Featured image: Budget Backpacking: 100 Miles on £125. Photo of Exmoor Cliffs, north Devon

Budget Backpacking: 100 miles on £125

Join me as I plan a budget backpacking hike on the South West Coast Path for an average of 1.25p per mile!

Is it even possible? It certainly won’t be easy. The £125 isn’t just spending money, it also includes travel, maps, food and any accommodation (everything I need to purchase specifically for this trip). I reported last week that my remaining budget had already dwindled to £79.50, so let’s find out the state of play this week!

Planning A Budget Backpacking Hike, Part 2

All articles in the series:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3 (final report on the actual costs)

This Easter’s budget hike from Plymouth to Dawlish will bring me 100 miles closer to completing the 630 mile national trail, and I’m excited! I’m also nervous. But it’s not the backpacking I’m worried about: it’s the budget. And there’s no denying this is a tight budget.

A quick check of what I’ve bought so far includes, maps, guides, train travel and a budget for ferry crossings (there are 5 on this section). My goal for this week was to work out exactly how long I’ll be backpacking each day and where, if anywhere, I can wild camp. This is the thing that’s making me most anxious to be honest. I read somewhere that it’s not easy to find discreet places to pitch up on this section of trail. And that means using campsites, which we all know means parting with cash…

Campsites  – The Budget Breaker?

Budget Backpacking: View from a tarp that show feet and a cooking stove with a view of a campsite hedge! Bude, 2017.

An unexpected serious allergy and foul weather forced me to bivi at a campsite during one so-called summer! (See below for the campsite details)

Sometimes there’s just nowhere discreet to pitch up along the coast path and a campsite is the only option. There are steep cliffs, field boundaries, livestock and narrow tracks to pass by, as well as sprawling towns. It’s best to identify these places on the map first and then look for campsites that are as close to the path as possible.

This is where my guide book* came in useful. It lists a couple of ‘wild camping fields’, which aren’t marked on the map. A wild camping field is where the land owner opens a field to hikers, for a fee (around £10 in this case), and provides a tap and not much else. I reckon I need a campsite on at least 2 occasions, maybe three. It’s not the height of the season so I plan to just turn up or call ahead on the same day, once I’ve got a feel for the landscape.

Campsite costs vary depending on the season, but they average around £10 – £15. I’ve earmarked £20 for two nights, which is a sizeable chunk from my budget. And if I have to stay at a 3rd site I may have to dip into the contingency budget… Campsites can definitely be a budget breaker, so spend plenty of time scrutinising your map and plan carefully.

Bude Campsite Details

If you need a campsite close to the South West Coast Path near Bude I can recommend the one in the photo above. It wasn’t especially cheap (£10 a night for a walker (no car, no dog) in 2017), but the facilities were great and the pitch was level! It had the added bonus of being very close to the path and a short walk from the town centre. Upper Lynstone Camping and Caravan Site, Bude, Cornwall.

The Budget Backpacking Hike: My Spend So Far

So far I’ve spent (or budgeted for):

  • Return train travel £22.25
  • Ferry crossings (budgeted) £10
  • Map: £8.50
  • Tide table: £2.75
  • Guide book: £2.00
  • Meths (stove fuel): £2.75
  • Campsites (budgeted): £20.00
  • Groceries (budgeted): £25.00

The Totals So Far:

  • Budget: £125.00 (excluding £25 contingency)
  • Total spent/budgeted so far £93.25 
  • Remaining £31.75 = £3.96 per day for coffee and cake stops (or cider on a nice warm day)!

The £25.00 contingency is for extra campsite/travel costs. It all feels very close to the bone – but that’s probably because I have a cafe addiction I find hard to break! I tell myself cafes are good morale boosters when it’s raining and excellent places for recharging my phone. And so they are, but it’s also, definitely, without a doubt about a decent cappuccino!

My next post will cover the gear I plan to take, and there are some big holes in my kit list… I know I need new waterproofs, but they’re going to have to wait and I’m just going to have to get wet! (I’m considering swapping a walking pole for a brolly.) I also need a new backpacking rucksack, but that’s going to have to wait too. These are all big investment items that I can’t afford right now (I’ve just bought new trail shoes), but I’m not going to let that stop me getting out there for a budget hike.

Join me next time to find out what I’ll be packing in my ancient, heavy rucksack and what else I might need to add to the kit. (And keep your fingers crossed I don’t have to spend anything else!) Until then here are a few tips you might find useful for planning your own budget hike:

A Few Tips For Budget Backpacking

Plan Your Route For Accommodation

Keeping a tight reign on a budget backpacking trip is all in the planning. The fewer surprises and unexpected expenses you have on the way the easier it is to keep within your spending limits. Travel and accommodation costs are likely to be your biggest expense (see last week’s report for travel tips) and to keep those down you need to do your research. I’ve managed to keep my accommodation costs down on most of my hikes by wild camping (which is something I love anyway), but sometimes a campsite is a necessity.

When you're planning your route look for campsites or hostels very close to the path. A campsite 3 miles off your route is a surprisingly long way after a full day's hike!

It might be your only option though, so check out public transport, because the cost of a taxi won’t be cheap – even for a short distance. Another option for budget backpacking is to include the walk to the campsite in your daily mileage and not incur any transport costs at all.

It’s worth checking any booking policies with campsites and hostels too, because some insist on multi night stays during the summer season. Some pubs allow hikers to camp the night in the pub garden if you eat your evening  meal there, but this might work out more expensive than a campsite! Remember, it’s all in the planning…

Join Me For More Tips On Budget Backpacking

I’ll share some ideas on hiking equipment and food for the trail in my next post, so don’t forget to pop back over!

Share Your Camping and Accommodation Tips

Do you camp or stay in hostels when you’re backpacking? Maybe you’ve stayed somewhere you’d recommend? Let us know below! We look forward to hearing your tips too.

Happy hiking

Stephie x

PS About Affiliate Links To Amazon UK

If you plan to head over to Amazon to buy something why not support 10 Mile Hike and make your purchases through the affiliate links (indicated with an *) in the article? I’ll receive a few pennies to help maintain this site and it won’t cost you a thing. Thanks for the love!  Find out more here.

No Comments

Join the conversation - or start one!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.