The best thing about wild camping, alongside the wide open spaces, the wide open views and the wide open wine bottle(s), is being able to sing ‘Born to be Wild’ in a lustily loud voice. Try it – you’ll be in a wide open space, after all. (We claim no responsibility for relationship breakdowns.)
Wild camping means different strokes for different folks: for some, it’s hiking off alone into the woods or up a mountain where no-one can find you for days (sing Freebird here), while for others, it’s pitching up on a campsite or caravan park where there are acres of wilderness around but still a loo, shower and other people nearby when needed. (And it’s all shipshape and above board, meaning that no police or irate farmers will shine a torch through your windscreen if you’re wild camping in your campervan.)
More info on wild camping in the UK and Ireland is below, but first up, some of our top wild camping sites to try:
Puffin Campsite, Bridlington: Tent pitches in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near the RSPB Bempton Cliffs reserve on the East Yorkshire coast.
Dartmoor Shepherds Huts, Devon: Pitch up all year round in a traditional insulated shepherd’s hut in a Dartmoor valley. Ewe’ll love it.
Gorsebank Camping Cabins, Dumfries and Galloway: ‘Civilised wild camping’ on a Scottish equestrian farm, with peaceful tent pitches overlooking the farm and surrounding woodland.
Bakesdown Farm, Cornwall: Hide in the Cornish countryside a few miles from Widemouth Bay, with an exclusive pitch available in your own field as well as a yurt to hire for hiding in the woods.
North Lodge, Pembrokeshire: Spacious pitches in woodland with views over the Preseli Hills, on a sustainable site with tent, tourer and motorhome pitches as well as pre-erected tents and a log cabin.
And now, how to avoid having a torch shone into your eyes during a restful wild camping slumber:
Where am I allowed to wild camp in the British Isles?
Strictly, all land in England and Wales is owned so you must gain permission before camping. However, wild camping within reasonable limits is often tolerated in many upland and remote areas, particularly in Snowdonia and the Lake District.
One exception is Dartmoor, where camping is allowed for up to two consecutive nights in the same spot or for longer in a permitted camping area, except within 100 metres of a public road or in any enclosure or other restricted area.
Wild camping in Scotland was made legal in 2005 after a campaign by groups such as the Ramblers. You can camp wild on hill land but should respect any nearby dwellings or livestock. The exception is the east part of Loch Lomonds National Park, where wild camping (and alcohol) was banned in 2010 due to antisocial behaviour such as noise, littering and vandalism, with a consultation held in 2012 to discuss extending the ban to four islands in the area.
In Ireland, wild camping is not strictly legal but is tolerated in many upland and remote areas, and the Northern Ireland Forestry Service issues camping permits at some of its sites.
Finding a wild camping spot