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Wild Camping: What You Need to Know
Left it too late to book your summer holiday? With seemingly every hotel, rental cottage, and campsite in the entire British Isles booked up for the rest of summer 2021, it might be time to get creative with your staycation planning. Wild camping has been all the rage over the past few years, and it’s one way to escape the hordes in the more popular holiday destinations. For those of you who are ready to brave the great outdoors, we’ve put together our advice for being prepared and staying safe on your wild camping adventure.
By Indigo Officer
Wild camping is not technically legal in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, and while we don’t want to encourage people to break the law, if you conduct yourselves properly and respect the countryside around you, there shouldn’t be any problems. If you can see a farmhouse nearby, it’s best to ask the landowner for permission — most will happily oblige and are often used to having walkers and campers around. Or, just head north and go to Scotland, where it’s legal to wild camp in national parks. In Cumbria’s Lake District National Park, wild camping in the higher ground is generally tolerated too; a general rule to follow is that camping is fine as long as you’re above the fell walls.
Make sure someone knows where you’re going
Even if you’re going in a big group, you should always make someone back home aware of your walking route and where you’re planning on camping. Adequate phone signal is never a guarantee, so it’s best if someone else will know roughly where you’ll be in case of an emergency. Before you set off, make sure to find out the number for the local mountain rescue — hopefully you won’t need it, but knowing how to contact help will give you peace of mind.
It goes without saying that food will probably be few and far between on your trip — you’re unlikely to stumble across a McDonalds on the fells of the Lake District. Bring more food than you think you’ll need, as well as plenty of bottled water. Unfortunately for us, the Great British summer doesn’t tend to be marked by balmy nights, so bring lots of extra layers and warm socks too. Parents will always tell you: “once you get cold, you’ll never warm up” and, as much as I hate to admit it, they’re probably right. Finally, absolutely don’t forget your first aid kit. You don’t need to cart around an entire A&E department in your rucksack, but you should always have bandages, dressings, medical tape, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, safety pins, antihistamines, and your preferred pain relief. Most outdoor shops sell small, ready-stocked first aid kits for walkers and campers.
Leave no trace
Wild camping is all about respecting the land around you. Leave it exactly as you found it — that means picking up all your litter and removing any trace of where you pitched your tent or made a fire. You can find out more about how to camp responsibly in this guide from Outdoor Access Scotland. Even if you aren’t used to being an early riser, it’s best practice to put your tent up just before sunset and take it down first thing in the morning to avoid impacting other people’s views. Another (slightly less glamorous) part of respecting the area around you is knowing what to do when nature calls — you should aim to be at least 30 metres away from any water sources when you go to the loo. You can find more important information about this here, on the UK Hill Walking website.