Wild Camping Rules and Guidelines

I have been on many wild camp’s myself and can fully appreciate the freedom it gives you and the sense of wilderness you feel which is difficult on such a small island as the UK.

I have watched the sun set & rise over mountain tops, camped by tarns and lochs that supplied me with ample water with which to cook some hot food and a drink. There is no feeling quite like hearing the howling wind and heavy rain bashing against the side of your tent, whilst you’re tucked up inside your bag with hot brew or your favourite tipple.

You get to see wildlife up-close and personal like you would never get on a park & pay campsite.

Unfortunately, on the other hand I have seen how some people lack the respect wild camping truly needs. The main issue’s being littering and camp fires. From empty gas cans to plastic bags, it really does upset me to see that people would abuse the outdoors like this.

Below is a brief summary and a few rules & guidelines that each and every one of us should follow.

What is Wild Camping?

Essentially wild camping is nothing like camp site camping, it takes place in the hills, well above the farm walls.

Carrying everything you need on your back, water, food, sleeping bag, tent or poncho. There are obviously no toilet or wash facilities, so you basically ‘Go’ outdoors and wash with stream or river water.

The main plus points are the lack of people, cars, concrete and general hustle and bustle of city life.

Is it legal?

Unfortunately the standard answer is ‘No’ however…..

“Wild camping in the UK IS LEGAL IN CERTAIN AREAS with permission from the landowner, there are also land access rights in local regions, such as Dartmoor and Scotland.”

The Laws


The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and Scottish Outdoor Access Code came into force on the 9th February 2005. The Act establishes a statutory right to camp and the Code describes the responsibilities and best practice guidance that should be followed when exercising your right to camp wild.

A section in the Trespass (Scotland) Act 1985, which contained an offence of camping on land without the consent of the owner or occupier, has been repealed via Schedule 2 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. The 2003 Act confirms that camping is a lawful activity when done by a person in the exercise of the access rights created by the Land Reform Act.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code contains guidance on the responsibilities that accompany the access rights in the Act. The Code provides specific advice on wild camping and recommends that in order to avoid causing problems you should not camp in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals.

England & Wales

Whilst the Land Reform Act in Scotland allows for wild camping, the land legislation in England is somewhat different. The introduction of wild camping in England would be a controversial issue, which would require both significant consultation and legislative change.

In short, camping on private land without permission is trespassing and on open access land wild camping is prohibited under Schedule 2 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, a recent petition to the Government to address this gave the following response:

“This Government appreciates the potential benefits of wild camping in England and its attractiveness to campers who already have the opportunity to camp in the wild in Scotland.

So if you want to camp wild in the UK, generally you need to seek landowner’s permission. You may find in some national parks or tourist areas they do have recognised preferred camping spots that they recommend. So use the tourist information where possible.

The Wild Camping Code

Other People

  • Always pitch late and leave early
  • Pitch away from the main paths and trails
  • Keep noise to a minimum
  • Keep groups to no more than 4 to be as unobtrusive as possible
  • Leave the camp spot as you found it, there should be no sign you were there
  • Vegetation
  • Take out what you carry in (all rubbish)
  • Change camp spots often to avoid damaging the vegetation
  • Avoid camp fires


  • When going to the toilet ensure you are always 30-50 meters away from running water and paths
  • Always dig a hole and bury excrement where the vegetation is not sensitive
  • Take all rubbish with you including other peoples
  • Tissues, tampons etc (these should not be buried as animals can dig them up)

All of the above is just common sense. When outdoors, respect other people and the environment.

Most of all HAVE FUN!