Wild Camping & Leave No Trace

I get a high volume of questions sent to me via email and on various social networks asking about Wild Camping. It’s often people new to camping seeking advice to help them get started and my response is usually the same. I’m always happy to help but to save time I’ve decided to write a more detailed form of what I respond with. I’m by no means an expert so this is only a rough guide, in its essence it is a set of principles I adhere to when spending time outdoors.

My advice for wild camping would remain the same regardless of what area of the UK or world that you choose to camp. There are legalities regarding permissions, in the UK wild camping is only officially allowed in Scotland and on Dartmoor in England. In parts of the Lake District wild camping is tolerated but I’d advise seeking out further information on any National Park websites before visiting.

Esk Hause Wildcamping spot
Wild Camping at Esk Hause in the Lake District – 2012

As a rule I always abide by the ethos of Leave No Trace (LNT)…. Leave No Trace in my humble opinion is the most important attitude to have when spending time outdoors, whether that be while camping or hiking. I try to have as little an impact as possible on my surroundings and with this in mind I would say the following….

Bivvying on a beach on the east coast of England – 2017

I always carry out what I take in, that means no litter at all. Litter seems to be a big issue in certain parts of the UK and I often leave with more than I arrived with as I pick up any rubbish I see.

Speechless in Snowdonia
Speechless in Snowdonia

I never have open fires in any National Park and only do so on other land where I have permission. I have seen the aftermath of fires up on the moors and in dry areas like Australia as they can get out of hand quickly. The moorland in the Peak District can become very dry in summer and fires have devastated vast areas of land in recent years.

Wild Camping above the clouds on Kinder Scout – 2015

I love the feeling of freedom and being out in the elements while wild camping but I keep a few things in mind when choosing a place to camp. I prefer to be high up and to have a great view of the surrounding landscape. I always attempt to keep out of sight and away from buildings, roads and make sure that I can’t be seen from busy footpaths. I pitch late in the evening and leave early in the morning so I don’t interfere with the enjoyment of others. I try to be as stealthy as possible so my presence isn’t known and I don’t draw any attention to myself.

Bivvying in a cave in the Peak District – 2016

As I mentioned earlier, I’m no expert and I’ve written this post based on my own experience gained from spending time outdoors. I have always tried to be respectful to the land and set the correct example when publishing content online. Wild camping is a subject that polarises opinion, some are for it and some are fiercely against it. I must admit that over the years I’ve had 1 or 2 anonymous people challenge me about it online, I’ve never been approached or had any confrontations in person while out in the real world. I believe I’ve managed to avoid that due to the aforementioned principles, or perhaps it’s just sheer luck… I couldn’t say either way. I feel that if everyone who spends time outdoors chooses to follow the Leave No Trace ethos then it would make the subject of wild camping easier to defend.

Thank you for reading. This will be the page I send people to when they ask me about wild camping, I would welcome input from others if you feel this post/subject could be improved or expanded upon.


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