Here are some of my best walks for wild camping in the UK.
A quick note about wild camping – I always try to gain the land-owners’ permission on private land, strictly obey no camping signs and never leave a trace that I’ve been there. It’s often difficult to establish who owns the land, so I camp after dark and leave at first light, and never light a fire. It’s all about respect – both for the environment and for the people who come next. Please read My 11 Wild Camping Rules.
1. The Cape Wrath Trail
I walked the Cape Wrath Trail north to south in 2017 in 13 days. It’s gloriously remote – on 5 of these 13 days, I didn’t speak to a single person! Wild camping at Sandwood Bay was a highlight of this incredible walk. Ground conditions sometimes made finding a decent camping spot tricky, but flat ground can usually be found near the bothies.
Recommended reading: Cicerone Cape Wrath Trail book.
Tent used: Terra Nova Competition 1
2. Wainwright’s Remote Lakeland walk
This was a great 194 mile walk around the remoter parts of the Lake District with some amazing high level camps. The walk was very strenuous with over 40,000ft of ascent. It was a very quiet and interesting walk, I went hours without seeing a single person. This is not a good first long distance walk, it is extremely challenging, especially in bad weather. It often reminded me of the Cape Wrath Trail. I loved this walk and will probably do it again.
3. TGO Challenge: Coast to Coast across Scotland
I loved the challenge of this walk, making up my own route across Scotland. I completed this in 2018 and wild camped in incredible places every night (16 nights, including a 3-day walk to the start). It’s remote, but when you do meet up with another TGO participant the camaraderie is wonderful.
Recommended reading: My TGO Challenge. Glenelg to St Cyrus.
Similar Tent used: Terra Nova Competition 1
4. The Skye Trail
The Skye Trail is a week long walk for experienced walkers only. There’s no way-marking and the route is often off paths. The route passes through some of the best scenery in the UK, but it does need good navigation skills. The weather on the Isle of Skye can be unpredictable and the route goes over some steep ground. There’s plenty of opportunities to wild camp but many of the places are exposed and you’ll need good equipment if it gets windy.
5. The Pennine Way
An oldie but a goodie. I’ve walked this three times, and prefer it north to south. As most guide books describe a walk from south to north, walking ‘against the grain’ means you often have the route to yourself! I have walked this with children aged 7 and 9 years old and wild camped most nights. The official camp sites on the route are also very well equipped.
Recommended reading: Cicerone The Pennine Way book.
6. The Cumbria Way
A gorgeous route through Cumbria, including some of the best family-friendly walking in the Lake District. We completed this as a family in October 2018, when the children were aged 6 and 7. Amazing wild camping spots every night and perfectly timed pubs made for a wonderful walk.
Recommended reading: Cicerone The Cumbria Way book.
7. Gower Coast Path
I’ve often walked in this area, most recently in 2019 with my 19 year old son, who incredibly still wants to walk with me. Great company, scenery and weather. In late September it was still warm enough to stop and swim in the sea and sleep on Rhossili Beach under the stars.
Recommended reading: Carmarthen Bay and Gower cicular walks.
8. Wainwright’s Coast to Coast
I walked this in 2009, east to west. The Yorkshire moors and dales were a lot more varied and interesting than I was expecting. The little gullies and valleys were beautiful, and the hospitality of the locals absolutely made the walk. Walkers were made so welcome in the pubs – even allowing us to camp in the beer garden on some occasions! No, I don’t think this counts as wild camping either, but it was a lot of fun.
Recommended reading: Cicerone The Coast to Coast walk.
9. Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains area
Long-distance circuits here also hold memories of my dad, and I have now walked this area with my family too. I love that you can stay high on the ridges for so long. Wild camping spots are possible, but you need to be discreet.
10. Land’s End to John O’Groats and 3 peaks walk
I was surprised how easily I found wild camping spots during my Lands End to John O’Groats and 3 Peaks walk. Nowhere in the country was too difficult finding somewhere to pitch the tent, unless I was near civilisation. I set off from Land’s End on 17th February 2019 and arrived at John O’Groats 19th April. I walked 1,200 miles camping rough for 58 nights, only staying in accommodation for 2 nights while I was waiting for safe conditions to climb Snowdon and 2 nights in bothies. Wild camping was perfect as it gave me the freedom to walk as far as I liked each day depending on how I felt or the weather conditions. It was also possible to change the route through Wales because of bad weather. If I hadn’t have been able to do this and had stuck to my original planned route, I don’t think I would have finished the walk. I camped in fields, beside canals, lochs, on cliff tops, sand dunes and on the beach. This was only possible because I followed my 11 Wild Camping Rules.
Recommended reading: Cicerone The End to End Trail book
Tent used: Nordisk Telemark ULW 1
11. The Lake District
I’ve walked thousands of miles in the Lake District in the last 40yrs and probably had a hundred nights wild camping there. It’s possibly the easiest place to wild camp in the UK, outside Scotland. The ground conditions and number of paths in the area make it extremely easy to get away from it all.
The Ulefone Armor 3W waterproof tough phone
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