There’s nothing quite like wild camping. Sleeping under canvas – or under the stars if you’ve got a bivy bag – is guaranteed to reconnect you to nature. And wild camping, where you pitch up in the wilderness instead of a designated campsite, offers an uplifting sense of remoteness and freedom. It’s a way to enjoy the best of camping with none of the people.
Unless you’re in some parts of Dartmoor or most parts of Scotland, wild camping is only legal if you have the landowner’s permission. But many landowners are accommodating if you remain discreet (arrive late, leave early) and leave no trace. Use an OS map to pick a spot that’s at least a 20-minute walk from the nearest road or building and set back from marked hiking routes, and avoid map markings such as green slashes (bogs) and broken lines (tracks). You also need to ensure you take any litter back home with you and respect the environment at all times.
From Cornwall to the Cairngorms, here's eight spots to give wild camping a try.
1. Yes Tor, Dartmoor
This is one of the best places to wild camp in the UK because you don’t need permission to do it. It’s not permitted on all areas of open moorland, though, so check the official camping map first. Yes Tor is one of the area’s highest points, and is great for walking. Just south of it lies more isolated and quieter camping areas such as Dinger Tor, Lints Tor and Great Kneeset. Another good option is the high ground above Ivybridge, where you set up camp with views over the town and countryside below.
2. Camasunary, Isle of Skye
Framed by the peaks of Sgurr na Stri, Blaven and the mighty Cuillin range, Camasunary is a tranquil bay that’s the perfect place to bed down after a day “bagging” the Skye Munros. There’s also a bothy (mountain hut), should the weather turn bad and you need a more sturdy refuge. Head to the secluded beach, where mountain and sea meet spectacularly, and watch dawn break over the isles of Eigg and Rum as your coffee brews over the campstove and you plan your day’s adventure.
3. Haystacks, Lake District
With their majestic mountains and shimmering pools of water, the Lake District has some of the most beautiful views in the world. It’s not for nothing that this area in northwest England was given UNESCO World Heritage status just last year. One of Lakeland’s most famous writers, the fellwalker Alfred Wainwright, had his ashes scattered at Haystacks in the Western Fells because he loved the hill so much. Camping at its 597 metre-high summit on a clear night offers views of Ennerdale Water, Crummock Water and Buttermere far below – and is a great way to escape the tourists.
4. Carneddau, Snowdonia
Formed over 400 million years ago, the wild Carneddau range is just a valley away from the busy tourist bustle of Snowdon. Here you’ll find a mix of grass and heather, as well as rivers and plenty of choice for places to pitch up. At the bottom of Cwm Dulyn is a bothy that you can sleep in – or camp outside of – if you’re looking for a little extra shelter before waking up and climbing the peaks of Drum and Foel Fras. Or head to the shores of Melynllyn for a sleep beside the lake and beneath an impressive rock amphitheatre. Check out the Snowdonia wild camping guide here.
5. Glenfeshie, Cairngorms
Due to a law introduced in 2017, some sites in Scotland, including Loch Lomond, do now require campers to get a permit (see this guide for more information). Not so in the Cairngorms, the startlingly beautiful mountain range in the eastern Highlands. You’ll feel a world away from the stresses of modern life in Glenfeshie, with its tumbling waterfalls and sweeping mountain vistas. Home to one of the country’s most successful “rewilding” projects, it’s also the starting point for many walking routes, so you can hike straight from your tent.
6. Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons
The other mountain ranges in the Brecon Beacons may be the major draw for the crowds, but that’s great news for wilderness lovers. As the tourists are busy exploring the area’s famous peaks – including the highest mountain in south Wales, Pen y Fan – you can find the perfect patch of seclusion in the lesser-known Black Mountains. Hike up the 713 metre-high peak Rhos Dirion for a summit sleep, or pitch up in the hollows around Mynydd Bychan for a little more shelter.
7. The Cheviots, Northumberland
It’s not often you get the opportunity to go to sleep in two counties at the same time – but head to the Cheviot Hills and you can do exactly that. These rolling hills straddle the Anglo-Scottish border, between Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. Hike up onto the Cheviots via the Pennine Way, from either Byrness to the south or Kirk Yetholm to the north. Set up a camp before bedding down in your tent for some cross-border nap time.