Wild Camping for Armchair Survivalists
Q. I have enjoyed surfing your website. A group of us are 'armchair survivalists' (I know the worst kind) and would like to get our feet wet. What is the best way and what are rules/laws regarding 'wild camping' in the UK. I know in other questions covered topics like trespass and rights of way, but what about things like fires and the such like.
Please don't flame me, I'm just a 'wild camping' virgin who does not want to upset anyone on my first attempt, but would like as bear a basics experience as I can.
Rob Bacon, Nottingham
A. So, The Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Roads (Scotland) Act 1994 provide similar legislation for fires (principally smoke coming from...).
There is very little land that is not cultivated from the land owners point of view, as cultivated also means "for the breeding of game (grouse,etc..)"
The principles of the new 'SCOTTISH OUTDOOR ACCESS CODE' will be responsibility of the visitor to the wilderness to ensure it remains that way ' wilderness ', remember a fire will destroy the ground vegetation which will take many years to recover (if ever) and litters the land with an eyesore.
Colin J. Dickson
A. There aren't really any rules, but there's a few things you can do to avoid any confrontations or unpleasantness.
If you're away up in the hills its often a good idea to be a bit discrete about it. This means putting up the tent late and leaving early, and using sites which are not within sight of any inhabited buildings. Most people have left the hills by about 5:00 pm and the crowds don't re-appear till after 10:00 am, so 'late' and 'early' are relative terms.
There are many places where wild camping is accepted you won't be challenged or disturbed especially high in the Lake District Hills or North Wales. In the Highlands, wild camping is well accepted in many places but there are places to avoid eg round Loch Ossian or in Glen Muick. I've never had a problem high up in a Scottish Glen, for instance.
If you're near a house or at lower levels, its a good idea to ask permission. A request to camp for a night will more often be accepted than not, given a reasonable approach.
The main problem in wild camping at low levels in my experience is finding a decent clean water supply - not usually a problem in the hills. I wouldn't recommend lighting fires though. It makes a bad mess of your pans and it may draw unwanted attention to your camp, apart from the fact that it takes a lot of effort to keep a fire going.
Personally, I'd much rather spend the time reading, listening to the radio or partaking in a little malt whisky. In the mountains theres often nothing burnable anyway. Its much easier to use a camping stove and they are very light to carry.
The only other thing is, to put not too fine a point on it, the disposal of your er.. 'poo'. You've got to dig a hole, well away from water supplies, burn any toilet paper and fill the hole in again. (Some of the popular places for wild camping are not very nice if you poke around in the grass or undergrowth too much - you have been warned).
And (I've noted the survivalist thing) - please don't eat the sheep, the birdlife or the wild flowers. Its not big or clever and you will be prosecuted. Curry and rice followed by cake and custard tastes much much better than dandelions, nettles and raw sheep a la burnt wool (I would expect).
Happy wild camping. You should do it.
Mike Knipe, Crook
A. Please don't light fires, however small, in caves - the heat and smoke will rise and can often be fatal for the resident bat population (and other inhabitants).
Plan Kee, Derby
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