Born to be wild?

If you think that an abundance of tents with all the facilities you could possibly imagine simply spoils a good field, wild camping could be for you. However, if you’re expecting to just throw a bag on your back, walk as far as your legs will take you, light a camp fire and contemplate the world in all its natural glory; as the teddy bears say, “you could be in for a big surprise”. Camp fires are forbidden for a start!
If the team at BCH Camping were given a tent peg for every time they’re asked about wild camping, they could create their own Jenga game. The risk-averse want to understand all the rules, while the mavericks are keen to know all about FIRE (again…. no fire!) and how angry farmers and landowners are likely to get.
So, in an effort to put some customers at ease, reel others in, and in respect to landowners far and wide, we’ve put together a guide to wild camping.
Where can I go wild camping?
If you want to go wild camping in Scotland or Devon, including Dartmoor National Park, your options are much broader because it’s generally legal, as long as you don’t camp too close to roads or residences.
In the rest of England and Wales it’s a different matter. The official line is that wild camping is illegal. However, if you are respectful of your environment and the land on which you’re camping, behaving responsibly at all times, landowners are generally relaxed about it and you shouldn’t run into too much bother.
Wild camping etiquette
There are several things you can do to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Remember, you are not a guest. From a legal perspective you are a trespasser, so to encourage landowners to turn a blind eye you should keep a low profile and go about your business below the troublemaker radar. Here are some guidelines for wild camping etiquette:
  • On the basis that you’re only using the land because you need to sleep, it is highly advised that you arrive to pitch up as close to sundown as possible, and leave soon after sunrise. That way you won’t be pushing the goodwill of the landowner.
  • Don’t play loud music and dance around, throwing your arms around like a jumper on a wash cycle. Respect your environment. Remember, the birds have their own songs and a lot of wildlife come out at night giving them an easy opportunity to retaliate!
  • Clean up your mess. Leaving rubbish behind is hugely antisocial and disrespectful to the landowner and other walkers. Imagine you’re a spy – you don’t want anyone to know you were there. Always take bin bags with you.
  • Never light an open fire. Did we mention this? Apart from the damage to the land, there is always the chance of the fire spreading and escalating dangerously, particularly if you nod off after consuming some well-earned refreshments!
  • Calls of nature shouldn’t be executed to the detriment of surrounding nature; don’t kid yourself that they’re the same thing. The general etiquette is that you should choose a spot 50 metres away from water and dig a 6” hole in which to deposit your kind offering, after which the hole should be covered with earth. Don’t bury the toilet roll with said offering in some kind of homage to the traditions of early Egyptian pharaohs and their servants. You will need to dispose of it separately and responsibly, along with the rest of your rubbish.
What should I take with me for wild camping?
Generally, when wild camping you need to travel as light as possible whilst ensuring that you have enough supplies because facilities will be at a minimum.
There are a few essential items that you will need for an enjoyable wild camping experience: The longer you intend to be away, the higher capacity it will need to be, and it should be large enough to carry a tent. Depending on the weather forecast you may also need a liner to keep the contents dry. When you’re wild camping your home is on your back, so you need to make sure you can carry it. All the backpacking tents that BCH Camping supply are 100% waterproof, durable and most importantly, lightweight. The aluminium poles and lightweight ripstop outers keep two person tents at just 2kg, and three person tents at around 3kg. There is a wide range of sleeping bags available at BCH Camping to accommodate all seasons, weights and sizes. The Snugpak Travelpak 2 for example, is particularly suitable for backpacking as it is lightweight but still warm. Although travelling light should be a priority, you still need to eat nutritious meals to give you the fuel to walk another day. A camping stove will enable you to eat hot food and make hot drinks, which will be welcome when the sun goes down and you’re left with the cooler evening temperatures. BCH Camping stock a range of hydrated and dehydrated meals in bags, energy bars and desserts. Rather than taking a range of ingredients, these are lightweight options and don’t need any preparation. It is essential that you keep yourself hydrated, and when wild camping, water may not be readily available. Water bladders are a great way to transport water and are easily refilled when the opportunity arises. Bottles and flasks keep your liquids cold or hot, and should be accessible while walking. This is an essential item for any camper, but particularly so when you are camping in the wild without any lighting in the vicinity. We stock various torches and head torches to meet a range of budgets.
Wild camping can be a thrilling experience, but it needs to be approached with careful planning and consideration for landowners, and fellow walkers and campers. Carefully consider what you need to take with you; don’t get caught out by being unprepared. Do keep our staff playing tent peg Jenga by asking as many questions about wild camping as you like, we’re always delighted to be of help. Just get in touch!