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The Dos and Don’ts of Wild Camping in the UK and Abroad

The Dos and Don’ts of Wild Camping in the UK and Abroad
17 May 2023 Samantha Anderson

Chief Adventurer at CamperDays shares his top tips for those considering a trip into the wild.

Encompassing the natural wonders of the great outdoors, wild camping offers the chance to experience some of the world’s most beautiful rural destinations outside of designated camping sites. The allure of heading out into the wilderness and pitching up where you see fit may be strong but wild camping is more strictly governed than you might think, particularly in the British Isles.

Max Schmidt, Chief Adventurer at CamperDays – the of campervans – says, “With wild camping hot on the news agenda having been completely outlawed in England, those considering a wild camping trip may need to do a bit more due diligence before heading out into the wilderness.

“As with any camping trip, it’s necessary to pre-plan to ensure the best possible experience, but this is especially important with wild camping where you risk hefty fines if you break local laws. Similarly, care should be taken to camp responsibly in order to protect the natural environment.

“So, whether you’re planning to wild camp in the UK or abroad you’re in for the experience of a lifetime. The extra time needed to plan your trip is well worth it – after all, what could be better than disconnecting from the modern world and immersing yourself in beautiful natural surroundings?”

Below, Max shares his dos and don’ts for camping in the UK and abroad…

Camping in the UK

There are fairly strict rules in place for wild camping in the UK, in order to protect both the natural environment and our abundance of wildlife from harm. It’s therefore vital to do your due diligence well ahead of your travels. As a rule of thumb, check whether it is in fact legal to camp and if it is, make sure to leave no trace.

  • DO: Get permission

Following a ruling in January 2023, wild camping is prohibited in all English national parks unless you have permission from the landowner.

Similarly, the same rules apply in Wales and Northern Ireland, but wild camping in Scotland isn’t prohibited, meaning a plot of land for pitching is generally more readily available and accessible. That said, some areas, like those around Loch Lomond have restrictions, so check ahead of travel.

Most land in England is privately owned, so one of the easiest ways to enjoy a wild camping experience is to use platforms like Wild With Consent or Nearly Wild Camping, which allow you to prebook an area of rural land for your wild camping adventure. Each ‘campsite’ is a designated, secluded area of private land that you have permission to camp on. Only one group is allowed at a time and there are none of the facilities you would expect from a traditional campsite, so you’ll enjoy the most authentic experience possible.

Before travelling you will also need to check if there are any designated areas where you’re able to light fires or a BBQ with the landowner in order to minimise the impact on the surrounding environment.

  •  DO: Swot up on the Countryside Code

When out and about exploring the countryside, it’s important that you respect your surroundings in order to protect local wildlife, private land and livestock.

The Countryside Code is statutory guidance which outlines the responsibilities of visitors to the countryside and those who manage the land. Campers should make sure that they don’t cause a public nuisance, and be considerate and kind to anyone they may encounter in the countryside, whether they work there, live there, or are just out enjoying themselves.

Dogs should be under control and in sight, and any mess they might make should be properly bagged up and disposed of in a public waste bin, along with any other litter. Barbecues may only be lit in designated areas, and fires should never be lit under any circumstance as they can lead to wildfires.

For more information on the code of conduct for wild camping in the UK, make sure to consult the Countryside Code which contains government advice for countryside visitors.

Camping abroad

While many European countries allow and even encourage wild camping, each destination has its own rules and guidelines for doing so, so you need to research well ahead of time and plan your trip accordingly.

Further afield, the United States also allows ‘dispersed camping’ which is permitted on BLM lands (Bureau of Land Management), WMA (Wildlife Management Areas), National Parks, grasslands and state forests. These areas may still be subject to some restrictions however, so do your research on your desired location beforehand. In Australia, while wild camping is not officially allowed, it is tolerated in many areas, with the exception of towns and cities, the roadside, private plots and anywhere with a “no camping” sign, where you could risk a hefty fine.

It’s also worth noting that the time of year you plan to travel will affect temperatures and weather generally, particularly in Nordic countries which experience colder winters or places such as Portugal and Spain which typically have hotter summers. Make sure you’re fully equipped with appropriate equipment and clothing ahead of your travels, as you may not have immediate access to shops or facilities.

  • DO: Do your due diligence on local laws

Similarly to the UK, wild camping is regulated in Europe, the USA and Australia, with the exception of some Nordic countries such as Sweden and Norway where it’s legal and even encouraged. However, even in these cases, this is only applicable to state land and not private property. In places such as the USA, wild or ‘dispersed’ camping is allowed, but this is limited to particular areas of land.

Many European countries also have limits on the amount of time that you’re allowed to pitch for, so make sure to check the local laws for your destination of travel.

  • DO: Take advantage of Norway’s allemannsretten

Norway is a particular standout for wild camping as, not only does it offer fairy-tale landscapes and beautiful vistas, but its land is enshrined in ‘allemannsretten’ – the notion that every man or woman has a right to public access, even on privately owned land. Those looking for the ultimate wild camping adventure can hop on a commuter ferry from Oslo, across the inner fjord to Langøyene island or consider the beautiful Lofoten Islands inside the Arctic Circle, where, during the summer months, you’ll be able to experience the midnight sun.

It’s important to note however that allemannsretten only extends to one or two nights in most places, so moving around is encouraged. If you’re unsure, all rules are detailed on the Norwegian Tourism Board’s website.

  • DON’T: Disrespect your natural surroundings

It goes without saying, wherever you are in the world, visitors should respect the local flora and fauna. This means not removing bark from trees for campfires, avoiding camping in large groups so as not to cause any noise pollution or disturbance to wild animals, bringing food waste back into your campervan overnight to avoid attracting wild animals and making sure to take any waste (including organic food waste like fruit peels and leftovers) with you when you leave. It’s imperative to leave no trace – once you’ve packed up, no one should be able to tell you were ever there.

Wild Camping is a truly unique and magical experience, and its vital that we take care of the natural environment so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come.


Notes to Editors:

Head of CamperDays and Chief Adventurer, Max Schmidt, is available for interview or comment upon request.

For further press information, please contact:
Will Challis | Olivia Hazelden-Kingdon | Elsa Findlay
T: +44 (0)203 440 8930
E: [email protected]

About CamperDays:
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Since it was launched, CamperDays customers have booked over 950,000 nights in vehicles rented through the site. CamperDays provides access to a broad selection of campervans and motorhomes catering to every type of traveller, with transparent pricing and no hidden costs. All vehicles come with insurance, with excess, as standard, to allow renters a truly carefree holiday.

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