Thursday, 20 November 2008

Stealth camp New Forest

Having recieved Bob and Rose's new design Honey Stove from BackPacking Light for trialling, it was a case of getting out there and actually putting it to use. After a bit of pondering I decided to take it down to the New Forest for anover night stealth camp. The area is close to London and is fairly cheap on the bus. A quick shout to John H, who lives in the areas, time and day set up, gear packed and I was away. John met me off the bus and over a cup of coffee in a rather posh coffee shop, we perused maps and discussed best options for a walk and overnight bivi. John suggested a few ideas and drove me out to a starting place. It had been mizzling and damp all morning but the afternoon cleared and we saw a spot of sunshine. John walked with me up to Hasley Hill where we sat and had a five minute natter. On the way up we saw four stags and a small group of deer. Surprisingly they where not that concerned about us. Thanks John for the coffee, lift and reccomendations, appreciated. Parting company with John, I ambled over towards Sloden enclosure and on to Amberwood Enclosure. Coming back up the track by Ashley Cross a forest ranger, driving the other way slowed down to look me over. Trying to look the picture of innocence (?) I smiled and waved. He raised his hand in acknowledgment and drove on. By now the light was starting to fade and I swung off to set up a bivi in woodland by Gaze Hill. From what John had told me, several days of rain had left everything fairly wet. Certainly underfoot conditions where boggy in places. This was going to be an interesting test of the Honey Stove. All the kindling and small bits of wood I gathered where at least damp. Fortunately I had my knife which allowed me to make feather sticks and split wood, allowing me access to dryer material. John must have wondered what I was up to when I took my belt out of my rucksack and hung my knife and camera on it. Wearing the belt loose, it does not interfere with the rucksack hip belt. to On these occasions I carry a fire starting pouch anyway and this allows me to actually start a fire without any hassle. Once started, although a tad smokey, the Honey Stove proved itself as an efficient stove. In comparison to the bushbuddy, this stove holds more wood. In turn it requires less stoking. Although recommendations suggest finger thick wood, I deliberately added stuff that was around the thickness of a thumb once the fire had got going well. The stove coped fine with it. This stove draws well once going, it burns hot and due to its larger capacity its embers remain lit for longer. A pint of water brewed in under ten minutes. It was pleasant sitting in the gloom of early twilight with a hot drink and a small, glowing fire for warmth. The fire burnt to fine ash and with foil underneath the bottom ring there was no environmental impact whatever. The cold ash was scattered in the forest litter, leaving no trace. A fairly pleasant night, a clear sky with brilliant starlight and a half moon. Owls called back and forward through the woods. Night creatures scurried through the undergrowth and deer grazed quietly close by. Rather than light a fire early in the morning I used esbit type fuel tablets. Dropping the top ring down to the middle, it was simply a case of lighting the fuel tablets and within minutes I had a brew. The stove initially warped a bit but soon flattened again. First impressions where that it was a bit fiddly to assemble. However, setting it and getting it lit proved fairly straight forward. My suggestion would be to have a little hand cleaning gel in ones kit. As with any form of fire lighting, hands can get sooty. An added bonus is the if an alcohol hand gel is used it is also inflammable. Poly bags are a must. The morning was clear with sunshine. There had been a heavy dew overnight but I had been comfortable. Coming around the track by Hampton Ridge I managed to walk fairly close to two stags. This is the advantage of having the camera to hand.The photo has almost managed to capture them in detail. If the photo is enlarged by clicking the mouse they can be seen fairly well. Came around by Abbots Well, getting a few glances from a covey of dog walkers. A couple of ladies with very polished accents wished me 'good morning' with a quizzical raised eyebrow at my rather shabby appearance and rucksack. Returning their greetings, making a fuss of their muddy red setters, who where clearly enjoying themselves, I strolled on. Came around by Ogdens, ambling up the lane with a group of ponies heading in the same direction. Headed over Ibsley Common, wet and muddy underfoot and then dropped down to to pick up the Avon Valley path back to Ringwood. An interesting overnight stop. The Honey stove worked well despite damp tinder. A pleasant walk and a welcome break. The one downside was that I was in Ringwood by early afternoon and had a few hours to wait for my bus. A cup of coffee and a insipid pasty, a wander around town, after which I twiddled thumbs for a couple of hours.


Martin Rye said...

Hi Dawn I like that. The camp by the big old tree is great (except the tarp :))Looks like you have joined the Honey stove craze to.

Dawn said...

Lol Martin, discretion was needed. There are strict no wild camping rules in the New Forest. Warders (?)patrol the areas on a regular basis. Where I was bivi'd was in an area of quite thick trees.The Honey stove was sent to me from Bob and Rose for trialling. A good enough reason to get out there and have fun. Anything longer than a single night and I prefer the tent.

Pablo said...

Dawn, Great post thanks. Can you copy and paste it onto Woodlife Network?

I was also a little unsure whether the stove would warp. It looks a little thin to stand up to severe heat.

Cheers, Pablo.

Chip said...

Wow! Awesome, this gave me some great ideas.