I’m perched on a majestic rock formation in the middle of Dartmoor National Park, and… I’m thinking about Rihanna’s greatest hits. I’m thinking about what my cats are up to at home. I’m thinking about the many, many TikToks I watched on the train here before I was scooped up in a minivan at Totnes station and whisked out to the moors.
I know I shouldn’t be thinking about all this stuff. After all, I’m wild camping for three days with Wandering Wild, part walking tour, part mindfulness retreat. This should be the perfect opportunity for me to say farewell to my ingrained thought loops and let myself dissolve into nature. I should be ‘finding my quiet’. But letting go of my usual thought patterns doesn’t feel that easy.
This concern eases a little after our first stop. Henriette Lofstrom, our walk leader, encourages our eight-person group to ‘meet’ our environment. I find this peculiar at first. Nature doesn’t have eyes or a mouth like we do, and it’s not likely to return a friendly handshake. But as we sit on the mossy floor of an ancient oak forest and turn our attention to our surroundings, peace starts to seep in. The soft, living ground supports us and our heavy backpacks, and we listen to the stream babbling, drips from the trees and passing birds. By the time we reach a stone circle perched on a granite-studded hill on the last leg of the first day, there’s a definite change in my outlook. I certainly don’t want to crack open TikTok.
The Wandering Wild approach means we also walk in silence for 45 minutes at a time, with breaks for water, food and just pausing to notice what’s around us. This might sound pretty antisocial, but it turns out it means the sounds, sights and unexpected emotions of walking in nature can properly get under your skin. Another big bonus of the tour is that all your food, a backpack and much of the equipment you need (like a water filter and one-person tent) is provided for you. Henriette is a professional wild camper, and even re-pitches my blown-over tent in ten minutes flat when gales down it in the middle of our final night.
While walking, we encounter wild ponies, curious cows, noisy sheep, and countless stunning settings where I felt grateful to sit and scribble in my journal. And while I’m back at home in the city now, even the thought of all that untouched beauty just a train ride away invites some welcome peace into my day – even if I haven’t deleted TikTok quite yet.
Fancy joining Henriette on her next trip? You can find out more about the Wandering Wild experience here.