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Nearly Wild Camping on the River Dulais (Neath, South Wales)

There’s a farmer who owns a woodland on the Dulais River in south Wales. For a few quid a night he lets you pitch your tent, though he insists “there are no actual pitches”.

In the mornings we fired up our little camp stove and scoffed bacon and eggs and beans and sausages in beautiful brioche buns. Burgers and beers at sundown.

Wild Camping in Neath, Wales, UK - Ben Holbrook DriftwoodJournals.com-21

Cooking while wild camping - in Wales

Making tea with Jetboil gas stove while camping in Wales

My Jetboil stove and AeroPress were fired up all day and night – tea and coffee and hot chocolate with puffy marshmallows blistered by the fire.

We tippy-toed in the river, cooling off in the sizzling 30+ degree heat, and read all day. I highly recommend Paul Theroux’s dazzlingly vivid new novel, Under the Wave at Waimea. Especially if you want to be transported to Hawaii, and the life of a big wave surfer with a major problem to solve – stunning writing!

Reading Under the Wave at Waimea by Paul Theroux

Reading Under the Wave at Waimea by Paul Theroux

Reading and camping

The only pause to our peace was Lola’s silent escapes. Sarah would find her sniffing around our neighbours’ campfires, plucking out forgotten sausages with surgical precision, swallowing them whole like aspirin.

Reading Under the Wave at Waimea by Paul Theroux

We booked an extra night in the end, having arrived at the threshold of becoming wild once more. Three nights in the woods, no toilets, no showers, is apparently how long it takes to start rewilding yourself.

And now we’re home, missing the simple joys of campfire life – the dirt between our toes, the soothing white noise of the river. The good life, the simple life, the slow life.

Legal Wild Camping in Neath, Wales, UK - Ben Holbrook DriftwoodJournals.com-16

It’s taken me almost 38 years to realise how good it is for the mind and soul to be outdoors, to slow down and indulge in the little things. Everything you could possibly need in a few bags tucked away in the porch of your tent. A good book, a cold beer, nowhere else to be.

We’re keeping everything packed up and ready to go, because we can’t wait to get back.

Back to the wild. Our happy place.


Advice for Your Own “Nearly Wild” Camping Trip in Wales (or Elsewhere in the UK)

Wild Camping in Neath, Wales, UK - Ben Holbrook DriftwoodJournals.com-60

Wild camping has really taken off over the last few years, but it’s not always legal or easy to find places that are legal. Tolerance is also being tested as more people have got into wild camping, with land owners becoming (understandably) stricter.

Needless to say, wild camping in Wales and the rest of the UK is bit of a grey area. This is fine if you’re a pro hiker and wild camper, but not great if you’re planning to get your family together or enjoy a romantic “wild camping” experience for the first time.

This is why I was so excited to find this little spot close to where we live (which I have promised my wife Sarah I will keep as our little secret – sorry!).

Wild Camping in Neath, Wales, UK - Ben Holbrook DriftwoodJournals.com-16

However, if you’re looking for an almost wild experience, whereby you’re basically camping off grid but with the permission of the land owner, I think the key is to search for really basic campsites – the ones that have, for example, just one toilet, no shower block, no onsite shop and no fish & chip shop – you know the type.

There are more of them than you’d imagine and, naturally, the majority of campers steer clear of them in favour of more convenience. Just be sure to take a good book to read – that’s pretty much the main event in a really, really good way – and have three times more water than you might imagine you’d need.)

Legal Wild Camping in Neath, Wales, UK - Ben Holbrook DriftwoodJournals.com-16

Where to find “nearly wild campsites” in Wales and the rest of the UK

There’s a ton of them on the Nearly Wild Camping website and there’s a decent selection on the Cool Camping website too.


Our Nearly Wild Camping Gear Essentials and Packing List Recommendations

You can support me by buying products through the affiliate links below – there is no extra cost to you but I get a small kick-back from Amazon. Win-win!

Our Tent – it’s a 4-man but is ideal for a couple with a dog/baby, and the porch is a fantastic size if it rains) – plus it’s an absolute bargain!

Airbed / Sleeping Mattresses – Sarah and Lola’s / Ben’s.

Sleeping Bags – Sarah’s / Ben’s.

Backpacks – Small day pack for overnight trips / Large for multi-night trips.

Camp Chairs – Essential for comfortable camping.

Food Cooking StoveA bargain must-have.

Jetboil Water Boiling Stove – Light weight and perfect for hiking trips too.

Aeropress – Because coffee never tastes as amazing as it does when you’re camping!

Camping Tables – We have two of these.

Chiller Bags – Absolutely essential! I use these all the time, even when not camping. Large / Small (I use the large one more than any other bag I own).

Chiller Box with Ice Blocks – Another essential camping item for keeping food/drinks cold for about two days before you need to go and find ice again.

Backpacks: Small day pack for overnight trips / Large (for multi-night trips). I think Osprey packs offer the best in terms of quality and price. Decathlon gear is incredible for the money, but doesn’t always last as long as you might like (I’ve got through a lot of it but still go back for more).


My Camera Gear (For Both Photo & Video)

Fujifilm XT3 - the Ultimate Travel CameraCarefully chosen as a minimalist traveller and photographer/filmmaker – I spend a lot of time researching the products I buy, always looking for the highest quality and the best value.

My Main Camera: https://amzn.to/3AfLdrx

My Backup Camera: https://amzn.to/3gXVReC

My Smaller Backup Camera: https://amzn.to/35V4dNZ

My Fav Zoom Lenses: https://amzn.to/3jnwtRk / https://amzn.to/3jk4H82

My Fav Prime Lenses: https://amzn.to/3h7a480 / https://amzn.to/3xUOnyG

My Variable ND Filter: https://amzn.to/3w00WaD

My Microphones: https://amzn.to/3y2cqvC / https://amzn.to/3A6lmCg

My External Audio Recorder and Lav Mic: https://amzn.to/3dEYvEj / https://amzn.to/3qx4xfp

My Memory Cards: https://amzn.to/3jmwYLq

My Tripods: https://amzn.to/3h24F3c / https://amzn.to/36pr3xk

My Drone: https://amzn.to/3y48wCn

My Camera Backpack: https://amzn.to/2TbSgAw

 


Any tips on any other almost wild campsites in the Wales or elsewhere in the UK? We can’t stop talking about our next camping trip!

Ben


#slowliving #slowlivinglifestyle #campingwales #wildcamping #wildcampingwales #familycampingblog

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