The Dos and Don’ts of Wild Camping in the UK
Head of Wanderlust at Camptoo shares expert tips for those planning a wild camping staycation.
If you are planning a camping trip this year, it can be tempting to throw caution to the wind and hit the road without a care in the world, parking up to enjoy unspoilt countryside wherever you so desire. For anyone interested in wild camping this summer however, this is technically illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (but not Scotland) unless you get the landowner’s permission.
While law-breaking behaviour should not be endorsed, there are several locations where you can pitch up without a hitch, and several ways to stay under the radar while wild camping.
Here, Ed Bassett, Head of Wanderlust at Camptoo, has shared a handy guide and his top tips on how to go wild camping with ease.
“Wild camping has really taken off in recent years and it’s easy to see why,” explains Ed. “After months spent indoors during lockdown, what could be better than hitting the open road and pitching up at any beauty spot that takes your fancy?
“However, we would always urge campers to be safe, think ahead and stay on the right side of the law. This guide is aimed at those wanting to know more about the practical side of wild camping and the dos and don’ts.
“Please always check the latest rules and guidance before you travel or go wild camping. In these uncertain times things can change very last minute.”
Read on for Ed’s top tips for a seamless wild camping trip.
1. Wild camping in Scotland is allowed
Unlike the rest of the UK, Scotland does allow wild camping. This means you can pitch up on unenclosed land in Scotland legally and this includes national parks, the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. Due to the increasing popularity of these areas more stringent restrictions have been put in place in recent years, particularly around Loch Lomond, which means you may need a permit before you pitch up. You can find out more on the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park website. This useful Outdoor Access Guide to Scotland includes advice on how to camp responsibly and is well worth a read, whether you are wild camping in Scotland or elsewhere.
2. Wild camping rules in England & Wales
Although there are fewer places to wild camp legally in England, there are locations within a select number of English national parks. Some have designated areas (sometimes called backpack camping) where you can pitch up. Dartmoor National Park allows wild camping but be warned you may need to park your van elsewhere and carry your tent and items to the wild pitch area. Setting up your tent and enjoying the stars without a vehicle will still be very special.
It is possible to park in certain laybys and car parks in England if you need to on your travels. It may not be wild camping, but they are free and convenient. There are several apps available to check where you can park such as Park 4 Night.
In Wales, the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority has a list of local farms which allow wild camping.
3. Stay on the down low
Even if you have sought the relevant permission or permit to pitch up, you should make every attempt to blend into your surroundings and leave no trace on the landscape once you depart. Take all rubbish with you and ensure your presence does not impact other people’s enjoyment of the landscape.
Keep your kit in your backpack, particularly if it is reflective, colourful or noisy – pick a subtle coloured tent and pitch up just before dark, taking it down again soon after the sun rises. In a wooded area, hammock camping is good because it does not dent the ground and blends in well with the trees. Wild camping means you must accept that human waste needs to be dealt with too – keep away from any public areas and paths and bury it discreetly.
By blending in, you are less likely to draw unwanted attention or questions from passers’ by or the authorities, meaning a more relaxing trip with less hassle.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of sitting by an open fire, whether you are using it for cooking or just relaxing in the evening. However, many wild camping areas and campsites understandably do not permit them. A camping stove rather than a campfire is advisable to minimise any fire risks. Keep light limited after dark, so as not to disturb wildlife or anyone else in the area.
5. Wild(ish) camping
Remember that it is still possible to enjoy a day or evening of wild camping without staying overnight or pitching up a tent. Why not plan a day hiking in the wilderness with an evening under the stars before heading back to your campsite? You could try horse riding or plan an exhilarating bike ride, without needing to stay overnight. A campervan or caravan can be a cosy (and welcome) place to rest your head after a day in Bear Grylls mode.
If wild camping is not for you or if you would prefer to pitch up at an established campsite, check out the Camping & Caravanning Club website to view sites available across the country.
To find out more and book a van for your road trip, visit www.camptoo.co.uk.
Notes to Editors:
Camptoo’s Head of Wanderlust and UK Country Manager, Ed Bassett, is available for interview or comment upon request.
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Launched in the Netherlands in 2014, Camptoo is a sharing economy platform that connects the owners and renters of campervans, motorhomes and touring caravans. The company was recently ranked the #1 fastest-growing travel company in Europe by Financial Times (FT1000, 2020).
Since it was launched, Camptoo users have booked over 300,000 nights in vehicles rented through the site. Owners can generate income from their campervan when it’s not being used while renters have greater flexibility when booking their vehicle so that it best suits their needs.
There are over 900 vehicles listed in the UK, with over 3,500 vehicles to choose from across Europe, and a further 400 across Australia, with more being added every week. Vehicles are properly insured to allow both owner as well as renter a carefree holiday, with Camptoo providing all the necessary paperwork, checklists and roadside assistance. For more information, visit www.camptoo.co.uk.