Wild Camping - legal?^

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Mark R
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Wild Camping - legal?^

Post by Mark R » Mon Apr 25, 2005 11:38 pm

I doubt it's likely to change my practice of camping wherever whenever...

...but does anyone actually know what the law has to say about camping wild, on the coast or anywhere?

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wild camping

Post by mitchmix99 » Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:47 am

Not sure of the legal aspect of it but if you leave little/no trace you were there then what’s the harm? If you’re not in anyone’s way/trespassing I think you should be left to it – if the landowner asks you to move then fair enough.

Also you’ve got a right to roam, so why not roam in one place in a tent overnight????


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Post by seismicscot » Tue Apr 26, 2005 9:25 am

Surely it depends whether you are north or south of Hadrian's Wall? ;o)

Seriously, small groups, being discrete, and leaving no trace - I don't see any problem. However, in particularly 'sensitive' areas it may be prudent to seek permission first?


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Simon Willis
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Post by Simon Willis » Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:22 am

In Scotland, the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 came into force on Wednesday 9th Feb 2005. It permits wild camping within the terms of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code which says:

"Access rights extend to wild camping. This type of camping is lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place. You can camp in this way wherever access rights apply but help to avoid causing problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or historic structures. Take extra care to avoid disturbing deer stalking or grouse shooting. If you wish to camp close to a house or building, seek the owner’s permission.
Leave no trace by:
* taking away all your litter;
* removing all traces of your tent pitch and of any open fire (follow the
guidance for lighting fires);
* not causing any pollution."

Full code here: http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/access/Appro ... 050604.pdf

Ramblers have a shortened version
http://www.ramblers.org.uk/info/britain ... scode.html

Ramblers Association says of England and Wales:
"In England and Wales you have no general right to camp and if you do so you may be trespassing, unless you use an official site or first obtain the landowner’s permission. In practice responsible “wild” camping may be tolerated in upland areas, particularly when you are a long way from alternative accommodation, though strictly speaking you are still trespassing and could be moved on. Some upland areas have particular sites where camping is informally tolerated. The best approach is to enquire locally or contact information sources such as national park authorities in advance."

All add that you should learn and practice minimum impact techniques.

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Post by John Cleaver » Tue Apr 26, 2005 11:36 am

From the "legal" viewpoint where does the foreshore finish and private land start? Suspect it is the mean high water mark - the dark line on OS 1:50,000. So during neaps, or if the timing is right for your slumbers I guess you could camp below that and be perfectly legal.

However apart from "inter-tidal maggot man" (a friend who is allergic to tics and sleeps in a bivvi bag on the beach as far from vegetation as possible), not many would be happy doing that I think.

Above that you would be on private property, hence I guess by the laws in England and Wales, strictly speaking, illegal. However "wild camping" is widely practised by backpackers, climbers, and sea kayakers, and seems to be well accepted/tolerated. In the Lakes for example the official guideline is that as long as you are above 2000ft, and above any wall or enclosure, then that is fine. On the coast however how wild is wild?

Not sure that the "right to roam" gives you the right of abode, even for just one night.

Personally I would always choose a campsite away from habitation (that's why I go sea kayaking), and as long as nobody sees you while we are there, and as long as you leave no trace of your presence, then I do not think anyone needs feel the slightest bit guilty, even if it is not strictly legal.
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Post by Dave Thomas » Tue Apr 26, 2005 11:58 am

Lets not lose sight of the fact that 'right to roam' only applies in designated areas anyway, not to all land (or even, as I understand it, to all unenclosed land?).

As far as Pembrokeshire is concerned, truly 'wild' land along the coast is not that common. But there are plenty of small beaches with stream valleys running down to them where it would be practicable to camp on a flattish bit of 'uncultivated' grass out of sight of all except late/early walkers on the coast path.

Did once bivvy on the pebble 'storm bank' at the top of one beach. Surprisingly easy to get confortable, but beset by sandhopper-type insects - hopping around ones face all night, and turning up in the boats, kit etc for some time afterwards!

Was staying at Abereiddi a few years ago (family holiday, not paddling - well, only day trip paddling). Saw a couple of paddlers having an extended late-afternoon break by the ruined lime-kiln at the top of the beach. Went out for a walk towards dusk and they had settled down for a bivvi in/by the lime kiln, only yards away from houses, the beach car park, etc. Gone pretty early the next morning, though! And on a 5* training around the Lands End area we camped on a grassy patch above the beach/slipway on the edge of a small village (whose name escapes me). Can't recall whether permission was sought or whether it is just deemed by common consent to be a sea-kayaking overnight stop.

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the foreshore

Post by atakd » Tue Apr 26, 2005 4:20 pm

For what its worth, the shore between mean high and low water is owned by the crown, which delegates management to local councils who justify charging for access to the sea in so many places on this basis.

Rich Best

Post by Rich Best » Tue Apr 26, 2005 11:29 pm

I used to think that all of the foreshore was owned by the crown until I discussed this with some wildfowlers when I was out in the north Kent marshes. They told me that some stretches of foreshore are owned by the Kent Wildfowling and Conservation Association, where members are allowed to shoot provided they give full details of shots fired and birds taken. They are also allowed to shoot on "Crown foreshore". However, large sections on foreshore are owned by the Kent Wildlife Trust as nature reserves, with shooting prohibited of course. So, if I'm informed/understanding correctly, some sections of foreshore may well be privately owned, which might complicate the camping issue. That said, I have bivvied on KWT marsh in winter without any problems. There are too many nesting birds to do it this time of year, whoever owns it...

Some good news though: once you get launched into the brine you do have the right to roam, even down here in Kent.

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Post by Jim » Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:45 pm

The question is/was is it legal?

In England and Wales the answer is no (assuming that if you gain permission it is no longer "wild" camping), in Scotland the answer is yes as long as you meet the requirements for access laid out in the access code (one requirement often overlooked is that you must be intending to move on, although I don't think a time frame is given).

We all know that if you are inconspicuous anything goes, but that wasn't the question!

Richard Best - that situation is interesting, maybe the wildfowlers have by lease or decree, the rights to the foreshore. As far as I know it is always owned by the crown, if ownership of the land and ownership of the rights to it makes a difference?


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Post by ChrisS » Wed Apr 27, 2005 7:49 pm

"The Crown Estate owns around 55% of the foreshore (between mean high and mean low water) and approximately half of the beds of estuarial areas and tidal rivers in the United Kingdom. It also owns the seabed out to the 12 mile territorial limit..."

"The foreshore, meaning the area between low and high water marks of ordinary tides (LWMOT and HWMOT) in England and Wales, and between low and high water marks of ordinary spring tides (LWMOST and HWMOST) in Scotland. as well as the bed of arms and estuaries of the sea and tidal rivers, is vested in the Crown except where the ownership has passed to a subject by charter, grant, prescription or possessory title. Today, much of the coastline is owned by local authorities, private individuals and lords of the manor, or by the National Trust.
Land above the foreshore is presumed to belong to the adjoining owners, but there is no legal presumption that the foreshore between high and low water marks belongs to the owners of the adjacent property."

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Post by Jim » Wed Apr 27, 2005 8:20 pm

Well there you go then!


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