Camping Tips if You are in UK
Hiking and Camping in the UK: Where to Go and What to Expect
If you’re considering a hiking and camping trip in the UK, you’re in for a treat. With its stunning scenery, beautiful castles and ruins, and vibrant history, Britain is an ideal place to get away from it all. However, there are some differences between hiking and camping in North America and the UK. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect.
Expect to cross private property. In North America, the law restricts where people can camp. Most people camp in state and national parks. However, there just isn’t as much open space in Britain. Farms and pastures take up much of the rural landscape. In the UK, you will probably spend much of your trip on someone’s private property.
This doesn’t mean you can’t explore the countryside. Rights of public access are very important in Britain. If someone has a trail on his property, right-of-way laws require him to keep it open to the public.
Signs posted along most trails will tell you how much access you can have. Sometimes you can leave the trail and explore the surrounding countryside. At other times, you’ll be expected to stay on the path. When in doubt, don’t leave the trail.
Expect to meet livestock. Farmers in the UK raise sheep, cows, and other livestock. If your trail cuts through a fenced-in pasture, leave the gate as you found it. Don’t climb a fence to avoid opening a gate—you could damage the fence.
It’s important to respect the people and animals you meet along the way. Don’t tease or approach cows or sheep—animals can be unpredictable. If a farmer is herding a group across your path, stay out of the way until he has passed.
Expect to see people. And buildings. And towns. In America, most campers don’t consider it “real” camping if their site is near civilisation. American hikers treasure views that look out on unspoilt wilderness. In Britain, many trails wind through towns. The views you see will include villages, church steeples, houses, and castles. You’re never alone when hiking in Britain—the next village is often just over the hill.
Expect a different camping experience. It’s easy to hike for days in the UK without camping at all—just walk from town to town, staying in bed-and-breakfasts along the way. However, if you’re planning on camping in the UK, you have two options: a paid campsite, called a “camping and caravanning” park, or wild camping—pitching your tent anywhere that looks good.
If you decide to go to a camping and caravanning park, bring as few tents as possible. You’ll often be charged per tent, not per campsite. At some UK campsites, you can rent tents or even mobile homes, so you won’t have to carry your own in.
If you’re considering wild camping, you should know where it’s allowed and where it’s not. In North America, wild camping is illegal in most places. The UK tends to be more relaxed about it. In Scotland, wild camping is allowed across the board. In England and Wales, it’s technically a criminal offence to camp on someone’s property without permission. However, it’s usually tolerated, as long as you camp in a remote spot, don’t draw attention to yourself, and leave everything as you found it.
Know the Country Code. If you’re going hiking in Britain, you’ll be expected to know the rules. The Country Code was written in the 1930’s for visitors to rural areas. Hikers in Britain follow it to this day. Here is the modern version:
• Plan ahead for your trip and obey all signs.
• Leave gates and property the way you found them.
• Respect plants and animals. Pack out all your litter.
• Keep your dog leashed at all times.
• Be very careful with fire.
• Be considerate of others.
Camping in Britain is a great adventure, and there are hundreds of things to do. Here are just a few ideas that are fun, kid-friendly, and very doable for family groups.
The Cornish Coast. Stretching over 250 miles, this is a long walk—just choose a stretch of beach and get started! This hike in Southwestern England includes mild weather for most of the year, spectacular cliff top views, and castles and standing stones along the way. It’s great for a family with older kids who love to explore.
The Ridgeway. This ancient Neolithic trail rambles for just under 90 miles through the North Wessex Downs and Chiltern Hills. It’s easy walking through quaint villages—most with comfortable bed-and-breakfasts if you’d rather skip the camping.
Northumberland National Park. This national park includes Hadrian’s Wall and many Roman ruins. It’s also a beautiful region of gently rolling hills and beautiful views. It’s got plenty of easy day hikes, bike trails, and lovely spots for family picnics.
Glastonbury Abbey and Glastonbury Tor. It is a great trip for King Arthur fans. Local legend says the Abbey is King Arthur’s final resting place, and the Tor is the original location for Avalon. A hike up to the top of the Tor will reward you with beautiful views of the Somerset countryside.
Whether you’re planning a tough hike with stunning views or a ramble across gently rolling countryside, the UK has what you’re looking for. Prepare well for your trip and follow the Country Code, and you’re sure to have a fun and memorable vacation.