It’s only spring, but if the recent heatwave is anything to go by, this summer will be a scorcher. And where better to spend it than in the great outdoors? So, pack up your sleeping bag and pitch your tent for a spot of wild camping. You can only properly wild camp in Scotland and Dartmoor. In the rest of the country you need the landowner’s permission. But there are plenty of sites across the UK that’ll let you feel wild at heart. Travel writer, Nicola Trup, gives you the lowdown.
Ruberslaw Wild Woods, Scottish Borders
When booking your pitch on this 500-acre estate, ignore the walled garden and go for the woodland instead, or the ‘really wild’ option – on an isolated hillside. You can light a campfire to cook over, too. Just don’t leave any food out, as you might tempt the badgers. If you’re keen to see wildlife though, keep an eye out for deer. Pitches from £11.
Bakesdown Farm, Cornwall
At this Cornish farm, camping ranges from basic pitches to full-on glamping. You can cook over a BBQ or a fire (there’s an honesty box for buying wood), and there are even fridges in the farmyard to stash your supplies. Plus, with only four pitches in the meadow, you won’t be short on space. Camping from £8 per person.
Cynefin Eco Camping, Carmarthenshire
The name Cynefin comes from a Welsh word that means ‘wild place’, which is about right. There’s space for six tents in the woods and meadow, and it’s perfect for kids – there’s even a special area for them to build dens and swings. There are firepits that come with grills and pans, and as for the eco part of the name: the toilets are compost and the power is solar. Pitches from £30.
Orca Adventures, Cumbria
Feeling crafty? Build your own canoe in the Lake District before camping out in nearby woodland. Instructors will show you how to make your boat out of plywood before you retreat to your tent by the workshop. The site is pretty rough and ready, but you’re in the perfect spot for exploring the Lakes on foot or in your new canoe. Courses from £445 per canoe; camping £5 per person.
Dartmoor is the only part of England where you can legally wild camp without asking permission – perfect for a proper night in the wilderness. Just south of Yes Tor (one of the highest points here) you’ll find isolated spots to pitch up, like Dinger Tor, Lints Tor and Great Kneeset. Here’s a map to help
Dernwood Farm, East Sussex
Hidden away in 70 acres of ancient woodland, this site is ideal for families, with rabbits, badgers and deer to spy – plus the Children’s Woodland Club, where kids can learn survival skills. In late summer you can forage for blackberries and chestnuts, and the farm even sells its homegrown meat to cook over the campfire. Pitches from £10.
Harvest Moon Holidays, East Lothian
This is strictly one for the glampers – but while the accommodation isn’t ‘wild’, the location is, right by a windswept beach. The safari tents all come with proper beds and a kitchen – so you can cook up a storm and dine on the deck while you look out onto the dunes. Safari tents from £124 a night.
Barefoot Campsites, Oxfordshire
This site brags that there’s ‘no electricity, no artificial light and no wifi’ – all good things if you really want to get back to nature. Put up your tent in an old paddock on the banks of the Thames and spend your days wild swimming and fishing. Or hire a canoe to get out on the water. You’re also walkable from a great local if you fancy a pint before your BBQ back at the site.