How do I know where it’s OK to camp?

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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,007
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Berlin
@Duggie Bravo

There is a huge difference between personal possessions and land.

Would I find here in the darkness somebody between car, tractor and house, he could be glad if I only call the police and do not attack him immediatly with knife, axe or fork and call police and ambulance afterwards.

Would I find someone tomorrow morning on our medow I would drink a cup of tea with him and gift him a few eggs.
 
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Wander

Settler
Jan 6, 2017
717
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Here There & Everywhere
This is a very interesting topic - camping on someone's land with/without permission.

I own some land. Not much - just 5 acres. It's a mix of mostly meadow with a small (about an acre) area of open woodland.
What would I do if I saw someone camping on it?

Hmm...that's a difficult one. There are a lot of 'depends' and caveats tied up in that response, as you would imagine.
If it was someone like myself (whatever that may be) who was being discreet, subdued colours, tucked away, using a camping stove...well, I'd turn a blind eye, pretend I hadn't seen anything, and leave them alone. I can understand where that comes from. If they were all the above but had a fire, I'd approach them, say they can carry on, but please do not take any more wood. If they had brought their own wood then I'd let them carry on with the fire, so long as it wasn't a massive inferno and I could see they had made effort to control the fire. I'd make it clear that any trace must be completely cleaned up when they move on.
If it was a family or someone in a tent, making no attempt to hide but being careful and just wanted to camp out for the night? Then I think I would approach them and let them know they have my permission and point out all the above.
If it was someone with a massive fire, or acting like an idiot? Well, I think you know what I would do. They'd be moved on.
If someone asked me permission before actually camping there?
They'd get twenty questions, but just so I could gauge what sort of person they are (though the fact that they've made the effort to find out who owns the land and actually asked me would also weigh heavily in their favour), and so long as they abided by some rules (be discreet, no fire, no bright colours, no noise) I'd be happy for them to camp there for one night.
If they asked for regular permission to camp there, I'd say no, but let them know they could ask any time they wanted to and I'd make a decision based on several factors.

I let a farmer graze his cattle in the field, and if it was during a time when the cattle were present I'd say no, out of respect to the farmer who owns the cattle.
If I started getting too many requests because it was known that I'm likely to say 'yes' then I'd start saying 'no' no matter what.

I'd be very interested to know how other land owners here would act in similar cases.
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,007
1,178
Berlin
Cows which have children are the reason for most deadly accidents of farmers. The cow tends to kill the own farmer!
A foreign person disturbing there is always in Danger.

I absolutely have no fear of them. I never got any problems whith known or unknown cows.
But I know that they are the most dangerous animals in Europe, theoretically.

They usually are very nice.
But obviously they are relatively big.
If they get fear or become angry they can become extremely dangerous.
 

Duggie Bravo

Nomad
Jul 27, 2013
479
102
Dewsbury
@Duggie Bravo

There is a huge difference between personal possessions and land.

Would I find here in the darkness somebody between car, tractor and house, he could be glad if I only call the police and do not attack him immediatly with knife, axe or fork and call police and ambulance afterwards.

Would I find someone tomorrow morning on our medow I would drink a cup of tea with him and gift him a few eggs.

Is that because you potentially share the same interests?
We have a local Farm, where the sons came through scouts and they were more than happy to show the current crop of scouts how they make sausages and then let us camp in a copse of trees, build a fire and then cook the sausages.
And then to run a survival type camp in the same area.
He would not be so welcoming if he found a bunch a 11 - 16 year olds camping in the same place without his knowing.
We don’t know what the background story is, if the land is being treated or left to fallow.
If you ask they can say “yes, yes but not there please, or no”
The land is theirs it is their possession in the UK we only have a right to roam, not a right to camp where we want.


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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,007
1,178
Berlin
Because I share the same interests and because it is tradition to hike and wild camp in Germany. It is one of our best traditions and surely the best education young people can get.

