Hammock camping, campfire cooking trail runner

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So my plan was to do a big 60km reccy of a gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award route in Perthshire, running it in two days travelling really lightweight, sleeping in my hammock and cooking on a fires – so no stove. My rucksack weighed 7kg with food and water and all my overnight kit.

I set off on Friday, late afternoon from Pitlochry and ran south towards Dunkeld, then past Tulliemot house and onto the big area of moorland and lochs between the A9 and Strathardle. On the way I collected the tinder I’d need for my evening fire: some birch bark.

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The route offered great trails for running, a mixture of landrover tracks and dry footpaths through the heather. I made pretty good progress and made it down to my hammock camping site around 8pm, a nice open woodland with lots of birch trees.

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Having reached the campsite I had a bunch of jobs to do to get ready for the night:

  • Find two trees the right distance apart to rig my hammock (Warbonnet blackbird);
  • Prepare the ground for the fire, so I wouldn’t scorch the ground – I used a big slab of rock, ideal for the small fire I had planned;
  • Collect wood for the fire and grade it in to tiny wee twigs (Birch), pencil thickness twigs (mostly willow), then thicker bits of birch to burn once the fire got established;
  • Make a pot hanger, an arrangement of sticks, cut with hook like notches to suspend my alpkit cooking pot; and,
  • Carve some tent pegs for my tarp (Warbonnet superfly sil-nylon tarp).

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I had a great night’s sleep – I always sleep well in a hammock. It’s really nice being able to see the woodland from your bed, much less claustrphobic than a tent, not to mention much more comfortable. To keep warm in a hammock its best to use something called an underblanket. Made of down it goes underneath the hammock to keep your back warm. With clear skies overnight the temperature dropped quite a bit and I was pleased to get the fire going for my morning coffee and porridge.

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My second day of running took me north up Glen Ardle, past Enochdu and then up Glen Fearnach. This long glen as a private tarmack road running along it for 8km. After that landrover tracks and paths lead you west, below the flacks of Ben Ghlo, all the way Blair Atholl. I had planned to run all the way back to Pitlochry but I was a bit sore and so decided on some cake and took the bus back instead.

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