For Wayne Hall, having to leave his home of nine years caused a moment of inspiration, opening up an opportunity to do something for a worthwhile cause. From February this year, he has been camping wild in support of the charity Shelter.
You must have chatted to a lot of people over the past few months. How have they reacted when you tell them what you’re doing?
So far everybody we’ve met on our journey has been very positive and encouraging. Many are envious and several have told us how brave and courageous we’ve been – especially considering the cold spring that we had to endure.
Did you have any personal reason for wanting to help Shelter?
The trip became a reality for me when I lost my home of nine years following my landlord’s death. At the time, although my initial reaction was sheer panic I realised that I’m lucky to be able to find a new home and settle somewhere else. Others are not so lucky and that made choosing Shelter Scotland as our charity to support an easy decision to make. Since starting off we’ve not been able to fully replicate ‘a homeless way of life’ but we certainly had many tastes of it.
How important has your dog, Jerry, been in keeping your spirits up?
Jerry has been priceless and he’s had the time of his life on this trip with great freedom and new experiences at every turn. We have always been close but now after four months together, 24hrs a day, our bond has strengthened even further. We have both had tough times up here but we’ve got through all of them together. Alone this trip would have been immeasurably harder to undertake.
What have your best and worst experiences been so far?
It’s hard to work out exactly what the lows have been on this trip. I smile when I look back at all our experiences, no matter how tough they were at the time, because I’m proud that we managed to get through all of them and nothing has deterred us from finishing.
A few â€˜bad times’ have included being stuck on a Loch Morar island with painful toothache for three days due to the weather. On another occasion our tent was also flattened by a storm on Isle Martin and we were forced to seek cover for the night in a tiny leaky tin shed. I also had a violent stomach bug which ‘ruined me’ for two days over at Laikenbuie in the east. Oh and I also had some mild frostbite up at Glen Affric.
The good and memorable times have been plentiful too. We’ve stayed in many wonderful places, such as Isle Martin (Loch Broom) and Iona, and we just finished a four day stay out in the Treshnish Isles on the isle of Lunga. It was just us, 8 ornithologists and over ten thousand seabirds. I’ll also never forget the great generosity and kindness shown by the many landowners, trusts and campsites who have helped us so far, as well as all the supportive members of the public we’ve met along the way.
What’s been your most memorable wildlife sighting?
We’ve encountered nearly 110 species of birds and had close encounters with a sea otter and a herd of fallow deer on Mull, but the highlight for me has been our visit to Lunga and the four days we spent amongst the seabird colonies. That was very special.
Do you feel fitter and more self-reliant as a result of this experience?
I actually feel less fit now. I’ve lost a heap of weight, and with it a great deal of strength and energy, thanks to the coldest spring for 50 years and the coldest March for 100 years.
On the self reliance side of things though I’m proud to say that despite considering myself an ‘average at best’ camper I’ve managed much better than I expected. I’ve turned mini disasters into positives and camping in all weathers has fast become second nature.
Will normal day-to-day life feel dull when you go back to it?
I’ve given very little thought to how I’ll feel when I go back to my old life since setting off on February 24th. I’ve purposely avoided it so as to not take anything away from the experience of these six months.
I do know that going back to how it was before is going to be a necessity in the short term due to finances but things will have to change. I’ve found a certain freedom from this experience and I won’t surrender it. Life has been far more meaningful over these last four months.
What have you missed most?
Naturally I’ve missed the people close to me. That goes without saying. Materially I’ve missed the simple things, such as running water, a loo, a soak in a hot bath, a comfy chair and my bed, but I’ve wanted for little else.
Have you picked up any cunning techniques for making camping easier?
I’ve not picked up any new camping tricks that I can think of but I’ve certainly got better at everything we have to do. I’m more organised and confident than I ever thought I’d be. I like my bed as much as the next guy but our tent feels like home now.
Of all the places you’ve been on your trip, which would you most like to come back to?
There are a number of places that I will be going back to after our six months is up;
Isle Martin – Loch Broom
Isle of Lunga – Treshnish Isles
Loch Garten – RSPB Reserve
Laikenbuie – Hidden Glen
Isle Of Mull
Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin.
Although we’ve already been to many of the other places we visited on this trip these were all new places for me. Lunga and Isle Martin in particular were very special and I doubt anything ahead of us will rival them.