Wild camping


Camping is booming in the UK with many of us turning our backs on holidays abroad for an outdoors adventure closer to home.

When we were young the only downside to camping was the hours spent trying to erect a tent in a gale. But things have moved on and tents basically sort themselves out so what could be more liberating and joyful than a camping holiday? A few nights spent under the stars with just the crackle of the campfire and the hoot of an owl for company.

And then we get to a campsite where more often than not the dream never quite fits the reality. Although intrinsically friendly places, campsites involve other campers - lots of them in some places.

But there is another form of camping that really is about getting back to nature. Wild camping – as opposed to ‘mild’ camping, the term given to mainstream camping by wild campers – is growing in popularity. Not only is it cheap as chips, it makes for an eco-friendly holiday.

But where is it allowed? In England and Wales you generally need the permission of the landowner. Otherwise, technically, you are trespassing. Though most landowners if asked politely will not be opposed to the idea, providing you leave the field as you found it.

But there are some places, like Dartmoor National Park, where wild camping is allowed and even encouraged. If you know of more places like this, please share them in the comments section below.

If you're keen to make arrangements before setting out, National Park Authorities may be able to advise you on where to go. In summer it's best to avoid high risk fire areas such as the North York Moors.

Thanks to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 the situation in Scotland is very different. Here wild camping is legal (don’t cheer too loudly or you may wake the wildlife). You just have to stay away from dwellings and roads.

As in all cases when visiting the countryside you should respect the environment you’re in by following Countryside Code (in England and Wales) and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Key points for wild campers from the Countryside Code:

  • Consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors
  • Leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths unless wider access is available
  • Leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home
  • Plan ahead and be prepared
  • Follow advice and local signs

Key points for wild campers from the Scottish Outdoor Access Code:

  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Respect people's privacy and peace of mind
  • Care for the environment

Do you know somewhere in England and Wales where you can go wild camping? If so, share them in the comments sections below.