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I’ve spent hundreds of nights camping wild and I’ve never had a problem. Not once have I been moved on or had anyone complain about where I’m camped. I stick to some simple rules:

Camping in Scotland.

1: respect

When I’m walking or camping, I respect the land I’m on. I remember that somebody else owns it and is probably trying to make a living from it.

2: permission

Ask for permission to camp. Often this is not possible because it’s not obvious who owns the land. Also, I wouldn’t want to be knocking on a remote farm house door, disturbing the owners late at night.

3: stealth

I try to camp away from the path, on land that is not farmed or used for livestock. I always pitch my tent late, just before dark and take it down at first light.

4: return everything

When I take my tent down, I return everything to how it was before I got there. Even returning the sticks or stones that I moved the night before to make a flat area to sleep on.

5: leave no trace

Leave no trace. I don’t leave any rubbish at all, not even a match stick, plaster or banana skin. Some things take a long time to rot away and would be an eyesore for people passing by after I’ve gone.

6: no fires

I never light open fires. I stand my stove on an alloy base and keep it well away from anything that may catch fire. This also prevents scorching the ground, which would leave a trace that I had been there (breaking rule 5…)

7: go green

Be as unobtrusive as possible. I usually use green tents so they blend in with the surroundings. This means I’m also not an eyesore for any people that may pass by. You can read my review of the best (green) tents to use for wild camping here.

8: no camping means no camping

If there is a no camping sign, I respect it and move on to find somewhere else to camp.

9: quiet

Make as little noise as possible, as it’s surprising how far noise travels.

10: dark

I keep the light down as much as possible and don’t flash my torch around any more than is absolutely necessary. Light can be seen from a long distance away and may worry the land owner, who may think someone’s stealing farm machinery or sheep etc.

11: toilet issues

I always carry a trowel so I can bury my poo properly, well away from any water source. Left on the ground isn’t pleasant for people or animals to come across later, and it’s important to prevent the spread of disease. Landowners are already having trouble with all the dog mess that gets left on their land, spreading disease. There are now many light weight trowels available. I carry THE TENTLAB Duece 2 UL trowel which only weighs 17g.

The legal side

Please check for specific rules for where you intend to camp before wild camping, but as a very rough guide:

Wild camping in England and Wales is generally illegal. However, it is possible if you ask the landowner’s permission. Dartmoor in Devon has special rules where it’s legal to wild camp in designated areas. There is also a tradition of wild camping in the Lake District National Park.

Scotland benefits from freedom-to-roam rules and its own laws which allows wild camping, thanks to the Land Reform Scotland Act 2003. This allows the public to camp on most unenclosed land, including many of Scotland’s national parks, but be aware that there are some restrictions. Please make sure you follow the Scottish Access Code – rights and responsibilities, Land Reform Act and Camping.

A link to My Best Wild Camping Walks.

Wild-camped on my 1100 mile Dover to Cape Wrath walk

52 nights wild camping in my Tarptent Notch Li while walking from Dover to Cape Wrath in 2020

Wild-camped on the John O’Groats Trail

John O’Groats Trail wild camping in my Nordisk Telemark 1.

Wild-camped on the TGO Challenge

“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.” Leave No Trace.

Further reading

My favourite piece of gear for convenience and safety and My Ulefone Amor 3W review

Dover to Cape Wrath walk, wild camping every night

My favourite walks for wild camping

Best tents for stealth wild camping

My Scottish National Trail walk, wild camping every night

Scottish National Trail Gear List

My LEJOG and 3 Peaks walk. (short story)

How I plan a successful long distance walk

Wildwalkinguk is a blog run in my spare time, and I pay for its running costs myself. I do have some Amazon affiliate links and adverts on the site. If you click on these adverts or links and buy what you need (it doesn’t have to be the item we’ve linked to), the company will pay a small commission to me. This money goes towards the costs of hosting the blog. We would be extremely grateful if you could consider using our links when you next need to buy something from our advertisers. Alternatively, you can buy me a coffee here. Thank you so much for your support. Mark.

One Reply to “My 11 Wild Camping Rules”

  1. Hello Rebecca
    Scotland coast to coast solo ‘could’ be ambitious depending on how high a route you chose, but time would be ok. Myself, I would consider planning that as part of the TGO Challenge next May. It would be safer and you would meet some lovely people as part of it. https://wildwalkinguk.com/2019/01/27/tgo-challenge/
    My slight worry hiking in July is the walk/wild camping being spoiled by midges. But don’t let me put you off, as I’ll probably be up there during the summer.
    As a first walk wild camping most nights, you could look at the West Highland Way and continue on the Great Glen Way. I did that as part of my Lands End to John O’Groats and 3 peaks walk. Don’t go by my daily mileages as I had been walking for a month and was pretty fit by then. https://wildwalkinguk.com/2019/06/15/possible-additions-to-the-west-highland-way/
    There’s also Wainwright’s Remote Lakeland walk that can be altered to suit the weather and resupply or to just add extra peaks. I didn’t struggle wild camping. https://wildwalkinguk.com/2021/04/25/wainwrights-remote-lakeland-walk-312km/ Any route in the Lake District would be nice and relatively easy wild camping. Possibly busy? But no midges…
    But difficult to say too much as I don’t know your experience. Have to think safety first.
    Would like to hear your thoughts/more info.
    Great hiking with your grown up kids, I’m hiking in the Lakes with my 24yr old son again in a few weeks.
    Best of luck
    Mark

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