If people would come by car, play music, make other noise and throw beer cans around that's of course something else.
Those I would hunt away of course.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,088
4,435
Mid Wales
I am in the same position as Wander. There area number of problems with allowing people to overnight on your land and it is difficult to balance the arguments. I remember we had a long thread about this some ten or so years ago.

My woodland is managed for conservation. It is not trimmed back to make it safe; there are leaning trees, standing deadwood, hanging dead branches. I have made the rides safe(ish) but off those is pretty wild. I leave dead wood on the floor and off the ground to provide as much habitat variation as possible; that dead wood that a stranger decides to light a fire with I was leaving for invertebrates. I take craft materials out of the wood; that hazel stick that a stranger decides to cut was earmarked for a specific project. That piece of ground that a stranger has now trampled where they camped was where Moschatel was just starting to come in to leaf.

The reality, whether we like it or not, is the majority of people will not be well trained and will not know enough about a piece of land to know what can and cannot be done in keeping with the owners plans or strategy.

So, if one or two people asked me if they could camp in the wood for one or two nights my inclination would be to say no. If, by their demeanour, they softened my attitude I would hold them in long conversation about where they had been, where they were going, what experience they had and ascertain their general approach to wild camping - especially in the woods. If they got past that I would give them a copy of the notice that I have at the entrances to the wood which details what they can and cannot do and I would show them exactly where they could camp. However, the real problem is that I have now given someone permission to go off the 'safe' tracks and have accepted a liability - that is dangerous.
 

slowworm

Native
May 8, 2008
1,330
342
Devon
However, the real problem is that I have now given someone permission to go off the 'safe' tracks and have accepted a liability - that is dangerous.
That's one of my main concerns and I've often thought if more rights to roam are granted in the UK then the Government should indemnify land owners. Can't see it happening at all but something for the wild campers to lobby for?

The people I've found so far I've advised they shouldn't be there but don't send them on their ways. No idea if that helps with any liability.
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,730
785
Canada
Do you have to be insured in order to let someone camp on your land. I mean if people are on your property with you permission and they hurt themselves, is the landowner technically liable.

Re. all this, I am a mass tresspass sort of person and think the land belongs to us all, simply by dint of being born. It's just that over time people have figured out a legal system that lets them lay claim and keep people off. I remember coming back from a kayak trip when me and my brother had found signs all over the place saying we couldn't put in anywhere on the river - did anyway though, obviously. Got home boiling, and that's when my grandad told me about Kinder Scout. Been that way about it ever since.
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
Do you have to be insured in order to let someone camp on your land. I mean if people are on your property with you permission and they hurt themselves, is the landowner technically liable.

Re. all this, I am a mass tresspass sort of person and think the land belongs to us all, simply by dint of being born. It's just that over time people have figured out a legal system that lets them lay claim and keep people off. I remember coming back from a kayak trip when me and my brother had found signs all over the place saying we couldn't put in anywhere on the river - did anyway though, obviously. Got home boiling, and that's when my grandad told me about Kinder Scout. Been that way about it ever since.

You have to be insured for trespassers wandering through your land let alone anyone with permission.

On your second point we'll have to agree to disagree. I spend a great deal of time looking after the woodland for conservation sake - I believe that gives me a right to make sure that anyone 'using' it has the right attitude and decide who has access. Having witnessed what idiots with no care for the land or wildlife can do in a short space of time over the last few months you will not change my mind on this :)
 

Wander

Settler
Jan 6, 2017
717
891
Here There & Everywhere
Trespass is a funny old law.
It's a civil offence, not criminal (though armed trespass IS a criminal offence).
Since it is a civil offence it is up to the offended party (not the Police or judiciary) to bring a case against you. To do so, they would need your name and address. Under civil law you are not required to give your name and address to anyone, including the Police. Of course, if they can prove you have committed some kind of damage (you have a pile of freshly cut logs and there's a nearby tree with freshly cut off limb, for example) whilst on private land, or you've lit a fire (arson), then you could also find yourself with a criminal prosecution under those circumstances as well.
 

