BMC statement: Wild camping backlash

Posted by Catherine Flitcroft on 04/06/2019
Wild camping in the Lake District overlooking Stickle Tarn. Photo: Shutterstock / Daniel_Kay

The launch of a new wild camping website with support from Defra (UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and two National Parks allowing anyone to ‘book a spot’ in a remote area for a fee and experience ‘wild camping’ was seen in late May 2019. The idea has been met with anger and negativity from across the outdoor community and the website content has since been removed.

The BMC believes that wild camping should encompass the freedom to choose where to camp, without any regulations, to be self-sufficient and to do so in a discreet and responsible manner, in wild places away from civilisation. In Scotland this is permitted under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, but in England and Wales it is not considered legal unless the permission of the landowner is obtained. However, there are some parts of England where wild camping is either legal (e.g. Dartmoor) or generally accepted (the Lake District), and many people wild camp discreetly in our hills and mountains, following a strict 'leave no trace' ethic. This appears to function well in practice.  In the BMC’s opinion, asking for payment in return for ‘exclusive rights’ to camp in a specified area is not wild camping.

The BMC is disappointed not to have been consulted over the Defra backed pilot scheme or to have been included in discussions with the group responsible for the website as they developed their ideas and thinking. We are keen to meet with the group responsible to find common ground and discuss a way forward.


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Anonymous User
04/06/2019
It's gobsmacking that which ever numskull came up with this 'scheme' didn't think to involve the BMC (and the Ramblers for that matter). Utterly bizarre - and DEFRA wasted tax payers' money funding what is essentially a private enterprise. How does that work?
Anonymous User
04/06/2019
Q56: People are trespassing on my land, what can I do?

Trespass to land in most instances is a civil wrong, and as such the police have no jurisdiction. Under common law, the landowner has a right to re-entry on the land. However, the ejection of the trespasser is fraught with danger for the landowner. Initially, the landowner should ask the occupier to leave the land and if he/she does then all is well. However, the problems start if he/she refuses to leave the land.

The owner of the land could commit several criminal offences if he forcibly removes the trespasser and his/her property from the land. The best and safest course of action is to obtain a court order, which if breached may then turn into a criminal matter.

If the police do attend an incident such as this, they are merely there as observers for any possible criminal offences committed by either party. The police cannot assist in the removal of the trespassers or their property from the land in question. The police do however have some removal powers against larger groups of occupiers.

Any damage done by a trespasser, or use of threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour towards the occupier, may amount to a criminal offence and should be reported to the police on 101.

Trespass is very complex and guidance should be sought from a solicitor where appropriate.
Anonymous User
05/06/2019
I think the issue with this is that by offering a pay scheme, it will open the idea of "wild camping" to those who don't truly understand it and will treat it just like another campsite. The mentality of 'someone will clean it up before the next group arrives' will spread and we will end up having to sacrifice more spots to the general public to keep the few wild places left untouched by the unwashed masses.
05/06/2019
DEFRA Government. Say no more.
Anonymous User
06/06/2019
I am planing walking the Pennine way this year and camping. I have researched camp sites and spoken to people in the camp site at Horten in Riblesdale and the opinion is that small camp sites on the route have closed so wild camping is the only option if you are camping. can anything be done about this situation?? thanks
Anonymous User
07/06/2019
The picture of Stickle Tarn reminds me of an overnight stop there with my Niece, which was part of a lovely circuit that included a couple of nights in the mountains, away from the bustle of Langdale.
Unfortunately this move by Defra represents a National malaise, which is the belief that ordinary citizens are incapable of doing anything unless an official body bureaucratises the process. Organisations like the BMC and Mountain Training (and numerous good books and websites) all offer advice on how to wild camp with minimal impact. Responsible individuals will make an effort to find out how to do the "right thing" and that requirement means that I have rarely come across evidence of inconsiderate camping in the UK. I would suggest that making the whole process somehow "official" means that we are MORE likely to encourage the inconsiderate into the mountains. The best way for someone to learn how to wild camp is to do it first with an experienced companion (which was why I was taking my very enthusiastic niece into the mountains in Scotland and the Lakes). People who cannot be bothered to learn where and how to bury a turd, will not be any more likely to bother because Defra tells them.
Anonymous User
11/07/2019
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/wild-camping-in-the-lake-district?fbclid=IwAR1NOdG9uM3a4W52Z6x4gy_ZmtvfqbQEVtpd68SyAVixMjbZBrIK1kgFEqU

The National Trust have a website talking about wild camping but when I emailed them and asked if they gave permission to wild camp on NT land initially it was ignored for 2 weeks. When I emailed again they said, "We do not grant explicit permission. We allow it on the basis that the land is respected..."....."Tenants and other landowners have the right to refuse access."

When I sought clarification on points they evaded a straight answer reply and the last thing they said was this, "we do have the resource to manage a booking type system for wild camping...."

I was a bit shocked by how such an organisation would'nt give a simple straight answer to some questions but at the same time presented wild camping on their website.

So basically the NT does not allow camping on their land but tolerates it. They would not say if I needed prior permission from the tennant on NT land. I doubt they would try and introduce a booking system for wild camping but couldn't believe they suggested that was possible.
A. Duggan

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