Hi, I’m Chris Waldron, I’m a Mountain Leader. I take people out on expeditions, wild camping, teach mountain skills like navigation and I make ultralight wild camping gear.
I’ve been wild camping for nearly 30 years and have spent hundreds of days in the mountains. I’ve recently merged OookWorks and WildFire Expeditions so here’s a history on how we got to this point.
I found myself hiking the mountains in the Lake District because I wanted to get fit and lose weight. I soon realised, like lots of people, that being in the mountains relieved the stress of running a business. I started spending more and more time in the Lakes, the Peak District, Snowdonia and the Highlands of Scotland.
I encourage anyone who’s ‘had enough’ to get into the outdoors, away from it all, and touch base with the REAL person inside. That’s why I run seasonal retreats like the Black Sail Hut Retreat.
23 years ago I had a stroke, a cerebral haemorrhage, I was 23 years old. Nobody told me that part of your brain dies so for the last two decades I was under the impression that I could live a normal life. I pushed myself to achieve what normal people do. Actually, I didn’t want to do what normal people do, I wanted to do special things. I pushed on, to achieve.
A few years ago I was diagnosed with M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, brought on by trauma damn it. During the last 20 years, I’ve had some pretty awful shit to deal with. Maybe I’ll talk about that when I see you. I spend lots of time in the mountains and the wild to escape the stress that trying to ‘live an extraordinary life’ brings.
In the mountains I have time to meditate, time to clear my head. Being with people on the fells shows me that we all have something to deal with. Some say they’re there just for the views, maybe they are, who am I to argue but for me, it’s what keeps me from having another stroke, a nervous breakdown or worse. It’s all good.
I’ve been married to Teresa for 15 years and have kids who cuddle me when I get home. Charlie is autistic, bringing him up has been very hard work but he’s the funniest person I know and he’s really taught me to understand the complications a ‘messed up’ world can bring for people, a reflection of my own struggles.
Playtime consists of hiking in the Lake District, walking the Wainwrights, wild camping in extreme places or just hanging out in the woods round a camp fire.
After spending so long in the mountains I thought I should get the Mountain Leader accreditation. I did the training in 2017 and qualified the following year.
I made it a personal goal to be amazing at navigation so I also got the NNAS Navigation Gold Award. I can teach you all you need to know to get around the mountains of the Lake District safely and confidently, take you on a guided walk around the mines around Snowdon or take you out in the Scottish Highlands on a wild camping expedition.
I’ve completed the 214 Wainwrights as well and have hundreds of ‘Mountain Days’ logged so, you know, I’ve been around!
Sean Clayton started OookWorks about ten years ago. He sold ultralight wild camping gear and soon built a great reputation for making hand-made inners for tarp-tents, selling around the world. Wild campers used his OookNests on every continent, even Antarctica!
After illness brought production to a halt he put the business up for sale.
I’d been developing ultralight tarps since qualifying as a Mountain Leader. I had been using an MLD Trailstar with an OookWorks nest for a few years and one day looked on the OookWorks website, finding a message from Sean asking if anyone wanted to buy his designs. I emailed him straight away.
I acquired OookWorks in the summer of 2020 and have now merged the two businesses. I love the unique, quirky ‘OookWorks’ name.
As well as continuing to take customers on expeditions, teaching mountain skills and running retreats, I now offer a range of ultralight wild camping gear.
My wild camping pack consistently weighs under 5kg and I’m currently developing a range of super-ultralight tarp-tents.