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Wild camping in the UK

Camping in the UK – that means wild beauty, impressive castles, and windy coasts with an extra portion of fish ‘n chips. Whether you’re interested in history, want to immerse yourself in nature, or get out and be active – a camping trip through England, Wales, and Scotland mean freedom and adventure. And what about wild camping in the UK? Find out in this roadsurfer guide!

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© roadsurfer GmbH / Jannis Reichard

Is wild camping allowed in England?

Wild camping in the UK is a bit tricky. Officially, there is no law that allows wild camping in England, because actually all the land is privately owned. The land is either managed by an individual or an organisation. That’s why the law says that you have to ask permission before camping somewhere or staying overnight with your camper.

In reality, of course, it is often quite difficult to find the owner. If you can’t ask, it’s better to go to an official campsite.

If you want to stay overnight in a car park, you need a local permit. Check with the local council or the police in your municipality.

There are exceptions in some national parks. In the Brecon Beacons National Park in south Wales, there is a register of farmers who allow overnight camping on their land.

In England, you can visit Dartmoor National Park where wild camping is legal and you are allowed to spend up to two nights in one place. You can see exactly where this is allowed in the park on maps of Dartmoor.

You are also allowed to camp for one night in Exmoor National Park if the overnight stay is part of a trekking tour.

Wild camping in Scotland

Scotland, on the other hand, takes a very different and much more relaxed approach to wild camping. Wild camping has been officially legal in Scotland since 2003, on any unfenced area – here, as in Sweden, the Everyman’s Right applies.

Exceptions are Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park from March to September. The ban on camping here was imposed due to too many inconsiderate campers and to protect the region – a good reminder to be considerate when wild camping in Scotland or anywhere in the world!

There is usually signage indicating that wild camping and freestanding with a motorhome is prohibited in Scotland. You must also ask permission if you want to camp on private land. In general, keep your distance from residential properties and places of interest.

Tips and rules for wild camping in England & Scotland

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code is a good guide to wild camping in Scotland, but also in the rest of Europe.

Among other things, the code states the following:

  1. Keep your distance from residential areas and roads. Everyone likes to maintain their privacy and this applies to you as a camper as well as to the residents.
  2. “Leave no trace” – leave your campsite as you found it or in a better state. This includes not only taking your rubbish away, but also protecting the vegetation when you set up your camp.
  3. If you don’t have a campervan with a toilet, you should take a small shovel with you and make sure you do your natural toilet well away from rivers and lakes. The same applies to washing up, as this will prevent water contamination.
  4. Do not build a campfire if it is very dry. If you start a fire, you should know how to take care of it and put it out properly. It is usually safer to use a camp cooker or rent a camper with a kitchen on board.
  5. Keep your campsite deliberately small and don’t stay longer than one night. If you are camping with a group of friends, it is better to go to an official campsite.

Travelling to Europe? Book a unique camping experience on roadsurfer spots

You’ll find campsites to suit your individual taste and needs on roadsurfer spots. Here you can legally book exceptional accommodation with private individuals with a secure booking, and still enjoy a real outdoor adventure!

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