Sunday, 27 April 2008

Active Magazine: Wild Camping Reprise

In response to earlier post

Once more people have a misguided approach to wild camping in Scotland before the Scottish Outdoor Access Code came in. Wild camping without the landowner's permission was still classed as trespass under the Trespass (Scotland) Act 1865. I have mentioned this a few times. The Act was changed by the Land Reform Act 2003.

The "philosophy" that I was brought up with in Scotland was different. You respected other peoples' land, camped out of the way, and left no trace. The landowners' folk were concerned with poachers rather than campers.

Andrew Shirley of the CLA misses the point of wild camping when he says wild campers are "people who are not satisfied with camp sites". There are not many campsites where I end my days: jumping off points for the next day's walk. Under Scottish legislation, landowners rights are listed and protected. Damage by campers means they lose the right to access, and are trespassing, as well as being open to other civil and criminal damages.

Andrew Shirley of the CLA talks about "demand, not ideology". I wonder if the same rationale applies to all countryside arguments? One landowner, a few farm-workers, versus lots of walkers. Oh, that was the Kinder Scout Trespass. Demand of the masses, versus ideology of the landowner.

I have already written about the chances of bringing new money into out of the way places in Wild Camping Economics. Wild campers are tourists to, and are only a "very small number" if you ignore the sales of lightweight tents, tarps, bivvy bags, readers of the online forums (OutdoorsMagic and TGO). Most people undertaking the TGO Challenge will wildcamp a few times - do they not wild camp when they return south of the border?

I would bet that there are more wild campers in England & Wales than there are chasing foxes-scents or whatever they do these days.

And finally, the support of organisations. Good luck on finding it. There has been a single report in TGO Magazine, and I have not seen anything else in any other magazine or TV programme before "Active" magazine.

In fact, "Trail" reported this month "Dartmoor is the only place in the UK that legally enshrines the right to wild camp..". New kid on the block, "Active" knows that to be wrong, knows that Scotland is in the UK.

"Active" got it wrong about Dartmoor, and National Trust land as wild camping is only permissible in part of Dartmoor National Park (link), and in the Lake District National Park above 450m (link) under the following conditions:

2 There is a presumption against camping on non-recognised sites without permission. This presumption is waived in certain circumstances and areas, eg in the Lake District in upland areas above 450 metres out of sight of the public highway, to allow the wilderness experience to be enjoyed.
3 ‘Wild camping’, where tolerated, should only involve one night stop-overs, a maximum of two campers and leave no trace of its presence.
Recreational Activities at National Trust Properties, p7. PDF link

If the National Trust allow it in certain places, why not all national parks. Are wild campers not taxpayers? Do we not bring money into the area? Or do the landowners and councils only want the wealthy visitors? I wouldn't have walked across Scotland last year if I had to pay for accommodation each night. I lost over a kilo in 15 days. I spent money in towns. I spent money in gear shops before and after. I can not afford to walk across England or walk the length of Wales. Is that not "demand, not ideology"?


Anonymous said...

In responce, as a keen wild camper Ihave many reasons for doing so. To give an example, when out on the hilli can stop when and where I choose. It may allow me to witness a wonderful sunrise. Possibly I may stop early because bad weather is coming in. There are other reasons too. Peace and quite, the tranquility of being out there on my own. There is skill involved too. Knowing where to stop, seeking a place that may offer protection from any prevailing weather, knowing how your kit will work. After all, out on the hill what you carry is your life support system. Staying at a campsite maybe for a night because there is no choice is ok, but, as I have often found, camp sites also offer noise, rowdy neighbours. Few are set up for lightweight campers. Also, as I have found by using camp sites early in the year, they can be wet and muddy. Having used a few in this year alone, my kit has ended up more muddy and filthy than years of wild camping. No, I wild camp out of preference and choice and have the skills and ability that comes with that. Dawn.