Providing the fertile soil

So we’ve explored quite a lot around what Nearly Wild Camping is about and in the last blog post I shared some of the story of where it came from, but where is it now? What is it surrounded by? What does the wider ecosystem look like that the organism of Nearly Wild Camping is a part of?

Nearly Wild

Well Nearly Wild Camping is actually the first initiative of the newly formed Nearly Wild Community Interest Company, which is about encouraging people to explore the natural world through fun, innovative projects and outdoor activities. This builds understanding of the natural world and our relationship with it, by encouraging an inquiring mind in all ages.

Nearly Wild Camping clearly fits in with this, as it will give people easier access to wilder experiences and will let them explore areas they wouldn’t have otherwise visited.

The idea for Nearly Wild CIC has been gathering momentum for a few years now, but with the enthusiasm for Nearly Wild Camping really taking off we thought it was about time to make it official. So at the moment they are being co-created. As new opportunities and ideas keep appearing, we are busily working out how they fit together, as well as how they are going to function individually. We want Nearly Wild to act as the fertile soil in which we can trial and grow a whole range of different initiatives.

At the moment, as well as Nearly Wild Camping, we are using our own practical experience, which we continue to develop through hosting holidays, activities, courses and experiences at Underhill Farm, to try out new activities that get people out, exploring and building their understanding of the natural world and its importance.

We have lots of other exciting seeds of ideas too, which we will be germinating in the near future. If you want to hear about how they are all getting on, then you can sign up to the Nearly Wild mailing list here.


Nearly Wild Camping Location: Underhill Farm

So what kind of places can you go Nearly Wild Camping? I want to give you a flavour of some of the different locations that are involved in this summers trial, so I am going to do a few case studies of different places. First up is Underhill Farm, where all of this started.

The farm when it was first purchased

The farm when it was first purchased

Nestled beneath the limestone cliffs of Llanymynech rocks Nature Reserve, just a stones throw from the Welsh border lies Underhill Farm. Bought by the Evison family in 2009 it had been empty since 1961 and was in need of quite a bit of TLC. Now four years on, after lots of hard work, it is a quiet smallholding, managed for wildlife and people following permaculture and ecological principles, where visitors can come and relax and explore. There are two fields, one is pasture with two large ponds, a couple of yurts, a tepee and space for camping, backed by woodland and the Llanymynech rocks, there are often peregrine falcons screaming overhead and at this time of year there are lots of dragonflies hawking around the ponds and the woodpecker nesting in the ash tree.

The other field is also partly pasture, but with a range of different fruit and nut trees planted on it, a wildflower meadow and small copse at the bottom and a play and exploration area in one corner. The small flock of Jacobs sheep, will be roaming one of the two fields depending on what other activities are going on at the time.

Camping next to one of the ponds

Camping next to one of the ponds

The beautiful black and white buildings are all functioning now, with some providing accommodation and others providing a dry indoor space for cooking, eating or wet weather activities. There is also a small, but diverse veg patch, growing food for the Evison family and the WWOOFers who come to stay.

There is quite a range of facilities at Underhill Farm and it is right on the edge of Pant village with a pub and a shop, so it would definitely be categorised as a one star location, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still feel like a secluded, wild corner. The facilities are purposefully basic, but for those who wouldn’t feel comfortable without them there is a flushing toilet, a shower (made out of an old plastic mains pipe!), a basic kitchen (although people are encouraged to cook at the fire pit), picnic benches and an indoor seating area. There are also informal activities running throughout the summer (another Nearly Wild initiative), which encourage and help people to explore the history, culture and wildlife of the area.

Underhill Farm

Underhill Farm

Underhill Farm was started to provide an alternative for those who wanted a wilder experience, but weren’t willing to head out into the middle of nowhere with no facilities. It has become clear that there are many people looking for this kind of opportunity and that is partly where the idea for Nearly Wild Camping came from. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a network of locations offering a similar thing, and catering for a range of different definitions of wild, across the country? Most often the answer to that question is yes, so that’s what we are trying to create!

Here’s to a summer of sunny camping!

You may have noticed that we have been a bit quiet recently, don’t worry it is not that we have gone away it is because we have been really busy behind the scenes doing all kinds of exciting things. First and foremost, our trial has started! We have 12 wild corners of Wales and the borders and nearly 40 campers. Over the next few weeks there will be lots of people browsing through the profiles of the wonderful trial sites and deciding where they want to explore first.

I am really excited to start hearing how all of the camping trips go, but for the moment it’s a bit of a waiting game for me. We have asked all the participants to answer a couple of questions after each trip, so I am eagerly anticipating the first responses to those. I will definitely share some of the feedback on this blog.

In the meantime I am planning an excursion for the Nearly Wild Camping team, we are going to try and visit as many of the trial sites as we can in a couple of days road trip, to see how they match up to their profiles, get to know the site owners, get some feedback and have a great time! Having put all of the profiles together I know how amazing the sites are and I can’t wait to go and see them.

I want to try and do some case studies of different sites on this blog to give you all a flavour of what Nearly Wild Camping might actually be like! First up will be Underhill Farm, the birthplace and home of Nearly Wild Camping.

You may have noticed that we have also had a bit of a rearrange of the website and we will be putting some more content on their soon. More about that next week.

Also coming up in a future blog (I told you we’ve been busy) we have been doing lots of bigger picture thinking. It’s all very exciting, but I’m going to leave you in suspense until next time!