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The Best UK Hikes For Wild Camping

Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure in the great outdoors? Before you pitch your tent and set off on a wild camping trip in the UK, it’s essential to pack the right gear. From tents to navigation tools, clothing to cooking equipment, we’ve got you covered with a list of must-have items for your wild camping expedition.

Plus, we’ll share the best hikes in the UK where you can experience the beauty of nature while camping under the stars. Get ready for an epic outdoor experience!

Key Takeaways:

Key Takeaways:

  • Pack essential items for wild camping: tent, sleeping bag/mat, cooking equipment, water/purification, clothing/footwear, navigation tools, first aid kit.
  • Best UK hikes for wild camping include: West Highland Way, Pennine Way, South Downs Way, Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Ridgeway, Coast to Coast Walk, Great Glen Way, Hadrian’s Wall Path, and South West Coast Path.
  • Choose a hike that suits your skill level and preferences, and obtain necessary permits. Respect the environment and leave no trace while wild camping. Prepare for varying weather conditions and always prioritize safety.

What are the Best Hikes for Wild Camping in the UK?

The United Kingdom provides a variety of exquisite hiking trails that are perfect for wild camping, giving individuals the chance to fully immerse themselves in nature while admiring the splendour of the nation’s diverse landscapes.

1. The West Highland Way

The West Highland Way in Scotland is renowned as a favoured trail for wild camping due to its stunning views and challenging terrain. Spanning over 96 miles in length, the trail commences in Milngavie, adjacent to Glasgow, and culminates in Fort William, situated at the base of Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK.

Throughout the journey, hikers traverse through a variety of landscapes, encompassing rugged mountains, dense forests, and tranquil lochs. The path is punctuated by picturesque villages where travellers can replenish their provisions or partake in a warm meal.

For enthusiasts of wild camping, some of the most ideal locations along the West Highland Way include the shores of Loch Lomond and the sprawling moorlands near Bridge of Orchy.

2. The Pennine Way

The Pennine Way stands as one of the United Kingdom’s most renowned long-distance trails, presenting a superb opportunity for engaging in wild camping amidst picturesque landscapes and an array of wildlife.

This extensive 268-mile route winds through the rugged yet captivating terrains of northern England, affording hikers the chance to immerse themselves in the allure of the countryside.

Essential navigation tools such as maps, compasses, and GPS devices play a critical role in safely navigating the occasionally challenging terrain, ensuring that adventurers remain on course and successfully reach their intended destinations.

Encounters with wildlife throughout the journey, including sheep, birds, and potentially elusive mountain hares, introduce an element of thrill to the expedition. It is imperative that hikers show due respect towards the local habitats and wildlife they come across, fostering a harmonious coexistence with the natural surroundings.

3. The South Downs Way

3. The South Downs Way

The South Downs Way presents an opportunity for a serene wild camping experience, characterised by its undulating hills, scenic vistas, and a notable emphasis on the principles of the Leave No Trace movement.

As individuals traverse this historical trail, they immerse themselves in a state of tranquillity and harmony with the natural environment. The South Downs Way encompasses a varied array of ecosystems, ranging from verdant forests to expansive meadows, enabling visitors to establish a profound connection with the surrounding landscape.

By upholding the Leave No Trace principles, travellers are able to minimise their impact on the fragile ecosystem, thereby safeguarding its magnificence for forthcoming generations to appreciate. Beyond offering awe-inspiring panoramas, this trail affords an opportunity for introspection, revitalisation, and a deep appreciation for the tranquillity that nature bestows.

4. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Wales presents an exceptional opportunity for wild camping, showcasing breathtaking coastal vistas while imparting essential safety guidelines geared towards novices in this outdoor activity.

Whether individuals possess a robust background in hiking or are newcomers to the camping realm, embarking on this rugged coastline with the guidance of an experienced professional is highly advisable. Beyond offering crucial safety recommendations, a seasoned guide can enrich the expedition by providing captivating insights into the region’s historical significance and diverse wildlife.

Through traversing this picturesque route, campers will encounter a multitude of optimal locations suitable for setting up tents. Prominent areas such as Whitesands Bay, Barafundle Bay, and Stackpole Quay stand as favoured selections, affording unparalleled sunset panoramas and a serene atmosphere conducive to a night spent beneath the celestial canopy.

5. The West Highland Way

The West Highland Way in Scotland is widely recognised as a prominent trail for wild camping due to its captivating scenery and demanding terrain.

This trail covers a distance of 96 miles, commencing in Milngavie and concluding in Fort William. Throughout the journey, hikers are treated to a variety of landscapes, encompassing rolling hills, forests, lochs, and notable mountains like Ben Nevis.

Prime locations for wild camping along the West Highland Way include the picturesque shores of Loch Lomond and the vicinity of the renowned Buachaille Etive Mor. Given the erratic nature of Scottish weather, it is imperative for hikers to equip themselves with waterproof attire, warm clothing, and robust tents to ensure a secure and gratifying experience.

