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What is the legal and practical position on wild camping in England and Wales, specifically in the Brecon Beacons National Park. I think I am right in saying that technically you need to ask the landowners permission but how much of an issue is this in reality.

I am looking to pitch a single one man tent for a single night and then move on the next day to a new location. As long as I pitch away from the path and in an unobtrusive location, how likely am I to encounter any problems? Does anyone have any experience of camping in this area and could give me some advice? Also what about camping in forested areas. I will be using a self-contained stove so fire isn't a risk but am I likely to run into any other problems?

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    Related outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/96/3313 ... Dartmoor is the only place I know of it actually being a by law where wild camping is legal. Whether you can get away with elsewhere is different :) plus plenty of campsites do cheap one night passes. – Aravona Jul 5 '15 at 17:20
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Wild camping in the UK is a grey area. Technically it is illegal to wild camp anywhere (Scotland and Dartmoor are the exceptions it is actually legal to wild camp in any unenclosed area there).

Practically though, wild camping is tolerated in most wild areas (unenclosed remote areas like the "Breacons"). You need to be careful though and obey some simple rules:

  1. Don't camp in enclosed fields; these will be owned by someone (farmer) and they will likely not take kindly to someone rocking up and camping.
  2. Leave no trace; don't spoil it for everyone else. If hordes of people start appearing in the mountain areas leaving rubbish everywhere, it's going to get clamped down on and you'll ruin it for everyone, take everything out with you!
  3. Be discreet; don't camp in the middle of a busy footpath at 1pm (though I have seen this done and no one really complained). Find a quiet remote area, pitch late and leave early (you'll enjoy it more anyway).
  4. Keep away from roads. You don't want your camp site to be visible from the road. This will likely result in a knock on your tent from the police or the local landowner who will move you on. Ideally you want to walk about ½ hour away from the nearest road to be safe.

If you're relatively careful and considerate, wild camping is great. I hardly ever camp in camp sites in the UK any more; I much prefer being out in the wilderness on my own. Enjoy!

There are several Facebook groups which you can sign up to for more info: search for "wild camping". I'm a member of one called "Wild camping and bothying UK".

Below is a photo of my friend who wild camped with me in Snowdonia:

enter image description here

  • If you're down late enough and up early enough you'll likely have no issues anywhere. – Aravona Jul 6 '15 at 9:10
  • Not anywhere...fields can be a problem; 1) you shouldn't really be using private land anyway (how would you like it if someone camped in your front garden) 2) Farmers get up very, very early and tend to take exception to people in their fields without permission! :) In my experience if it's unenclosed "right to roam" type areas they don't mind. I've even had a chat with a farmer in the past while camping on effectively his (and the national parks) land. – user2766 Jul 6 '15 at 9:18
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    Bad wording, I meant any shire really, as there's unenclosed places scattered all over. – Aravona Jul 6 '15 at 9:20
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    nice photographic evidence of your friend technically committing a trespass ;-) – aucuparia Jul 7 '15 at 12:36
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Strictly speaking, it is illegal to camp without the landowner's permission. If you really want to be legal, the best way is to ask a farmer if you can stay in a field.

In reality, as long as you are sensible and don't camp right by a road or main path, no one is likely to complain.

As for where, a Google search for wild camping in the Brecon Beacons gives a number of possible locations. I haven't camped in any of them so can't comment on whether they are any good or not.

Also, bear in mind that the army regularly train in the Beacons. You might want to see if you can find out where they are likely to be before you go, as you probably don't want to get woken by people with guns in the middle of the night.

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    The army's a good point, There are often training patrols, etc. in the Brecon's. I heard a story about some people who got woken up in the middle of the night by a squad abseiling from helicopters into their camp! They felt suitably intimidated and left, though no one told them that they shouldn't be there. I think they were just messing with their heads TBH... – user2766 Jul 6 '15 at 9:04

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