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Wild camping in UK
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Here’s where you can go wild camping in the UK

Planning to swap the city for the wilderness after lockdown? Pitch up your canvas at one of the UK’s wild camping spots

By Ellie Walker-Arnott and Alexandra Sims
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After being cooped-up indoors for months, what could be better than treating your Zoom-tired eyes to a wild, off-the-grid stay in the great outdoors? Luckily, for those itching to swap the city for more rugged surroundings, holidays in the UK are back on the agenda for summer.

Under the latest plans for England’s lockdown exit strategy, it’s been announced that self-catered accommodation, including Airbnbs and campsites, will be open for holidaymakers from April 12, for a single household. Overnight stays at places with shared facilities, like hotels, will only be allowed from May 17. (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are yet to announce when domestic holidays will be allowed.)

With lots of people swapping holidays abroad for ‘staycations’ this year, many camping, glamping and campervanning sites all over the UK are already booking up fast. So, where does that leave you if you’re desperate to kip under canvas? Wild camping – aka camping in a rural spot without the trappings of a standard campsite – could be the way to go.

Is it legal to go wild camping in the UK?

Generally, wild camping without the landowner’s permission is illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But wild camping in Scotland isn’t prohibited, so that means you can technically pitch up wherever you like – including in the country’s incredible National Parks. There are some restrictions in areas around Loch Lomond. You can find out more on the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park website and Outdoor Access Guide to Scotland.

Wild camping in Scotland
Wild camping in Scotland
Photograph: Shutterstock

Is there any way to go wild camping in England and Wales?

If you want to wild camp in England or Wales, you do have options. Dartmoor National Park does actually allow some forms of wild camping. Unfortunately, because people treated certain areas poorly last summer – with littering, lighting fires and other kinds of antisocial behaviour – there is now a temporary camping ban in the Bellever and Riddon Ridge areas. Last summer the park had its own camping guide, including an interactive map showing where wild camping is allowed. We’re hoping that will return this year.

Over the border in Wales, the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority provides a list of local farms which allow wild camping.

Elsewhere in England and Wales, including Exmoor, Snowdonia and the Peak District National Parks, all you need to do to wild camp is ask the landowner’s permission first – and make sure there’s no trace of your stay when you’re done.

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Not quite ready for fully wild camping?

Then there’s nearly-wild camping: a network of locations ‘willing to host campers who are looking for a wilder, secluded or quieter camping experience’. Handily, this map reveals all the places you can go nearly-wild camping in the UK. There are more than 100 options around the UK and you’ll even find added extras like nature walks, fishing or pottery lessons at some of them. Winner.

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