This best UK wild camping locations post is written before the end of lockdown, and may be updated from time to time to reflect up to date information. 

As the country emerges from lockdown, all eyes will be on travel and holidays.

But with restrictions still in place following the coronavirus pandemic, many hotels will still be closed, and a large percentage of campsites will be open, but may have the communal areas such as toilets and showers closed.

So what does that leave? Well, holiday cottages for one, but if you really want to get off the beaten track, then may I suggest wild camping.

A completely back to nature experience, and a great adventure if you’ve never wild camped before 🙂

I’ve wild camped a few times around the UK, in Scotland and the Lake District, and in addition to a wild camping checklist which I wrote a few years ago, I thought it was about time to inform you of some of the best wild camping spots around the UK.

Before I launch into the list however, I must post a few links to relevant guides around the UK. In general, wild camping is illegal in England and Wales, but is broadly allowed in Scotland.

Most landowners (such as farmers) are accommodating if you keep away from farms and buildings, be quiet & discreet (arrive late and leave early) and everything you bring into the camp, take away with you.

As such, please read these guides first:

-> Lake District Wild Camping

-> Wild Camping in Wales

-> Wild Camping in Scotland

In my opinion, the laws around wild camping in England and Wales and a little archaic and need reforming. Scotland passed the Land Reform Act in 2003, which permits camping on most unenclosed land. England and Wales should do the same.

Anyhow, let’s crack on and get to the UK’s best wild camping locations:

1. Grisedale Tarn, Lake District

This was the spot of my wild camp back in 2014, when I was training for the 24 peaks in 24 hours challenge. This is an ideal location for wild camping, as it’s mostly well sheltered, has a water source in the tarn and the streams that join it, and you get some cracking views of the surrounding mountains.

Wild Camping - Grisedale Tarn, Lake District

2. Haystacks, Lake District

I have a love hate relationship with this mountain. Situated in the Ennerdale Valley, it boasts impressive views over Ennerdale Water, Buttermere and Crummock Water, and with a top height of 597m, it isn’t too difficult to scale. If you’re walking through or over Haystacks however, it can be a bit of a navigation nightmare, as the peak is difficult to spot and there are plenty of false hills that lure you into thinking you’re in one place, when you’re actually in another.

That may be why this is a great wild camping spot, because you can be discreet and hide your tent easily, but you’re also blessed with incredible views.

Wild Camping on Haystacks, Lake District

Photo source: Steve Clasper

 

3. The Mammores, Scotland

Located South East of Fort William, the Mammores are a brilliant set of mountains. I wild camped here back in 2008 (my first wild camp!) and absolutely loved it. Set off from Kinlockleven, choose your route, and if the weather really closes in and you don’t trust your tent, you can always navigate to a bothy.

From memory we pitched our tent for the night just below Meall a’Bhainne, next to stream, but sheltered from the wind.

Wild Camping on Haystacks, Lake District

A youthful me hiking above Kinlochleven in 2008!

 

4. Glenfeshie, Cairngorms, Scotland

The Cairngorms are a stunning set of mountains. The River Feshie flows in the very West of the Cairngorms, and the wild camping spots are aplenty along its riverside. Slighly lower level than the big Cairngorm munros, take in the waterfalls and lush green countryside across the glen.

If you do get stuck in adverse weather, just like the Mammores, there is a bothy to aim for, known locally as ‘The Feshie Bothy’, but on an OS map it is called Ruigh Aiteachain.

Wild camping in Scotland

 

5. Dod Hill, The Cheviots, Northumberland

The Cheviots are often considered a boggy load of hill, but with some serious height gain, they offer some brilliant alternative scenery to the Lakes and the Pennines. Also, if you pick the right route, you can criss-cross the border between Scotland and England! My suggested wild camp location is situated on the Scottish side (where it’s legal), and near the mountain refuge hut on the Pennine Way.

The Cheviot summit, Northumberland

The Cheviot summit. Photo source: Baz_adventure_seeker (Instagram)

 

6. Moel Feity, Black Mountain, Brecon Beacons

Not to be confused with the Black Mountains in the East, the Black Mountain range is located in the West of the Brecon Beacons, and like it’s namesake, it will generally be much quieter than the centre, where most people will be headed to bag Pen Y Fan. Moel Feity is open and wild, but with a forest to the North and rivers and small valleys to the South, you’ll be sure to find a sheltered spot all to yourself.

