One day last spring I happened upon an article about hammock camping. Thanks, Pinterest. Basically, hammock camping is meant to be amazing. Much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. Less complicated than a tent. And just more fun in general.
After perusing several more articles and websites, I was sold on the idea. I’ve been camping now a few times, usually in pods, but I don’t usually sleep super well. Hammocks could solve that problem, although I wasn’t sure how practical it would be in England, where there don’t seem to be too many trees.
When we came home from our camping trip last summer, I was desperate to spend more time outdoors. I started poking around the internet, and a google search for ‘where can you camp in a hammock in England’ led me to Lakes Hammock Camping.
The Perfect Introduction to Camping in a Hammock
This company offers a great way to try hammock camping – without investing in a bunch of kit. They have several hammock pitches at the National Trust Campsite at Low Wray, and provide almost everything you need to camp, including:
- A rain fly (already set up)
- A hammock (that you hang onto carabiners that are already in place
- A billy can to cook with over the fire
- A mug, bowl, sharp knife, cutting board and cutlery
- Steel and flint, plus cotton wool, to start a fire
- A little kettle
I made plans to go with my sister-in-law. We arrived with about two hours of sunlight left in the day, so we bought firewood from the camp store, hung our hammocks (which took about two seconds), got our bedding ready to go, and started a fire. We had a pretty easy going evening cooking dinner, eating, and then climbing into our hammocks to read for a while before going to bed.
The next morning, I boiled water on my Trangia camp stove for tea. We didn’t want to start another fire, and while they had a gas cooker, we didn’t want to buy fuel for that. We already had the camp stove from our previous camping trips, so I threw it into the car just for breakfast. After that we tidied up the site, packed the hammocks away, moved the car out of a bay for an RV we knew would be arriving, and took the rest of the morning to walk to Wray Castle, and then to the Outgate Inn for lunch.
So how was sleeping in a hammock?
This was the question of the day when we got back. While I didn’t come back raving about the best night of sleep I’ve ever had, I am totally sold on sleeping in a hammock.
Firstly, it was really cosy. I had read a lot that sleeping in a hammock can be really cold. Partly because you have air moving all around you, unlike in a tent, and partly because you compact your bedding when you lay on it, which makes it not very effective at insulating you from the cold. Knowing this, I took two sleeping bags and layered one underneath my hammock (between the hammock and the mosquito net that I didn’t use). Between this, the insulating pads that are provided, and the sleeping bag I slept in, I was really toasty.
Secondly, it was definitely more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. Nothing is digging into your back, and the gentle sway is really lovely. Plus, it doesn’t get stuffy the way a tent can do.
That said, I did find that I roused several times in the night. I don’t think this has to do with the hammock; rather, I think that it’s normal to do this when you are in an unfamiliar environment. Plus, while the hammock and the rain fly felt quite safe, it’s still a more vulnerable place than I normally sleep.
I also found that I slipped throughout the course of the night. I wasn’t ever uncomfortable, but I think that I could work on my ‘art of hammocking’. Basically, with a bit of practice, I’ll figure out the best way to actually lay in the hammock to get the most comfort out of it.
I’m so glad I had the opportunity to try something new, especially after having an interest in it for so many months. I really can’t wait to go again, and hopefully take more friends along with me. The site would be so fun for a group of friends for a weekend away together.
And of course, having even a 24 hour excursion into nature has given me even more excitement to get outside – again – and share it with my children.