Roof tent wild camping in the UK

If you’re interested in trying out roof tent camping and want to experience the thrill of wild camping, there are a few things you should know. First and foremost, it’s important to note that wild camping is not legal in England and Wales. This means that you cannot simply pitch your roof tent wherever you like and camp for the night. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, and there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy wild camping experiences in the UK.

Wild camping locations in the UK

Generally in the UK, wild camping is not legal without permission from the landowner. That being said, here are a few suggestions for wild camping locations in the UK:

  1. Scottish Highlands – With stunning landscapes and plenty of open space, the Scottish Highlands are a popular spot for wild camping. Some areas to consider include the Cairngorms, Wester Ross, and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

  2. Lake District National Park – The Lake District is another popular destination for wild camping, with beautiful lakes and mountains to explore. However, it’s important to note that wild camping is not legal in all areas of the park, so be sure to check the rules and regulations.

  3. Dartmoor National Park – Dartmoor is a rugged and wild landscape, and wild camping is allowed in certain areas with permission from the landowner. Some popular spots include Bellever Forest and the area around Fernworthy Reservoir.

  4. Snowdonia National Park – Snowdonia is a stunning national park in Wales, with plenty of opportunities for hiking and wild camping. Some areas to consider include the Carneddau Mountains and the Glyderau Range.

  5. Brecon Beacons National ParkThe Brecon Beacons is another beautiful national park in Wales, with rolling hills and wild landscapes. Wild camping is allowed in certain areas with permission from the landowner.

Remember, when wild camping in the UK, it’s important to respect the environment and leave no trace behind. Always follow the Leave No Trace principles, and be sure to check the rules and regulations for the specific area where you plan to camp.

Leave No Trace Principles and Camping

  1. Plan Ahead & Prepare – Pick uncrowded destinations, consider your water sources, bring appropriate equipment and plan the logistics of carrying in and out all of your rubbish. Ensure you’re allowed to camp where you want to go.
  2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces – Think about the impact of your camping when picking a wild campsite. Make sure to confirm that the surface is durable where you’re pitching, cooking and sitting. Also, you’re not causing irreversible damage to the vegetation around you.
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly – Take ALL your rubbish including food scraps and hygiene products like tampons or wet wipes. Human waste is best to be taken away but can also be buried if done so appropriately.
  4. Leave What You Find – Leave your campsite as you found it. Don’t take natural objects home with you.
  5.  Minimise Campfire Impact -Preferably use a stove rather than making a fire. However, if you do build a fire consider the implications. Think about potential fire damage and wood usage. Use existing fire rings if you can or fire pit, and ensure your fire is completely out with water rather than dirt.
  6. Respect Wildlife – Don’t disturb the local wildlife whilst camping. Keep a distance, avoid noise pollution and be mindful of your food and food scraps so that these can’t be accessed.
  7. Be Considerate of Others – You’re not the only one who enjoys the outdoors, ensure that your activities don’t hamper the enjoyment of others. Enable access to other users, don’t play loud music, and keep pets under control.

Wild camping in Scotland

In Scotland, for example, wild camping is legal in most areas, as long as you follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. This code outlines the responsibilities and best practices for wild camping, such as camping away from houses, being respectful of the environment, and leaving no trace. 

By the letter of the law staying in a roof tent isn’t covered by the Scottish Access Rights. Public or private land owners can restrict or regulate parking on their land, you must comply with this. However, there are still plenty of places where you can ‘wild camp’ or camp for free. To find these places, use the Park4Night app which gives you information on facilities, local shops, attractions and reviews. This means that if you have a roof tent and want to go camping in Scotland, you have plenty of options.

One popular spot for roof tent wild camping in Scotland is the Cairngorms National Park. This stunning wilderness area offers plenty of opportunities for wild camping, with stunning views of mountains, lochs, and forests. You can find a spot to park your car and set up your roof tent, then spend the night under the stars. Just be sure to follow the local signage, the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and respect the local wildlife and environment.

Wild camping experiences

Another option for roof tent wild camping in the UK is to look for campsites that offer wild camping experiences. These campsites are usually located in remote areas and offer a more rustic camping experience. They may not have all the amenities of a traditional campsite, but they do offer a chance to get away from it all and enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside. Some campsites also have rules and regulations that allow you to camp outside of designated areas, as long as you follow their guidelines.

When wild camping in a roof tent, it’s important to be prepared. Make sure you have all the necessary gear and equipment, such as warm sleeping bags, cooking supplies, and food. You should also be aware of the weather conditions and pack accordingly, as the weather can change quickly in the UK.

Tent & Trail Explore Series roof tent on a Land Rover Defender with tree in the foreground on a sunny day in the UK.

In conclusion, while wild camping with a roof tent in the UK may not be legal everywhere, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy this unique and thrilling camping experience. Whether you head to Scotland and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, or look for campsites that offer wild camping experiences, there are many ways to enjoy the beauty of the UK countryside from the comfort of your roof tent. Just remember to be prepared, follow the rules and regulations, and respect the environment around you.

4 Responses

  1. You cannot wild camp with a vehicle to get there in Scotland. You need to educate yourself. Please see our blogs for assurance.

    Roof tents are more restrictive as they are seen as “tents” and not self contained therefore cannot be setup and used in car parks or off grid etc. Access laws don’t apply to them.

    We are making ISP’s and industry bodies and suppliers aware of all websites sharing illegal and inaccurate information. Please have it updated.

    Thanks.

    James King.

    1. Hi James,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your insights with us. We appreciate your input and acknowledge the accuracy of your point regarding wild camping with vehicles in Scotland.

      However, our article does not specify that wild camping with a vehicle, including those equipped with roof tents, is applicable to Scottish Access Rights. It’s crucial to clarify that roof tents are perceived as “tents” rather than self-contained units, which may affect their usage in certain areas such as car parks or off-grid locations where access laws may not apply directly. And why we say:

      By the letter of the law staying in a roof tent isn’t covered by the Scottish Access Rights. Public or private land owners can restrict or regulate parking on their land, you must comply with this.

      We would like to highlight that Scottish local district parks and councils often provide valuable advice regarding camping regulations and guidelines. For instance, campervan guidance is frequently offered to individuals utilising roof tents as well. See the wild camping section here on the Cairngorms National Park for their advice: https://cairngorms.co.uk/discover-explore/enjoying-the-park/outdoor-access-advice/.

      If you are a member of the Highlands council or have access to their guidance, we encourage you to share it with fellow campers, including those with roof tents, to ensure compliance and responsible camping practices while visiting The Highlands.

      Once again, thank you for bringing this important aspect to our attention, and we remain committed to providing accurate and helpful information to our readers.

      Best regards,

      Chris @ Tent & Trail

  2. Hi Chris
    My friend and I have some overland vehicles with roof tents and are looking for somewhere to go deep in the brecons .
    Would you be kind enough to recommend a site .
    Many thanks
    Andy

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