll get in touch with HQ to see what’s in the offing.

      • I have detailed Plans to send you way hopefully this evening Pete, some bleak moors for me and some remote coastal stuff just for you!

    • I’m tempted to say that a similar effect can be achieved by an outdoor shag in the snow, but seeing as this is a family site, I won’t.

  5. Great Campfire Pictures Gavin.Even in a bothy Its always a cheerless place if you are sitting warm next to a wood burning stove but its one you cant open to watch the flames.Better than a telly anyday.Its been a part of human life so long it must be in our DNA.

    • Hello Bob, thanks. That’s the nail on the head. In fact every time we have a campfire or a fire at home, i always let out a sigh and say to The Lovely Fiona ‘ nothing on the telly again’. You’re right about it being in our DNA, whenever i’m sitting by a fire, out in the wilds, you can’t but help think of your Mesolithic hunter-gatherer forebears, eking out a living on the edge of the glaciers, huddled around a fire roasting shellfish or deer…

      Is Gavin an outdoor firestarter too?

  6. Hmmm, snow. How very wonderful. Though I know it means blocked roads and very cold temperatures round your neck of the lakes. I’ll bet you’ve got an impressive wood pile laid in Mr Hoffman, but feel free to pop in for a warm now and then, there’s no extra charge…

  7. It does mean blocked roads and cold but I adore the snow all the same, probably even more because of it. We never fail to get excited by its prospect, though if it does come tomorrow it will be very early. I’ve spent the morning stripping tomatoes, aubergines and peppers from the plants before they freeze and now have a kitchen full of things to do. Much of the wood is in; the other 10 tons are still at the edge of the forest while the broken tractor is being mended. Such is life by the lakes. And thanks for the offer to drop by, don’t mind if I do!

    • 10 tons? Is that enough? It’s amazing that you’ve struggled on with your life by the lakes for all these years in the face of such hardships. Hmm, tomatoes, aubergines and peppers; I feel a ratatouille coming on…

      • Ah, the pleasure of hardship! Sadly I can’t split the wood anymore because of my back, but that was an autumn job that I warmed to very well. Ratatouille – now there’s an idea!

  8. nice… there is something so wonderful about a campfire on a beach, lost in thought gazing into the flames. Fave place has to be Sandwood Bay for a beach fire, although firewood does have to be carried in to it.

    • Hello David, I’ve not yet been to Sandwood Bay, though it’s surely only a matter of time. I’m off to the far north tomorrow with James for a week, so who knows? In return, I’ll have to recommend Shian Bay on the west coast of Jura for campfire heaven – usually loads of driftwood too.

      • Cheers Pete, Sandwood is a very special place for me. I spend a few nights up there every year and highly recommend it. Just back from a weekend up there actually and its starting to get cold now. There are 2 bothies pretty close to the bay as well.

  9. I’m actually just accompanying James on a bothy-visiting trip, David. We’ll be visiting Ben Armine Forest, Forsinard, A’mhoine, Glendhu forest, Whitten Head and a couple other places on the coast. I’ll put in a vote for Sandwood Bay.

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