Last year between lockdowns I set off with my old back packing rucksack full of out dated gear and headed out for a night on the wild side. Adventuring in the wild is for everyone, it doesn’t have to be expensive or in the most beautiful spots but a pretty location does make for a good breakfast view!
Wild camping means camping away from the luxuries of a campsite. It isn’t legal everywhere but it is tolerated if done safely and responsibly. We can all respect, protect and enjoy the countryside as we spend a night on the wild side, so how do we do that?
As wild camping without the landowners permission is illegal you may get asked to move on. If this happens, do it without any fuss, pack up your gear and leave at their request.
There’s a difference between ‘wild’ camping and ‘fly’ camping. Fly camping has increased during and after lockdown, this type of camping is unsubtle and obnoxious where people pitch up by the side of the road, on popular lakeshores, on people’s farmland and close to villages all without permission or consideration for the negative consequences affecting nature and the local communities. Wild camping on the other hand is responsible, inconspicuous and proportionate with those taking part always adhering to a clearly defined code of ethics and conduct such as that set out in the Countryside Code in England or the Scottish Access Code in Scotland.
So when heading out to wild camp we should arrive late, leave early and only stay for one night. Plan ahead, you should always have a back up spot in mind, if you arrive at your chosen wild spot and it’s taken you should be able to move on to your back up pitch.
If you have walked all day and end up arriving early at your pitch spot make sure to keep all of your gear in your bag until later. When selecting a pitch they must be above the highest fell wall, away from rights of way, villages, lake shores and water sources. You should always try to be as inconspicuous as possible staying quiet and well hidden, no one should know you’re there even if you’re staying over night.
Water sources are handy to have close by for drinking water but you must never use any sort of chemical/domestic product to wash yourself or your eating utensils with in the water.
Take care with BBQs and do not light fires
Be careful with naked flames and cigarettes. Only use BBQs where signs state they are allowed. Always put your BBQ out, make sure the ashes are cold and dispose of them responsibly. Fires can be as devastating to wildlife and habitats as they are to people and property.
Controlled fires are used by some land managers to manage vegetation, particularly on heaths and moors between 1 October and 15 April. Call 999 if you see an unattended fire.
Make sure you take enough warm layers, you don’t need the most expensive gear on the market but you must check the forecast before planning to spend a night under the stars, it gets surprisingly cold out there at night. A dog always makes for a good hot water bottle, as Sydney does for me!
Wild wees and adventure poos should be done well away from water sources. All tissues and sanitary products must be bagged up and taken home with you. Be discreet as possible, number 2’s must be bagged or buried – this is the only time digging a hole is acceptable, then replacing the dug up earth.
Always abide by the leave no trace mantra. Leave only footprints, take only photos and memories. See here the photo of during our camp and a photo after we had struck camp, leaving no trace we’d ever been there. Carrying out our gear, litter, fire and waste and leave the landscape in a better condition than you found it by taking home anyone else’s litter you find on your way.
And of course enjoy it! A night in the wild is a truly special way to enjoy our wonderful landscapes, if you’ve never done it before familiarise yourself with your gear before setting out. Maybe even spend a night solo at a campsite to get a feel for things then start planning further afield.