Wild Camping Near London | Essential Guide
Want to go wild camping near London? Here's some of the best spots within easy travelling distance.
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"
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.
Wild Camping In The Chiltern Hills
The Chiltern Hills, known to those locally as "the Chilterns", was officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1965. What is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty exactly? Well, first and foremost, it's an area. But not just any old area, you understand. It's an area of beauty; an area of beauty that is both natural and outstanding. OK. OK. I'll stop now.
Potential list of places to go wild camping in the Chilterns include the incredibly picturesque, although slightly exposed, Ivinghoe Beacon area and the large expanse of woodland known as Chiltern Forest.
Wild Camping In The High Weald
For those of you bang into the whole 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Thing', you'll no doubt be delighted by what's on offer in the High Weald. The High Weald, given its 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' status in 1983, is the fourth largest AONB in all of England and Wales.
According to wild camping internet forums, if you plot a route between Battle and Rye you should come across plenty of suitably dense woodland to lose yourself within. Explore, discover, and get wild.
Wild Camping In The Surrey Hills
Surrey Hills was designated as an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' in 1958. It's a really pretty place, and certainly won't disappoint if you decide to head outdoors for an evening of wild camping.
If you're discreet, Leith Hill near Dorking reportedly has a lot of excellent wild camping spots.