Wild Camping in the UK
Q. Is there anywhere that my son and I can roam and pitch a tent freely in the open air, or does the law prohibit this?
Andrew Pettey, Wolverhampton
A. See Wild Camping (left)
A. The legal situation is different in Scotland than it is in England and Wales.
In England and Wales, there is no legal right to camp wild and, strictly speaking, permission should be sought. This is, however, impractical.
However, in high mountain areas, and in most other hill land, wild camping is generally accepted above the intake walls, providing it is for a limited time and its fairly discreet - out of sight of houses/farms.
There's always a slim chance that you'd be asked to move on, though its never happened to me.
In the Peak District, wild camping is discouraged in some areas and banned completely if the moors are very dry.
The best areas in England and Wales are probably the Lake District and Snowdonia - and you're likely to meet several other wild campers - and very little chance of any hassle.
In Scotland, the current access legislation - just come into effect (early 2005) - is explicit about people's right to camp wild on hill land - usually more than 100 metres away from a public road - although you'd want to be much further away than that!
Check out the Mar Estate near Braemar - they actually seem to encourage wild camping.
Mike Knipe, Crook
A. I've been 'wild' camping for over 40 years, in fact before anyone had given it a name, I was just camping 'out'. Yes technically I have been trespassing but I have found the key to it is location and behaviour. Choose a site on Public Access Land, ie. Forestry Commission or National Parks. Not privately owned land. Pick an isolated spot where you are unlikely to attract attention. Treat the area with respect. Do not damage the site. Leave no trace of your stay. Most importantly, if you must light a fire, keep it small and under control and use only dead wood. Don't cut down any living trees. In the morning make sure the fire is out and cold, pour water on it if in doubt, scatter the ashes and cover the fire site in leaves or pine needles to hide it. Leave the site as you found it. If you follow your common sense you could have as many years of pleasure as I've had.
Jeremy Manning, Blackwood
A. Six years ago I found myself street homeless...through no fault of my own,,,honest! The police were aware of my situation and told me that I was at liberty to pitch a tent in nearby woods. They even visited a few times and gave me a flask of soup and some sandwiches! I don't know if they were 'bending' the law...or if there actually is a right to camp on public land?
A. There is an organisation that connects potential wild campers with land owners so you may camp with permission for a small fee. www.nearlywildcamping.org
Lee Barton, Runcorn
A. It's not as simple as Dartmoor allows camping everywhere, You can google and find a map( or follow this link :) (http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/43909/vi-camping_map_309.pdf) which designates the areas on Dartmoor you are allowed to wild camp on. You can't camp everywhere but there are plenty of 'purple areas' to choose from where camping is allowed on the understanding that you follow all the common 'rules of camping'. there are also other ares that you you can camp if you have asked permission fromt the particular farmer or landowner and other ares that you cannot camp on at all. Also with Dartmoor you should always check the firing range scheduels as this would override any permission or right to camp.
Martin Preston, Plymouth
A. In the 2000 CROW Act for England and Wales camping was one of the excluded activities so any answers suggesting that the landowner's permission must always be obtained are the answers to be trusted. Some areas have their own special restrictions on wild camping so for example, wild camping in the Peak District National Park is not allowed unless the landowner's permission is obtained and this is invariably refused.
Alan Francis, Sheffield
A. The exception to the rule in England is Dartmoor.
The right to wild camping is actually enshrined in the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act, 1949 amendment Dartmoor Commons Act, 1985.
Article 6 states:
(1) No person shall knowingly use any vehicle, including a caravan or any structure other than a tent for the purpose of camping on the access land or land set out for the use or parking of vehicles except on any area which may be set apart and indicated by notice as a place where such camping is permitted.
(2) No person shall knowingly erect a tent on the access land for the purpose of camping:
(a) in any area listed in Schedule 2 to these byelaws;
(b) within 100 metres of any public road or in any enclosure.
(3) No person shall camp in a tent on the same site on the access land for more than two consecutive nights, except on any area which may be set apart and indicated by notice as a place where such camping is permitted.
Basically put, you can camp anywhere as long as you are compliant with the above.
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