Is wild camping in England allowed?
Wild camping and the law
The short answer is that wild camping in England is legal, but only if you have permission from the relevant landowner. It is, therefore, quite difficult for someone to head off wild camping in England, unless you happen to know a landowner who is happy to give you permission to wild camp.
Camping on private land without permission is trespassing. On open-access land, wild camping is prohibited under Schedule 2 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. However things are different in Scotland, where the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 establishes a statutory right to camp. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code came into force, along with the Act, on 9th February 2005. The Code describes the responsibilities and best practice guidance that should be followed when exercising your right to camp wild in Scotland.
Permission for wild camping
The best summary of information I could find on wild camping in England and the UK was from a forum on the Bushcraft UK website. The author mentions the following;
“Wild camping in the UK is legal in certain areas with expressed permission from the landowner. In addition, there are also access rights in local regions, in particular Dartmoor and Scotland that favour the camping enthusiast.”
The author references his source as – Legalise Wild Camping petition in England and Wales – and discusses further information on wild camping. There’s plenty more information on wild camping in the UK if you’re determined to go off the beaten track. But there are other options too.
Our wild camping alternatives
Nearly wild camping at Beech Estate Woodland
We like to think Beech Estate Woodland Campsite is about as close to wild camping as you can get in an organised campsite. The campsite is situated in a 600-acre forest in East Sussex. It’s part of the private 2000-acre Beech Estate. The campsite’s specified area is approximately 20 acres of woodland, across which we have only 15-20 pitches. The campsite has compost loos, bucket showers and specialises in campfires and tucked-away pitches.
We hope Beech Estate offers an alternative, that’s as close to wild camping as you can get in England. As the campsite is in Sussex, just over an hour from London and close to the South Coast, it makes the experience of wild camping more accessible to more people.
At Beech Estate, we welcome hammock campers, bivouac campers and campers with tarps. If you are camping and using a hammock we ask you to respect the woods. That means asking us where the best spots to set up your hammock are and being cautious with campfires. It goes without saying, we ask you to leave the wild camping spot as you found it.
Beech Estate reviewed
Here’s what one of our bivouac campers wrote on a review site after a stay at Beech Estate Campsite.
“The Beech Estate is a campsite without any trailers, caravans or campervans. Where you can camp legally in beautiful surroundings with tarp, hammock or bivi (or indeed a tent), and a real camp fire. Ok it’s not wilderness, and there’s even mains water, but it’s a million miles away from the usual trailer park camp site. I would thoroughly recommend this place to anyone, especially families and individuals wanting to enjoy a simpler way of camping, or explore simple bushcraft skills without stepping on anyone’s toes or doing anything illegal.” – Jon S (Oct 2013)
All of our campsites are designed to offer peaceful and natural surroundings with the ability to have a campfire. These are some of the things that makes wild camping attractive. But at our campsites, permission is already in place. We also have toilets and a mains water supply, so you might even find that you prefer our style of wild-ish camping!