See this photo: This is a very small part of the Lake District - imagine waking up to this stunning view.
Well, Wild Camping can offer you exactly that. Completely alone with nature and your surroundings.
No screaming kids waking you up and no parents going through their nightly ritual of BBQing and drinking 'loudly' right next door to you...
This type of camping is a very humbling experience and there's plenty of places around the UK where you can be part of it.
WIld Camping can be a little daunting at first - venturing out into the unknown, not knowing where you might be pitching your tent for that night.
Where to go and what equipment is best to take with you - a tent, a hammock, bottled water or filter?
Lots of first time questions.
All these things will run through a 'newbie' wild camper the first time you venture out on your own.
I have found that the more I go out the less I really need. You start to customise your pack and then start little experiments like, deliberately leaving gear out to see how you can improvise and cope.
I have even heard of preppers treating their wild camping as a training exercise and simulating injuries where they only use one hand for everything and see how they perform.
I would not suggest doing that sort of thing on your first wild camping trip though.!
You may see Wild Camping refereed to in various terms as:
Stealth Camping,Free Camping, Boondocking, Dry Camping, and even Guerilla Camping.!
But whatever you want to call it, I do suggest you getting out there and trying it - and once you've done it, I promise you, you'll love it.
Where To Go Wild Camping
The first thing to bear in mind when going out wild camping is just use some common sense.
Consider the fact that you would not want someone to just turn up and pitch a tent in your back garden, unannounced and expect you to not have a problem with it.!
The same applies whether it's your own 10 square metres of back yard or 10,00 acres of a farmers land.
That being said you have a huge amount of scope when it comes to choosing your spot for the night if your in the middle of nowhere and there's no buildings or farm houses anywhere to be seen.
So be sensible and choose your spot wisely.
Wild Camping Law Is Different.
When it comes to the laws of the land, it's best to do your own research and make up your mind how comfortable you are with the legalities of wild camping.
So is Wild Camping Legal?
There are two answers to that:
Not legal in England and Wales
Perfectly legal in Scotland
England/Wales, and Scotland have different laws regarding that right to wander free and camp on open land.
There are, of course, grey areas - for example:
Wild Camping IS legal in the UK in areas where the landowner has given express permission for you to do so.
Click here to see the legalities of camping in Scotland and camping in the UK and Wales.
National Parks Showing England Only
National Parks Showing Scotland Only
Scotland is the place to go for unrivalled scenery and solitude - click here for some great Scottish wild camping
More Scottish wild camping adventures here
Where Can You Go Wild Camping In The UK?
An awful lot of people still wild camp without permission - the reason is simple: you simply cannot find or track down the actual owner of the land.
However, by doing this you run a small risk of actually being discovered by the person who owns the land and asked to leave.
You would, of course, do this immediately and without causing a fuss. But if you do it right you should have very few problems
Set up a 'Stealth Camp'
- Set up your camp late: just before dusk
- Set up away from anyone or anything
- Set up out of view and be stealthy
- Do not build a great big open fire
- Break camp and leave early - at dawn.
- Leave not trace and take everything with you - and that means EVERYTHING......
Always set-up camp out of sight
These few simple methods will mean you can make your camp, sensibly and responsibly just about anywhere where there's a lot of open land, like our national forests and park lands.
Are There Any Legal Options?
In England and Wales your Wild Camping choices are very limited.
In fact Dartmoor National Park is one area in the country where you actually have a legal right to camp, albeit in certain areas only.
For more information click the Dartmoor logo.
You can also go to the Lake District. However, you can't actually Wild Camp there legally without the landowners permission.
Wild Camping IS tolerated there but you must follow certain rules and regulations - basic stuff really: leave no trace, camp in remote areas and no huge camp fires.
For more information, click the Lake District logo.
Without a doubt, Scotland is the place to be when it comes to trouble free Wild Camping.
The laws are far more sensible than that of England and Wales, making it THE place to go for hiking freedom.
And, don't forget, the scenery is absolutely fantastic.
Once you have chosen your destination and planned your preferred route - WRITE IT ALL DOWN and give it to a reliable friend or relative with the intended start and finish day.
Write down your contact mobile number and make sure they put in their own phone contacts as well.
Tell them you will contact them when you start and when you finish - if your going for more than a day or two, then tell them you will call on day two or three to 'check'in'.
Bad reception is to expected in a lot of wild areas and this cannot be avoided using the normal mobile networks.
But the expected finish day is very important and calling to say you have finished your hiking is an essential safety procedure.
