Wild camping, away from it all, sleeping under the stars and surrounded by nature. When I want to escape away from the hustle and bustle or maybe I want to wind down a little and refresh my mind, wild camping is one of the big things I turn to to help.
As a quick break I love to climb high on a peak one day. Watch the sunset over the land below. Sleep under the night sky. Wake up in the open land with a glorious sunrise to accompany the views and breakfast before I make my way down. Bliss!
In this article I will be sharing more on why I do it and some of the joys it has brought me. I will also go into the rules and regulations in the UK, plus gear and tips to help yourself, landowners and of course, to help the nature you have escaped to, to enjoy.
Wild Camping Rules UK
OK, first off I am not here to condone law breaking or being irresponsible. When I wild camp, it is discreet, where nobody would stumble upon and most probably I recced from an earlier visit via a walk. I don’t just pitch a tent where I feel my right or want to be is.
If you truly want to go wild camping without worry then head to Scotland and especially the Highlands.
One, it has absolutely miles of truly wild areas. And two, the law doesn’t stop you from wild camping in most areas. The mountains, forests, beaches and so on.
In fact, this is also one of the reasons people head to Scotland when in a motorhome etc. You are not forced by law into a campsite.
There is plenty of space for everyone. Please check local rules before travel though as some areas are so popular they have had to introduce small rules to help the environment and land. For example some parts around Loch Lomond.
England and Wales
Wild camping in England and Wales is technically illegal, without the landowners permission. We are a pair of countries that history has dealt us a land where all space is owned by somebody, somewhere. Thus wild camping in England and Wales would be trespassing.
That being said there are a few places we have all seen on social media etc from people wild camping in England.
Firstly, they may have actually asked the landowner for permission. If there is a farmhouse or home in proximity to where you want to camp then ask for permission for sure. Or try to find out before you travel and then ask, giving you peace of mind.
However, there are also a few grey areas in England’s National Parks that plenty of people use to get their wild camping fix.
Dartmoor for example does allow wild camping in certain areas. The Lake District tolerates it if small groups, away from routes and roads and up high. Leaving no trace. More on respecting your camping spot later.
Wild Camping Kit and Gear
As you see from my pics I like to wild camp high on the tops like many others do. This means a climb, so the number one thing to think about when doing this is weight to carry.
When you start to make a list of what you are carrying on your back you can see the weight grow, a lot.
This is one of the largest thing you need to carry. Most people prefer a tent so if you plan to do a lot of wild camping get the lightest and smallest for your needs.
Here I need to start practicing what I preach. My current tent is bright red. This is not the best for being discreet so I will be changing soon to a green or camouflaged one for this purpose.
If you are in trees or better weather you could use a hammock or bivouac.
Cooking Kit and Food
You don’t need a kitchen or every utensil you think you need. I want lightweight plus cooking performance. For myself I use the Alpkit Brukit as it is light, has small gas canisters, boils water lightening fast as well as enabling me to carry lightweight dehydrated food pouches.
Never use an open fire or make one. It may look wonderful in Western films but it is bad for the environment, grass and can very easily cause a moor fire for example.
This is the one to really think about. Water weighs 1kg per litre. So you have to have enough for keeping you healthy and hydrated on the walk. Also enough for cooking with, making beverages and so on.
I take a dog with me so that is lots more water as well as the food needed.
Of course there will be times you have planned to be near a water source and use purifiers and filtering systems (more weight). But on the tops the higher you go you must remember that water becomes scarcer.
The Rest of The Kit
That is the big stuff but you also need to think about much more. The backpack to get it all in. Utensils. Navigation material. Lights. Spare clothing. Spare gas. Charging packs and so on. You won’t be walking as fast as normal.
So, you have gone to wild camp in the lakes on a mountain side. As wild camping becomes more and more popular there are some spots that are actually getting busy and sadly start to look like campsites themselves.
You have escaped to ‘wild’ camp and away from it all. Go where there are no others.
Keep well away from roads and importantly I would go well away from paths and public rights of way. My own rule is I pitch the tent where nobody could see it from a footpath.
I pitch late on in the day, almost dusk. And I pack up the tent very early not long after sunrise. This means there is even less chance of being a disturbance or being stumbled upon by walkers etc.
When leaving it is essential to leave no trace. no litter, sign of fire, food or tent pitch. This helps us all out in the grey areas of where to wild camp in the UK. Plus it helps to keep nature and the surroundings as they should be.
We are human and we need to toilet. But what are the rules? Basically I try to go as much as possible before travel.
Then if you need a pee, keep as far away from water sources as possible. at least 50 metres.
If you really need to poo then dig a whole deeper than six inches to bury it. If you use toilet paper or wet wipes don’t bury those, they will ruin the environment. Take it with the litter you are taking down. There are many sealable receptacles you can buy.
Enjoying The Adventure
As I stated before, I love to get out and up a mountain or hill to wild camp.
I love to go on clear nights so that I can watch sunsets, see the stars with a view below as well. Plus a good chance of waking up to a glorious sunrise as I cook breakfast.
If you camp on a mountaintop you could wake up to experience the wonder of a cloud inversion without taking a step for the day.
It is exhilarating to say the least. Not just the sights but the fresh air, the smells, the peacefulness and the probability you are far away from another soul.
That is not to say I am a fair weather camper. Many a time it is fun to camp ‘within’ the clouds. It actually makes things feel so much quieter and remote to be honest.
All in all I can slowly walk down, back to the car with my mind reset, my mental health in better shape and my physical health having a work out as a bonus.
A great time, well spent, with nature.