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Advice on Lighting Fires

Having a campfire to sit round and tell tall tales whilst you toast marshmallows makes any microadventure more magical. But, perhaps more than for anything else in the world of microadventures, the rules of common sense and courtesy apply about where it is appropriate to have a fire. It’s also important to note that lighting fires when wild camping is not legal.
  • Do not light a fire where there is a risk of it spreading ‘“ peat moors, corn fields, dry forests and petrol station forecourts are all pretty obvious examples. Whenever you light a fire you must be certain that you will be able to extinguish it at any time. Never light a fire on private land without permission where it could cause offence or be an eyesore. As a general rule, only light fires in places where nobody is likely to come by until all trace of it has grown out. Always keep your fire small.
  • Don’t hack down live wood. It doesn’t burn well, for starters. But it’s also not good environmental practise. Light fires away from tree roots as flames can damage them for a long time. Gather dead, standing twigs (ie still caught and hanging off the ground) – not only does it burn better, it hasn’t yet become an important part of the ground ecosystem.
  • If possible, dig a hole before lighting a fire. This will help keep it out of the wind and contain the fire. Replacing the earth and turf in the morning (once the fire is absolutely extinguished) also helps prevent ugly scorch marks and minimises the visual impact of the fire. If you cannot dig a hole then ring your fireplace with large stones to keep it contained. Never use soft, hollow or wet rocks as they could explode. If the ground is particularly wet (or on snow) lay a base of green logs to keep the fire off the wet ground until it is established.

Please, please be courteous, careful and leave absolutely no trace when you depart the next morning. Here are a few more tips on courteous wild camping.

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Comments

  1. Eddy Hope Posted

    Alistair, love what you’re doing and find it really inspiring. Can I just mention that when wild camping open fires are not allowed (full stop). Your article doesn’t differentiate and could come across as permission to light fires anywhere.

    Reply
  2. michael sutherland Posted

    Alastair hello to you sir and I am loving your information. I have a question. Imagine a worst case scenario and you are forced to live in the woods as there is an epidemic loose in the city or the aliens have landed and you want to hide. What tips do you have for survival ie what to eat, how to keep warm and how to keep clean ( ish ) In other words a long term stay in the woods.

    Reply
  3. We’re so governed by fear when it comes to fire in Britain. In Sweden, no-one goes wild camping without a fire. It’s an intrinsic part of the experience. Attitudes like the one above are part of the reason so few people venture into the hills.

    Reply
  4. Ian clegg Posted

    Folks, not being rude but if you need advice for starting a fire then listen to me before asking these experts. Please I beg of you. What they say is surely golden but if you truly need their instruction then believe me, fire is just not the thing for you. When you need to cross the road please walk to the traffic light and press the button. I don’t actually understand that one either but if you really do need help setting a fire then best also you use the crossings and wear a plastic hat to ride your bike and allsorts.

    Reply

 
 

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