Ya Skins Waterproof – Inaugural Veterans Wild Camp 10 Mar 18

Saturday morning arrives and the alarm clock goes off at 0430 me, not so much. At the time, a few beers with the wife the night before seemed like a brilliant idea. I drag myself out of my pit, wipe the sleep grit from my eyes and attempt to get my life in short order. 0515 me, and a coffee, are in in the wagon and on route to The Kilburn White Horse, grid reference SE516813, from Oxfordshire that’s just a mere 200mile drive.

4hours later, just outside Thirsk, I spot a road sign warning me of a 25% incline and to stay in low gear. I get a boyish buzz of excitement as the road twist, turns, winds and hairpins around a rockface of epic proportions. I realise I am nearly here and after hours of time spent getting to know each other on social media I am finally going to meet Rich and Chris of Ya Skins Waterproof in person.

A short burst of handshaking and a round of introductions follows, Rich and Chris, Ady the Woodsman who owns Woodland Experiences, Side Show Duane, and Ben, the camera man, from Blue Vantage; Who sports a beard that would not be out of place in Viking feast hall.

Our tab covers a circular route of 10miles across some of the most beautiful parts of the North York Moors, well, I am assured they would be, if we could see them! Sadly, as ever the weather is not in our favour, the mist and rain stop Ben flying his drone to cover our route march. Visibility is down to approx. 10mtrs in the hazy drizzle. Instead of the drone Ben carries a camera rig that is man portable, by man portable what I really mean is, it has two handles and it looks like it weighs 12 stone!

Our walk starts with an absolutely horrendous climb up the side of the White Horse. Everyone is puffing and huffing by the time we get to the top. When we reach the top, we are on the edge of the Yorkshire Glider Club’s airfield. Their members throw themselves off the edge of this hill with wild abandon, thankfully mostly in gliders.

Aerial view is credit to Trip advisor

Before you know it, the blokes are soon going arse over tit in the mud and getting stuck up to their knees in the snow drifts left over from the Beast from the East a week before. Conversations are quickly struck up, soldier style and within minutes of getting over the climb the banter and the insults are flying thick and fast. Chris, Side Show Duane and Rich already know each other. The rest of us only met less than an hour ago. Despite being from different backgrounds and Regiments the communal webs of our Army service soon thread and weave themselves together. A few miles in and any strangers walking past could be forgiven for thinking we have all known each other for years. This is the epitome of what it means to be a Veteran and a member of the Veterans Network.

About 7 miles in covered in mud and sludge, not a man among us has landed on our backside less than twice at this point, we reach the banks of Lake Gormire. (See Ya skins branded Photo) Still in high spirits we set out to tab up Sutton Bank, each man at his own pace, roughly 2000m up a 25% incline. About 2/3 of the way up this 298m high beast we reach the footpath that will take us back to our Ya Skins Waterproof Wild Camping spot. This is the point that Ben begins to deeply regret his choice of camera rig!

Once we have got our breath back we begin a gentle stroll over the last mile back into Kilburn Woods. Ady like a man possessed flies into action setting up his/our harbour area for the night. Side Show Duane unpacks his tent it looks like, well it can only be described as having the appearance of a deflated airship whilst Chris and Rich struggle to follow the seemingly Chinese instructions on their tent. Me, well I have a 2-man tent, but I also have a bivvy bag and once I see the portable camp fire set up under Ady’s adapted parachute I know where I am sleeping.

Harbour area is credit to Woodland Experiences

The beers and Bison grass vodka begin to flow (cheers Ady) and we soon tuck into a one pot wonder of duck and venison by the fire whilst camped out under a parachute. Dits are spun late into the night. With the Army community being small, it’s not long before some characters, mutually known to some of the group are discovered. As well as the infamous ‘Yellow Peril’ Richie’s old Yellow MR2; Rumour has it the ‘Yellow Peril’ was even known to the Stasi. I haven’t laughed and relaxed like this for far, far too long. A quick glance around the camp fire and it is self-evident that everyone has had an equally amazing day.

Sadly, all to quickly morning is upon us, and after multiple rounds of bacon and egg banjos, rustled up by Ben and myself it’s time to break camp. 24hrs of hiking and wild camping, where I heard more ‘Ayes’ than a Naval Commander, was not nearly long enough and with a mixture of happiness and a feeling of slight melancholy it is time for the long drive home.

In synopsis 6 Veterans who did not know each other came together, pitched in, tabbed and played together in an environment familiar to us all. What made the Ya Skins Waterproof original Veterans networking event work so well is the familiarity of common bonds and shared experiences, we talked, we drank, we ate, we laughed, I think Ben may even have cried at one point walking up Suttons Bank.

Veterans are foreshadowed for having been involved and subjected to ignoble human acts. I caveat that we are ultimately trained to take the life of our enemies before they can take ours in a war fighting environment. All whilst working in the worst possible situations in the most dreadful conditions and circumstances any job could throw at you. However, no one trains us how to return to CivDiv. Despite this historically we are also the proudest of people and have a culture of manliness, keep things to ourselves all while bottling up our emotions. I know I do and that will be the subject of a future blog.

Only a Veteran can truly understand another Veteran. As such events like these where we can talk freely, without being judged, in an atmosphere we understand, are one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. We need to be the help that comes to others because nobody else is coming to help us.

Written by Marc Woods

Credits on photos to Yaskins and Blue Vantage.


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