Last week, the right to wild camp on Dartmoor was officially overturned after a court case made by a wealthy landowner. Previously, Dartmoor was the only place in England and Wales where you were legally allowed to camp without having to seek permission from the landowner. You could rock up, pitch your tent and sleep peacefully under the stars – much like you can do in Scotland.
Alexander Darwall, a hedge fund manager and Dartmoor’s sixth-largest landowner (with a 4,000-acre estate), brought the case against the national park, arguing that the right to wild camp on the moors never existed – and to the disappointment of most people, the judge agreed. But as it turns out, we might be able to camp there without permission after all, because the national park has come to an agreement with the landowner.
The agreement would see the national park pay them to offer part of their estates for wild camping. It won’t be quite the same as it used to be, though: apparently, there will be a map on the national park’s website showing visitors where they have permission to camp, meaning only a small portion of Dartmoor will be available, rather than the whole park.
It’s still early days, but campaigners from the likes of Right to Roam have said this isn’t good enough – and it’s likely they’ll put up quite a fight.
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