@Blacks_Online. (Photos curated by me.)
Thought glamping was the coolest way to camp? Well, you’d be wrong. Wild camping is the new way to see the great outdoors, and it’s the polar opposite of its more bourgeois cousin. Wild camping is roughing it par excellence, and is incredibly popular with the ultralite set – intrepid explorers committed to carrying kit with minimum weight and maximum performance. The concept is self-explanatory: find a spot, pitch your tent, and settle in for the night. No fences, no facilities, no noisy neighbours. Wild camping is as peaceful as it gets and allows you to achieve that real ‘wilderness’ feeling, as well as giving you the chance to experience some pretty special morning views.
However, some places are more set up for wild camping than others: Scandinavian countries such as Sweden and Finland have the ‘right to roam’ thoroughly embedded in their culture, meaning that you can to ski, camp and otherwise enjoy yourself on all land other than private gardens without fear of reprisals. In other countries, however, the situation is more difficult. For example in Ireland and Greece it is illegal to camp outside a designated campsite. With that in mind, here are the some of the world’s best destinations to wild camp:
Scotland is home to arguably the most dramatic scenery in the UK, and also some of the most relaxed rules regarding wild camping. Try the Outer Hebrides for real remoteness, or Galloway Forest Park for star gazing: the areas is a designated area of natural darkness, and the lack of light pollution will give you an uninterrupted view of the heavens.
Iceland has one of the world’s lowest crime rates, and its friendly people make travelling there a pleasure. The country is also notoriously expensive, and wild camping is an attractive option for exploring on a budget. Forget chic hotels with hot tubs and head to the plethora of natural springs that bedeck the countryside or camp near the cliffs and whale watch from your sleeping bag. Wild camping in national parks is, however, forbidden, and technically you must ask the permission of any farmer on whose land you wish to camp.
Lapland is one of the world’s most perfect untouched wildernesses. Home to the Northern Lights in winter and the midnight sun in summer, Lapland is a place of primodeal, otherworldly beauty and absolute solitude. Camping inside the arctic circle will also earn you serious bragging rights! Visit in Autumn for mild temperatures, ruska (Autumn colours) and the chance to kayak through clear waters.
Camping under the star studded skies of Yosemite National Park is a must for any American road trip. Think charging waterfalls, soaring mountains and a near infinity of breath-taking hiking trails. The vast majority of the park is completely untamed, making it a wild camping goldmine. You will, however, need a wilderness permit and a bear canister – black bears do roam this area and are notoriously aggressive.
If you’re an experienced camper and want to take your trips to the next level, why not head out to the tip of the world and camp under the vast night skies of Patagonia. This is the place to meet traditional gaucho cowboys, spot whales, hike glaciers and take in some of the world’s most beautiful views.
Tips for wild campers:
Ensure your gear is up to the test
This is especially pertinent if heading out after the mercury has dropped. Make sure that you thoroughly research the maximum and minimum temperatures that you should expect. Check the comfort rating of your sleeping bag to ensure you won’t get too cold at night. This is not an area to skimp on. Make sure that you have a repair kit for anything that may rip or break such as your sleeping mat or tent. In a pinch, simple duct tape can work wonders.
Whilst you may baulk at the prices of ultralite gear, it is worth investing in quality pieces in order to save on weight, without sacrificing performance. There are numerous forums devoted to ultralite camping, and the talk gets pretty in depth. Don’t feel embarrassed about introducing yourself and asking questions: people are usually only too happy to share their expert advice. Alternatively visit a good outdoor gear store and have a chat with your sales consultant.
Even if you are sure that you know where you are going, don’t underestimate how disorientating the wilds can be. Mountain rescue organisations can attest to the amount of people that get lost each year on Britain’s peaks. Additionally, if you do end up in trouble, being able to pinpoint your exact location will help you tremendously when radioing for help. High end GPS devices such as Garmin will make planning and navigating easier than you could imagine.
How about you? Have you been wild camping or do you prefer glamping?