It’s a new year and one of our themes for 2012 is ‘Give it a GO’ where we want you to try your hand at a different outdoor activity. In this blog we’re going to take a look into the subject of wild camping and backpacking in the UK. While pitching a tent off the beaten path may sound like an easy task, there are some rules you will need to follow so as not to get into trouble.
Much of the land in the UK is privately owned, so to camp you need the land owner’s permission, or you may face confrontation for trespassing. However, with every rule comes an exception, and wild camping is no exception. There are a few places around the UK where wild camping is generally accepted:
Dartmoor – Dartmoor has specific areas in which you can wild camp without permission, for more information make sure you visit the Dartmoor National Park site PRIOR to your trip.
The Scottish Highlands – The Highlands are probably the best place for wild camping, most of the area is open to responsible and discrete wild camping, above farmland and away from inhabited buildings/animal occupied fields.
In England and Wales due to private land ownership the law doesn’t observe your right to camp, which means explicit permission from the land owner is needed. There are areas of leniancy such as certain upland areas of Snowdonia and the Lake District as long as the camp is kept away from roads and is discrete.
To avoid upsetting land owners we found a great list of rules to follow over at Go4aWalk:
- Keep groups small
- Camp as unobtrusively as possible
- Leave camp as you found it
- Remove all litter (even other people’s)
- Carry out everything you carried in
- Carry out tampons and sanitary towels (burying them doesn’t work as animals dig them up again)
- Choose a dry pitch rather than digging drainage ditches around a tent or moving boulders
- Toilet duties should be performed 30m (100ft) from water and the results buried using a trowel
- At all time, help preserve the environment
- And if you are in any doubt about what you’re doing, find out more
For more specific places to wild camp, take a look at this handy post over at Outdoor UK.
What does this mean for backpacking?
Backpacking in essence is living self contained over multiple days, which would include a spot of wild camping. If you aren’t going to seek permissions from land owners, then we recommend visiting genuine campsites which can make your stay all the more easier due to campsite amenities (though it does take out the element of ‘survival’). One major benefit of staying on a campsite would be local eateries would mean you don’t have to carry cumbersome food in your rucksack.
Though it may seem we’ve taken the ‘wild’ out of wild camping by suggestion the use of genuine campsites, this is merely for people who don’t wish to seek land owner’s permission. The final call is essentially down to you on where and when you camp, always remember to clean up after yourself and leave no trace (whether wild or standard camping).
The most important thing to remember with backpacking kit is weight, you have to carry this equipment from location to location so make sure you check weight on backpacking equipment. Here are a few essentials:
We received some great ideas in response to our other post Essential Kit for a Hikers Rucksack on survival items.
Have you got any great backpacking/wild camping locations? Why not leave us a comment below and help out some potential first timers.