This Yorkshire fella’s YouTube channel Haze Outdoors has proved a hit in the last couple of years, with Paul Hayes himself leading you through the ways of wild camping, bushcraft and the like, in infotaining style – he’s even brewed a series of beers with Northern Monk! And still found time to chat to Carl Marsh.
How does someone get to become a wild camper and adventurer?
I’ve been interested since I was a kid, as I grew up in Whitby [North Yorkshire] – a beautiful little place with the sea on your doorstep, along with the moors and the woods, so it was hard not to grow up doing it. I just fell in love with it. And then the older I got, the more I did it.
As I became an adult, the more it tied into my mental health; it became more and more important to me to unwind and reset myself by doing these things. That’s how it transpired in later life. I’ve also been a landscaper working outside, but luckily I’ve been able to do this full-time. So yeah, I’m a full-time wild camper and adventurer!
When it comes to wild camping, what tips would you give to anybody that wants to get into it?
At the moment, they’re clamping down on wild camping in places like the Lake District and the Peak District. It’s hard; I’m juxtaposing, I don’t want to promote it too much, putting pressure on these wild spots. What I will say, for, advice is that you can find these campsites that are nearly wild – that’s what they call them. You can still have your fire pit, set up your tent [and] do all these essentially ‘wild’ things, but you are doing them legally. Then see if you get into it that way. [Try and] do it in the summer so that you’re not going to get put off by the cold!
And then there’s the potentially dangerous art of foraging – especially when it comes to mushrooms.
Well, it’s mushroom season, so I’ll go out and forage them. I’ll hack silver birch, for the liquid from the birch tree. It’s all seasonal, though, so I’d ask people just to get themselves a little calendar and do things seasonally. Everyone can start off by picking blackberries, and the fun lies in making something like a pie or a preserve.
But with mushrooms, don’t even risk it until you’ve got a base level of knowledge. They can just log you off completely in such terrible ways, mate, that you’re not going to get your password back. You’re just out of the game. But that’s why I’ve done so much, as I’ve even got a room in the house with all my mushrooms and books in. We call it The Fungerium!
These last 18 months have been the ideal time for you to reap any benefits – if that’s not too crazy a statement – of being confined to what’s in our local areas?
At first, it was a bit of a struggle. I made the conscious decision not to go wild camping because I knew that a lot of people were watching my [YouTube] channel (Haze Outdoors), and they were suffering from being locked down. So, I just thought that we’d do it all together. I went to live on a boat for the first bit of lockdown. Then when it started opening up, just to get back out there, it was amazing. It was actually quite emotional on my first wild camping as it had felt so big when I’d been back out into the Lake District; it felt so vast with the space and freedom.
words CARL MARSH
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