Over the next few weeks I want to look at the principles of “Leave No Trace” which, if you don’t already know, is a set of seven principles or tenants that “should” guide our behaviours and impacts both in and on the wild places we go to recreate. To find out about the principles of LNT you should spend some time over at LNT.org or LNT Ireland.
I haven’t found a UK specific LNT site but I know the Wilderness Foundation offer LNT courses to learn or polish the skills for successfully leaving no trace.

When I talk about leaving no trace or following the countryside code, I like to think I’m both knowledgeable and well versed in the practices needed to “leave nothing but footprints” but what I want to do the coming posts is think about each of the seven principles in turn and explain what we do, as a  family, to try our best to meet these best practices, be honest about whether or not we meet them and talk about how we can improve.

dig a cathole 1

Today I’ll quickly highlight the 7 Tenants of LNT and make a few notes for each before diving a bit deeper over a few weeks. So here we go;

Plan Ahead and Prepare. 

I suppose because we have the kids with us we usually over prepare. On a long hike I usually plan to find a camp about 10 miles along the trail but have options for both earlier and later. I’ll research things like water sources, public conveniences, shops, emergency exits before hand and generally carry emergency food.  We’ll usually carry clothes for most weathers even if the forecast is great and stable. Even day hikes include trowels, maps and extra layers.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Its not often we leave a trail but we have come across some non-durable surfaces in the past. I know we should follow the shin deep mud and not widen the track into the surrounding vegetation but sometimes we have to, if only to keep the kids feet dry. Most camp sites class as durable but I suppose on some occasions we have wildcamped at the first decent location and maybe not been as switched on as possible. Now I’m not saying we’ve squashed some unsuspecting threatened species, I just saying that at 9pm with tired and hungry kids, its not always the first thing on my mind

Dispose of Waste Properly

We carry a trowel for digging catholes, and I suppose they could be deeper but again, sometimes kids don’t give you much warning. General waste we’re super tight on and we pack everything out, I’ll have a separate dry bag on the outside of my pack for rubbish and the kids have a dedicated “Bin Pocket” for their own snack related trash. When we find a public bin we empty out and start again. We could pay more notice to splitting up recyclables I suppose but I feel we do our best.

Leave What You Find

Other than Lil’s tendency to carry some interesting stones for nearly 100 miles, we’re pretty good at just looking. We have found a few hats and gloves along various trails and if we can’t spot an owner, we get a new hat!

Minimize Campfire Impacts 

We don’t have campfires! Nothing against it, the opportunity just hasn’t arisen.

Respect Wildlife

Goes without saying. Livestock too. On the West Highland Way, coming down Conic Hill, we were delayed by 15 minutes because of a lizard sat on Hazels pack. Personally, I’m a bit rude to frogs.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

I like to think we are. We make sure the kids are polite to other trail users, it’s usually us making way for other to come through and we try to make sure we’re quiet campers. We chat as we’re hiking and the kids play games that usually involve high pitched shrieking but that’s ok right? Right? Anyway we don’t rock the bluetooth speakers while hiking that’s for sure.

So over the few weeks I’ll get into the weeds on each of these and hopefully by the end of it I’ll have worked out how we can improve, planned some new systems and next season there’ll only be this blog as evidence we ever go anywhere. (Hang on isn’t that…….)