Chris Loynes, Outdoor Studies, University of Cumbria, champions the idea of camping out 'in the wild'

I WENT on my first solo wild camp at the age of 13 when I was given a tent for Christmas. I set off on to the Mendip Hills for three wild days.

My first pitch was outside the entrance to Goatchurch Cavern, where I knew there was a stream.

I spent most of the first night petrified by the rustling sounds that magnified into cave monsters in my young mind.

I’ve been wild camping ever since, mostly along the coasts and in the mountains of the Highlands of Scotland where it is legal.

In the Lake District there has been a long-standing tradition that accepts wild camping despite it being technically illegal throughout most of England. My partner and I camp at high view points from which to see the stars in the glorious dark skies or watch the sun rise listening to the dawn chorus as the coffee brews.

Backpacking for a few days, with all you need in your rucksack, staying high as you work your way over the fells, is a joyous way to travel.

Others head high just to be still in a wild place for a time.

The feeling of being wild comes from both the openness of the landscape around you; the presence of other wild things – wildlife, rivers and weather; and being away from the everyday, its routines and demands.

I recently took part in a workshop in Wild Ennerdale. People explored how best to prepare themselves to experience a wild place as fully as possible, to attend to our bodies and senses, to notice the world around us and to appreciate the self-willed nature of the other entities in the valley – the river Lisa, the regenerating woodland, the cattle and deer – as well as to wallow in the same feeling of being self-willed ourselves.

We were rewarded by two contrasting days of mists and light rain hanging among the trees followed by a covering of snow and bright blue skies and intense feelings of an animated valley.

The recent attempt to set up a stepping stone to ‘wild’ camping that helps people new to the idea and a little nervous of where to go has attracted a lot of comment.

The formality of booking a place with a landowner that would be not so wild and paying for it flew in the face of the spirit of wild camping free from the constraints of commerce and land ownership.

Yet I sympathise with the idea, which also attracted a good deal of interest. I grew up among communities with a tradition of going to the hills. It was possible to come across the idea among friends and family, to be mentored as you learned your craft and to discover the places you could go from word of mouth.

Today, communities are more fractured and mobile. People find information and each other on social media and traditions are harder to encounter.

An app., some good advice, clear details of where to go for a simple, more remote and quiet overnight with permission granted seems like a great idea.

It is not wild camping – and the push back has made this clear – but it is still a camping experience many would relish.

This land is our land and it needs our attention. It is important that as many folk as possible enjoy and care for it.

You don’t care for something you don’t first come to love. I’m for simple camping opportunities in quiet places so that more people can drink from streams, see the stars and hear the dawn chorus along the wild ways.