Two people by a firepit on the beach

Made To Roam: Wild Camping In The UK

Finding solitude under big skies, with a good book and hot brew in hand.

Wild camping is about getting back to nature and pitching up away from the noise. Ditching the well-trodden path or signposted spot in favour of a night under the stars in relative solitude.

We’d love to give you the green light to peg your guy ropes in anywhere, but unfortunately, that’s not the case here in the UK. Yes, in Scotland the right-to-roam laws allow you to wild camp pretty much anywhere that isn’t private land. It gets tricky though when you head south of the border…

A man looking at a map
Scouting out potential camp spots

Setting up camp in England, Wales and Northern Ireland without prior permission from the land owner could get you in trouble. But in reality, there are a few ways people get away with it, namely by following the ‘leave no trace’ code. But more on that later.

Where Will Wild Camping Take You?

The UK provides just about every type of wild camping site imaginable. Whether you want to hide away in the woods, unzip to a sneaky swell check, or look out at a rugged mountain landscape.

If you want to fall asleep to the sound of waves then head for the coast. Wild camping on a beach provides you with the space to clear your head, gather your thoughts and get away from it all. 

Two people around a fire on the beach

There are 19,491 miles of coastline in the UK and we reckon the most idyllic spots have yet to be discovered. And what better opportunity to pack a surfboard in the event that there’s a decent swell? But if you do choose to pitch up on the sand, make sure you’re well up from the high tide line and tucked away out of view. Remember, any refusal to pack up and get goin’ after being asked is a criminal offence, so remember your manners when wild camping. Please and thank you.

If trees and plenty of greenery are more your thing, then why not venture into one of the country’s many forests? There’s plenty to choose from considering that around 12% of Britain’s land surface is woodland.

A tree in the forest

Wild camping in a forest is a great way to gain some seclusion and explore some of the remotest parts of the country. Or how about heading off towards the mountains? If you’re after breathtaking scenery and have a head for heights, then wild camping in the mountains could be just what you need to rise above the daily grind.

The Best Places to Wild Camp In The UK

  • The Scottish Highlands: A staple of the wild camping calendar, with an immense landscape to explore and a focus on the ‘leave-no-trace’ mentality. 
  • Dartmoor National Park: A solo camper’s dream, with plenty of spots to hide away from the wind and explore the moorlands. 
  • The Lake District: Be sure to camp above the highest fell wall, well away from any towns or villages to immerse yourself in the wild good ‘n’ proper.
  • North Wales: Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire and the Brecon Beacons national parks are all well worth exploring, but the rules do get a little tighter when heading over the Welsh border.

Someone wearing a hoodie in a campervan
The driver

Preppin’ The Camper: Away From The Well-Worn Path

As with wild camping in the UK and Ireland, sleeping in the back of your camper by the roadside is a bit of a grey area legal-wise. If you are thinking about it, make sure you leave nothing behind, keep noise to a minimum, and move on if asked to do so.

If it’s been some time since you last turned the engine over, then it’s a good idea to give the van a quick once-over. Take it for a test drive and ignore any rattling sounds at your peril. Also, make sure that you’ve cleared it of anything that you don’t need and give it a good ol’ clean inside and out. 

A woman sat in the front of a campervan

Under The Stars: Keepin’ It Wild

Sleeping in a hammock is the ultimate wild camping experience and provides some luxury to an otherwise rough and ready adventure. You don’t need much in the way of tools or equipment to hang your own hammock.

If you have a spread of material, some rope and a suitable hanging spot then there’s nothing to stop you from constructing your own hanging bed. 

“Always check at least 2 different weather forecasts to make sure you’ll be safe, and find a sheltered spot to camp, even if it’s not windy when you go to sleep the wind can get up in the night and you don’t want to be moving in the dark!"

Grace Fell, founder of Wild With Consent.

A man cooking over a fire

Keeping Clean: Freshen Up Your Wild Camping Experience

It’s a common obstacle when wild camping, but showering needn’t be a problem if you buy a solar shower. One of wild camping’s bare essentials, solar showers typically cost between £5 and £10 and usually hold around 19 litres of water. A solar shower is basically a bag filled with water that heats up from the sun. They’re normally made from flexible PVC and come with a built-in spout.

The simple design means that it can be hung from practically anywhere – a tree, the side of a building, the back of your campervan – but the best part is that it provides you with a fresh shower whenever and wherever you need it when wild camping.

"If we’re wild camping in a bivvy, we always try and find somewhere close to water to camp – makes it much easier washing pots and yourself and doesn’t waste drinking water."

Grace Fell, founder of Wild With Consent.

A person having a beer by the lake
The ultimate brew for wild camp excursions

Wild Camping Essentials

When preparing for a wild camping trip, it’s super important to pack smart and travel light. You’re looking to fit everything into one backpack, creating a minimal footprint when setting up camp and taking it all away with you. 

