Wild camping’s ‘unwritten rule’ and guidelines from a wild camper – ‘common sense’

Would YOU spend a night CAMPING on a CLIFF?

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Camping has never been more popular. Wild camping, in particular, has been getting a lot of interests from Britons who have been cooped up for months during the height of the pandemic and wanted to experience the outdoors on their own.

While wild camping is illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it’s legal in Scotland.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, David Riley, who goes out on wild camp whenever he has a chance, explained.

David said: “Most of my camping is within Scotland and within Scotland you have the right to roam.”

He continued: “So that doesn’t necessarily give you the right to camp as such.

“The majority of people in the community that I’m involved in follow an unwritten rule: never stay in one place for too long, never more than one or two nights if you can.

“If it’s obvious that there’s a landowner, you can try and get their permission but that’s not necessarily required.

“I think at the end of day, from my perspective it’s having respect.

“I would never camp in a field that had livestock or animals in.”

READ MORE: Why go back garden camping: Curiosity and private land

David is based in a rural area in Dumfries & Galloway.

He said: “For a lot of the camping I do, I try to find pretty isolated places, places where I potentially wouldn’t see a single person in the entire two days that I’m there, so maybe in a forest.”

But that doesn’t stop rules, even unwritten ones, to apply.

David said: “Again, you still have to understand what guidelines you have to follow.”

Even in Scotland, there are some do’s and don’ts.

“Because a lot of forestry in Scotland are managed, they don’t want to have open fires.

“If you do have open fires they want them to be controlled.”

Not everyone is aware of the rules.

“There have been problems this year with the increase in camping and obviously the dry spell we had.

“There were fires up in the Highlands on the west coast.

“So it’s having that understanding that ok, we have this right in Scotland, but it shouldn’t be abused. And it’s respecting the land.

“A lot of it is common sense.”

Scotland also has some areas that have restrictions.

“Some areas of Scotland have restrictions, like Loch Lomond where you do need camping permits.”

Common sense, however, also applies outside of Scotland.

David said: “That’s a different matter in England obviously because there are landowners and you do tent to need permission unless it’s a main area that’s potentially renown for people wild camping.

“The Lake District is a good example, although, legally you’re probably not allowed to camp wild without the landowners’ permission, I think it still goes on a lot.

“But that’s people who are camping in areas where you’re not going to see a single person in the day, as long as you respect the land, I don’t think there’s any issues with that.”

David had one very important tip for people: “Don’t have an open fire in an area that’s very dry.”

To really understand how to wild camp and how to follow the rules, unwritten or otherwise, David recommend finding wild camping groups.

“The best way to learn is with like-minded people, people who are doing it and people who have been doing it for a long time.”

Anyone interested in wild camping who wish to speak to someone about how to start can reach out to David.

He said: “People who are interested can contact me via Instagram. It’s a great community where everyone gets involved and helps people out.”


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