Written on 08/02/18 by Paul Oldham

Wild Camping in the Lake District

We had an email today from someone asking us about wild camping in the Lake District and whether it was legal. It's an interesting question.

Wild camping, or simply pitching your tent wherever you want, isn't generally legal but it does have the merit of meaning you can (hopefully) get a decent night's sleep. It also gives you the chance to undertake walks which would be a bit long to do in a day.

Wild camping with Jake below Bow Fell
Wild camping with our previous dog, Jake, below Bow Fell

So let's deal with the legalities first. Technically it is not legal to camp anywhere in England or Wales unless you have the permission of the landowner and there are practical reasons why you're unlikely to be able to get this, not least knowing who to ask.

But in practice in the Lake District there is acceptance of wild camping above the intake wall, i.e. above the last field. In addition a lot of the high fells are owned by the National Trust and they are explicitly happy for you to wild camp there so long as you are sensible. Their web page on this is a joy to read and we think what they're saying about how you should wild camp applies to pretty much anywhere you choose to wild camp, not just their land.

Key points we would highlight are the need to take a stove, so you don't burn the ground, and also disposal of human waste. They suggest taking it home with you but the alternative you might consider is a lightweight folding spade. If you do go down that road however then please burn the toilet paper, don't bury it, as it takes a long time to biodegrade.

In closing we should mention two areas outwith the Lake District where you shouldn't have any problems at all wild camping. The first is Dartmoor. To quote from the MoD site:

There is a presumption in favour of public access wherever this is compatible with operational and military training use, public safety, security, conservation and the interests of tenants.

This includes camping, but it is essential to check the Public Access page and the Dartmoor Training Area Firing Notices page for the latest information.

The second is the whole of Scotland. There you can camp pretty much anywhere that has access rights, which is most of Scotland away from civilisation. This page is a good place to start on explaining that.

Tagged: walks


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