Two weeks alone, entirely cut off from civilisation and technology in the wilderness. A test not only of survival – building shelter and foraging, but a time for meditation. With no distractions, the isolation allows for the facing of repressed emotions and demons.
Klaus, founder of BlackVikings London spent 2 weeks cut off from civilisation, social media and the comforts that come with the home in Knoydart – dubbed “Britains Last Wilderness.” Below are exerts from the journal he kept during his time in the wild – documenting his trials, tribulations and reflections – looking over and facing events of the past that perhaps have not remained there.
I. Sleeping Bag & Sleeping mat
II. Tent / Tarp & Bungee cord
III. Catapult & ammo
IV. Paracord / String
V. Suitable shoes & Clothing
VI. Food & Water
VII. Camping Gas & MSR wood stove
VIII. Lantern & headlight
IX. First aid kit & toiletries
XI. Axe, knife & sharpening stone
How well do you know the area you are camping in? Do as much research as possible into your surroundings
Potential dangers and threats.
The weather patterns
Your way home / To safety
If you’re new to camping – talk to regular or avid outdoor enthusiasts for advice. If you have a friend who enjoys these pursuits invite them along too!
Lastly – always check camping is permitted in your chosen area!
Darren left, I accompanied him to the village, dried my clothes and shoes and headed back to camp. I reinforced the tent with a tarp, The pegs could not penetrate the earth, so I had to make use of rocks to hold the tarp down.
I lost my GoPro, I’ve had it for 4-5 years now at least. I was vex as I rarely lose things. The gopro was a gift from someone who believed in Black Vikings but thought the video quality could be improved. It has so much stored in there, all fond memories. It wasn’t the newest, it had a dent in it, the lens had scratches on it from the sandpit . That GoPro has been through the wars.
Got to let it go.
I woke up needing to relieve myself. As I headed out of the tent with my headlight on, the most marvellous sight befell me, the frost covered surfaces reflecting the light from my head lamp caused the landscape to be blazoned by what seemed like a million stars and to top it all above me a starry sky and just as I had begin to relieve myself.. a comet streaking through the velvet night, in an arc so brief, I’m not sure if it happened or if my mind imagined it.
Good weather. I had breakfast and bathed in the loch. The water is colder than I’m used to, my feet really struggled. I managed less than 10 minutes.
I went exploring the path North East to camp,
Easy enough to traverse in the daytime but I ran out of time and headed back. I’ll try again in a few days but I’ll set out much earlier.
Sunny day. Whilst eating breakfast, I noticed a photographer taking pictures of the loch, I don’t think he saw me though I climbed the mountain north to camp. No clear path, I had to follow the path carved out by the deer. The terrain is thick with oddly clumped grass that gives the appearance that one were traversing across the back of a thousand camels and not a mountain, the whole landscape is blanketed in this dead brown vegetation, that clings to your ankles and trips you up, not to mention rocks and boulders that are nestled so close together to give the illusion of solid ground whilst the ground lies at least a foot beneath. Zigzagging down the mountain there are also waterways and waterfalls that help to create swamp-like sections, in which some the water reaches lower shin level, at higher altitude there is very little vegetation, but thick snow and ice. The descent is harder than the ascent. There is a vast expanse beyond the mountain, forests and a loch. I suspect that the path to the North East of camp will eventually lead me to the plains below, I also suspect that the loch is actually Kinloch hourn.
“THE DESCENT IS HARDER THAN THE ASCENT.”
I will explore it in a day or two. I went into the village to purchase some whiskey for the cold nights.
Very windy and rainy. Hardly slept. The wind threatens to topple my tent, I’m having to support it from the inside with my arms. Some time in the middle of the night, the tarp flew off, luckily I was awake and retrieved it. Heavy wind and rain all day. Limited to my tent, partly to keep dry, partly to make sure it doesn’t blow away whilst I’m out on a walk. Sharpened and oiled my axe ( not a euphemism). Drank some whiskey. Ate a lot. Very bored.
Thinking a lot. Mainly about her. She does torment me so..
