What Is Wild Camping?
Eco-friendly campsites have sprung up all over the country, where the golden rule is to be as environmentally thoughtful as possible. However, aside from these designated camping areas - individuals, couples and families are also venturing into the great outdoors and discovering their own perfect camping spot. This is known as wild camping.
The rules for wild camping are very much the same, but as you’re left to your own devices it’s a case of ensuring your own co-friendliness.
What’s important to remember about wild camping is it’s technically illegal without the landowner’s permission. In times gone by you could camp wherever and whenever you pleased, but then the UK’s land was split and attributed to someone. As such, in the eyes of the law wild camping can be viewed as trespassing.
The fact remains though, there are certain loopholes to exploit if you so wish. One of these is in Scotland and was created as part of the Land Reform Act in 2003. As part of the new regulations, you can now camp on public hill land as long as you’re at least 100m from any road (whilst taking all rubbish with you when leaving). However, it’s worth talking to the official landowner if you can track them down.
For those wanting to experience the great outdoors down south in either England or Wales, it’s bad news as regulations haven’t been relaxed in this way. Wild camping is still legal if you receive the landowner’s permission though, and there is also a grey area with regards to camping above ‘intake walls’ on mountain districts. For campers taking to the mountains it’s advisable to keep in small groups, at least 100m from the road and out of sight of settlements.
The Legalise Wild Camping petition sought an official response from one of Britain’s most popular camping areas, the Lake District. The following answer was received from the national park: “Wild camping on unenclosed fell land, remote from the roads, is generally accepted if undertaken responsibly by small numbers of people."
Wild Camping Gear & Accessories
One of the crucial aspects of wild camping is maintaining an eco-friendly approach. That is after all, the real beauty of camping in the wild. Just think - the remote spot you’ve located and are openly enjoying shouldn’t be tarnished by a lack of respect for the area. Leave it in exactly the same way you found it and someone else could also enjoy this amazing place in the future.
As such, ensure your camping trip is kind to the environment by following the tips outlined below:
In terms of shelter, most campers prefer the traditional tent and wouldn’t consider anything else. There are some other options available if you want to take wild camping to the extreme, but the tent offers adequate protection for your needs.
First things first: if you don’t already have a tent you’ll need to buy one. It’s recommended to avoid brightly coloured tents for wild camping, offering the chance to blend in and remain as discreet as possible. Camouflage tents are particularly popular.
There is no ‘best’ tent and ideally you’ll choose the shelter that’s a compromise between your own comfort, is easy to carry and environmentally sound too. If you want to find a remote destination you’ll likely be carrying equipment someway, so opting for a luxury tent is ill advised. As such, purchasing a tent that’s small and light will pay dividends.
For eco-friendly camping, the general ethos is to be discreet and leave no trace of your visit. Of course, when camping, one the biggest hurdles in this regard is going to be the preparation and cooking of food. As such, it’s worth pointing out straight away that cutting trees and burning wood for fire is a big ‘no no’.
With that out of the way, how are you going to cook food? Well, most environmentally aware campers solve this problem with a stove. Just as with the tent, the stove should be small and light. Ideally you would purchase a burner that’ll screw straight onto a gas cartridge. They’re not particularly stable, but when care is taken they’re certainly sufficient for your needs. They’re on the cheap side too, which is always advantageous.
It is possible to invest in a gas stove that’ll sit closer to the ground and be connected via a gas hose, but this equipment will be bulkier and weigh more too.
If you plan to camp for a while you’ll need to take enough gas to last the trip, which can add considerable weight to your luggage. For this reason, there is a market for liquid fuel stoves, although these don’t tend to produce a fierce flame so will take a while to heat food and water.
A final option for your cooking requirements is a stove that’ll burn biomass products such as twigs, leaves and dung found lying around. When using these you must ensure continual attention to prevent the risk of burning the ground, but they are a solid option. Of course, you’re relying on the possibility of finding fuel on your travels, which could be a risky approach.
Don’t pack too much in the way of cooking equipment. One saucepan is plenty and will keep the weight down. You can eat directly from this without the need for plates – just remember to pack a spoon or fork.
Food & Drink
When it comes to food and drink for your camping experience, we’re not going to recommend a gourmet menu. For camping, there are two options: wet food and dehydrated food.
Wet food is often available in tins and can be eaten both hot and cold (handy if you’re low on fuel) and have a long life. You can also get ‘boil in the bag’ food, which can be placed in a saucepan of boiling water to cook. Use this water afterwards to make a hot drink.
The downside is that tinned food can become heavy to carry. Dried food is a lighter alternative but you’ll need water to rehydrate it – so you’ll either need to bring water or ensure you’re located near to a water source.
Water sources can be a great place to get everything you need, but it’s worth erring on the side of caution here. Clear, running water is preferable to still, but it’s worth treating before drinking either way. Boiling will remove most harmful products, but you could also take a water filter or purifier.