What is Wild Camping?
Wild Camping is the act of pitching a tent, bivvy or other shelter out in the wilderness typically overnight or for a short period of time. In the UK Wild Camping is technically illegal with the exception of Scotland.
Is Wild Camping Allowed?
Wild Camping is allowed in Scotland under the Land Reform Act of 2003, however, due to the Vagrancy Act of 1824 (an old, outdated law initially used to prevent vagrants from sleeping rough), it is not allowed in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, with the exception of Dartmoor National Park & some places in Lake District
Rules of Wild Camping
There are a few rules to wild camping that you need to adhere to. Generally you want to do the following:
- Check local land laws before you set out and check if you need a permit, for example in Loch Lomond.
- If you’re using a campervan or you’re motorcycle camping make sure to not block any paths / roads and desist from damaging the verge.
- Make sure if you’re wild camping or stealth camping to pitch your tent late in the day, and leave early in the morning, and avoid lighting fires which will draw unwanted attention.
- Clean up after yourself, and leave no trace.
Is Wild Camping Dangerous?
Wild Camping, as in any type of hiking or camping in the wilderness can essentially be dangerous. Whether you underestimate the weather, or go unprepared, it is best for any outdoors activity to do your due diligence, let people know where you are going and ideally go with someone else.
In terms of pure Wild Camping here in the UK, the problem is that as mentioned wild camping is illegal, and if you’re wild camping on private land / property, it could be dangerous in the sense you do not know the landowner or especially if you camp near farmland, you could be camping unaware of chemicals used by farmers or heavy machinery coming your way.
Alot of this comes down to basic common sense, and in theory wild camping should be no more dangerous than regular camping. Be smart, be safe and have fun.
Best Tents for Wild Camping
There are a few wild camping tents that we would recommend, based on our own testing & feedback from our own customers, of which many like to wild camp, hike & motorcycle wild camp.
MSR Hubba NX Tent
This is a camping favourite for many people who love the great outdoors. It works well for a few reasons. It’s lightweight at only 1.56kg, and its pole geometry means there is plenty of space, with 29 sq. feet of floor area.
Coleman Kobuk Valley 2 Tent
This Tent by Coleman is a beast. It comes with Coleman’s patented Blackout technology, and is 100% Waterproof with a 4,500HH rating, meaning you are fully protected from the elements in this camping tent.
For sizing guides, check our our recent article: What size Rucksack for wild camping
Best Rucksack for Wild Camping
The Camping Backpack along with the tent and sleeping bag is absolutely essential for any aspiring wild camper out there. Having a rucksack with ample compartments and storage is crucial for making sure your trip isn’t a disaster.
Osprey Europe Men’s Atmos Ag 65
The Osprey Men’s Atmos Ag 65 is one of the wild camping community’s favourite backpacks. The reason is because it has a whole heap of features, including detachable rain-cover, trekking pole attachments, mesh panels galore and only 2kg in weight!
Osprey Aether AG 70 Backpack
The Osprey Aether Backpack is 70L, more than enough for any camping trip, and comes with a similar set of attachments at the Osprey Atmos. It’s a true performer in every aspect, and if you’re looking for a gift for a loved one who likes Hiking or Camping, this is it.
Recommended Wild Camping Gear:
Wild Camping Articles & Product Guides:
Why is Wild Camping Illegal?
As mentioned above, in the UK (apart from Scotland), this is due to the Vagrancy Act of 1824, which was originally meant to stop soldiers that came back from the Napoleonic War from sleeping rough on the streets.
This unfortunately also applies by definition to those looking to wild camp on land around the UK, preventing those who just wish to pitch their tend in local woodland for a wild camping adventure from doing so. This is a shame and incredibly old legislation which we do think should be modified.
Where can you Wild Camp in the UK?
As mentioned above, you are generally ok with Wild Camping in Scotland with the exception of some places in Loch Lomond for example where you may need a permit at certain times of the year. It is best to simply research where you want to go beforehand and do your due diligence.
In terms of England, it is ok to Wild Camp in Dartmoor National Park and parts of Exmoor. Otherwise, you are not allowed to wild camp in other parts of England
Is it legal to wild camp in Scotland?
Due to the Land Reform Act 2003 you are legally allowed to Wild Camp almost anywhere in Scotland with the exception of some places where you may need a permit at certain times of the year.
Scotland is very liberal with their wild camping laws, and as such, makes it one of the best places to wild camp in the UK
Is it illegal to sleep on the beach UK?
The short answer is no, although you can in theory get around this by saying you fell asleep on a “fishing trip”. You can legally camp on the foreshore, if this is something you want to do.
From a safety standpoint, especially if there is alcohol involved, we recommend not doing this however.
Can you get fined for wild camping?
In theory, if there is any damage caused from yourself while wild camping, and there is damage to someone’s land or property, then yes. However, most that are into wild camping have never had an issue or been fined for doing so. Keep to the simple rules of wild camping:
Pitch your tent late, leave early, and leave no trace.
Is it legal to wild camp in the Lake District?
According to the Lake District National Park website, you are not allowed to wild camp in the Lake District without prior permission from the landowner. Therefore, it is unlikely that you would be able to wild camp in the lake district without prior permission.
Does this mean that nobody wild camps in the Lake District? Absolutely not, people still do it, but they are discreet and leave no trace. Wild camping is often “frowned upon”, but people still do it,
Is wild camping legal in Ireland?
Similar to the UK, it is technically illegal to wild camp in Ireland. However, you may wild camp in Wicklow National Park, similar to Dartmoor here in England.
The same rules apply as always, if you want to wild camp in Ireland, know that it is not strictly legal, but tolerated to a degree, as long as you choose to pitch your tent in a non-obvious location and you are careful.