Wild Camp at Fan Fach, Black Mountain, Brecon Beacons in Wales

A wild camp at Fan Fach. Photo source: Richard Perry

 

7. Statts Ho, Dartmoor

Unlike the other places in England mentioned on the list, Dartmoor is one of the best places to wild camp in the UK because you don’t need permission. Statts Ho is situated in the East of Dartmoor, and has a fairly flat summit, ideal for pitching your tent. If the weather is wild, drop down a little and you’ll be sure to find a sheltered spot behind one of the many large rocks around. If you choose Dartmoor as your wild camp location, be aware that there are many firing ranges in the National Park, so pick your route and spot carefully. Check out the Dartmoor camping map here.

Wild Camping on Dartmoor

Wild camping in Dartmoor. Photo source: Tristan Bawn

 

8. Lansallos, Cornwall

I’ve never wild camped in Cornwall, but it’s on my to-do list over the next few months. There are loads of hidden coves along the South West Coast Path, on the South side of Cornwall. I’ve chosen Lansallos as it should be much quieter than many other areas of the coast, and there should be plenty of nooks to keep you hidden out of sight. I wouldn’t advise camping on the beach though, unless you know the tides and the area very well.

Wild Camping in Cornwall - Lizard and Lion's Den

Wild camping near the Lizard, South coast, Cornwall. Photo source: Darrell Grundy

 

9. The Merrick, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland

Given wild camping is allowed North of the border, it makes sense to return to Scotland for the last location. Dumfries & Galloway is often overlooked in favour of the Lake District, but it is much quieter. The Merrick is South Scotland’s highest peak at 843m. It has a fairly flat summit, and all being well, you’ll be able to watch a cracking sunset before getting your head down.

A Winter wild camp at Loch Skeen, Galloway, Scotland

A Winter wild camp at Lock Skeen, Galloway. Photo source: Mike Bolam

There you have it! My top 9 wild camping spots around the UK.

Are there any locations you would recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

14 replies
  1. Paul Shorrock
    Paul Shorrock says:

    So, well done!

    Yet another article on ‘the best unspoiled camping spots’ is published, to encourage the morons with their disposable tents and bbq’s to head off to our loveliest places, where they can destroy all that was previously wild.

    I despair for those morons, but more than that I despair for someone making easy money by publishing these locations.

    Why don’t you go and find something and worthwhile to do with your time?

    Reply
    • Simon Heyes
      Simon Heyes says:

      Hi Paul, thanks for commenting. I appreciate the sentiment, and I’ve seen some horrible sights across campsites and more remote spots, across the UK since lockdown ended. But to be honest, I don’t think the morons will necessarily venture to many of these spots on the list, as they are too remote, and carrying a disposable BBQ and tent simply wouldn’t be worth the effort. I love camping, wild camping and adventure, and wanted to share some of my favourite places to do just that. You’ll notice if you removed this post and my blog from Google, there would another site and article to replace it. You can’t sensor nature. It’s there for everyone to find and enjoy, regardless of how you come across the locations. I know full well this post has helped a few dads pick their first wild camping spots with their kids, so please be aware this post is helping people rather than trying to push the idiots in society into remote parts of the UK. As such, this post is worthwhile, as I’m helping people. I don’t get paid for it, it’s just something I enjoy doing. Thanks again.

      Reply
      • James Hedges
        James Hedges says:

        Hi Simon, I’m a newbie when it comes to wild camping and for me it’s a solo retreat to respect and enjoy nature and get some peace. Thanks so much for the article, I will be trying to find Statts ho in Dartmoor this weekend and wouldn’t know about it otherwise. (I hope this doesn’t agitate this Paul fellow).
        I understand that certain people will litter and what have you but most people are interested as they just love being in nature. You haven’t done anything wrong mate and are helping many people, including me!
        Thank you Simon.

