Approximately five years ago I had my first wild camp here at Blackbeck Tarn. I loved it. Since then I’ve wild camped in the Pyrenees four times, Scotland a few times, and Wales and the Lake District innumerable times. My first wild camp 2013 is approaching and I’m like a boy again: light, free, energised, a happy dog looking for fun in some grass. My tail is wagging.

I’m currently reading Nature Cure by Richard Mabey. Perhaps I should write a book called Wild Camp Cure to orchestrate my ideas and embed hundreds of beautiful photographs in a philosophical context. Today is May 1st which is traditionally associated with communist Russia: a regime the oppressive equal of any we’ve seen but with a cruel twist to it whereby “the people” were told the system was for them. If they questioned the system and asked for more bread, literally or otherwise, they could expect a night time Dickensian visit by the police: “more? MORE??”

It’s as if I have two lives. One where I understand why Marx and Engels wrote as they did, but why Russia was socially unacceptable, and how people endure these various situations I allude to in 2013. The other, where I take to the hills and experience an animal health which, while a humorous remark, is also serious. I am part animal. I need territory, space, some land on which to play.

May Day is a Red holiday. ‘Holiday’ relates to ‘health’ which traces back to a linguistic root ‘hal’ which means ‘whole’. So often in society, in the jobs we do, we cannot be whole. It’s not allowed, there is no place for it, and this twists and distorts the organism. We are, as Engels described it, “useful objects” and nothing more. There is thus a conflict of identity, a pressure which has to go somewhere, a bodily burden experienced as stress.

At the weekend I had an emergency in patient hospital referral. It was, as Vinnie Jones says in a film, “emotional”. I went to Accident And Emergency, for a bed in the Acute Medical Unit. My doctor said I shouldn’t drive there. Opposite me was a chap who’d had a heart attack. To my great surprise, because of previous distress in such places, once there I found it quite restful. Mostly because everyone was lying peacefully in bed, and I was too.

“James, can I take your blood pressure” the nurse said gently, waking me in the morning. I needed the psychological rest, if not the physical rest. Now the hills are calling me. James, come and see us again and we will heal you.


Lake District: Blackbeck Tarn

Wednesday May 1, 2013