Apr 7, 2011 at 5:52 pm #1271880
My husband and I will be in England and Scotland this June and we've toyed with the idea of backpacking while there. My husband is from the UK, so he knows his way around, but neither of us know anything about how to find the trails and where you can camp. Google searches on camping just gives results on campgrounds that are basically fields packed full with tents. Searches on Backpacking gives us sites about hostels. Hmm…where to find info on backpacking across entire regions? It seems that most "walkers" are just day-hiking and staying at inns as they traverse the countryside? Surely people backpack like we do in the US?
We know about Right of Way and how you can walk pretty much anywhere on paths. But what about setting up a tent? What are the laws, where is it legal/allowed and where is it likely to get you in trouble? What kind of trouble, anyway? What about Scotland? I know it's a lot more rustic up there.
Anyone done this and can offer some clues for us?Apr 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm #1721703
@christownsendLocale: Cairngorms National Park
Plenty of people go backpacking in Scotland and England (though note that backpacking is often used to describe travelling with a pack by bus or train and staying in hostels rather than hiking). I live in Scotland and here there is a right of access to just about all land regardless of owner – you don't have to stick to footpaths. The access rights include the right to camp wild as well. It's different in England with access agreements for some areas but not others and no legal right to camp wild though in most hill areas it's not a problem. There are many long distance paths in Scotland and England such as the Pennine Way and the West Highland Way and plenty of opportunities for making up your own route, especially in Scotland.Apr 8, 2011 at 1:26 am #1721837
There are lots of backpacking trails listed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-distance_footpaths_in_the_United_Kingdom
In Scotland you can legally walk and camp overnight just about anywhere that you might want to. This is not the case in England, but you are unlikely to get any trouble in more remote areas.
You are right tho', most walkers are day walkers who return home or to a commercial camp site. Peak bagging 3000' hills is popular in Scotland and none requires more than a day.
To get any feeling of wilderness, you will need to head for the northern half of Scotland and I would suggest either the http://www.capewrathtrail.co.uk or make up your own route. The NW and the islands are particularly attractive.Apr 8, 2011 at 5:51 am #1721858
England is a populous land area with over 1000 people per square mile compared to 80 people per square mile in the US. The US land mass is also 75 times larger than England. Essentially England just doesn't have the large wild areas you have in US which explains why day hiking is popular.
Wild camping or rough camping is not technically possible in most areas but in the National Parks stealth camping is common provided you are in open country and of course practise LNT.
If you want the wild experience then you will need to head north over the border to Scotland.
AndyLApr 9, 2011 at 7:54 am #1722348
Thanks guys. Like I said, my husband is English and I've been all over England, but seeing it through the eyes of camping/backpacking is different. We just didn't know what was typically done. Sounds like wild camping is possible but it's hard to know how realistic it would be.
We're not looking to do any of the really long trails…just not that much time, and we have quite a lot of family to see. But we wanted to head out for a week or so at some point. Here in the US, that would mean a 40 mile trail or so (we're wimps). Train access at each end would be a plus.
Anyone have any specific suggestions for places that you've camped? Places that you know wild camping (LNT and unobtrusive of course) would work? We've got family all over, including Scotland, so we're fairly open to location. What about the New Forest? Is wild camping done there? Much family is in Hampshire, so it's close.Apr 9, 2011 at 8:45 am #1722363
@christownsendLocale: Cairngorms National Park
In Scotland there's no problem with camping anywhere in the hills. There are innumerable possible routes of all lengths. A couple of suggestions – Blair Atholl to Aviemore via Glen Tilt and the Lairig Ghru in the Cairngorms National Park and Fort William to Dalwhinnie through the Central Highlands. Both these through-walks go through fine mountain country with options to climb summits either as part of the walk on side trips from a camp. There are railway stations at the start and finish of both walks too.Apr 11, 2011 at 8:43 am #1723125
It would be difficult to stealth camp in the New Forest. Its proximity to the coast makes it the place of choice for holiday makers to stealth camp which the authorities are very aware of and are trying to stop.
I would suggest you travel further north. The Peak District National Park is around 3 hours by train from London and off peak the rail fare will be around $50 round trip. The open country begins about a one mile walk from the station at Edale.
Here is an old web site (2002 I think) with a walk of 40 miles which can be covered as a continuous walk of two and a half to three days. You could walk it in either direction as there is a railway station at both ends of the walk. The whole walk requires just one 1:25000 scale map. Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure 1 (Dark Peak Area)
Let me know if you need more information.
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