        Reply
  2. Geraint John
    Geraint John says:

    Hi Simon.
    I live of grid in the West Highlands and teach Outdoor and basic Survival skills.
    I agree, Nature is for everyone and you’ll always get the moronic people no matter where you go and what you do. I find the best way to educate the uneducated is to take them out into the wilds and teach them the rules of nature.
    There are skills you learn in life and skills you learn for life, I find learning by doing is the best way.
    Keep up the good work.
    Ger.

    Reply
    • Simon Heyes
      Simon Heyes says:

      Thanks for commenting Germ and sounds like you’ve got a cracking job up there! Couldn’t agree more – that’s exactly how I learnt….just not sure how to take the increasing minority into nature and teaching them how to wild camp! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Claire Simmons
    Claire Simmons says:

    I disagree, as I live opposite a publish wild camping spots, it has been destroyed by people leaving litter, and being unthoughtful. Now instead of watching seals I watch litter floating in the sea. Instead of nice woodlands, there are BBQ’s thrown in the streams, and were once was a place for people to rest and children to play, now has graffiti. Lots of ‘morons’ want something for free!

    Reply
    • Simon Heyes
      Simon Heyes says:

      Indeed they do, and sorry to hear that particular location has been ruined by idiots. I still think a few ruin it for the many, and get tainted by the same brush though.

      Reply
      • Simon
        Simon says:

        That’s what is happening disrespectful idiots leaving their rubbish behind and making it bad for us who respect the country side, we camped at the bottom of Glastonbury tor and in the morning we’re asked to move on by national trust due to others being disrespectful and having fires and leaving rubbish my friend found open cans of dogs food and other cans of human food where wildlife roam and could have died if he never put it in a bin which was 2 feet away from where they were camping they are tramps discusting to see rubbish in such a beautiful place, and now they wonder why they are not allowing camping such a shame ruined it for people like me and my friends who respect the nature and country sides, but fair play to national trust they did let us stay one more night as we were stuck waiting for a lift home as I twisted my ankle running down the tor in the dark lol but had a great weekend met lots of lovely friendly people, so my point is that if you choose to go wild camping be responsible and respect the nature and the land take all your rubbish home or put it in the bin it’s not rocket science u don’t need to go to college to learn how to clean up your own mess, my opinion is that there lazy individuals who ruin it for the likes of others, ✌️ 💜

        Reply
  4. Craig Douglas Lambkin
    Craig Douglas Lambkin says:

    Well done for ignoring the fact it is illegal to wild camp in England and Wales (dartmoor exemption). When I was a boy in the seventies you could pitch a tent anywhere, now the government have changed all that and tried to force us into packed camping sites, so they can tax us through campsite owners, keep on wild camping don’t stop.

    Reply
    • Simon Heyes
      Simon Heyes says:

      But…I haven’t ignored the fact wild camping is illegal. That is mentioned in the first third of the post 🙂 I wish more areas would open up legal wild camping sites….but that is dependent on them not being trashed and littered, like what happened this summer. Cheers for commenting Craig.

      Reply
  5. Warren Callender
    Warren Callender says:

    A great article which has given me some ideas for my next expedition with my stepsons. We are always respectful of nature and ‘leave no trace’ requirements and have had some fantastic views and waking up to amazing sunrises. Unfortunately I doubt if we will ever get rid of the mononic campers activities as they are in the generation who think the world owes them something and frankly don’t care about their actions.
    However, the true hikers and wild campers are those who respect nature and where they pitch up and will always enjoy the sights and sounds away from the crowds. Happy hiking and camping.

    Reply
    • Simon Heyes
      Simon Heyes says:

      Thanks Warren, completely agree. Hopefully hiking, wild camping (and camping in general!) will get back to some sort of normality now the peak holiday period is over.

      Reply
  6. Simon Silvie
    Simon Silvie says:

    Social media and the urge to publish, mean that even once remote places are being trashed. Idiots will carry tents, camp beds, beer and bbqs up onto the tops and just leave them there when they head home.

    Some idiot published Lake District “secret places” and now water courses are polluted with human faeces.

    It’s heartbreaking to see the National Park being ruined in a few months, the damage to the environment will take generations to heal

    Reply

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