When you think about wild camping, you think about heading off into the middle of nowhere and losing yourself to the wonder of nature. But, what if you haven’t got time to travel to the middle of nowhere? What if you live in London and haven’t got enough time to head way up north and go wild camping in Scotland, or cross the channel and go wild camping in Europe? What do you do then? Well, guys, we’ve got a solution. Go wild camping near London.
Now, before you get on your high horse about this, we’re aware that the only places in the UK where wild camping is actually legal is Scotland and Dartmoor. However, does that mean you should turn your back on wild camping fun closer to home? No. No, it does not. As we’ve said previously in our essential guide to wild camping in the UK, if you play the game the right way there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a night under the stars away from an official campsite.
- Adopt an “arrive late, leave early” policy
- Try to get the landowner’s permission, and stay well out of sight
- Don’t make loads of noise
- Clear up your rubbish
Wild Camping Near London | Where To Go?
OK. So, unless you’re planning to wild camp in London’s parks, you’re probably going to have to leave London for a good spot. But with a number of train routes on hand to whisk you to the surrounding countryside, you won’t have to go far or put in much effort to escape the city for a night. Here’s some recommendations on places to go wild camping near London.
Wild Camping In The South Downs
Speaking from our own experience of wild camping in the South Downs, it’s easy to get things wrong. When we did it last summer we didn’t find a spot before nightfall, got torrentially rained on, nearly got struck by lightning, and slept in a load of stinging nettles. We had a good time, sure. But we also, definitely, fudged it slightly.
The South Downs Way, 100 miles in length, runs from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex and offers great potential for wild camping enthusiasts based in nearby London. If you’re looking for epic spots in this part of the world, it’s worth exploring the white cliff section near Eastbourne.
Alternatively, if trees are what floats your boat, check out Ashdown Forest or Charlton Forest. Probably best going with a bivvy bag, rather than a tent, as the South Downs aren’t that remote meaning you’ll want to pack up and roll out quickly in the morning.
For inspiration, watch Alastair Humphrey’s microadventure in the South Downs video.