Q. Hi I'm James. My brother and I were hoping to go what I think might be called "wild camping" for a few days together. What I mean is like in bear grylls man vs wild, where he catches his own food, finds his own water, builds his own accommodation etc. anyway, we were struggling to find anywhere in the UK that clearly isn't protected, where we may use branches off live trees, have free fires and fish in the rivers. Is there any chance you could tell me of certain places which aren't so protected by the law which is a forest by a land of water? Thanks a lot, James.
A. Hi James. I'm Jez. I've been wild camping for over 40 years. I'm certainly not trying to burst your bubble, far from it, but forget the 'Bear Grylls' idea! That's just television nonsense. In the UK we are far to 'bogged down' in rules and regulations to make that adventure possible! Catching your own food, whether it be game or fish will leave you liable to a prosecution for poaching (unless you have appropriate licenses and permissions) and cutting down wild trees will be criminal damage. However don't be put off! You can still have great fun out in the countryside! Just get yourself a cheap tent and some basic gear, take enough food with you, some warm and waterproof clothes and find a secluded spot away from people and enjoy! Remember to respect the site you choose and leave it like you found it! It may not be Bear Grylls, more Ray Mears, but an adventure it its own right.
Jeremy Manning, Blackwood
A. Wild Camping and The Law in England, Scotland and Wales.
Tents cannot be pitched just anywhere because every piece of Britain is owned by some individual or some organisation and according to the strict letter of the law permission must be obtained prior to pitching tent and camping.
In practice however, this is often impractical and wild camping is usually tolerated in the more remote areas - typically, more than half a day's walk from an official campsite or other accommodation providing you:
- Keep groups small
- Camp as unobtrusively as possible
- Leave camp as you found it
- Remove all litter (even other people's)
- Carry out everything you carried in
- Carry out tampons and sanitary towels (burying them doesn't work as animals dig them up again)
- Choose a dry pitch rather than digging drainage ditches around a tent or moving boulders
- Toilet duties should be performed 30m (100ft) from water and the results buried using a trowel
- At all time, help preserve the environment
- And if you are in any doubt about what you're doing, find out more
In Scotland, the current access legislation (which came into effect in early 2005) is explicit about your right to wild camp on hill land. However, there are exceptions. Since March 2011 you are not permitted to wild camp between Dryman and Rowardennan on the shore of Loch Lomond. See Loch Lomond Wild Camping Ban for more information.
There appears to be an exception to this with respect to camping in Dartmoor National Park where the right to wild camping is actually enshrined in the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act, 1949 amendment Dartmoor Commons Act, 1985 - see Wild Camping in the UK for more details.
For the definitive answer with respect to wild camping in Scotland see the answer supplied by the Scottish Natural Heritage
For a few (tongue in cheek) tips on wild camping see Some Wild Camping Tips.
NB. go4awalk.com cannot offer any advice on suitable locations for wild camping - but click here for walks from exisiting campsites.
Hope this helps