A coffee pot and mugs on the beach

For a little more on what to pack, it’s worth reading our Backpacking Essentials Checklist . But before that, we’re big fans of gathering stuff, laying it all out on the floor and then playing a bit of ‘Backpack Tetris’:

  • Shelter: Tent, Bivvy Bag, or Hammock

  • Sleeping Gear: Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Pad, Pillow

  • Backpack: Big enough for your gear, but light enough to carry comfortably

  • Navigation: Map, Compass, GPS Device, Loose plan messaged to a friend

  • Hydration: Water Bottles, Water Filtration System, Hydration Bladder

  • Nutrition: Food (leftovers, noodles, snacks), Cooking Equipment (stove, pot, utensils)

  • Clothing: Base Layers, Insulating Layers, Waterproof and Windproof Layers, Hat, Gloves, Extra Socks, Hiking Boots or Shoes

  • Lighting: Headlamp or Torch, Spare Batteries

  • Tools: Multi-tool or Knife, Repair Kit for Gear, Duct Tape

  • First Aid: First Aid Kit, Sun Protection (sunscreen, lip balm with SPF)

  • Hygiene: Biodegradable Soap, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Hand Sanitizer, Toilet Paper, Trowel (you know what for)

  • Safety: Whistle, Emergency Blanket, Personal Locator Beacon or Satellite Messenger

  • Added Extras: Trekking Poles, Insect Repellent, Camera, Notebook and Pen, Rubbish Bags (Leave No Trace principles)

Two people walking below a mountain
Three people walking below a mountain

Wild Camping In England

It’s good to assume that permission must be gained from the landowner before wild camping anywhere in England. You can wild camp on Dartmoor, however, for up to two nights in the same spot if you’re a good 100 metres away from any public roads and not within an enclosed area.

To learn more on the subject, we massively recommend checking out the ‘ Right To Roam ’ campaign, and adding a few books to your reading list: Nature Is A Human Right edited by Ellen Miles, Freedom to Roam: The Struggle for Access to Britain’s Moors and Mountains by Howard Hill, and The Trespasser’s Companion by Nick Hayes.

A woman reading a map on the beach

It’s also well worth getting clued up on the Countryside Code, a load of good advice on who has priority on the trails, how best to deal with livestock, shutting gates, and loads more helpful tips to keep everyone safe and smilin’.

“With our ecosystems at crisis point, we need everyone to become nature's advocate. But without that fundamental connection to our environment, we cannot know what we're losing, nor what's at risk. Without us, nature has no voice. Yet in England we only have a right of access to 8% of the land, and uncontested rights to 3% of our rivers.”

The Context, Right to Roam.

A woman sits on the grass smiling
Grace Fell, founder of Wild With Consent.

Wild With Consent

A less sketchy alternative, for those seeking adventure without the need for a pre-dawn escape route. We sat down with Grace Fell, founder of Wild With Consent, a wild camping collective working in tandem with landowners to create some pretty special remote park-up spots around the country.

Hey Grace, how goes it? First off, can you take us through your current adventure vehicle setup?

I own a VW Transporter, which is the perfect size for adventures ‘a deux'. The kitchen area at the back of the van is brilliantly designed so when we open the tailgate we’ve got an outdoor/indoor cooking area, ideal for outdoor living in our temperamental British climate. And I also love that it is small enough to go anywhere, but with enough space to pack all our adventure gear - usually bikes on the back and a surfboard on the roof. 

A van parked by a lake
The ol' trusty adventure wagon

“We really struggled to find places to stay off the beaten track where we also felt safe and secure to sleep the night.”

So what’s the story behind ‘Wild With Consent’?

I grew up in rural Northumberland, surrounded by stunning wilderness and I have always loved spending time outdoors and the freedom that a campervan brings. My husband and I went on holiday in my parent’s old Iveco campervan just before the pandemic, but we really struggled to find places to stay off the beaten track where we also felt safe and secure to sleep the night, and the busy campsites just weren't appealing. I knew of so many peaceful spots in Northumberland that would be perfect for a campervan pitch, and I wanted to share this experience with other like-minded campervanners looking for off-grid wilderness sites.

Wild With Consent was born in summer 2021 with just a scattering of sites on farms in Northumberland (we now have around 100 sites all across the UK). By taking just one booking per night, guests are guaranteed privacy, and from a farmer’s point of view, there is minimal impact on the land

“Our ‘leave no trace’ policy ensures the wilderness is kept wild and the ground left as we found it.”

A campervan parked by the seafront

Why do you think more people are seeking wild escape here in the UK?

People are looking to get away from the stresses of their busy lives and our WWC sites offer this much-needed escapism; a digital detox from the everyday and a good dose of solitude for reflection without disruption.

How can wild camping with the landowner's permission help support rural communities?

By providing dedicated wild camping spaces where people pay to secure their own private space, we are ensuring that local rural communities are directly benefitting from visitors coming to their area. Our ‘leave no trace’ policy ensures the wilderness is kept wild and the ground left as we found it.

What are some essentials that you always pack before a wild camping trip?

  • Swimming costume: A wild swim is a must for me on every wild camping trip.
  • Plenty of tea and good snacks: Essential for warming up after that dip in the sea!
  • Raised firepit: So we can enjoy evenings around the campfire.
  • Beanie: British summer evenings can often get chillier than expected.
  • OS maps: Essential for exploring a new area.


What is wild camping?

Wild camping is about getting back to nature and pitching up away from the noise, in areas other than a designated campsite.

Is wild camping legal in the UK?

Setting up camp in England, Wales and Northern Ireland without prior permission from the land owner could get you in trouble. But if you are planning to wild camp, be sure to follow the ‘leave no trace’ code.

Can you wild camp on a beach?

The same rules apply here, with it being best to get the landowner's permission or hunker down somewhere out of sight and off-season.

Can you wild camp in National Parks in the UK?

Wild camping is permitted in Scotland, so you can pitch up in any of the National Parks north of the border. In England, you can wild camp on Dartmoor for up to two nights in the same spot if you’re a good 100 metres away from any public roads.

How do you find wild camping spots?

There are many resources out there on the web, with a few hinting at secret spots or campsites that provide a taster of wild camping with full permission. Wild With Consent is a UK-based company that offers just that.

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