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Leslie Gilmour

Wild Camping in the UK: A Budget-Friendly Way to Enjoy the Summer Holiday

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Edited by Leslie Gilmour, Tuesday, 18 Apr 2023, 12:19

Wild camping is a great way to experience nature's beauty and escape the city. The UK is home to some of the most stunning wild camping spots in the world, from rolling hills and rugged coastline to dense forests and tranquil lakes.

Whether you're an experienced camper or a beginner, there's a wild camping spot in the UK that's perfect for you. From the Scottish Highlands to the Cornish coast, there are endless opportunities to pitch your tent and explore the great outdoors.

Lake District National Park

The Lake District National Park is a popular destination for wild camping enthusiasts. Its stunning landscapes, rugged mountains, and tranquil lakes offer plenty of outdoor adventure opportunities.

However, it is important to note that going wild camping in the Lake District without prior permission from the landowner is technically not permitted. As the National Park Authority states, "Wild camping is not a legal right, it is a tolerated activity."

That being said, there are several areas within the Lake District where wild camping is more accepted. These areas include:

  • The Langdale Pikes

  • Great Gable

  • Haystacks

  • Scafell Pike

Following the Leave No Trace principles when wild camping in the Lake District is important. This means leaving the area as you found it, taking all rubbish with you, and avoiding damage to the environment. Camping above the highest fell wall, away from footpaths, and out of sight of houses and farms is also recommended.

Wild camping in the Lake District is a unique and rewarding experience, but it is important to remember to respect the environment and follow the rules and guidelines set out by the National Park Authority.

Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor National Park is one of the most popular wild camping spots in the UK. With its rugged and picturesque landscape, it offers a unique and unforgettable experience for any adventurer. There are several areas within the park where wild camping is allowed, but it is important to consult the interactive map provided by Dartmoor National Park Authority before setting up camp.

One of the top spots for wild camping in Dartmoor is Cosdon Hill. Located on the park's northern side, this spot is easily accessible from South Zeal.

The entire Cosdon Hill area is designated for wild camping, so campers do not have to worry about being in the wrong area. Another great spot is Okehampton Common, one of the park's most dramatic parts. This area offers stunning views and a chance to get up close with Dartmoor's unique wildlife.

For those who prefer to camp at designated campsites, there are several options within Dartmoor National Park.

The River Dart Country Park is a family-friendly campsite that offers a wide range of activities due to its location within a 90-acre water and adventure park. Another option is the Langstone Manor Holiday Park, which offers a peaceful and secluded camping experience in the heart of Dartmoor.

Wild Camping in the Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park is a paradise for wild camping enthusiasts. With its breathtaking landscapes, stunning lochs, and majestic mountains, it offers some of the best wild camping spots in the UK.

One of the most popular wild camping spots in the Cairngorms is Loch Etchachan. Located in the atmospheric Coire Etchachan, it is the highest-named body of water in the UK, at 920m. It offers a truly memorable night spot, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the starry night sky.

For those seeking more wilderness and less people, there are many other top spots to pitch up in the Cairngorms. Ben Macdui, the UK's second-highest mountain, is a popular spot for adrenaline junkies. Cairn Toul, Angel's Peak, Beinn a Bhuird, and the SnowRoads are also great options for experienced wild campers.

It's important to note that wild camping in the Cairngorms National Park is subject to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. This means that wild camping is allowed, but it must be done responsibly and with respect for the environment and others.

Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park is a beautiful North Wales area popular with hikers, climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts. It is also a great place to go wild camping, with plenty of stunning locations to choose from.

One of the best spots for wild camping in Snowdonia is near the summit of Mount Snowdon itself. While it can be a challenging hike to get to the top, the views from the summit are truly breathtaking. There are several flat areas near the summit where you can pitch your tent and spend the night under the stars.

If you prefer to camp at a lower elevation, there are plenty of other options in Snowdonia. For example, Llyn Gwynant campsite is a great place to set up camp if you want to be close to the water. The campsite is located on the shores of Llyn Gwynant, a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains.

Another popular spot for wild camping in Snowdonia is the Cwm Idwal Nature Reserve. This area is known for its stunning scenery, including the beautiful Llyn Idwal Lake. There are several good spots for wild camping in the reserve, including the shores of Llyn Idwal itself.

It is important to note that wild camping is not technically legal in Snowdonia National Park, but it is tolerated and commonplace.

Brecon Beacons National Park

Brecon Beacons National Park is a popular destination for wild camping in the UK. The park offers a wide range of landscapes, including mountains, valleys, and waterfalls, making it an ideal spot for camping enthusiasts.

The Black Mountains are among the best areas for wild camping in the Brecon Beacons. This area offers some of the wildest terrains in the park, with long and wide ridges running parallel to each other and deep valleys in between them. Camping on the mountaintops can be quite exposed in bad weather, so pitching high only when the forecast looks safe is best.

If you're looking for a more tranquil and peaceful camping experience, Aberbran Fawr campsite is a great option. This little campsite is tucked away in a quiet corner of the park and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. It's a hidden gem that's not very well known, so it's perfect for those who want to get away from the crowds.

It's important to note that wild camping is not legal in most parts of the UK, including the Brecon Beacons. However, it is possible to camp legally in certain areas of the park by first obtaining permission from the landowner.

If you're unsure about where to camp in the Brecon Beacons, there are plenty of campsites in the area that offer a more traditional camping experience. Some of the best campsites in the park include Brynich Camping, Pencelli Castle Caravan and Camping Park, and Lakeside Caravan and Camping Park. These campsites offer a range of facilities, including showers, toilets, and electric hook-ups.

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK, standing at 1,345 metres tall, and is a popular destination for wild camping. With stunning views and challenging terrain, it is a great spot for experienced campers looking for an adventure.

There are several camping options available for those looking to camp near Ben Nevis. The Glen Nevis Caravan & Camping Park is a popular choice, as it is located just steps away from the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre and the start of the Mountain Path, which is the most common hiking route to the summit.

The campground offers a variety of pitches, including electric hookups, and has modern facilities, such as showers, toilets, and a laundry room.

The Steall Meadows is a popular spot for wild camping, as it is a flat area before the wire bridge crossing to the waterfall. It is recommended to park at the end of the Glen and walk up to the meadows to set up camp.

What to Expect While Wild Camping

The Law on Wild Camping in UK

Wild camping is legal in Scotland, but it is illegal in most other parts of the UK without the landowner's permission. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as Dartmoor National Park, where wild camping is allowed with certain restrictions. It is important to research and understand the laws and regulations of the area you plan to camp in before setting up camp.

The Best Time to Go Wild Camping

The best time for wild camping in the UK is during the summer months, from June to September. The weather is generally mild, and the days are longer, giving you more time to explore and enjoy the outdoors. However, it is important to be prepared for all weather conditions, as the weather in the UK can be unpredictable.

What to Pack for Wild Camping

When packing for a wild camping trip, it is important to pack light, but also to be prepared for all weather conditions. Essential items to pack include a tent, sleeping bag, camping stove, food, water, warm clothing, a first aid kit, and a map and compass. It is also important to pack out all rubbish.


Wild camping in the UK is a fantastic way to experience the great outdoors and connect with nature. With so many beautiful and diverse landscapes to choose from, there is no shortage of great camping spots. Whether you are looking for rugged mountains, rolling hills, or stunning coastlines, the UK has it all.

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