Camping, Bushcraft & Survival

5 Things To Know About The Controversial Wild Camping Plans Being Trialled In The UK

There's a new scheme being tested in National Parks that could ruin wild camping in this country

In world increasingly filled with stuff to make you anxious, wild camping has always been one of the great mood levellers; a calming reset button for our hectic modern lives. That is, until someone comes along and tries to monetise it all in the name of profiteering. Step forward: UK Wild Camp, who in partnership with DEFRA and the Lake District and South Downs National Parks, have served up one of the worst ideas we’ve ever seen – wild camping without the freedom, wild camping without the fun, wild camping without any of the things that make it good. Wild camping, injected with capitalism.

If you haven’t read Phoebe Smith‘s excellent piece about all this in the Guardian yet, or got yourself up to speed on it elsewhere, here’s everything you need to know about the new wild camping scheme trial, and why it’s rubbish.

1) They’re Charging £20 A Night

One of the great joys of wild camping is that it normally doesn’t cost you a penny. Yes, it’s technically only legal in the UK in Dartmoor and Scotland but the unwritten rule for it has basically always been “arrive late, leave early, don’t make a mess/noise and you’ll be fine.”

By charging for it, and charging an extortionate amount while they’re at it, UK Wild Camp are taking away the coolest thing about it; turning wild camping into a “pay-to-play” experience which goes against the very fabric of what makes it special.

2) People Will Be Told Where To Camp

Like we’ve already mentioned, the fundamental ingredient of wild camping is freedom. The freedom to walk out the door, find your own secluded corner of nature and fall asleep under canvas, beneath the stars, in a place of your choosing. Freedom. Lovely bit of freedom.

This scheme wants to change all that by sending out a grid reference to bookers showing the places in the national park where you’re ‘allowed’ to pitch, a set of rules, and agreed camping dates. Way to strip any sense of adventure from wild camping, guys. Good job. Nice one.

3) The Man Behind It Used To Work For The Tories

We know it’s not the done thing to bring political allegiances into a piece about wild camping but sometimes you just have to call an egg an egg.

Will Harris, the mastermind behind this harebrained scheme, used to work as a Marketing Director for the Conservative Party. Yes, it was only for nine-months. And yes, it was in 2003/2004 so quite a long time ago. But also… Tories am-I-right? If it’s an idea one of them came up with, you can virtually guarantee it’s a terrible one can’t you. See poll tax, austerity, fracking, fox hunting, Brexit etc etc.

4) Their Tagline Is Straight Out Of A Dystopian Novel

“Rewilding the Humans.”

If that tagline doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, you’re made of sterner stuff than we are. It reads like something you’d see flash up in a Black Mirror episode about how people in the future can only experience nature through a virtual reality headset because, I don’t know, the human race cut down all the trees and fracked all the hills into oblivion. If you’re reading this Charlie Brooker, you can have that one. It’s yours. Go write it.

5) It’s Gone Down Very Badly

As you’d expect, this scheme has gone down very badly with people in the outdoors industry (something which should definitely set alarm bells ringing because, let’s face it, nobody cares more about something than outdoors people care about the outdoors’ wellbeing).

Alex Roddie tweeted: “There is tremendous will to fight the craziness right now, but we must remember this: as wild campers, if we fail to behave impeccably and treat the landscape (and others) with the utmost respect, we will only harm our cause.”

MyOutdoors tweeted: “To wild camp in the Lake District is to reconnect with nature. In leaving no trace it respects the landscape and has benefits to physical and mental health. Its value is immeasurable but it’s not a tradition to be bought and sold.

A Rambling Man tweeted: “I’ve wild camped all across the UK, I’ve woken up in a field to find a farmer had left me a bottle of milk, I’ve bivvied in woods, on hills and behind walls. I’ve never pre-booked and paid £20. Capitalism has no place in this world. 

Everywhere you look on social media, the story is exactly the same; people who love nature, love being in the outdoors, annoyed that a for-profit group is trying to hijack it, and charge theme park admission prices for something that everyone should have the right to do free of charge.

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Wild Camping in Scotland | Essential Guide

Wild Camping Near London | Essential Guide

We Went Wild Camping In The South Downs For 48 Hours And Lived To Tell The Tale

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