In essence, if you camp at this time of year, you have pretty much the place to yourself - whether up in the Highlands, the Lakes, the Yorkshire Dales, well, pretty much anywhere.
A few years ago I camped at the little site opposite the Wasdale Inn - there I was in a little one man tent, no one else around, sitting outside while my boil-in-the-bag warmed up in my Billy can. The next minute a fella shouted "Don't you know it's February, you must be bloody mad mate".
Well, here I am again, still slightly mad, putting in a main base camp for a weeks filming.
I am sure you will all agree that we have been in winter for the past 18 months, with the ground all over the country brimming at field capacity, absolutely soaking wet. As I puffed and panted my way across a sodden field pushing all my kit, my mind just for a second took me back to that fella at Wasdale.
However, after a muddy while I was in the woods, which seemed to be dry - remember a mature Oak can sup 50 gallons of water a day - and laid my kit out ready to set up. I had camped at this place many times before, on some occasions for a month or more while teaching students in the fine art of camping and woodcraft.
This is my kit laid out, from right to left: 10 litre water container, collapsible chair with integral table, brew box, Maxpedition 3-in-1 Load Out Duffle, Helsport 12-14 Lavvu, stove bag, tech bag, BCB cot bed, small grip with spare clothes, Carp Barrow in the background.
The approximate weight of all this is around 180kg - hard to believe, but I weighed everything before I left - no wonder I had a sweat on pushing it across half a mile of clag.
Here I am raking the camp area of small sticks, taking care not to disturb the bed of Spruce needles that will give me a little insulation. The rake is a permanent feature within camp - if I don't have one, I use a 1.5 metre stick with a slight bend in it to do the same job.
The Lavvu ready for roughly pegging down - the current wind direction is from left to right, so the door is on the opposite side to the wind.
After the Lavvu is pegged, I sort out the crown - ensuring there will be no tangled adjusting lines - then place in the pole.
Once the pole is in, it is important to zip up the door before the final tensioning. If this is not done, the door will not close correctly, putting excess tension on the zip which may break it.
Here the Lavvu is fully pitched - note the rakings from clearing the site have been placed around the snow valance for insulation, ensuring no drafts. Particular attention should be made while doing this not to block up the clean air vent, especially when a stove or other heat source is being used inside the Lavvu. Also, the bottom and middle guy lines are being used - for this size of tent this is paramount to support the single pole in high winds.
A cott bed is a real advantage in a fixed camp. Here I am putting the finishing touches on a BCB version, which I have found to be the best.
The Carp Barrow shown previously is now being used to haul firewood into camp. The green bag on the barrow is the stove bag. Where possible, everything has got to have more than one use.
Another good tip around camp is to have a central area where all tools are stored. In a woodland I call this a tools tree. It normally contains the rake, spade, Carp Barrow, saws, splitting axe, wooden hammers (called beetles) and any other tool that is needed in camp. Once an item has been used, it must be returned to the tools tree - this saves walking all over the place looking for (and sometimes misplacing) tools.
Here is the inside of the Lavvu set up. The stove is lit with the water boiler on and small kindling under the stove. The cott bed is in with a self-inflating mat and a down sleeping bag on top. The chair is in, along with all the other gear that I need to hand.
For further info and a look around site in more detail see the "Winter Camp Video Diary" on our YouTube channel.