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01 May, 2019 - Updated Last updated on
15 March, 2022

Posted by Spaceships Crew

Imagine discovering a beautiful, secluded place for wild camping overnight... If you want to try wild camping, here is all you need to know.

"Wild camping", or "informal camping" is the art of finding a fantastic location to camp for the night. It is different to "free camping", which, for campervans and motorhomes can also include places like a pub car park. Wild camping offers you peace, tranquillity and a genuine escape from the rest of civilisation in your own private corner of the world. It sounds idyllic and is also free, but you naturally forgo all the facilities and amenities of a traditional campsite.

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Your Spaceship can take you to remote camping locations

Most land is privately owned in the UK and Ireland. The exception is the National Parks, Trusts and local authority land. Even there, you should still seek permission or use a designated camping area. If you are really organised, you can contact a landowner before you visit and ask permission to stay in a remote part of their land for one or two nights. Details of landowners can be found using the Land Registry.

That may not always be possible if you decide to stop on the spur of the moment. In this case, if you are considerate and respectful, it is still possible to spend a night under the stars off grid. However, please be aware that you have no legal right to park overnight on private land, so if you are asked to move on, you should do so as soon as you can. You are allowed to park in a lay-by, but don't set up your awning or outdoor furniture for any length of time. It is parking only.

Guidelines for wild camping

Please follow these guidelines to enjoy safe, responsible and sustainable wild camping. It is essential to have a minimal impact on the natural landscape and the plants, animals and people who live there. 

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Wherever you park, leave no trace

Leave No Trace - the Golden Rule of wild camping. Leave no litter and collect any litter that is in the area before you go. If your vehicle has no toilet facilities, all effluent waste must be buried deep and at least 50m from any water course. Any toilet tissue or sanitary products should be bagged and disposed of responsibly away from the site.

Be Discreet - arrive late and leave early. Park in a safe location that is out of sight of houses. If you are not disturbing anybody, you will be less likely to be asked to leave. Avoid using your awning and setting up "a camp."

Be Clean - get a trowel to bury waste, bag any toiletry products and don't use soap or detergents in natural water courses. 

Be Fire Safe - use portable stoves and avoid open fires. If you use a barbecue, make sure it is raised off the ground to avoid scorching the ground. Ensure that is completely extinguished and bag and take all ashes and waste with you. 

Keep a Designated Driver - bear in mind that you may be asked to leave at any time and you must comply with that request. There must be a designated driver, legal, safe and responsible to drive the vehicle at all times. Remember that being "drunk in charge" of a vehicle is also an offence, even if you are not driving. Keep the vehicle keys safe and not in the ignition.

Top tips for wild camping

1. Plan ahead

Research your route and identify potential wild camping locations. Use an OS Map to locate footpaths (broken lines) and water (blue). If you can, get permission to stay from the landowner before your trip. 

2. Get the right gear

Sat Nav can sometimes be less reliable in remote areas, so a good local map is recommended. Pack warm and water proof clothing, torches, matches, trowel and plenty of waste refuse bags.

3. Stock up

Make sure you have plenty of fuel for your campervan or motorhome, your gas bottle is full and you have enough food and water.

4. Shop local

Tourism is a key part of the economy in remote areas. Use the local pubs, shops, cafes and of course campsites. If you are spending some money in the local economy, your wild camping is more likely to be accepted.

5. Respect the countryside

Don't feed livestock, wild animals or leave food around. Leave plants, rocks and stones where they are. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. 

Mix and match

It is a good idea to mix your wild camping with more conventional stays at some of the UK's fantastic campsites. Not only does this allow you to support the local tourism economy, but it also gives you the chance to use their facilities, empty any black waste in your motorhome and stock up again.

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Many campsites provide spectacular pitches and all the facilities you need

Take a walk on the wild side

In the UK and Ireland, it is certainly possible to get away from it all and enjoy seclusion and tranquillity on a recognised campsite. Nearly Wild Camping is a co-operative that offers a network of locations across the country aimed at campers looking for a quieter more natural location. It offers opportunities for nature walks, open fires, local activities and produce. 

The online campsite directory PitchUp has a wild camping section. Here you can find and book a range of camp sites from those set in 60 acres of woodland to a site on a working cider farm.

You can enjoy free camping using an organisation like Britstops. This is a range of locations all over the country that offer campervans and motorhomes overnight parking absolutely free of charge. There are no shower or toilet facilities, but the BritStops guide book lists nearly 1000 locations like pubs, farm shops and visitor centres where you can stay overnight in a safe location. You can also download apps like SearchforSites and park4night to help you find a safe place to stay overnight.

Your Spaceship is just the start of your adventure. With a vast choice of different types of campsites and other places to stay, you can create your own unique itinerary, creating an experience and memories that will last forever.

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