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Wild Camping Etiquette in the UK

This popular activity has some blurred lines regarding what to do and what not to do. Here is the general etiquette I have learnt and follow when I take part in wild camping within the UK.


So, what is wild camping? This is when you partake in camping outside of a marked campsite. Most commonly, people opt to camp on top of a hill or mountain, next to a tarn or generally somewhere quite rural.


There are laws and regulations regarding where you can and cannot wild camp in the UK and it is important to check this before planning your adventure. It is legal in Scotland so you can just go for it! However, it is illegal to camp in England, Wales and Northern Ireland without the express permission of the land owner. While I do not promote illegal behaviour, wild camping is generally accepted if you respect the land and area. This matter is widely spoken about in many publications so give it a google search if you want to learn more or need some reassurance.

1.  Pick a suitable location

Always camp on open access land and choose an area that wild camping is quite common eg. National Parks. I don't recommend camping in field boundaries or suburban countryside as this is often privately owned or too populated to be discreet. Broadly speaking wild camping in the larger and more mountainous National Parks wild camping is more accepted - such as Eryri in Wales and the Lake District in England. From my experience the Peak District is usually less accepted as a wild camping location.

2. Pitch respectfully

Camp above the highest fell wall, well away from settlements and off the beaten track. After a tiring hike you may be tempted to pitch up right next to a path, but this isn't the most discreet or private for you. You don't need to go miles off the path but heading a short walk off makes the experience better for you, without disturbing others.

3. Blend in

When pitching try to pick a spot that is maybe tucked away behind a mound or rock. This can help in providing you shelter and to stop your set up being so obvious to passers by. I also have a dark green tent to help me be more discreet in my set up.

4. Leave no trace

This is a general rule within the countryside code and you should take particular care when wild camping. This means no littering, no fires and no moving rocks or boulders. Some people seem to think burying litter is okay - this isn't and wildlife will dig it up anyway. Take everything home with you.

5. Leave it as you found it

The general idea of wild camping is that you can leave and no one would know you were even there. If you spot some litter from someone else, pick it up and take it home with you. Litter has devastating effects to the wildlife, ecosystems and water pollution. Some people also go to the lengths to 'ruffle up' the grass once they pack up their tent so no footprint is left behind after their stay.

6. Only ever stay for one night

This should be fairly obvious but it isn't a campsite so don't treat it like your private accommodation for the week.

7. Only camp in small groups

This isn't the place to bring your whole extended family to camp in multiple large tents. Keep your circle small and tents small. I have only ever wild camped alone.

8. Pitch late, leave early

This doesn't mean you need to be gone by the crack of dawn but the general etiquette is to pitch in the evenings as the sun is setting and be gone by the time the paths are busy again in the morning. Don't hang out all day in your tent or leave it pitched whilst you go off for the day.

9. Respect the landowner

This hasn't happened to me but of course if a farmer or landowner comes along as asks you to move, then you do. Considering it is illegal in most parts of the UK then you don't really have a case to fight. Be polite and respectful and I'm sure you will move on without any issues.

10. Perform toilet trips properly

This means at least 30 metres away from any water to prevent pollution and affecting ecosystems and of course bury the remains with a trowel and take any toilet paper home. This is standard whenever you use the countryside so always be prepared!

11. Respect the land and it's users

Be courteous to other you meet on your adventures and as always respect animals, the land and farmers by closing gates and leaving no trace.

Hopefully you feel a little more comfortable ahead of your wild camping adventure. Let me know your thoughts by getting in touch or sending me a message on my socials!


The great thing about the outdoor community is that generally people are respectful, kind and want to help others so if you are ever unsure ask around and chat to passers-by and people are often quick to help you out. I'd love to hear what you've been up to or if you have found a great wild camping spot!

Thanks for reading and... Happy adventuring!

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