First thing’s first, wild camping in Wales and England (with the exception of Dartmoor) was an illegal activity even before lockdown. The reality, however, has always been that people have been able to get away with it in places like the Lake District and Snowdonia because a ‘blind eye’ is often turned to those who are doing it respectfully and responsibly.
So, with all that in mind, it’s hard to say when wild camping in the two countries will go back to pre-lockdown normality as we can’t expect any green light to come for something that has never been officially allowed in the first place (we’ll address Scotland further down).
The main question to answer, really, is when will wild camping be tolerated by the general public or, more specifically by other wild campers?
The reality, we’re afraid to say, is that it might take some time before you’re able to tweet that you’re “Off for a #wildcamp!” without some risk of someone accusing you of irresponsibility. You only need to take a look at some of the comments in the UK Wild Camping group on Facebook to realise the sense of trepidation that still exists, especially from those who live in the remote communities in and around Britain’s beauty spots.
Still, the understanding we’ve got here at Outdoors Magic – at least from what we’ve seen online – is that once campsites open and domestic holidays are permitted in England on July the 4th, a lot of outdoor enthusiasts will be interpreting that as the beginning of their wild camping season.
Wales and Scotland
At the time of writing Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford has signalled that the tourism sector will start to reopen a few days after England and at a much more gradual pace. The 5 mile travel limit will be relaxed and day trips will be permitted from July the 6th and overnight stays will be allowed from July 11th but only in ‘self contained accommodation’ such as hotel rooms or caravans.
It seems strange to think that campsites need to re-open before wild camping is no longer frowned upon but that could be the scenario in Wales, and no announcement has so far been made on when they might open.
On the other hand, perhaps wild camping might be seen as acceptable to many once that 5-mile travel limit is dropped on July the 6th. Again, it’s hard to say as it’s never been legal in the first place.
Scotland, like Wales, are also taking a cautious approach. On July 3rd, the 5 mile travel limit will be lifted and those living north of Hadrian’s Wall will be able travel to their own private holiday accommodation but there’ll be a two week wait after that until Scottish tourism restrictions loosen and people are allowed to visit shared holiday accommodation venues such as campsites. As for wild camping, the Scottish Government and the national parks have stayed quiet on that so it’s hard to tell when it will be officially permitted. We’ll make sure to update this article once any indication is given.
All in all then, it’s hard to be definitive on the rules around wild camping when looking at the UK as whole, but what we can say is that it looks like the wait could nearly be over for all of us.
Leave No Trace
If you are thinking of wild camping at some point this summer, it’s worth making sure you’re up to speed with all the principles of Leave No Trace. Perhaps consider passing them on to an eager newbie who might be unfamiliar with them as well.