Wild camping can be one of the most enjoyable experiences possible. Getting back in touch with nature and being able to finally let your hair down in a stream or a wood. No issues, no worries, no complications. It sounds idyllic but we do have a bit of a spoiler to tell you. It’s not that easy. We know, we know. We’re sorry. We’d love if it was. And if you lived in Northern Europe, where the right to roam and set your camp where you wished is enshrined in law as a basic human right, you’d be in luck. Unfortunately, here and across many areas of Europe and indeed the world, that is not the case. Why? Because those endless stretches of countryside, so far away from all the houses and the towns and the cities, they belong to someone else. Seems unbelievable right? That idyllic little field full of clovers that looks as if it hasn’t seen a boot in a decade, it belongs to someone or something and you shouldn’t be going in, not according to the law anyway. You have the right to traverse that field and to make your way from one side to another, but to stay there? Absolutely not.
This is a way of thinking that can take some time to really get your head around. To be entirely honest, it’s one that we still struggle with. After all, if you need to ask permission to go through all this land, it must be used for something right? Surely, it can’t just be owned for some arbitrary reason and belong to some faceless person? Nope, that’s actually the case in so many places. The land that you think that you should be able to walk through is infact private property, because pretty much every space is. If someone doesn’t own it, then the government does and they’re equally restrictive about what you can do there. There was a man a few years ago that set off to live in the woods, away from everyone and not hurting a soul. He built a simple hut and respected the land around him. Was he allowed to stay there? We’ll give you two guesses. That’s right, he wasn’t. He didn’t have the option to do what he wanted, because the council owned that wood and they didn’t want anyone using it. They wanted it to sit there, unused and natural. In an age where there are vast swathes of untouched countryside simply sitting there, it seems a little mean.
True, if we were desperate for green spaces and land, if we lived in a true concrete jungle with few people able to find space to get out into nature then you might understand. You might call it a problem of the greater good and say that there was no sort of room for that sort of thing. The thing is, we don’t. The amount of land in the UK that’s actually lived on is absolutely tiny. We have rolling hills and acre after acre of land that is used by no one, that has no purpose other than being. Which is fine and dandy and we’re all for preserving nature. But we do have to ask. Does it have to be such a blanket rule. If we gave up, say, 250 acres of that untold land, of the hundreds and thousands and millions of acres that are sitting with nothing on them, would it really make such a big difference? The answer is no, but that isn’t how the system works.
Instead, all the land in the country and in places like France, Spain and Italy is owned by someone. You can’t just pitch up there, and if you’re thinking about busting out the tent then you’re severely out of luck. After all, it’s basically tantamount to trespassing, as ridiculous as that might seem. It’s considered by most people to actually being in someone else’s front garden, peering in the curtains. And god help you if you encounter an officer of the law who is unhappy with what you’re doing because they can throw the book at you. It’s insane, but that’s the lay of the land in this country. The only real way around it is to apply before you stay f