Why Wild Camping Makes Us Smile

Loads of us love a night under canvas. But might it be even better if you head not for a campsite, but for the hills or moors?

Camping is fabulous – the fresh air, the sense of escape. But sometimes getting away from it all also means you’re getting very close to other people. The views are of their tents, not rolling hills.

Time to go wild camping. But how to start, and how to do it responsibly? Luckily Ordnance Survey has come up with this GetOutside guide from Fi Darby of the Two Blondes.

To investigate just why you might want to, I joined Fi and experienced wild camper Ju Lewis for a spot of Dartmoor wild camping research …

Wild Camping or Mild Camping?

  • With wild camping, there’s an exciting edge of unpredictability – seen here in the gleam in our eyes as we set out …
Wild Camping Smiles
  • You’re heading out onto the moor when others are heading home. Walkers look at your full rucksacks enviously, thinking “they’re going to wild camp!”
  • Nobody else gets the best pitch at the site, because nobody else is there …
Our single-tent campsite. Photo: Ju Lewis
  • You become a campsite designer – rocks become kitchens and dining-room tables and chairs …

  • There’s no noise from too-close tents. So you can laugh more freely too …
Sheer camping joy! Photo: Ju Lewis
  • It’s completely free – so more money for tent snacks.
  • Having to carry everything means you only take essentials. Less clutter means the break from your daily life is more pronounced.
  • The sun rises over tors and rivers, with nothing else in the way of the view.
Heading home in the morning
  • It helps us really reconnect with our world, ourselves and with loved ones and friends.
  • It’s an empowering GetOutside – look what we did!
  • You walk off the moor as others are walking on. You’re grinning; still with a gleam in your eye.
  • When wild camping, it only takes nine seconds (ahem) to take down a tent*

*This one ‘might’ not actually be true …

Obviously, you can’t just start pitching tents just anywhere. In England and Wales you have to get the landowner’s permission first. Some parts of Dartmoor National Park are exceptions; in those you’re free to wild camp – provided you follow some strict but relatively simple rules. They’re outlined here by Dartmoor National Park; it also links to a map of possible areas.

For a full guide to responsible Dartmoor wild camping from Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champions, the Two Blondes, click here.

Why do you love wild camping? What are your hints, tips and tricks?

Published by Belinda Dixon

I'm a travel & adventure writer (Lonely Planet), broadcaster (BBC Radio Devon & BBC Guernsey) and the British Exploring Society's media Leader on its 2016 Himalaya expedition. I write a blog that aims to inspire adventures; deliver inspiring training and record and edit powerful oral history archives.

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