Wild camping in the UK

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Jun 9, 2012
Great post Ged.

As for the the request for a portable fire my suggestion would be the Grilliput fire bowl. When it is collapsed you can carry tinder inside, I usually have mine tucked into the top of my rucksack, it's very light.

I found this link but am sure with a bit moresearching you can find one cheaper:-

It's also a pretty cool design.


Full Member
Jul 30, 2012
Wimborne, Dorset
Enjoyed reading this thread a lot.... Common sense is a must for this activity. Full of fun but stay out of site!

I'm hoping to pop down to Dartmoor in a few weeks to camp in the designated area(s). You shouldn't need a camp fire at this time of year... A stove set off the ground should suffice. Sleeping roll and bivi + a few essentials including food and water, then I just use my trusty trangia burner with nato crusader cup. Lightweight and quick to put down or pack up to move on... Awesome! goodjob
Jul 14, 2013
I wild camp all the time, actually off this week pos Thursday Morn. Going to west coast of Scotland, Loch Etive, a sea loch full of wild seals, otters, mink, Wild dear, the list is endless, and the views and peace and tranquillity are second to none ! I motor up the sea loch, find a spot and then moor up and camp, very rarely anyone around ! no roads or paths totally wild ! well for the uk anyway lol
Mar 15, 2011
on the heather
Wild camping is great, I love it, I've only ever been to one official campsite in the UK and that was on Skye when my pals were rock up in the Cuillins and apart from the pub I hated it:yuck:.
Scotland is great for wild camping. why would I want to stay on a campsite when I have places like this for free.
Loch Morar Bay

Loch Oich, there is an official free camp spot halfway down Loch Oich on the east bank for the Great Glen walkers and the canoe crowd but the view from the North end is infinitely better but it can be hell for midges.

Loch Fleet on the East coast is another great spot but hell for Ticks, the last time I was there I got about 15 ticks and around 40 Cleg bites but well worth it.

A couple of clicks south of Loch Fleet in the sand dunes, same day as above but just with a wee bit o sea haar drifting in and a top spot for sea fishing and a fire at night.

Loch Lochy on the Great Glen the night after a storm and myself and Netfrog "hey Bro:)" and had a great time.

Another one of my favorite campsites on the Great Glen high above loch Ness.

The Moray Coastal Way and just one of the many camp spots along the beach.

and I would want to pay to stay on an official campsite because?....
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Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
May 12, 2005
South Marches
I would be wary about those strange creatures coming out of the lake though, strange looking beasties ;) Which lake was this one in the photo, I have a daughter up in Cumbria who is getting into camping, so she might like to find this spot for future trips.:D

Some nice locations there.

In the lake district


chimpy leon

Full Member
Jul 29, 2013
The picture was taken at Haweswater reservoir.

The strange beasties coming out the water are old larch roots I think. Would make good burning but are completely umovable and I only had a SAK farmer with me at the time.

Its a brilliant spot if a little "used" as people who have stayed before odviously havn't heard of "leave no trace".


New Member
Jul 3, 2013
United Kingdom
I am a jammy git as I have Dartmoor on my doorstep. A funny thing did happen a few years back though.

Me and my mum and her bloke were camping on the south side of the cross-Moor road very near the Warren House Inn, according to a publication from the DNPA it was permitted to camp there. We'd pitched in a little hollow, brewed up on a stove (too dry and peaty for fires), when a Tranny-van full of revellers from London turned up, we were out of sight of them as they pitched a great big frame tent and got the tinnies out, lit the BBQ and turned on a boombox issuing horrid metallic screeches and groans. We were just debating whether or not to pack up and go when a Ranger Landie turned up with two Rangers in it, and told the revellers to take a hike. Much profanity and 'gorblimey' followed, but finally they went their merry way when threatened with the summoning of Mr. Rozzer (it only just occurred to me, they may have been meeting someone leaving Her Maj's free hotel at Princtown).

I gave the Rangers a cheery wave and offered them a brew, but by this time they were somewhat overwrought, and got in a strop with us too. Insisted that the area was a 'no camping' spot, and one if them, the younger one who sounded close to tears by this point, said "You're sleeping on our best heather, you are." I showed them the publication that I'd collected from their own place at the Princetown museum a few days before, and the younger one did a sort of facepalm thing and wailed that he kept telling them to stop giving the thing out.

I did point out that we were acting on reliance on their own publication, that we were in a little gully, invisible from the road, and not on any of their best heather (which by the way they had tramped across to get to us), and by the way would they like a brew? The younger bloke calmed down a bit and after reminding us to leave no litter, they went off and left us to it.


Nov 7, 2013
High Melton, Doncaster
Really good post Ged. Hmm here's a thought, i wonder if it would be possible to maybe set up a "wild camping association" of some sort. you know like work with landowners and get permission to use their land as a wildcamping location for members of the association. Ohhh thoughts thoughts thoughts. so set up this association. charge a membership fee, have a code of practise that needs to be followed. land owners agree to allow wild camping on their land by members alsong as the members follow this code of practise, you know leave no trace and all that. the membership fee going to insurence for the association. get permissions of land owners and place them on a llist somewhere for members. you want to use a wild campsite you post up that your using that site on this date, and if you leave it a mess cause damage so on so forth the associations insurence can pay for it. and youd get your membership revoked for not following code of practise. and if you dont post up that your using the campsite then your not covered by the association and then liable to prosection. ok im gunna stop now lol idea's idea's but its an intriguing thought.


Sep 22, 2014
Playing the newbie card, I have a basic question. What personal insurance is commonplace in the UK for wild camping? Rocking up without anything is clearly as stupid as it is careless so I want to make sure I have appropriate cover to assist in winning permission to camp out in the corner of Mr Landowners wood. What would you advise as a min coverage?
Jan 15, 2015
Wild Camping in the UK

The ‘Holy Grail’ of nights spent in the outdoors and possibly the subject that has raised most questions in all my years of working in outdoor education and adventure training.

My earliest memories of camping in the ‘sticks’ without the home comforts would be as a young 7 year old boy scout spending overnighters in the Pennines - summer and winter, hail, snow or shine, as soon as one venture ended we were planning the next and under the mentorship of excellent seasoned leaders and my fellow peers, this young boys desire to constantly run away from home and seek adventure was channelled in the right direction, the wild camping bug was well and truly established in my system from that day on.

What is Wild Camping?

In the UK, the term ‘wild camping’ is commonly used to describe camping in wild country far away from the urban home comforts and the confines of established campsites with showers, flushing toilets, cafes, shops and so on that you find on the tourist sites that cater mainly for families and caravanning enthusiasts enjoying pub grub and a few frothy pints within staggering distance.

During those early trips into the Pennines, we didn’t care what it was called, we just simply called it camping, it’s name wasn’t important, the only thing I was concerned about was the ‘buzz’ it gave - the chance to live out the boys own stories of our time and a freedom from an education system I struggled to embrace.

The first time I came across the term ‘wild camping’ was many years later whilst undertaking my Mountain Leader Training Award, as it is a crucial part of the syllabus and is defined by the following paragraph:

“Wild camping takes place in moor land or mountain terrain remote from roads and habitation. Wild camping has the potential to adversely affect the locality by vegetation trampling and pollution through food and human waste. It therefore needs to be undertaken with sensitivity combining care for the environment with personal enjoyment”

Source – Mountain Leader Training UK

Camping enthusiasts around the world might also use the terms such as "boondocking", "dry camping", "free camping”, "stealth camping" and even "guerilla camping".

Is it legal in the UK?

The most common answer I’ve seen to this question is sadly a flat “No”, topic closed – really, so does that mean elements of the MLT UK syllabus and activities as defined above are illegal? – Of course it’s not, but it certainly creates debate in the same perspective as the debate about the legal implications for outdoor enthusiasts to carry a knife.

How I deal with the question personally is by providing the following answer:

“Wild camping in the UK is legal in certain areas with expressed permission from the landowner, in addition, there are also access rights in local regions, in particular Dartmoor and Scotland that favour the camping enthusiast.”

So what is the law?


The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and Scottish Outdoor Access Code came into force on 9th February 2005. The Act establishes a statutory right to camp and the Code describes the responsibilities and best practice guidance that should be followed when exercising your right to camp wild.

A section in the Trespass (Scotland) Act 1865, which contained an offence of camping on land without the consent of the owner or occupier, has been repealed via Schedule 2 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. The 2003 Act confirms that camping is a lawful activity when done by a person in the exercise of the access rights created by the Land Reform Act.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code contains guidance on the responsibilities that accompany the access rights in the Act. The Code provides specific advice on wild camping and recommends that in order to avoid causing problems you should not camp in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals.

In England and Wales:

In short, camping on private land without permission is trespassing and on open access land wild camping is prohibited under Schedule 2 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, a recent petition to the Government to address this gave the following response:

“This Government appreciates the potential benefits of wild camping in England and its attractiveness to campers who already have the opportunity to camp in the wild in Scotland.

The Land Reform Act in Scotland allows for wild camping, but the land issues and the legislation in England are somewhat different. The introduction of wild camping in England would be a controversial issue, which would require both significant consultation and legislative change.

