Wild camping – what is it and why do it?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Wild camping is really just that – camping in the wild rather than at a commercial campsite. Simply find a suitable spot to pitch your tent and spend the night with just the stars and wildlife to keep you company.

On our previous camping trips we’d found that we always preferred the smaller less commercials sites which allowed us to feel more at one with nature rather than the huge family oriented sites with play areas and hot showers which are really far too close to being at home, back in the real world. Give us a farmer’s field with access to drinking water and we were happy.

So when we came across the idea of wild camping it sounded perfect. Get away from everything and best of all, its free!

Where can I do it?

In England and Wales (with the exception of Dartmoor) wild camping is not permitted unless you get permission from the landowner. However so long as you pitch in remote areas, above the last farmers wall or fence then it is generally accepted and the worst that is likely to happen is that someone might ask you to move on.

In Scotland the Outdoor Access Code legislation of 2005 made it legal though irresponsible wild campers have made some communities turn against the idea and according to The Guardian wild camping may soon be banned again in certain areas.

Rules of Wild Camping

The main rule of wild camping is that when you leave no-one should be able to tell that you have been there. This means that you need to follow some guidelines:

  • Never stop more than a night in the same spot as this can kill of the grass, bracken or whatever covers the ground beneath your tent
  • Take all your rubbish away with you
  • Take a trowel to bury your ‘business’, and if the ground is too hard to dig take that away with you too
  • Ensure that your toilet are is 30 metres or more from running water
  • Do not use standard soaps to wash or wash up as these will pollute streams and kill fish and other wildlife
  • Don’t light fires

The last point is debated by some as they consider this one of the best parts of wild camping. However not only can it be easy to start a fire which spreads and causes damage, the dry dead wood can be an important habitat for small animals. Also don’t forget the whole campsite should look exactly the same when you leave as it did when you arrived.

And finally…

  • Don’t forget to make sure your wild campsite is near a source of water. If you’re going for more than one night you would struggle to carry enough water with you for drinking, cooking and washing. Plus it’s half the fun. For more info on drinking water from streams see my Wild Drinking Water blog
  • Keep your pack light, but make sure you have everything you need – the eternal camping challenge!

This article originally appeared on hikingblog.co.uk.

Leave a comment