Here are some of my favourite long-distance walks in the UK that I’ve wild camped on.
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. I have found land-owners to be extremely obliging and haven’t been turned down yet. Mostly I’ve not been able to find the land owner, 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 wild campers that come next.
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 deserted 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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. Read about our adventure here.
5. Gower Coast Path
I walked this in 2018 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Lands End to John O’Groats and 3 peaks walk.
I set of from Lands End on 17th February 2019 and arrived at John O’Groats 19th April. I walked 1200 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 bothys. I liked camping rough 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.
Read about my LEJOG walk here.