Wild Camping in The Lake District


26 April 2013

You know when a total stranger camps in your garden without permission, in full view of your patio doors, then starts a fire on your lawn, then stuffs a few empty beer cans into your rockery then leaves it all for you to tidy up the next day, that’s a little bit annoying isn’t it? But some people think that’s okay. These people are called wild campers, no, let’s be more accurate, these people are called arseholes.
Not all wild campers are arseholes, but some of them are. I love a bit of wild camping, in fact I love it more than campsite camping, but I don’t like it when I see other people doing it. It’s not that I think The Lake District belongs to me and nobody else can have it, although that does sound great, it’s because if I can see you wild camping then you’re not doing it right.

Wild camping should be a covert operation. You don’t just pitch your tent near a beauty spot or next to a popular route and start boiling up your pasta, that’s not how it should be.
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A couple of weeks ago I took the kids to Millican Dalton’s cave at Castle Crag, kids love caves see Walking with Children. In the cave there was a fire still burning, around the fire there was about twenty cans of beer, a load of plastic bags, fag packets, some burnt bits of meat and who knows what else. We picked up some of the rubbish and put it in our bag but we only had a daysack so had to leave some of it behind. I see sights like this regularly, by the side of lakes and at the top of mountains and it bugs me. I hate it.

Have I got up on the wrong side of the bed today?

As we all know, wild camping is illegal in England and Wales without the permission of the landowner, but it’s tolerated. If we’re going to wild camp on someone else’s property (all of The Lake District is owned by someone whether it’s the National Park Authority, the National Trust, woodcutters, farmers etc) then let’s be respectful.

Here’s what we should do to be respectful:

1. In The Lake District only wild camp above 450m, which is roughly where the dry stone walls stop.

2. Don’t camp near footpaths or tarns or lakes or patio doors, go off the beaten track a little and try and keep your tent hidden.

3. Don’t make a mess. This means no fires and no litter, take everything with you. As the Americans say ‘Leave no trace.’

4. Stop for one night and move on.

5. Don’t wee near rivers and bury your poo (at least a foot deep if you’ve had one of those Wayfayrer curries)
I know wild campers are wild and don’t like rules, but these aren’t difficult to follow. Just keep out of the way, clean up your mess and watch where you poo – I’m sure your Mum’s already told you that a million times.

If you see any litter and can’t pick it up, and you think it might be a danger to wildlife, it’s probably worth reporting it to the Lake District National Park Authority.

Thanks for reading.

Ian Young

Photo by: EG Focus

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