Wander

Settler
Jan 6, 2017
717
891
Here There & Everywhere
I spend a great deal of time looking after the woodland for conservation sake - I believe that gives me a right to make sure that anyone 'using' it has the right attitude and decide who has access. Having witnessed what idiots with no care for the land or wildlife can do in a short space of time over the last few months you will not change my mind on this :)

Hear hear!
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,730
785
Canada
You have to be insured for trespassers wandering through your land let alone anyone with permission.

On your second point we'll have to agree to disagree. I spend a great deal of time looking after the woodland for conservation sake - I believe that gives me a right to make sure that anyone 'using' it has the right attitude and decide who has access. Having witnessed what idiots with no care for the land or wildlife can do in a short space of time over the last few months you will not change my mind on this :)
Not trying to change your mind Broch, and I agree that there are lots of people aren't that well-educated in the outdoors.

It is odd that, too. Apart from living in a mining town which - like most industrial towns - was basically in the countryside, kind of 'Kes' style, I went on loads of these outdoors classes when I was younger ... every couple of weeks, it felt like. Sometimes a week, sometimes two days, sometimes ten. All paid for by the local council and I got onto them through school. There was one of the teachers used to keep pointing them out to me, or letting my parents know.

I assumed everyone did them. But, there's the problem. They didn't. I am not sure how people find out now ... I mean Ray Mears isn't even on the telly any more.

Looking back now, it seems perhaps there was some kind of consistent attempt to copy northern European attitudes towards nature and access to it, but it failed.
 
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cipherdias

Settler
Jan 1, 2014
508
219
Wales
Tricky one this is but to add my advice to it if you follow the rule of set up late, camp away from footpaths, break camp early and leave no trace of you having been there you should be fine.

I have been wild camping for best part of 35 years and only once been spoken to by a landowner and a fiver quickly changing hands with nothing further said and a comment of “sleep well”

Your mileage can and possibly will vary of course


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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,088
4,435
Mid Wales
It's a civil offence, not criminal (though armed trespass IS a criminal offence).

Although slightly off topic, it may be worth pointing out to people reading this that trespassing onto someone's land with an air rifle (although not a firearm) is classified as armed trespass and is treated as a very serious criminal offence.
 

Laurentius

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Aug 13, 2009
2,038
322
Knowhere
I think there is some kind of psychological effect going on here. We all probably rate ourselves highly as being responsible and sensitive to the environment when we hike or camp, but would not rate others so highly if we had a piece of land we wished to protect from misuse. WRT open access there is a world away from an open grouse moor or national forest and a farmers cornfield. I don't own any land, I just occupy it and technically of course the owner is liable if a tree falls on me. It is very much a laissez faire situation as it is Council land and they do not mind me being there so long as I act responsibly. On the other hand if I saw anyone else on there who did not have any excuse to be there I would see them off the land in no uncertain terms..
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,088
4,435
Mid Wales
Is there a website or a book that lists where I can pitch a tent for the night? I’ve heard stories of disgruntled land owners turfing people out for pitching in their fields and woods.

Is there a definitive way to know that you’re allowed to camp somewhere?

Paul Kirtley's article on the subject of land to walk and practice on is worth a read if you're starting from scratch.

 
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Herman30

Settler
Aug 30, 2015
874
573
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Finland
Even though we (in Finland) can freely walk and camp where ever we want (with some restrictions), we are not allowed to make fire without landowners permission. Even if permission to make fire has been given we do not have right to take firewood off trees or fell trees, only firewood allowed is that what can be found on the ground unless permission from owner. Also not allowed to cut branches or trees for bushcrafting (need permission from owner for that).

 
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Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,730
785
Canada
You have to buy wood or bring it in with you in the Parks here ... can't just go round grubbing up tinder and dead wood. But as always there's the law and the scofflaws ... which is most people ... except if there's a Ranger about.
 

SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
772
472
Ceredigion
Don't forget that there are plenty of things you can practise without staying the night or setting up a full camp, over an extended tea break for instance.
 

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