Sleep in a tent


How do I use a tent to sleep for free?
Wild camping (also called 'free camping' or 'stealth camping') is sleeping in a tent outside of organised campsites (where you have to pay). For walkers, climbers, kayakers and cyclists, wild camping is often inevitable, liberating and highly enjoyable. I have a lightweight 2 man tent which I find perfect for walking and cycling. If you are camping beside your car then the size and weight of the tent is not really important, its also possible to take duvets, gas barbecues, cricket sets, cases of beer, cool boxes full of meat, blankets, Frisbees, kites, tables and chairs. For me, though, there is a contrary pleasure in having a tolerable nights sleep somewhere remote and making do with just the bare necessities.

Is wild camping allowed?
In Scotland it is a legal right to be able to put your tent up for the night. This is part of the joyous Land Reform Act which gives access rights to climbers, walkers, kayakers etc. In England and Wales there is no right to camp wild. That said, camping wild in mountainous and rural areas is generally accepted if you are discreet. You can always ask the land owner for permission. I once asked a farmer if I could camp on his land and he said it would be fine. In the morning his wife cooked us a big fried breakfast and then got us to help feed the cows. So far, no one has ever told me to move on or, when asked, refused to let me pitch my tent on their land for a night. In the French Alps its considered acceptable to camp anywhere in the mountains above the tree line. Its good style to pitch late and strike early. The Mountaineering Council of Scotland have an advice leaflet about wild camping. The reasons the right to camp wild would be taken away are likely to be because of people building fires, getting drunk, playing music loud, leaving litter, driving on soft ground and pooing in rivers.

How should you choose a wild camp spot?
As long as it is reasonably level and you can get pegs in the ground it will do as a camp spot. The optional luxuries are being sheltered from the wind, having water nearby and having a cracking view. Personally, the best wild camps for me are in the mountains high up beside a lochan, on a broad bealach or by a river in huge glaciated glen. I like to be out of sight of the road and from houses. Also, I like to avoid places likely to be overused especially on weekends. These are places such as popular roadside camping spots, car parks, next to pubs, or on popular footpaths. These spots tend to become like official campsites without the benefit of having someone around to prevent problems with litter, human waste, erosion and noise. They attract midges too. Much better to camp above 600m where there are no midges or Buckfast drinkers, just great scenery and the soothing lullaby of waterfalls.

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  1. Great post. Just started wild camping / cyclo touring too. Can't wait for my next trip.


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