Wild Camping Guide Pt. 1 - Finding the best place for your tent

Wild Camping Guide Pt. 1 - Finding the best place for your tent

Campers fall into two groups. There are those who like to meet their friends every year at the campsite, some even reserving their spot several months in advance. Some don’t even use a tent, opting for a caravan or mobile home instead. During the day, they swim in the pool, play games and read. In the evening, they might barbecue together with other campers. Then you have the intrepid camper; the true adventurer, eager to discover unexplored landscapes and experience new things. This type likes to enjoy the nature, away from crowds and off the beaten track. Inspired by our friends and camping-mad colleagues here at Addnature, we’ve put together a guide to wild camping, giving you a few tips to prepare for your own trip. We hope you find this guide useful!

Rules & Legal Framework

So, your itinerary’s planned and you’re ready to camp in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, there’s a little more to it than that. There are laws regarding wild camping, as well as several things to know to fully benefit from the experience without stress or inconvenience.

Wild Camping – the legality

Generally speaking, wild camping in England and Wales is illegal without permission of the land owner. That being said, many landowners are open to this, provided you treat the land with respect and behave yourself. Try to stay away from people’s homes and roads. This also applies for national monuments or other heritage sites. In Scotland, thanks to right-to-roam laws, wild camping is generally allowed. Of course, this has certain limits, and you should never assume you can camp in someone’s garden, farmland or on civic property. In conclusion, it’s almost impossible to give a general answer to the question "where can I pitch my tent? When preparing your itinerary, take the time to find out about the laws in your destination country, as well as more local municipal regulations. Here are some other tips regarding wild camping that you might find useful:

Can I light a campfire?

In principle, you’re not allowed to light a fire outside designated areas. Even if you see traces of a previous fire in the same area, that doesn’t give you the right to start one. Be particularly vigilant in summer, when the risk of fire is increased tenfold. Check with local authorities in advance.

Noise Annoys

Nature is a quiet place where people go to enjoy the silence. You can listen to music of course, as long as you turn down the volume so as not to disturb others (human or animal). This also applies to your visual presence – try to blend in as best as you can and not be an eyesore.

What should I do with my waste?

If you follow only one rule, make it this one: leave your camping spot as clean as you found it when you arrived. Having a bag for your litter is essential. Bin any inorganic waste, cigarette butts (if you smoke) and above all, don’t forget to take your garbage bag with you and dispose of it in a container provided for that purpose. The camper has huge respect for the environment.

Dealing with the weather

In favourable weather conditions (sun, calm wind, light drizzle), finding a location doesn’t pose any major difficulties and setting up the tent itself requires much less effort when it’s dry. However, things don’t always go the way we want, and weather conditions are sometimes unpleasant and unpredictable. When the weather is difficult and unpredictable, it’s essential, both for your comfort and safety, to take great care when choosing the location. Don't be surprised in the middle of the night by rain, on wet and muddy ground. Take time to look for dry, solid and preferably sheltered soil to pitch your tent. Trees in the forest often provide good shelter, provided you’ve checked the terrain carefully: a sick tree can quickly fall over or break during a storm; or it can lose branches, heavy enough to knock you out. In winter in the mountains, be extra careful: an avalanche can quickly break out. In summer, there’s also a risk of flooding. Beware of white water (rivers), as well as stagnant water (lakes, ponds) full of mosquitoes and other unpleasant insects.

The ideal time and place to set up your tent

The time

Have you ever tried to pitch a tent in total darkness? If so, you know that even with experience, it’s not a pleasure. If you must do this, have you taken the time to analyse the terrain? Questionable conditions are synonymous with danger. That's why it's best to find your location and pitch your tent at least two hours before sunset.

The ground

As we’ve already pointed out, it’s best is to pitch your tent on dry, solid, and preferably sheltered ground. But what seems simple in theory is often more complicated in practice. In nature, the ground is often loose because of moisture, while more solid surfaces are often the most exposed to the wind. However, if setting up a tent in the middle of a plain is not the optimal situation, it’s still the best location in case of bad weather. The most important thing is to be safe from danger: falling objects, falling tree branches and sudden cooling due to humidity are just a few examples. Plan an extra layer between your tent and the ground (a plastic film or tarpaulin for example) and invest in a good floor mat.

Setting up and dismantling your tent


Have you found a location that meets all your requirements? Then it's time to pitch the tent. Ensure that pegs and other stakes are firmly embedded in the ground. If your tent has eyelets, or if the ground is too hard to sink the pegs into, you can use guy ropes. They offer more flexibility than pegs, and you can pitch the tent on a wider variety of sites. If you’re in an exposed area, avoid placing the tent entrance facing the wind.


Time to pack up?  Too bad! First, ventilate the tent well. Whether it’s rained or not, it could have got damp during the night or in cooler temperatures. Morning dew is a good sign of this. If the tent is lined, dry the inside and outside separately if possible. Once dismantled, the tent should ideally be stored in a breathable bag: for example, something with a Gore-Tex membrane or a mesh so that it can continue to dry.

To conclude on this article, even if wild camping, using a bivouac or backpacking may seem simple, the activity is not without danger. This is why there are a number of points to follow to avoid unpleasant surprises. In the next article, we'll explain how to protect yourself from getting into trouble from wildlife you may encounter in the wild.

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