A Beginner’s Guide to Wild Camping
Is there anything better than soaking up the great outdoors? A day of exploring and becoming immersed in nature is a day very well spent indeed, but when it’s time to set up camp, an overcrowded campsite can be far from picture-perfect.
To truly enjoy the peace and simplicity of the wilderness, why not try wild camping? In our beginner’s guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to spend a night under the stars, from how to wild camp safely and legally to our favourite wild camping spots.
What is wild camping?
First thing’s first: what does wild camping mean? Whereas traditional camping involves making your home for the night on a shared campsite or caravan park, usually with access to facilities such as showers, toilets, and even electricity, wild camping takes it back to basics.
Wild camping is pitching your tent in the open countryside, away from the luxuries of a designated camping area. This includes no running water – unless you set up camp nearby a lake or stream!
Traditional campers typically stay in the same pitch for at least a few days, sometimes up to weeks at a time. Wild camping gives campers the freedom to stay for as little or as long as they wish, however it is common to move on to a new spot after just one night. This makes wild camping perfect for touring a variety of local beauty spots or simply resting along the way of an adventurous hike.
Where can you legally wild camp?
As with any outdoor adventure, it’s important to wild camp safely and legally. The rules and regulations for wild camping vary throughout the UK, for example, due to Scotland’s right to roam laws, wild camping is permitted almost anywhere including national parks, as long as the land is unenclosed.
The laws surrounding wild camping in England and Wales are a lot stricter. Wild camping is generally illegal unless you have the landowner’s permission. Most land in England and Wales is owned by someone, even in wild open areas, but there is a general understanding that if you choose a spot that isn’t too close to people’s homes or property, and leave the area just as you found it, wild camping in the UK is widely acceptable.
Essentials for your wild camping kit
So you’ve decided you want to give wild camping a go, great choice! The extent of your wild camping kit will vary based on the duration of your excursion, but some top essentials for your wild camping rucksack include:
A good strong tent
The beauty of wild camping in the UK (depending on how you want to look at it!) is that you can never be too sure of the weather. Sunny days in the middle of winter, heatwaves in autumn, and torrential rain storms during the summer – the great British weather is predictable at the best of times!
Whilst sleeping under the stars can be a dream come true, it’s always best to come prepared with a sturdy tent in terms of safety and shelter. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a good tent, but it’s always best to look for one that is lightweight and compact, easy to assemble and transport, but also strong enough to withstand poor weather conditions.
After a long day of exploring, it’s important to get a good night’s sleep. To do this, you’ll need the right kit. Come prepared with a sleeping bag (pack layers and additional blankets depending on the weather) and don’t forget to include a camping mat, this will provide an insulating layer between your sleeping bag and the cold ground overnight.
When packing your wild camping kit, less really is more. There’s a whole plethora of cooking gadgets and utensils available to purchase, but you can quite happily make everything you need with a thermal flask, pot, and a compact camping stove. It is possible to boil dry foods such as pasta and rice, but there are also many tasty dehydrated camping meals to choose from too.
Where to wild camp in the UK?
As you’ll now know, it’s important to choose your wild camping spot very carefully in the UK. One of the best spots to head to is the highlands of Scotland, where you can truly get to grips with the wilderness without the stress of legalities!
Some more of our favourite choices include the Lake District and Dartmoor, where there are large areas that allow wild camping.
If you want to take things back to basics and soak up the world around you, there really is no better way to do it than wild camping, but as with any outdoor activity, the key to success and 10/10 enjoyment is all down to preparation.
Before your trip, be sure to research the area and plan out where you intend to stay, check out the weather forecast and plan your kit accordingly, and don’t forget to prep for emergencies! After all, a fully prepared camper is a happy camper. For more of the latest outdoor tips, check out the UK Outdoors blog!