Packing all your kit into a backpack and heading off the beaten track for a few peaceful days in the British countryside will be a fantastic trip. With a variety of options to meet your needs, there’s no shortage of wild camps in the UK. The first step to planning in knowing the essentials to take with you.
What is Wild Camping? – For those who are unfamiliar with this term, the basic explanation is camping done in the wild. It can be a specified campsite that you reserve or wandering out to the middle of nowhere until you find a spot that catches your eye. Most of the time, you’re in an area that doesn’t have other people in super close proximity.
The thing about wild camping is tolerated when it’s done within reason, except in Scotland where it has been legal since 2005. There are some restrictions, so be sure to do a little research on the area you’re going to. This will keep you from getting in more trouble if you run into any at all.
While some may be content with camping with other patrons close by, others may want a little more privacy. Maybe more room to get their “wild” on. Wild camping can give the illusion of being completely off the grid but have some amenities nearby if you’d like.
How you get there isn’t defined either. You can hike a few miles until you find the perfect location, or drive to an empty spot among some trees with a group of friends. If you’re driving, you can park and pitch a tent, or sleep in your car.
What Should I Pack? –
The packing list for wild camping doesn’t differ drastically from other types of camping. There are some additional items to consider bringing if you’ll be further off the beaten path than usual.
First, let’s start with your primary packing list:
- Tent – Tents are iconic to camping and have evolved so much. You can pack a modest two-person sleeper or bring along a massive 10-person tent to fit your whole crew.
- Warm clothes – Chances are wherever you pitch your tent, it might get chilly at night. It’s good to have some warm clothing items to wear if this happens or if there is a cool breeze that makes you want to cover yourself.
- Sleeping bag/blankets – Even though you have warm clothes, it’s smart to bring blankets or a sleeping bag to stay warm while sleeping. These also provide additional comfort.
- Food – Unless you plan to venture into a nearby town for every meal, plan to bring some snacks to have around your campsite if you get hungry. These are particularly essential if you’ll be far away from anywhere that offers another way to get food. You should consider a lockable food bin if you are in an area with wildlife.
- Water – If you’re active, that will cause you to sweat and increase chances of dehydration. Staying hydrated is one of the most important things to be aware of while doing any sort of camping. Also, it’s good to have water to appropriately douse any fires you start at your campsite, so a larger one doesn’t break out.
- Firestarter and wood – If you do plan to start a fire for warmth, cooking, or both, you can bring your own wood and means of lighting the fire.
- Flashlight/lanterns – It does get dark in the wild, so you’ll need some source of light for after the fire goes out. Flashlights are great for personal use if you’re walking in the dark, and lanterns are great if you’re traveling in a group or need light in a larger space. Consider a crank-powered device or pack extra batteries just in case.
- Toiletries – Yes, you can still practice good hygiene while camping. If there are showers nearby, you can choose to bring your own bathing supplies or look to purchase them where available.
- Bucket – A bucket is a versatile piece of equipment to bring camping if it’s not too large. They’re excellent for bringing in water to help douse fires, to use as a trashcan to avoid littering in the wilderness, and as an emergency restroom.
The list of what to pack when camping can be as long or short as you like, but those the bare basics. Here are some other additional items to consider bringing for wild camping if it fits your adventuring style.
- Air mattress – There are some people who prefer to camp in comfort. If your pack or car has room, you can bring an air mattress and pump to enhance your sleeping experience.
- Speakers – One draw to wild camping is having space to be loud. That means using the best portable Bluetooth speakers you have to play music while breathing in the fresh air and not worrying who it will bother.
- Water purifier – Water has already been mentioned, but you don’t have to carry a ton of water with you. If you are settling near a water source, check out some water purifiers to bring along to save weight.
- Shampoo and soap bars – For those who rough it, it’s still possible to bring necessary hygienic supplies without toting numerous bottles around. For bathing, bring shampoo and soap bars to keep yourself clean using your available water source.
- Solar-powered charger – Having a way to charge electronics devices is crucial if you are bringing some. You might want to use your cell phone map to help guide you around or need a place to recharge your speakers, and solar-powered chargers are your answer. They will store energy from the sun during the day so that you can charge devices at night.
Just like the last list, this isn’t finite to what you can bring for wild camping. The sky is the limit when it comes to what you decide to put on your packing list.
Where Should I Camp? – Now that you have an idea of what wild camping is and what to bring, let’s discuss some of the best places to set up camp. There are loads of wild camping sites, but each of these has something unique that puts them in the top category for consideration.
- Sandwood Bay, Sutherland – For beach lovers, set your direction toward Sandwood Bay. It’s the perfect location to have a natural and comfortable sleep area and the sound of waves putting your mind at rest. This location is not accessible by car, so you’ll need to carry everything you need on your back as you hike to this spot.
- Loch Hourn, Scotland – The Scottish Highlands are about as wild as it gets. Choosing to wild camp in Loch Hourn gives you some proximity to local towns and wide range of wilderness to explore with picturesque views. This area is best in the early springtime before midges come out in full force.
- Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons – Some national parks allow patrons to wild camp within its borders, and Brecon Beacons National Park is one of them. Mountain bikers will love this site because it has bike friendly areas to the west and you can stargaze at night as your body rests. If you can fit everything you need on your back and bike rack, you can likely get to this spot quicker than walking in.
- Bradmoor Woods, Norfolk – Even though it was mentioned to bring a tent with you, it’s not necessary if you stay in Bradmoor Woods. This campground offers wild camping for groups and is wonderful for adventurers who now have families. A series of small cabin like structures is where you will reside during your time here.
- The Cheviots, Northumberland – Another national park that offers beautiful landscapes to set up camp, Northumberland is truly picturesque. If you go near The Cheviot Hills, you could split up your holiday between the northernmost reaches of England and southern portion of Scotland. This area is near a military training zone, so check a maybe to be sure you’re well enough away.
Wild camping might sound like it’s only for the most adventurous, but after breaking it down, it is quite suitable for everyone to enjoy. You get to make wild camping what you want it to be. When you’re properly prepared, there’s no doubt your wild camping holiday will become one of your favorite memories.