Dartmoor: Progress, but what's next?

Why the Dartmoor wild camping case has set alarms bells ringing

19 January 2023 

Since at least the year 1900, people have wild camped on Dartmoor, creating treasured memories and experiencing nature first hand. This vast expanse of land has long been the only place in England where you could still camp without permission from the landowner. On Dartmoor, you could feel truly free.   

On Friday 13 January, the legal right to camp on Dartmoor was scrapped. Six days later, an agreement was reached to enable people to continue wild camping in parts of Dartmoor through a permissive agreement. It’s progress, but it isn’t good enough.  

Because our access rights have been reduced to permissive rights, it allows landowners the freedom to withdraw or attach conditions to this permission in the future. The legal right to wild camp on Dartmoor should be fully re-established. 


Why this issue is important to the Ramblers 

This is about more than just the right to camp on Dartmoor. The whole case was an alarming attack on our freedom of access and shows how easily rights and freedoms can be eroded. Ordinary people should be able to explore nature without constraint and without fear of trespassing. 

For almost 90 years the Ramblers have fought for everyone’s right to connect with the land we all live on. To walk and explore freely.  

The Ramblers believe the outdoors is for everyone and that we should be opening the way for more people to enjoy it – not going backwards.   

We want to see more land opened up for the public to enjoy. Right now, we only have the freedom to roam across about 8% of land. Everywhere else, we must not stray from the path or designated areas. Our Freedom to Roam campaign is calling for change.  


We’re fighting for a greater freedom to roam 

The Ramblers is not going to sit back. On Dartmoor, we will work alongside partners and support the National Park Authority to fully re-establish the legal right to wild camp. 

We will also continue discussions with members of parliament to make sure political pressure continues to be applied.  

This case is a timely and stark reminder of why it’s so important that we continue to defend and expand our freedom to roam


We’re campaigning to expand the freedom to roam

We are campaigning to expand the freedom to roam. It is one of the biggest things we can do to increase access to the outdoors for everyone.

A group of people walking together down a path between trees

Expand the freedom to roam

Help us to expand the freedom to roam. It is one of the biggest things we can do to increase access to the outdoors for everyone.


Freedom to roam - What we think

The freedom to roam should be extended so that it is more equally accessible and better connected to our footpath network, as well as our towns and cities.