When you’re planning a road trip, one thing that will always cross your mind is wild camping. Wild camping can be a great way to save a few quid by cutting out the cost of accommodation. It’s also an amazing way to completely immerse yourself in the wilderness of Scotland and see some incredible places. From forests to mountainsides, beaches to moors, you can set up your tent and sleep in spectacular places, all without paying a penny. There are a few issues that come with wild camping in the UK though, mainly whether or not it’s legal to camp where you’re planning to do so. Before pitching up for a night, it’s important to know that it’s okay for you to do so.
Wild camping in the UK is a bit of a grey area legally. The laws also differ quite significantly depending on the area you’re looking to camp in. Most notably, the laws in Scotland are pretty different from those in England and Wales, and it can also differ from place to place within each country.
As a general rule, wild camping in England and Wales is illegal. It is allowed if you ask permission of the owner of the land you’re camping on first though. Camping without the permission of the landowner is classed as trespassing, which you won’t get arrested for, but if you don’t leave when asked to then you can be arrested and prosecuted. Usually though, landowners will let you camp as long as you ask in advance, you’re respectful, and leave the land as you found it. No wild parties unfortunately!
The only place in England and Wales where wild camping is permitted is Dartmoor, where there are large areas of the national park where wild camping is allowed. This is exclusively for the use of tents, so you’ll need to park in a car park, and you have a maximum of two nights before you need to move your tent, but otherwise you’re free to camp where you like in those areas.
As with most things, Scotland rules on wild camping are a bit differently to the rest of the UK, mainly that wild camping is almost completely legal. The Land Reform Scotland Act of 2003 allows the public to access land for recreational use, which means wild camping is pretty much allowed anywhere. There are limitations to this, so you can’t just rock up and pitch your tent in someone’s garden or on a golf course or a school, but generally if you’re looking to camp out in the woods or a very rural area you’re fine. Common sense comes into play a bit as well, and if you’re not sure if you’re camping on someone’s farm it may be best to find somewhere else, but you’ll have a lot more options for wild camping if you head to Scotland.
Remember that you’ll often be quite far from any kind of civilisation. Whilst this is the most appealing aspect of wild camping for some people, you do need to be prepared. We would recommend bringing: