5 Little-Known Spots for Wild Camping in the UK
Wild camping is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors in the UK. With 15 National Parks, 46 Areas of Outstanding Beauty, and countless other nature reserves, there are plenty of places to explore.
Wild campers may be tempted to head to the hiking hot spots of the Scottish Cairngorms or the English Lake District to pitch their tent for the night. However, if you dig a little deeper, there are plenty of little-known spots for wild camping just waiting to be found. Whether you’re new to wild camping or are a seasoned veteran, here are 5 fantastic locations for you to discover!
Llyn y Fan Fach, Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons are a craggy set of mountains in the south of Wales. They lie along the border with England fringed by the scenic Forest of Dean and Wye Valley. The Brecon Beacons are replete with popular hiking areas such as Pen y Fan (south Wales’ highest peak) and the Black Mountains.
However, those searching for a more remote escape should head to the western lakes of Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr. The area offers fantastic views from a dramatic escarpment and plenty of places to pitch a tent either from the summit or down by the water’s edge.
If you can brave the cold, the lakes are a great location for a wild swim so don’t forget to pack your towel. However, it can get marshy down by the water’s edge so be sure to bring your best hiking boots along for the journey!
Thurba Head, Gower Peninsula
The Gower Peninsula is a stunning AONB in the south of Wales. It is the UK’s first designated AONB and is revered for its wild surfing beaches and spectacular coastal walks. Most people visit the Gower to see the Worm’s Head and Rhossili Bay.
Just south of these natural features, a series of rocky headlands and isolated bays run all the way to Port Eynon. Aside from sheep grazing in the fields, this section of the coast is remarkably remote with some excellent places to pitch a tent overlooking the crashing waves of the Bristol Channel.
In the autumn, seals breed on the south coast of Wales. You may get lucky and hear the odd yelping noise they make down in the secluded coves as they feed their pups ready for winter!
Woolpacks, Peak District
As with many good wild camping spots, the Woolpacks is a mere stone’s throw from a popular hiking area. Little-known spots for wild camping are often situated close to these main trails but are removed enough to be considered their own world.
In the Peak District, Mam Tor and Kinder Scout are some of the most popular hiking areas in the National Park. Mam Tor is far too busy to camp on but there are plenty of options in the wild heathland of Kinder Scout. The Woolpacks is a boulder-strewn field close to a ridgeline walking trail. It’s the perfect place to pitch a tent camouflaged amongst the clustered rock features.
There are also plenty of great wild camping spots on the other side of the Hope Valley at Stanage Edge. During the day it’s busy with hikers and rock climbers, but at night the gritstone escarpment is a serene and peaceful place to wild camp.
Malham Tarn, Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales are loved for their drystone walls, pastures of sheep, and idyllic dales. They are also renowned amongst the hillwalking community for the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge – a one-day ascent up the peaks of Whernside, Ingleborough, and Pen y Ghent.
Unfortunately, 90% of this National Park is privately owned. So wild campers need to be careful not to pitch directly in a farmer’s field. After all, getting caught wild camping can have some consequences.
Malham Tarn is a sweeping National Trust owned lake. It’s a short hike from the limestone amphitheatre at Malham Cove. The lake shore around Malham Tarn is a bit too exposed to risk a wild camp, but there’s more shelter to be found atop the surrounding bluffs and in the scatterings of woodland.
Sandwood Bay, Sutherland
Scotland has the most freedom for wild camping anywhere in the UK. The country is filled with little-known spots for wild camping just waiting to be uncovered. However, the Cairngorms, Loch Ness, and the Isle of Skye are no longer places to be visited for peace and quiet.
Hikers who head away from these areas to the wild moors and high fells outside the popular tourist spots will be richly rewarded. Sandwood Bay is a secluded beach along the top of the Scottish coast accessible via the North Coast 500. Its isolation is mainly thanks to its distance from any main road. Visitors must trek 4 miles from the nearest car park to access this remote beauty.
The 1.5-mile beach is backed by sublime pink sand dunes that face directly towards the wrath of the North Atlantic. People visit this bay to see the Am Buachaille sea stack and to embrace the raw natural beauty of the area. All in all, this is one of the most perfect little-known spots for wild camping in the UK.
When you’re searching for little-known spots for wild camping, try to use your hiker’s intuition. Aim to avoid tourist hot spots and cast your net wider to find some hidden gems. Buy an OS map and pair it with a GPS device to research and select some areas you think may make for a good pitching spot.
As always when wild camping in the UK, be vigilant, respect the landscape, and leave no trace. The wild camping community can only flourish if campers understand how to look after our nature areas. Nature is to be shared and everyone must do their part to look after it. That way, wild campers and hikers can enjoy the British landscapes for decades to come.