Today, after a lengthy lawsuit run by a wealthy landowner, the right to wild camp has officially disappeared from all of England.
Dartmoor had been the last redoubt for those wanting to camp wild without the need to ask permission from the landowner, but now that right no longer exists.
Alexander Darwall, Dartmoor’s sixth-largest landowner and a hedgefund manager by trade, brought the case against Dartmoor National Park, which has helped to uphold the right for decades. He argued that the right to wild camp on the moors never existed and campers were unwanted on his 1,619-hectare (4,000-acre) Blachford estate where he offers pheasant shoots, deerstalking and holiday rentals.
Sir Julian Flaux, the chancellor of the high court in charge of the case ruled: “In my judgment, on the first issue set out at  above, the claimants are entitled to the declaration they seek that, on its true construction, section 10(1) of the 1985 Act does not confer on the public any right to pitch tents or otherwise make camp overnight on Dartmoor Commons. Any such camping requires the consent of the landowner.”
Emma Linford, who runs The Stars are for Everyone campaign spoke to the Guardian following the issue. She said that from the outset it was clear that the case had nothing to do with the preservation of Dartmoor’s delicate ecology. “This was always one landowner’s naked attempt to find any pretext to roll back the public’s right to connect with nature on national parkland,” said Emma. “People of all backgrounds and ages have wild-camped for generations, the vast majority of whom leave no trace. Our national parks were expressly set up not only to conserve their natural beauty but also for the populations of Britain to peacefully enjoy.”
Wild camping in other national parks in England, including the Peak District and Lake District already requires permission from the landowner, however it is tolerated in some upland areas when the camper is discrete and respectful of the owner and the natural environment. Will that same tolerance be applied within southern Dartmoor? We won’t hold our breath.