By your own hand, those you’ve wronged will end up tormenting you in some sort of divine retribution all the while completely unaware they’re doing so. I’m thinking Black Vikings and its future.Since there isn’t much to note down, I’ve been having very vivid dreams, almost like a series of mini movies with characters from my distant past and present. Not good or bad dreams, just strange. Sometimes in my dreams, even though I’m the titular character I’m not myself, and I realise this in the dream, with a sudden glance in the mirror or something to that effect. I acknowledge the fact and urge the other characters to believe that I’m somebody else, but my words fall on deaf ears, then some time around then… The next dream begins. I don’t know if it’s because my mind is yearning stimulation or perhaps a different reason.
I went to sleep at 4pm, it’s dark around then.
I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to face the new day, I checked the time and it’s 7pm still Tuesday. It’s going to be a long night.
A lot of disturbed sleep, I definitely dreamt but I can’t recall the details. The wind has abated but the rain persists. Once the sunrises, I’ll find some heavy rocks to place inside the tent and go on about my day. I need to sort out the tent too, the wind has knocked out the tautness.
No rain today, but all that rain yesterday has swollen the loch. Bathed in the loch, much easier than the first time. I went exploring the north east path towards Barrisdale again. At some point along the trail, at the 2nd waterfall, there is a rickety wooden bridge, I wanted to cross it but I thought about it and concluded that as I was at least 3 hours from the village by then and although I’d seen people nearer to the village, I’d seen none this far out. If anything were to happen to me, I would be stranded, unable to even call for help, as the only place that has reception in Knoydart is the community cabin next to the shop. So I searched for an alternative crossing and I think I may have found it. I’ll try again in a day or two.
“BY YOUR OWN HAND, THOSE YOU’VE WRONGED WILL END UP TORMENTING YOU.”
Ran out of water wipes so I trekked to the village, but the village shop had none, no toilet roll, no wet wipes, no tissues, nothing. Luckily at the pier where the ferry leaves from, there is a well stocked up toilet.
Woken up by gusts of wind which threaten to whisk the tent way. Also I have a visitor which throughout the night and generally most nights has persistently attempted to enter the tent, a deer mouse. Aside from him and the Heron that I see drying off on the buoy at sunup and sun down, I have seen no other wildlife at camp, although on my walks I have found a badger’s tooth and also droppings which differ from deer’s droppings.
Just woke up. Vivid dreams, also a bit dark.
Strong winds today.
I’m trying the path again today, Skipping breakfast and prepping a day pack. I’m not coming back until I’ve seen the end of that path. It has dawned on me that once I’ve seen this path to its end, I will have to find another source of mental and physical occupation afterwards.
Very happy. I found my GoPro in a bush not too far from my tent, where I go to relieve myself. If this GoPro could talk Pretty sure it would need counselling. All packed with my previsions. I weighed down each inside corner of the tent with medium sized rocks.
“BUT ALL GREAT AND TERRIBLE IDEAS ARE EVENTUALLY REASONED DOWN TO ONE CONCLUDING THOUGHT.”
As I suspected the path leads to the valley which I saw from the summit of the mountain behind camp, the path was ok. The bridge was sturdy enough. I contemplated trying an alternative crossing but in the end I thought fuck it.. stupid risk really. But all great and terrible ideas are eventually reasoned down to one concluding thought “fuck it”. I descended into the valley, far enough to scope the landscape. To the left there is loch hourn and a small forested area, to the right what seems like a vast expanse of nothing. I would love to go and explore it further but I feel a day will not be long enough, I would have to move camp. A further 2 to 3 hours from camp and camp is already just over an hour from the village and the ferry. I will explore this valley and the whole of Knoydart during the 3rd attempt ( 3 months)
I’ve noticed another path on the way to the village, through a forested area. I’ll check it out after tomorrow.
Woken up by strong gusts of wind, The strongest yet. If these continue I doubt the tent will last the night.I dread to see what awaits me in the morning.
I keep hearing loud banging which I believe are originating from the ruins behind my tent.
The roof of the structure has all but collapsed but there are still bits dangling perilously in the air at the mercy of the wind, which tonight is aggressively playful, like a toddler playing with a puppy. I think I’m a safe distance away. I’m going to try to sleep again.
The tent is still standing. Waiting for it to get a little brighter and then heading for my cold bath in the loch, I’d say in about 20-30 mins. This would make it my earliest bath yet and therefore the coldest. On a separate note the vow of silence has been tricky, I keep messing up. I didn’t realise how much I talk to myself ( not full on conversations) but I think by usually talking to myself, It always freaks my mother out. I’d say I’ve been 70% successful so far with the vow of silence but rapidly descending. At one point I had to go to the village shop and it couldn’t be avoided without me appearing like a dick.