On open access land wild camping is prohibited under Schedule 2 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which lists all restricted activities. Therefore, new Regulations would be required to exclude wild camping as a restricted activity. Any change to the current rules on wild camping in National Parks and Ministry of Defence land would require new primary legislation.

The Government has no plans to allocate the necessary resources to consider proposals for such legislation at present, and is concentrating on following up the successful introduction of 750,000 hectares of open access land with new legislation on access to the coast in the Marine Bill Act which is currently going through Parliament.”

Source – Legalise Wild Camping petition in England and Wales

So what do I do now?

Many National Parks in the UK have an extremely proactive view to genuine ethical wild camping, Dartmoor national Park actively encourage it and it would be worth researching their websites and asking their information centres with regards to this, you will also find that some information centres have details of acceptable locations and even contact details for landowners. Ask the information centres if they have a ‘camping on farms’ or ‘camping in wild country’ information sheet or list.

With regards to finding private land to use for camping activities I have also compiled a separate article called ‘Seeking and gaining land access permission' and a link is provided below.

Is there a ‘Wild Camping’ code?

Yes, most outdoor enthusiasts will be familiar with the age old tried and tested countryside code, which is very much the basis for the ‘wild camping’ code and is defined by the Mountaineering Club of Scotland with the following do’s and don’ts.

Consider Others

The larger the group, the harder it is to keep impacts to a minimum. Keep groups small.

Remember that people have to make their living from the land.

Camp as unobtrusively as possible.

Remember that noise travels from tents disturbing wildlife as well as humans

Protect Vegetation

Camping on the same spot harms vegetation. Aim to move frequently and do not stay for any longer than 3 nights in the same place.

Vegetation is more sensitive at higher altitudes. Aim to camp lower down in glens where vegetation recovers more easily.

Dead wood is an important habitat for insects and many small animals, so it is best to avoid fires even for cooking.

Lighting fires poses a high fire risk on peaty soils and close to tinder dry grass. A high risk of fire can exist at any time of year, and not just in times of drought.

Minimise Disturbance to Wildlife

Watercourses and loch sides are important sites for birds and animals. Take extra care when camping near burns and lochs, and try to avoid camping immediately beside them.

Food scraps (even when buried) attract scavenging birds and animals, some of which prey on more vulnerable nesting birds. Carry all scraps of food out with you.

Be prepared to move if you become aware that you are disturbing nesting birds or animals.

Toilet Hygiene

Always find a spot at least 30 metres from fresh/running water when going to the toilet.

Bury excrement in a small hole (not under boulders). A trowel or ice axe can be used to lift a flap of turf. In areas of sensitive upland vegetation, such as the Cairngorms plateau, vegetation takes a long time to recover, so holes should not be dug at all.

Be particularly careful to bury excrement properly when the ground is snow covered.

Burying tampons and sanitary towels doesn't work as animals dig them up. Please carry them out. Placing them in a container with a tea bag helps to absorb odours.

Follow the more specific guidance on Human Sanitation in the MCofS Human Sanitation Code. (See links below)

Leave camp as you found it

Remove all litter (even other peoples!) Think ahead and only carry in what you are prepared to carry out. Do not bury or hide litter under stones as it can harm wildlife and offends those who visit after you.

Choose a dry site to pitch on rather than resorting to digging drainage ditches and removing vegetation and boulders. In replacing boulders, return them to the same place, the same way up.

Are there more information resources available?

Yes, below I have compiled a list of resources that give clear information with regards to wild camping and access within the UK and if any folks have any more resources they would like to add please feel free to contact me and I will add them in.

Thankyou for reading and happy ‘wild’ camping folks










Jul 30, 2012
In the lakes is camping tolerated as long as its above the tree line or did i dream this up cheers .

The national trust on the land it controls has openly accepted wild camping in certain places. If I remember it is in the remote places that do not infringe on the community, so I should take it that if you cause no problem you will be ok on national trust land. What constitutes a "problem" seems to be in fenced areas, within sight or close distance of people's dwellings, squatter camps when there are perfectly reasonable campsites nearby, littering, firescars, damage to the environment, antisocial behavior, contravening the criminal justice bill. There are very few places where you could justify a group long term camp without express permission. And just because the national trust tolerate it, you could be asked to leave at any point!
Mar 26, 2015
Birmingham, UK
Really useful information, thanks! Sucks that I live at least 200 miles from any large 'wild' areas, and I live over 300 miles from Scotland! :( makes camping hard, cos I can't just pop out for the odd weekend. Shame I can't camp in Wales, that's probably the closest to me, and I'd love to camp around Snowden!

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