The above is important and something a lot of people forget to do. There are check-in points at some national parks as well. But making your own arrangements with a trusted friend or relative makes thing even more safer for you.
How To Go Wild Camping In The UK - Essential Equipment Required
Always choose your equipment depending on the time of year and the weather.
Next, think comfort and safety - by considering these two things you will naturally choose the correct gear to pack in your rucksack.
For comfort, your No:1 item is good footwear - this doesn't mean getting yourself a pair of big army boots for yomping miles and miles.
Sensible, lightweight, waterproof shoes or walking boots work fine.
Depending on the terrain I use either the Hi-Tec hiking shoe or boot shown here. Both are extremely comfortable and have worked really well for me - I own both the shoe and the boot and only use them specifically when hiking.
Buying waterproof footwear is a must and don't go for the cheaper shoe brands as these will not last you.
I have found the Hi-Tec hiking range to be very good quality and good value for money.
When you buy your new hiking footwear always try them on with proper hiking woollen socks. Using woollen socks is another item that will help your feet as wool 'wicks away' moisture from your skin, reducing chaffing and blisters.
Next is your safety - there are several important items you must have with you:
That is the start of you kit - comfort and safety first - now here's the rest of the basic gear you should be carrying with you:
- Shelter - anything from a simple tarp to a expedition tent
- Sleep bag + sleep mat. Must be suitable for the time of year
- Cook kit - as simple and lightweight as possible: (see article: JetBoil review here. )
- Water filter bottle: (see article: filter bottle / filter straw )
- Water bottle and cooking pot and utensils
- Torch: (see article: Tactical Torch )
- Wet wipes, Toilet Paper, Towel
- Food and snacks, energy bars and any other treats you like.
- Suitable clothing - spare socks and wet weather gear
- Some plastic bags for your wrappers and rubbish.
If your new to hiking and especially carrying a rucksack, I would suggest being very conscious of the weight you are packing in.
It is a good idea to load you rucksack and do a short trial run, even just a mile or so to see how you cope.
It's very easy to over-pack and just have unnecessary weight on your back, so try to pack as little as possible if you can.
Do's & Don'ts of Wild Camping
Can I have an open fire ?
Assume that you are not allowed to light a fire unless you have researched the do's and don't s for the area you will be wild camping in.
It can be argued that there is no need for an open fire at all, especially as it can damage the ground and environment.
But if you are allowed, and you want one, then there's certain golden rules that apply:
- Use only dead wood that you find lying around.
- Do not light directly on vegetation.
- Do not make a stone fire ring and leave it.
- Do not make a huge bonfire - keep it nice and small and manageable.
- Fully extinguish the fire when you leave.
- Dowse the embers with water and mush into the soil.
- Spread the mushed embers around the area
- Remove ALL the charcoals from the fire area until just he soil remains.
- Cover the fire area with vegetation
- Above all: Leave No Trace
Where can I get drinking water from:
If you are only Wild Camping for one night, water should not be too much of a problem as you can carry that with you.
However, for longer trips it may be necessary to source your water from a stream, river or pond.
You now have a choice of simply boiling it to get rid of the bacteria and germs, or run it through a water filter.
I personally think a water filter cleans the old water far better and leaves clean, safe drinking water in an easier, quicker manner.
see article: Water Bottle Filter Review
Always choose your water source carefully: Fast running water from a stream and away from any signs of animals.
Going to the toilet...
If it's just a quick wee you want, then that's not normally a problem.
What is a problem is having a poop in the wild - if approached correctly, it's quite easy:
1/ Always ensure you are well away from your camp and at least 100 metres away from a water source.
2/ Take a stick (or pack a small trowel) and dig a small hole about 6" deep - keep the loose soil to one side.
3/ Do your business.
4/ Burn the toilet tissue in the hole.
5/ Refill the hole with the soil and cover over with leaves or vegetation.
6/ Do not put sanitary products in the hole - animals will dig these up.
7/ Finally: hygiene - use antibacterial gel or wipes on your hands.
1/ Every scrap of food you bring with you should be either eaten or taken back - do not leave any food lying around.
Essentially, carry out everything you brought in..!
2/ When cleaning dishes, or doing any form of washing, including yourself, do so at least 100 metres away from any water source.
see article: MRE food rations
MRE food rations - perfect for wild camping
Move around - don't stay in one spot more than a night or two. If you have a planned route, then try to stick to it, that way you have a new camp each night.
More than one night can leave traces on the soil, so vacate as soon as you can as the vegetation needs time to recover.