Wild camping – a ‘must do’ for your bucket list

We have wild camped a few times in Scotland, and in other parts of the UK (following the generally accepted wild camping guidelines – see below) and love the feeling of freedom and tranquility you get from spending the night in a wild and remote location. I’m not saying campsite camping is not for us – we love that too – but every now and then we just feel the need for a night off grid; a night where you have 360 degree scenery and landscapes all to your self (give or take the odd wild pony, sheep, rabbit, deer and maybe a red squirrel – depending on where you are pitching up.

So when we recently spent some time in Devon and more specifically, Dartmoor, we just had to go for a wild camp. Not only is Dartmoor a stunning place to be, it is one of the few places you can wild camp legally. Spending the night next to the bubbling East Dart river with the local wild Dartmoor ponies was magical – so peaceful, so natural, so therapeutic. We met the occasional waker and fellow wild camper passing by, but as the sun began to drop, the place was ours. We played games together (Tag, Grandma’s Footsteps, had reed javelin throwing contests as well as reed archery – with an old cow pat as our target), we went for a dusk stroll and then brushed our teeth by the Dart under a wild Moon crescent before snuggling down for one of the best night’s sleep we’ve all had for ages (the carrying of our tent, roll mats, sleeping bags, stove etc on the walk up onto Dartmoor earlier in the day and the pre-sleep game-playing helping our bodies switch off and relax).

Waking to the warmth of the sun radiating through the tent and the gabbling of the East Dart and then the view of dramatic moorland and a confused cow that had wandered down to breakfast on the lush grass we had made our bed on got the day off to the perfect start. We felt rested, happy at one with our wild surroundings. Shame it had to come to an end.

Wild camping is both super relaxing and exciting and invigorating at the same time. You must add it onto your bucket list (if you have one).

If you do decide to camp wild for a night or two, please follow the guidelines below.

Wild camping – a few DOs and DON’Ts

DO – arrive at your camping spot late in the evening and leave early in the morning
DO – use a lightweight tent so as to minimise the impact on the land
DO – leave NO trace; take away ALL litter
DO – respect the flora and fauna
DO – follow the Countryside Code

DON’T – camp on private land or near to private dwellings
DON’T – spend more than one night in the same location
DON’T – light open fires


  1. I couldn’t agree more Tim. Dartmoor is a beautiful and peaceful place to explore – and life is too short not to both have a bucket list, and get on with ticking it off!

    For anyone else thinking of giving it a try, the NPA website has a good map showing where wild camping on Dartmoor is allowed: http://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/visiting/vi-planningyourvisit/camping/camping-map

    We’ve pulled together a bit of a guide to how wild camping is treated in the UK’s other national parks. As long as you act within the code, you will be tolerated in most places.

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