I had strange dreams all night, one particular one, I was a woman who’d killed a man and I was summoned to a dinner at the family house of my victim by a holy man of some type, he urged me to admit my guilt to the family of the victim but I lied through my teeth, I squabbled with the victim’s mother and I stormed out, as I walked down the street I became the victim himself, a young man with a jumper soaked in blood, there was more but that’s all I remember.
Bath went well. Water definitely colder. I’m trying to warm up now with breakfast and then I’ll head to Inverie woods and explore the path there.
I went exploring the path that hugs the coastline to the west, but I didn’t cover as much as I would have wanted. My legs were aching from yesterday’s walk. I’ll have a 7 am bath tomorrow and rest for the rest of the day.
I had my 7 am bath and it was cold. Took me a while to warm up again, I ate some breakfast and then went back to bed. I fell asleep and woke up around 3pm, then I rushed frantically to collect water, eat and prep before it got too dark. I just about managed it.
As for my visitor of the rodent variety, there are actually 2 separate ones I’ve seen today, emerging from the same burrow, I’m guessing there’s probably more than that in there. They’re still trying to get into my tent. I must get rid of the rubbish tomorrow or Monday but the only waste bin is in the village, over an hour away. I’ll go tomorrow and do some more exploration of that side of the peninsula. Nothing much else to report. I keep messing up and talking to myself.
I’ve placed my sleeping bag inside a plastic bivvy, to help retain warmth, but a couple of days ago I noticed that the outside of the sleeping bag was soaked, the inside was still dry so it didn’t bother me too much but today while I was wondering why my feet just weren’t able to warm up, I noticed the inside of the sleeping bag , where my feet would be, is wet. I’ll have to try and dry it tomorrow but the days are so short and the weather so temperamental that I feel unsure about leaving the sleeping bag to dry and then going off on my walks. I’ll assess the situation tomorrow and make a decision.
“SOUND TOO HAD BEEN CONSUMED AND DISPATCHED DOWN THE GULLET OF OBLIVION.”
I wish I didn’t sleep in so late, very little chance of going to sleep now. The last few days the sky has been a moonless and starless void, just a famished darkness that seems to have swallowed the moon and the stars, and if it wasn’t for the waterfall by my tent and my little nightly visitors scurrying around trying to get at my supplies , I’d swear that sound too had been consumed and swiftly dispatched down the gullet of oblivion.
I cannot get to sleep, I’m wide awake.
My feet are cold and wet and there’s nothing to do.
Even the troublesome duo have gone to sleep,
I haven’t heard any ruffling of the tarp.
Why did I wake up so late!?
Woke up to urinate, the most amazing sky, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many stars.
My sleep has been very disturbed because of my cold wet feet, my aching right shoulder and the ground itself which tonight feels like a block of ice.
It’s so bloody cold. Everything is wet. I will have to go to the community cabin in the village to dry my sleeping bag and socks at least. I doubt I’ll get anymore sleep tonight.
No sleep out here means no refuge from your thoughts, I will need to address these when I return. I think that the punishing inner voice which lingers just behind my tongue, but just above my voicebox, has always tried to help me but in the city , it is easy to silence it. Why would one want to silence it? Because the truth hurts, especially the type of truths that threaten to topple lies upon which one’s whole life is built.
“BEING ALONE WITH NOTHING TO DO IS WHAT I’M STRUGGLING WITH.”
I took all my wet stuff to the community cabin in the village and I managed to dry most of it except for my towels, I then began making my way back to camp, over an hour away and the heavens opened up, I had no choice but to walk under the downpour, I was losing light. Luckily I got back to camp and everything is still dry except for the clothes I was wearing and my towels but I’ll deal with that in the morning.
The weather has definitely turned for the worse. It’s much colder than a few days ago.
My right hand since the crucifixion is next to useless in such conditions.
I’m finding being alone is not necessarily the hard part, being alone with nothing to do is what I’m struggling with.
Rain all night, the outside of my sleeping bag is wet again. I realise now that the rain is just seeping through the tent in drips and by the morning everything is wet. Hopefully it will be a dry day and I can dry some stuff outside. Only 3 days to go now anyway.
Limited to the tent, as it is raining very heavy now and I don’t want to have to worry about drying things off again, I’ll give it an hour and then I’ll have to go and collect water for breakfast, lunch and evening time.
