Reflecting on BAM & Plans For 2024

Reflecting on BAM

I feel like I’ve come a long way this year, in the context of (wild)camping and spending time outdoors.

Bivvy a Month (and some new kit) has changed my perspective on the seasons, the weather and location. For the first time I camped outside Summer and I’ve now wild camped in a tent, a bivvy or under a tarp at least once each month throughout the year. I’ve been out in weather so warm I barely needed a sleeping bag and weather so cold I needed two. I wild camped in Wales and stayed in a bothy for the first time.

I wild camped 800m (in a straight line) away from my house in Kent several times, in a field flanked by towns, but that could have been anywhere.

In tandem with (and because of) BAM I picked up some new pieces of kit that made going out in cold and/or wet weather not only bearable but perfectly enjoyable – and gained a new outlook on being outdoors in the rain.

I no longer feel like I have to wait for a ‘big adventure’ once a year – it doesn’t have to be far away, or for weeks at a time to be a good time.

I would say that taking part in BAM has been a genuinely life changing experience and I’m very glad I’ve done it.

That said, I don’t plan to continue with it into 2024.

While on the whole it’s been a very positive experience, there have been some downsides for me:

  • I’m too much of a goody two shoes to feel as comfortable as I’d like to to wild camp locally. It’s not even the fear of getting found, it’s more just an internal moral thing.
  • Making time to head out for a night per month via bike doesn’t sound all that hard on paper, but this year has proved that sometimes it can be difficult and, at times, stressful.
  • While going out is better than not going out, I got tired of defaulting to a spot that was so close it didn’t really feel worth it because of a lack of time to plan/do anything more and a lack of bike accessible places I felt comfortable wild camping.
  • I have a strong desire to avoid travelling via train with a bike, and my wife and I share a car, so I have limited options to travel somewhere and except for a few specific trips, found myself starting from my front door for most of my BAMs. This massively limits my options for interesting routes and available spots to sleep.
  • I found that limiting myself to wild camping via bike prevented me from doing other things. Like backpacking (much easier to get the train with just a backpack), or credit card-packing on a road bike, or any other variation of an overnighter/short trip.

What I do plan to do though is to continue with a variation of BAM that I’ve lazily dubbed BAM+.

Plans for 2024

“BAM+” – a version of BAM that keeps the essence of doing something each month, but opens it up to other forms of transport (walking) and accommodation (campsites, maybe even a Premier Inn). The plus is nothing more than wanting a name to use to refer to it, being used to “BAM” and being lazy, not a suggestion that it’s better, in fact it’s now actually inaccurate as the “B” is now misleading.

I’ve got some specific trips planned already:

  • A 2 night Peak District backpacking trip in January.
  • A route through Wales starting in Chepstow and finishing in Conwy.
  • An attempt at doing the South Downs Way in a day in the summer – I’ll be going down to Winchester the night before, making this slightly more than a day ride.
  • Riding the North Downs Way over a long weekend.
  • Riding the Cantii Way over a weekend

I’m also planning to try and book a place on the BB200 event in October.

For the months where I don’t have anything specific planned I’ll see what I feel like doing/can make time for and if nothing else, I’ll walk to my ‘regular’ spot 800m away.