Can You Wild Camp in England and Not Break the Law?
In England, one has always had permission to walk across any land. Pitching a tent or parking a caravan, on the other hand, is a different matter. Because a large part of England is privately owned, you will likely need to ask the owner's permission to wild camp most places. There are notable exceptions to this rule where wild camping is more commonly accepted, such as Dartmoor, which will be further discussed below.
Wild camping without permission can be a civil offense. For the sake of being courteous as well as avoiding any legal problems, we advise against simply setting up a spot to camp without doing your research.
How Can You Wild Camp in England on Private Property?
If you have found the perfect site, please follow these steps to wild camp legally.1. Find the Landowner
Do research online. Search for a place you'd like to stop, and then find a local Facebook group focused on wild camping in England. Ask the group about the area where you'd like to stay. Someone might know of a kindly owner who is open to wild camping.
You can also call a local outdoor centre. The staff will know whether wild camping is allowed and where the best spots are. If all else fails, stop at a local pub. Describe the land where you'd like to park, and ask where to find the owner. Alternatively, look for signboards that state the landowner's name.2. Ask Permission Nicely
When you find the landowner, describe where you'd like to park, and ask permission to park there for the night. Most landowners are accommodating to caravans and other wild campers, so long as you ask first and follow the rules. If you don't ask permission, you'll be trespassing and could face a fine, or worse.
What Are the Rules for Wild Camping?
There are rules for wild camping you must follow to keep the landowners and other residents happy. Otherwise, you might find yourself wondering: Can you wild camp in England in the future?1. Be a Great Guest of Nature
Wild camping is meant to be focused on nature. Unfortunately, wild camping has gained a bad reputation in some areas because others have left rubbish about or made too much noise. The secret to successful wild camping is to act like a proper guest of nature. Don't damage bushes or trees as you park your caravan. While you are there, try not to do anything that would frighten the animals.
Take care to leave the spot as good as you found it, or better. If you must go to the toilet outside, find a spot that is at least 30 metres from any water source, such as a stream or a river. Bury anything you deposit with a shovel, but don't bury toilet paper. Take it, along with feminine hygiene products, out with you, as you would any other rubbish. Don't bury these products, as animals can smell them and will dig them up. Others, especially the landowner, won't appreciate coming across such filthy items later. Store them instead in a sealable, compostable bag. That way, they won't lead to a smell in your caravan.2. Respect the Owners and Nearby Residents
Be sure to follow all bylaws, and respect the privacy of others. When you are on the owner's land, shut any gates you pass through so animals can't escape. Don't feed any animals you come across. Park your caravan or pitch where you are out of sight of the road and residents.
Can You Wild Camp in England on Foot?
Many people can and do wild camp on foot, but be prepared. Carry a tent small enough
to fit into your rucksack. Bring a warm sleeping bag, along with a camping mat. Sleeping on the ground can be a cold and uncomfortable experience without the proper gear.
You will also need a torch and a first-aid kit, along with spare batteries and a mobile phone. Switch the phone off to preserve the battery. Your GPS may not be able to work all of the time, so bring a compass and a map.
Most importantly, be sure to tell a friend or loved one where you are going and when you expect to be back. That way, if you don't return within a reasonable time, someone will know to contact the authorities.
Can You Wild Camp in England in a Caravan?
You can wild camp in a caravan, although pitching rules also apply. Find the owner, and politely ask for permission. Then, find a discreet place to pull off where you can't be seen by local residents or those driving along the road.
If you plan on preparing a meal, you can cook your meals inside the caravan or right outside of it using a cooking stove
. If you want to cook inside, make sure that any cooking devices you bring are safe to use within the caravan.
Where Can You Wild Camp in England Legally?
There are many places where you can wild camp in your caravan. Dartmoor has entire areas where it is legal to wild camp for free, so long as you stay in the designated areas.
You can also stay at wild campsites. Although you will have to pay for your stay, you can often have a campfire and enjoy a shower. Here are some sites we recommend.1. Staden Grange, Buxton
Buxton is a spa town located in Derbyshire, close to the Peak District National Park. Staden Grange Campsite is comprised of six acres of both woodland and farmland. The campground is a five-minute drive from Buxton and is also close to St. Ann’s Well, a geothermal spring.2. Star Field Camping, Cranbrook
If you’re looking for a grass pitch in Kent, consider Star Field Camping in Cranbrook. It’s located in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Set on a gentle slope, the site is kept natural with long grass in between the sites, and plenty of room. You get a fire ring, and you can buy logs and camping fuel, as well as a fire-starting kit, from the campground’s store. The campground also offers composting toilets and hot showers.3. Cotswolds Camping, Shipston on Stour
Cotswolds Camping is just outside the Gloucesterville village of Whichford. This site is also a holistic retreat centre, meaning if you have children with you, you'll need to look elsewhere. The people who run the site want to keep things quiet. Otherwise, it's a friendly place with tonnes of room. This beautiful campground has a moat in one corner and a valley in another. There are also woods and a village church nearby. Caravan groups are not permitted on this campground. Additionally, you won't be able to stay if you have a continental touring caravan, meaning you cannot have a caravan with a door on the right-hand side.
Can You Wild Camp in England Safely in a Caravan?
You can wild camp in England safely so long as you take a few sensible precautions.1. Ensure All Your Belongings Are Secured
Caravans are a burglar’s favourite target, so if you plan to leave for longer than a few minutes, make sure your caravan is locked securely. Also, make sure the alarm is switched on. Install a tracking device on your caravan
, and take a test drive to ensure it functions correctly.2. Make Sure Your Caravan Is Working Properly
Ensure you have your caravan regularly serviced particularly for your gas appliances. Caravans don't currently require an MOT but if you aren't having the wheels and chassis regularly checked there is a good chance something may be wrong. 3. Park in a Level Place, and Carry Extra Food and Water
When you park your caravan for the night, you want it in a level place so that you can sleep well. Make sure you have plenty of food and water on hand in case your car breaks down, and you're stranded for a few days!
Can You Wild Camp in England?
Can you wild camp in England? The answer is a resounding yes, so long as you are wise. Wild camping is a delightful way to experience nature in all its glory. Just make sure you have the right gear for a comfortable stay.