Fly Camping Rights in the UK – on public and private Land – by ‘Wild Camping’ author Stephen Neal

Tony Gosling tony at
Thu Jul 4 22:53:16 BST 2019

Fly Camping Rights in the UK – on public and 
private Land – by ‘Wild Camping’ author Stephen Neal

Print Wild Camping Q & A PDF

So no one has a right to sleep outdoors wherever they want?
Errrr. No.

Wild camping is illegal then?
Not when you follow the A, B, C, D rule – that makes it all legal and good.

What is the A, B, C, D rule?
Ask the landowner’s permission.
Be discreet – camp away from roads and buildings.
Clean up and leave no trace.
Don’t stay more than one night.

OK, so apart from when following the A, B, C, D rule, wild camping is illegal?
 except when you’re in a place where permission is not required, like:
a) Scotland
b) Dartmoor
c) upland areas of Lakeland, north-west England
d) upland areas of Wales
e) upland areas of north-east England (the Pennines etc)
f) staying in or outside a bothy in England and Wales.

OK, apart from when you’re:
1) following the A, B, C, D rule
2) sleeping on top of a mountain
3) sleeping in most of Scotland
4) sleeping on most of Dartmoor
5) staying in or outside a bothy in England or Wales wild camping is illegal?
Except when you’re overnight fishing on the 
foreshore (that’s below sea level – usually when 
the tide is out) of a tidal river or beach, and 
you want to climb into your bivvy for some sleep 
until the tide returns. This is especially good 
for people who are nervous about heights (mountains and very high hills).

Right, so to summarise – apart from when you:
1) ask permission
2) sleep on a mountain
3) camp in Scotland
4) hike over Dartmoor
5) rest up in an English or Welsh bothy
6) or fish on the coast or a tidal river
 wild camping is illegal?
Mmmmmm? Not when you’re navigating tidal waters 
(including rivers) in a kayak, canoe or small 
boat and you need to overnight on the foreshore until the high water returns.

OK! OK!! Apart from:
1) mountains
2) Scotland
3) Dartmoor
4) bothies
5) foreshore
6) tidal rivers
7) and when you have permission
 wild camping is illegal?
Nope! Wild camping is not illegal. It used to be, 
back in the 1930s. But it was decriminalised by 
Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1938.

So if it’s not illegal, why do people keep 
petitioning Parliament to make wild camping a right enshrined in law?
Because most people – including officials and 
landowners – are unclear about the law. That’s 
because it’s all a bit too fragmented and confusing.

So why doesn’t someone explain it?
OK. Good idea.

Then can I go sleep on a mountain without worrying about the law?

Wild Camping – Exploring and Sleeping in the Wilds of the UK and Ireland


Print Wild Camping Q & A PDF

Wild Camping – paperback & eBook

Neale (Author)

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'From South America, where payment must be made with subtlety, the 
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