6. The Ridgeway

The Ridgeway is renowned as the oldest road in Britain, offering a historic and picturesque route for wild camping activities while upholding respect for the local environment. This ancient trail boasts a lineage dating back thousands of years, originating in prehistoric eras.

Meandering through awe-inspiring landscapes, the Ridgeway interconnects culturally significant locations, presenting a distinctive opportunity for individuals to immerse themselves in the region’s rich history.

Whilst relishing the splendour of the great outdoors, it is paramount to exercise responsible wild camping practices to conserve the natural environs. Adhering to the principles of leaving no trace, utilising designated camping areas, and demonstrating respect for wildlife habitats are imperative steps in ensuring the sustainability of this historic trail for forthcoming generations.

7. The Coast to Coast Walk

The Coast to Coast Walk traverses some of the most picturesque landscapes in the UK, notably the Lake District, rendering it an ideal location for wilderness camping. This renowned trail spans approximately 192 miles from St. Bees on the western coast to Robin Hood’s Bay on the eastern coast, presenting a varied terrain and stunning panoramas throughout its course.

For fully appreciate this arduous yet gratifying journey, meticulous planning and preparation are imperative. The trail encompasses rough mountainous paths, lush valleys, and charming villages, offering an authentic experience of England’s natural splendour.

Optimal camping locations include serene sites near Ennerdale Water, Grasmere, and Richmond, affording hikers the opportunity to rest and revive amidst the tranquil environs.

8. The Great Glen Way

The Great Glen Way in Scotland presents an ideal trail for novice outdoor enthusiasts interested in experiencing wild camping amidst breathtaking scenery and manageable terrain. This trail is distinguished by its gentle inclines and well-maintained paths, catering to individuals new to extended hiking excursions.

Novices will appreciate the clearly marked routes and convenient amenities available throughout the journey, ensuring a secure and gratifying outdoor experience. Effective preparation is paramount for a successful trek along this trail, and participants are strongly advised to equip themselves with appropriate attire, navigation aids, and an ample supply of water.

Noteworthy camping locations such as Loch Oich and Drumnadrochit offer picturesque settings where outdoor enthusiasts can pause to relax and recharge amidst the natural surroundings.

9. The Hadrian’s Wall Path

9. The Hadrian's Wall Path

The Hadrian’s Wall Path presents a distinctive fusion of historical significance and natural splendour, rendering it an enthralling route for engaging in wild camping with a bivvy bag.

Traversing this ancient Roman edifice enables hikers to immerse themselves in centuries-old historical narratives while being enveloped by breathtaking landscapes.

Using a bivvy bag for camping along the trail provides adventurers with a lightweight and minimalist shelter option, ideally suited for immersing in the tranquillity of the surroundings.

Enroute, travellers may come across significant attractions like the renowned Sycamore Gap, a notable filming location, and vantage points offering views of the expansive Northumberland countryside.

10. The South West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path presents a challenging yet ultimately gratifying opportunity for wild camping. Vital to the success and safety of such an excursion is the thoughtful consideration of meteorological conditions and readiness for the auditory ambiance of nocturnal wildlife.

Spanning a distance exceeding 600 miles along the rugged coastal periphery, this renowned pathway showcases awe-inspiring vistas of cliffs, shorelines, and settlements. Trekkers engage with a varied landscape, encompassing sheer precipices alongside sandy shores, thereby infusing an element of adventure into their sojourn.

The capricious nature of weather phenomena, characterised by elements like fog, gusts of wind, and precipitation, can present formidable obstacles. Thus, it becomes imperative to equip oneself with suitable attire and provisions to ensure both comfort and safety.

During nightfall, campers may inevitably be serenaded by the sounds of indigenous fauna or the resonant crash of ocean waves. In such instances, maintaining composure and utilising ear protection can contribute to a tranquilly restful evening.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best UK hikes for wild camping?

Some of the best UK hikes for wild camping include the West Highland Way in Scotland, the Pennine Way in England, and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Wales.

Are wild camping trips legal in the UK?

Wild camping is legal in most parts of the UK as long as you follow the rules set by the landowner, which may include obtaining permission, leaving no trace, and adhering to designated campsite areas.

Do I need a permit for wild camping?

In most cases, you do not need a permit for wild camping in the UK. However, some areas may require a permit or permission from the landowner. It is always best to research beforehand and obtain any necessary permits before embarking on your hike.

What safety precautions should I take while wild camping?

When wild camping, it is important to follow basic safety precautions such as informing someone of your planned route, carrying a first aid kit, and being aware of potential hazards in the surrounding area. It is also important to follow the Leave No Trace principles to preserve the natural environment.

Can I bring my dog on a wild camping trip?

Yes, you can bring your dog on a wild camping trip in the UK as long as they are well-behaved and under control at all times. It is important to research beforehand if the hiking trail or campsite allows dogs and to make sure your dog is capable of the hike.

What should I pack for a wild camping trip?

Some essentials to pack for a wild camping trip include a tent, sleeping bag, food and water, appropriate clothing and gear, a map and compass, and a first aid kit. It is important to pack lightweight and compact items to make the hike more manageable.


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