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Stride into autumn

Cloud inversions, fiery colours, nights snuggled into layers of down waiting for a rose-red dawn…autumn might just be the most magical time of year to sleep out in Britain’s mountains.

If you’ve considered stashing your wild camping kit under the bed to wait out winter, our November issue is here to convince you to put hibernation on hold. From David Lintern’s transformational family wild camp in Glen Affric to Hazel Strachan’s wild camping and bivvying adventures around the snow-dusted Scottish Highlands, it’s a tribute to crisp autumnal nights.

More autumn inspiration from the November issue of The Great Outdoors:

  • Vivienne Crow picks out the most rugged and spectacular sections of the Wales Coast Path
  • Tim Gent backpacks around the Perambulation – a route first taken by medieval knights as they set out to survey the borders of Dartmoor.
  • James Forrest heads for the Czech Republic to explore the dramatic ‘Giant Mountains’ (Krkonoše).
  • Ed Douglas looks back on a life-defining first trip to the Himalayas in an extract from his new book Himalaya: a Human History.

PLUS: Chris Townsend reviews 50-60 litre packs, Judy Armstrong puts 6 women’s waterproof jackets through their paces, top 10 top autumn hill walks, 6 mapped ‘wild walks’ for your delectation and plenty more.

How to get a copy

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  • Take out an annual subscription and take advantage of our new subscriber offer (£15 for your first 6 issues).
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  • Take advantage of our special lockdown offer (3 issues along with the accompanying digital editions for just £9.99 plus free postage, with no ongoing commitment to subscribe.)
  • Buy it in shops across the UK (subject to lockdown opening).

Read more: a peek inside the issue…

Nights on the Edge: Colder weather shouldn’t spell the end to bivvying and wild camping adventures. For Hazel Strachan, snow-dusted summits and flaming sunrises make autumn the best time of year to sleep out in the Scottish Highlands.

“Autumn in Scotland is a delight. It’s the bridge between summer and winter with all the best bits of the seasons thrown together. The midgies have gone, the weather is cooler with settled sunny days, the hills are a riot of hues – from burnished golds, burned siennas and oranges to ultramarine tints hidden in the depths of afternoon shadows.”

Stillness in the Glen: On an extended family wild camp in Glen Affric, backpacking devotee David Lintern discovers a Zen-like satisfaction in simply staying put.

“Once we began to look, the ‘god of small things’ was everywhere. There she was in the rising and falling of the burn itself, over the course of those days. There again in the lichen-coloured caterpillar concertinaing its way across the tarp that I’d strung up between our tents. The hundreds of tiny moths dancing level with the grass at dusk – how had I not noticed those before? As per usual, my world of deadlines and minor misunderstandings floated away; but rather than big mountain vistas and strategic decision making, a world of small things took precedence instead.”

Coastal Highs: The Wales Coast Path offers plenty to tempt hillwalkers. Guidebook author Vivienne Crow highlights eight of its most rugged and spectacular sections.

“As people have emerged from lockdown wanting to escape the confines of urban living, it’s hardly surprising that interest in the Wales Coast Path has soared. So what is it that attracts solitude-seekers to this briny trail that extends 1400km from Chester in the north to Chepstow in the south? Far from being all sand dunes, salt marshes and busy seaside resorts, there’s endless appeal here for hillwalkers – if you know where to look.”

Boundary Hunter: In the year 1240, a group of knights set out to survey the borders of Dartmoor. The route they took is known as the Perambulation, and it makes for a superb 50-mile backpacking adventure. Tim Gent follows in medieval footsteps.

“The year was 1240 and the Sheriff of Devon had moved fast. Henry III’s command, inscribed on vellum, had only been issued a month earlier. This required ‘twelve good knights of the country’ to visit Dartmoor Forest, given recently by the King to his cousin Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Like all forests the land was valuable hunting ground, and Henry was already in dispute with local landowners over the exact extent of his generous gift. A survey was needed. It’s known today as the Perambulation. 

Cooking up the kyselo: In the heart of Europe, the ‘Giant Mountains’ (Krkonoše) are a brew of Alpine atmosphere, outlandish geology and poignant history. James Forrest heads to the Czech Republic to discover their rich appeal.

“I’m in the Krkonoše National Park on the Czech-Polish border; a beguiling landscape where Europe’s alpine and Scandinavia’s arctic influences blend and merge into a melting pot of beauty. Glacial corries are so rich and diverse in botany they are known as Krkonoše’s Garden, the green-fingered care and love of a deity the only possible explanation for such abundance. Alpine meadows dance with the colours of wildflowers and the upland tundra is adorned with dramatic rocky tors, like teetering towers of Jenga.”

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