It briefly stopped raining and I hurried to the loch to get enough water to last me today.
I arranged the corner of the tarp in such a way to store any rain water ( just in case I ran out in the middle of the night. I ate breakfast and lunch one after another because who knows when this rain will stop. To ensure I don’t fall asleep I won’t go in the sleeping bag and I’ve removed some items of clothing, not enough to feel cold but enough to keep me awake.
There is a mountain adjacent to the tent, I refer to as sleeping crocc because, well I’m guessing you can figure out why.I’m curious as to what lies beyond it, I’ll try tomorrow.
I’ve been up for an hour or so, dreams so bizarre, I wouldn’t know where to begin to describe them. The wind seems to have calmed down and I haven’t heard any rain in the last hour. Maybe I can dry my towel in preparation for tomorrow’s cold bath. Anyway just waiting for sunrise and then the day can begin.
I decided to have my cold bath today and climb sleeping crocc tomorrow. I went to the village to drop rubbish off, I didn’t see anyone. Tomorrow I will begin packing and then the last hike and then Thursday I leave.
“I WAS VISITED BY GHOSTS OF MY PAST IN MY DREAMS. WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?”
My aching right shoulder woke me up, aside from that, good sleep. I was visited by ghosts from the past in my dreams, where does the time go? And yet I wonder who’s really alone?
The man “alone”in the wilderness or the man who feels “alone” amongst people in the city.
Too early for this kind of talk, I’ll see if I get some more shut eye before sunrise.
Whilst waiting on sunrise, my mind drifted to thoughts of meditation and how when next in the loch I should try to control my breathing and go elsewhere inward, this inadvertently reminded me of one of the powerful video I have ever seen, this clip which surprisingly can be found on YouTube, depicts a monk by the name of Thích Quảng Đức circa 1963 Vietnam as he prepares to commit the ultimate sacrifice by self immolation, what amazed me was not only the sacrifice but the fact that the monk seated cross legged never once screamed or flailed about… He did not move a muscle, nor was any sound uttered. He simply sat there until his body was consumed by the flames. Where did his mind go? Can this level of transcendence be achieved by people who consider meditation an activity rather than a lifelong pursuit in its own right? That being said I’m going for one last bath in the loch and I will try to control my breathing and ignore the wind, rain and cold or maybe not ignore but accept that I can do nothing to alter the outside conditions.
The cold Bath yesterday went much better than the others even though the conditions were abysmal, the rain propelled by the strong winds crashed into me like bullets.
I decided to pack yesterday afternoon and make my way to the village to spend some time with the locals ( they invited me to share a pizza with them). With dusk falling fast I hastened to pack, all the while wrestling with the wind and contending with the rain. I was sure my bag would be lighter than when I first set out some 2 weeks prior but I was wrong, although I’d consumed all the food I brought along with me, it would seem that what I lost in food I gained in Knoydart artefacts ( deer antlers, rocks, wooden staff etc). With light fading fast , I began walking, after about half and hour or so I was in more or less darkness. With my headlamp was spent, I resorted to a lantern which did little to illuminate the path, I almost shuffled into a cow, the giant mass completely invisible to me until it was at arm’s length, me and the cow were equally startled.
“SHE HAD THOUGHT THAT I’D BE THE FIRST TO LEAVE.”
The walk which should’ve lasted a little over an hour, lasted 2 hours and some 40 odd minutes. I had missed pizza with the locals, I went to the community cabin and set up for the night. By the time morning came, my legs were aching but no more than usual and I was very tired, I had some time to spare until I had to make my way to the ferry so I laid in my sleeping bag catching up on social media, it must’ve been around then that I fell asleep and woke up hours later to see my ferry leave Inverie without me..
I called Western Isle cruises, the company which operates the ferry and proceeded to explain my predicament, the lady on the phone instantly responded with < oh it’s you?, I’ve been thinking about you, how have you been? Are you ok?>, We chatted for a while and she added that she worried when Darren had returned Prematurely and was concerned that I was out there alone, she booked me in for a new time slot…and went on to confide in me that out of the two of us, she had thought that I’d be the first to leave, a sentiment which was strangely also echoed in the village
Thank you for reading.
A guide to your first endeavour into camping.
SURVIVE THE WINTER WILDERNESS
In Sub Zero Conditions: Survive The Night