Wild camp on south west coast path/ridgeway??

Is it easy? Or hard to find places to camp?

15 messages
07/04/2010 at 10:29
Hola, I've just lost my job, split up with girlfriend & been kicked out of home. On the brightside, I now have some time to go for a walk. I think I might walk the ridgeway (from tring) then head over to minehead & walk the swc path. Has anybody done either of these camping wild everynight? Money is tight so would have to cut costs & corners? Is it possible to wild camp them both? Legal? Likely?

07/04/2010 at 11:05

You lucky so n so 

The SWCP is ok for wildcamping - just need to walk till you find suitable spots.  I have pitched late on the actual path before where I couldnt be bothered to keep walking on and the night view was interesting...

I know nothing about the ridgeway.  

Wildcamping is technically illegal in England and Wales except on much of Dartmoor.  But it is tolerated in a lot of places.  Just pitch late, leave early and be discreet if on farmland - sure you'll be fine.

07/04/2010 at 11:14

The Ridgeway comes in two halves. The eastern half isn't really for wild camping. On the western half, it's generally been tolerated well away from habitations, so long as you pitch in the rough grass to the side of the track, and obviously, don't cause any nuisance.

On the SWCP, you really need to keep a very low profile, because people do use stretches of the path from early until late for strolls and dog-walking, and some local folk will tell on you if they spot you! I've seen notices that ask the public to inform about any wild campers they see. Seems a bit extreme, but understandable if there have been problems.

'Problems', of course, aren't usually to do with 'wild campers', but 'wild boys camping'.

But yeah... just bear in mind that it's nearly always illegal.

07/04/2010 at 11:31
Ridgeway, western half (i.e. west of Goring/Streatley). Along much of this length the 'path' is a strip of land between two fences or hedges that are up to about 100 metres apart. Since the land is not used for much apart from travel, I think it will be unusual for anyone to be too bothered about you pitching a tent on a quiet pitch. You should have no difficulty finding camping places. However do not camp on racehorse gallops unless you want a rude awakening by a ton of speeding thoroughbred with furious a little man on top at dawn. And note that water supplies are very few: be prepared to carry water for camping with you.
07/04/2010 at 13:17

BM - sounds like a good plan in the circs!  FWIW, I like to use gear that's as low-profile as poss if I'm in areas where there might be difficulties, so an olive green bivi bag, or green tent can really help.  I have discussed this with an ex-National Park ranger mate and he agrees:  if one is camping 'illegally' but keeping a low profile, then authorities are more likely to turn a blind eye - that is if they see you in the first place.  But if you are blatant in your bright red/orange or whatever tent, they are more likely to, and feel obliged to, do something about you - i.e. move you on. 

Have a great trip!

06/05/2010 at 12:19
I've done both and wild camped, just wait until it is getting dark and keep as far as poss from villages and towns.
06/05/2010 at 12:32

I've camped on beaches all round the coast with no problems, I can't remember anyone even mentioning it.  I'm not sure how close to the coast the SWC path actually goes but I can't see it being a problem.

Sorry to hear about your personal issues, I'm sure a long walk will help.

Steve D

Not all those who wander are lost.

08/05/2010 at 18:00

i walked the ridge way last bank holiday,mind if you camp around the trees at waylands smithy,cause officers patrol the area, there have been a few illegal raves there.though the wpc said she would not have moved me on otherwise.there is a camp site at the bottom of white horse hill hot showers and food £6 quid a nite. if you get a harveys map of the ridgeway it will show you where water taps are,there is bout 12 but i only found four....good luck

24/05/2011 at 15:29
having spent the last few days looking a books, websites and maps for campsites along the SWCP it amazes me how much site owners want to charge for a 1 person tent for just 1 night!!!

in some places i phoned they have wanted £17+ per night !!!

i think the is a high amount to be charged, they should be named and shamed!!!
24/05/2011 at 18:39
Well just had a new record for 1 nights camping at eype mouth, they wanted £20 !!!
29/05/2011 at 09:55
In light of an improvement in my circumstances (I found permanent employment, woohoo!) I'm currently planning an epic trek using as much money as I can save and I'm thinking of walking quite a few of the National Trails in the UK. I'm going to be very discreet, using a tarp as small as possible and carrying a light load. Realistically, how easy is it to be wild camping paths like the South West Coast Path, Pennine Way, Offa's Dyke etc. and not be bothered by folk? I tend to walk at a leisurely stroll until late in the day. The problem is that I hate using and carrying gas - it's very wasteful, and when previously camping in Scotland I prefer to be making a tiny fire to be cooking on, I'm guessing this won't be possible on the SWCP but what about the other national trails?
Edited: 29/05/2011 at 09:56
30/05/2011 at 10:43
Mole wrote:

<Wildcamping is technically illegal in England and Wales except on much of Dartmoor.>
I'm not certain that this is correct.

There is no law, except on Dartmoor and in Scotland, that gives you the right to camp wild. Nor, on the other hand, is there a law that forbids wild camping unless an organization, such as the National Trust or local authority, has passed a bye-law forbidding the practice on its own property. Bye-laws are enforceable through the criminal courts and offenders, on conviction, are subject to penalties.

My understanding is that if you camp wild you are not committing an offence unless the land on which you are camping has a bye-law forbidding it. If there is no such bye-law, you are a trespasser and if you refuse to move on when asked, you can be sued through the civil courts.



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31/05/2011 at 10:39

I agree that its probably better to say that wild camping is not authorized by law in E&W (except specifically in some parts of Dartmoor), some definitions I've seen of illegal include this and some don't.

And beware that there's a lot of National Trust owned land on the SWCP and their byelaws specifically ban camping and fires on their land. Theoretically you may be removed by Rangers and/or fined up to £20 in a court. I've never had any problems though and the chances of seeing a NT employee (except collecting money at car parks) is about zero. Trying camping on the lawns of a stately home may go down less well though.

Talking of which I wouldn't try camping too close to Chequers on the Ridgeway (the route crosses the drive to the house!)

01/06/2011 at 19:17
Actually I totally forgot something I previously looked at - one of those Bush buddy type setups, where you can use solid fuel with it but it's contained within itself so you don't leave any burn or fire marks on the ground. I should have racked my brain more before I bothered posting.
01/12/2015 at 12:38

thinking of walking to southampton using coast path

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