(header photo credit: Cornwall Live)

Being able to join the remarkable team of people behind The Big Canopy Campout’s historic inaugural event – and the 150 people at over 40 locations around the world - was an honour! And, though in aid of a very serious cause, a lot of fun.

For John and Olly, organisers behind the international event, all the persuading, promotion and planning was over, so the only thing left for me to do was embark on a weekend of adventure, and enjoy contributing to a very worthwhile project 

This year, the cause was the World Land Trust campaign to save five critically threatened wildlife corridors along the Kinabatangan River in North East Borneo. What has a Borneo Pygmy Elephant on the Kinabatangan River ever done for me, you ask? I think it’s like the penny in your pocket. On its own, that penny won’t get you much, but it’s currency and a globally connected system, so without that tiny part, the rest doesn’t function for very long.

The corridors are in danger of being shut off, the trees removed and replaced with oil palms. There isn’t another way around for the wildlife, they are cut off from viable habitat they need.

Our eventual destination was the Eden Project Rainforest Biome, to help suspend a variety of canopy camping contraptions in a truly spectacular location. Not satisfied with that, John and Olly had planned an overnight stop at an undisclosed location on Dartmoor. It was a good hike to our spot; we earned that night’s camp in an area of truly outstanding beauty, topped off with a big bowl of Olly’s Bolognese. The trees, rocks and river were teeming with life, and John’s Connect tree tent hovered half over the water, using trees on a small island and the bank for anchors.

(photo credit: WorldLandTrust / Nina Seale)

We slept like babies, and after pancakes and coffee, we packed up for the hike out. I took a good last look around, and could hardly see signs that we had camped out there. That’s a really warm and fuzzy feeling, exactly why Tentsile is a proud partner of Leave No Trace.

On to my first visit to the Eden Project, and what a magical way to see it! Meeting the team, staying ‘after hours’, finding a mermaid Stingray and T-Mini already set up in the Rainforest Biome - the latter in the highest point possible in the dome structure itself, where Jaime the rope access supervisor was to spend the night - was really special. Working on rope in high humidity in the hottest part of the dome, he really earned his Tentsile Tribe badge of honour too.

(photo credit: WorldLandTrust / Nina Seale)

The event had gathered a motley crew of canopy scientists and climbers, all with a passion for rainforest ecology. It was a very pleasant format for what felt like the coolest little canopy science conference ever. I made some great connections I’m looking forward to following up, and heard some fascinating conversations about the future, and hilarious anecdotes from years gone by. All in a day’s work for Tentsile.

(photo credit: WorldLandTrust / Nina Seale)

As Olly worked up in the Biome to rig the variety of beds for the night, John was excitedly joining the dots on the map around the World, as all the TBCC events were able to share their experience online - 42 campout locations were registered on their handy online map, proving to all the amazing things that are possible when nature and technology meet. The crew wound down eventually, knowing there was another early start with the sunrise and packing down all over again...

The weekend had it all: adventure, exertion and the meeting of kindred spirits. I’m counting the days for my next (little) Big Canopy Campout! And in our own little way, all 150 of us that took part in this event around the globe made our contribution to #BecomeOneOfTheMillion. We hope that next year you can join us too!


Syd Howells