Best wild camping spots in the UK
1/10 Pennine Way, North Pennines
The North Pennines is a range of hills that spreads just west of the River Eden, near Carlisle in the north, diagonally down towards the Yorkshire Dales. The Pennine Way gives families with older children the chance to spend a night out in the hills after a hike or cycle on the neighbouring bridleway. There are more than 250 miles to explore through the Borders, Northumberland, Durham, Cumbria, and down into North and West Yorkshire and Derbyshire. You can even walk the border along the Pennine Way, and sleep with your head in England and your feet in Scotland.
Stephen Neale is the author of Wild Camping: Exploring And Sleeping In The Wilds Of The UK And Ireland
2/10 Brecon Beacons
Families come to the Brecon Beacons National Park to walk, cycle, go caving and camp. The Brecon Beacons has something magical about it, all your worries will be put into persepctive by the time you leave.The 98-mile Beacons Way hugs the steep terrain, almost 3,280ft above sea level. It can be walked in just over a week or done in shorter sections.
3/10 Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
Sherwood Forest is one of the world’s most loved heritage forest, its exciting landscape makes its the ideal place to start your family adventure. Not wilding in its purest form, but there are no frills and no one will hear you scream. Rangers provide advice on fire lighting, shelter building and bat and deer treks. If you want to take on a challange, the Forestry Commission offers courses in wild camping and bushcraft for a modest fee. You’ll be an expert in no time.
4/10 Tremayne Quay, Cornwall
Tremayne Quay is looked after The National Trust, to ensure that historic places and green spaces are protected.
The Nation Trust hosts wild camping days at Tremayne Quay for families, and encourages kids to try it for themselves.
On its heavily promoted list of ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’, number three is ‘camp out in the wild’. Fishing, canoeing and sailing are available nearby.
5/10 Galloway Forest
You have a right to roam and wild camp pretty much anywhere in Scotland, so there’s no fear of a landowner asking you to move on. Just make sure you ask permission if you get to close to someones house. If rolling out sleeping bags under a starlit sky or tree-camping/hammocking is your family’s idea of fun, then the Galloway Forest is the place to come. The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, near Dalmellington, is on the northern edge of the park and is well worth going to if you have time.
6/10 South Dartmoor
If your kids are into ancient history, wild ponies, or both, then head to south Dartmoor. It’s one of the few places in England where wild camping is a right in law. South Dartmoor has some of the oldest known burial monuments in Britain, which date back to 4500 BC. To make camping easier, Dartmoor National Park provides an online map that shows areas where wild camping is allowed.
7/10 Grand Union Canal, Warwickshire
Fishing and canoeing are the smart way to combine a family holiday with wild camping, and the Grand Union Canal is an easy place to start. Hammocking is the best overnight option for hikers and cyclists. The waterway is managed by the Canal and River Trust, which promotes outdoor night-time activities, including canoeing and fishing.
Sutherland is a feral land where the options to camp and explore are plentiful. Walking is a lot of fun, but canoes are a more leisurely way to travel, and let you carry more provisions than in a backpack. Opportunities to moor and pitch tents along the lochs and rivers are limitless. Loch Laxford has easy road access to launch canoes, and several islands to explore and sleep on. Loch Crocach is smaller, but more isolated and wilder for tents and late-night campfires.
9/10 The Lake District
The Lake District is a maze of national paths spliced by drovers’ tracks, grass tracks and bridleways. The Coast to Coast path leads up between the streams and steep crags. It crosses the Lake District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North York Moors National Park over its 192-mile length. Buttermere is an especially beautiful place to walk and sleep. The Cumbrians chose Buttermere as a stronghold to fight off Norman invaders. Once your up in the mountails you’ll find a sense of hiding away from it all.
The Glyderau range, part of Snowdonia National Park in North Wales, is a towering enclave of volcanic rock and fauna. Extreme caution is needed as the elements can become hostile and life-threatening, particularly in winter. There is no shortage of shelves on which to pitch a tent or bivvy. Always contact the dedicated warden service before a trip to check the weather, and to advise them of your family’s plans.