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poisonedantidote's avatar

What are the laws now days in the UK regarding camping?

Asked by poisonedantidote (21544 points ) August 21st, 2011

I’m going over to the UK in a few months to meet someone, one of the things we would like to do is go camping for a few nights.

When I say camping I don’t mean paying to sleep in a tent outside some building in a organized camping area surrounded with caravans and things, I mean real camping.

A tent, a fire, a forest, a radio, some snaks, some booze, some warm blankets, and general supplies. Out in the “wild” alone, with no one else around.

How hard will the overly legislated UK make this?

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7 Answers

harple's avatar

Overly legislated?...

If you are careful, the only real problem with what you suggest is the fire in a forest.

Free camping is easier in more remote places, you just need to use your nouse to stay clear of gateways etc (I regularly freecamp in a converted van) and don’t stay more than one night in one place. And of course, have consideration for the area you decide to stay in – don’t play loud music, which will draw attention to yourself AND may be disturbing to anyone in the vicinity; take all litter away with you; IF you make a fire, choose your location incredibly carefully, douse it out before going to sleep, and clear it away in the morning as much as possible.

Be really aware of rights of way and be vigilant for livestock – plenty of sheep and cattle in __them there hills__ so be sure you are not going to disturb them, or worse, scare them. Close all gates etc etc. Being anywhere near livestock does mean you’re more likely to be found and asked to move on by a farmer.

You probably don’t need to hear most of this as it’s mainly common sense – short answer: Yes it is possible to free-camp in the UK, though it is not encouraged, so use your head!

I have found Scotland is the easiest place to free camp in, England required more care and forethought, and I haven’t dared try it in Wales yet.

Good news is, you can’t be shot for trespassing, or rather, you can’t legally be shot for trespassing! Farmers, however, are absolutely allowed to shoot animals that worry their livestock – including dogs – and it wouldn’t be an idea to be mistaken as one!

Lightlyseared's avatar

In Scotland wild camping is both legal and well accepted. The law explicitly gives you permision to do so. You still have to use your common sense, setting up camp at least 100m from a road and not in direct sight of a building etc (but lets face it you don’t go wild camping to spend the night listening to traffic). Its also best to avoid agricultural land or land used for deer stalking or grouse shooting etc.

In Engalnd and Wales it’s illegal unless you get the land owners permission first but if you ask you might be surprised how many farmers don’t have a problem as long as you stick to the are they suggest. Forestry commision land and National parks are very strict about not letting people camp. However I have camped in the lake district, high in the fells, without problem but you need to choose your site carefully make camp late and break early.

pezz's avatar

Just one thing to note.. in a few months it will be VERY cold in the UK. Go BnB

Lightlyseared's avatar

@pezz it does’t actually get that cold. Last year I camped out between boxing day and new year and was pretty comfortable.

flutherother's avatar

I have camped free in various places in Scotland with no trouble. I would check an Ordnance Survey map for a suitable location near a burn and once there suss out the ground for boggy bits and unseen boulders beneath the surface.

If there are a few trees around you should be able to find enough dead wood for a fire. I used to cut out a square of turf, surround it with stones from the burn and replace the turf afterwards leaving no trace that we had ever been there. Many magical experiences but the midgies are a pest in summer.

ragingloli's avatar

if your camper van gets destroyed by Jeremy Clarkson, you go to jail for upsetting J.C. :P

downtide's avatar

There aren’t really any “wild” places in the UK, not like there are in the US or Europe. No matter where you go, even on open moors or forest (hahah – maybe a couple square miles of woodland if you’re lucky) that land will be owned by somebody, and unless you get permission from the landowner before entering it, you are trespassing. Some landowners don’t care, some do. No way to tell which is which unless you ask first. Maybe parts of the Scottish Highlands or central Wales, but I’d be shocked if you could find anything anywhere else.

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