Wild Camping in the Peak District | Gear, Tips + Where to Camp?

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Wild camping is continuing to become more popular in the UK.

And with the Peak District being one of the most popular National Parks it’s also increasing in the number of wild campers.

Firstly, to be clear, wild camping is not legal in England and Wales. In England, there are a few places in Dartmoor National Park you can wild camp. Or alternatively, you can wild camp anywhere in Scotland. Please note, you can be asked to move by landowners, therefore pick your spot wisely!

Anyway back to wild camping in the Peak District.

Photos within this post are all spots in the Peak District, some are places I’ve wild camped and some from my day hikes. Don’t assume the photos are suitable places you can wild camp 🙂

I’ve also included some top tips and important pieces of equipment to take on your wild camping trip.

Looking for awesome walks to do on your Peak District trip?

Visit my second website peakdistrictwalks.net (including over 50 amazing Peak District walks from 2 to 24 miles). It includes the routes, map and GPX file, plus other useful information. Perfect if you’re planning a weekend in the Peak District.

Views from Lose Hill in the Peak District
Views from Lose Hill in the Peak District

Because wild camping isn’t legal, there’s less information on how to wild camp (especially if you’re a beginner). I love wild camping and I also love the Peak District so want to help and share my top tips. 

This way it means wild camping won’t get a bad reputation (which I don’t think it has at the moment) and we can take care of the beautiful Peak District.

Sounds like a good idea 🙂

PS I’m not including GPS coordinates for exact wild camp locations in the Peak District but I will give you tips and ideas where to camp and how to find a spot.

If you are a beginner or new to wild camping and have a list of questions about what wild camping is and what you should expect, then read my beginner’s wild camping guide here.

*Becky the Traveller participates in the Amazon Services Associates Programme, as well as other affiliate programmes. If you make a purchase through these, I earn from the qualifying links. This is at no extra cost to you. Read more here.

Wild Camping in the Peak District

On route to find a wild camp spot in the Peak District
On route to find a wild camp spot in the Peak District

Take your time and read all you need to know about wild camping in the Peak District here.

If you decide after reading then wild camping isn’t for you, that’s ok, there are plenty of beautiful campsites you can stay at in the Peak District too.

I can recommend Fieldhead Campsite, Edale and North Lees Campsite, Hathersage.

Or maybe even go for extra luxury and stay in a Yurt, this is the one I stayed in near Buxton, great for a weekend away.

Read next – The beautiful walk along The Roaches and Lud’s Church near Leek

What is Wild Camping?

Off to find a wild camping spot

Wild camping, is literally what it says, camping in the wild. It’s being at one with nature, which includes the good (sunshine), the bad (wind) and the ugly (wind and rain). 

When you’re on a wild camping trip you’ll be carrying your kit on your back to find your spot. Therefore minimising damage to the environment, because let’s face it, you can only carry so much stuff.

You’ll either be in a small tent or bivvy bag and tarp combo.

If you are planning on driving, wild camping does not mean parking your car within 100 metres and finding a spot near the road.

If you want to camp near your car, so you pack a big tent and fancy camping accessories then choose a campsite instead. Wild camping is not simply camping for free, it’s more than that.

What to Look For in A Wild Camping Spot?

Peak District near Blacka Moor Nature Reserve
The search begins for a wild camping spot in the Peak District

When I’m looking for a wild camping spot, whether it’s in the Peak District or elsewhere there are a few things I look for.

  1. Firstly, I try to find a relatively flattish spot, sleeping on a slope, for me means I don’t have a good sleep. Remember, that’s the sacrifice you’re making for choosing wild camping.
  2. Check how damp the ground is, in the Peak District moorland areas can be wet and boggy, even a small amount of rain overnight could turn your camp into a pond.
  3. Pick a discreet spot, away from the path. Again, it’s wild camping, it’s not supposed to be easy!
  4. Choose a spot, not too far from a water source, so you can easily fill up for cooking and have somewhere to refill up again in the morning. I filter my water with the Platypus Water Filtration Set and also use a filter water bottle which saves me carrying extra weight.
  5. Check the ground for shit, and I mean sheep shit, much of the Peak District is shared with sheep so ideally, you don’t want to be in an area with hundreds of them.

Where to Wild Camp in the Peak District?

A discreet spot in the Peak District
A discreet spot in the Peak District

Now, I said I wouldn’t give you exact locations but I will give you a few hints and tips to help you find a good spot.

In the Peak District, there are two main areas The White Peak Area, covering areas such as the beautiful Chee Dale and Dovedale, these locations are close to local towns and villages in the Peak District. Not an area that you can be particularly discreet in.

The second area is the Dark Peak Area, there are more remote areas, hint hint, for example, Kinder Scout, Bleaklow and open moorland beyond.

The Dark Peak area is much more remote and away from villages and civilisation, so a perfect textbook place to find a wild camp spot.

I would always recommend finding spots in higher locations and you’ll have a more enjoyable experience. In fact, my very first wild camp was on the Kinder plateau – it’s pretty huge so the chances are you won’t bump into someone.

Update April 2021 – I said I wouldn’t name places but many people have wild camped on Bamford Edge, in fact, I did a few years ago (along with 4 others). It’s no longer a quiet wild camp spot so I’d recommend looking elsewhere. Also, another bigger issue is a fellow wild camper has been asked to move at 9 pm by the landowner. In my opinion, visit on a walk, but don’t wild camp there, it’s not worth the risk of having to move.

Need some ideas for walks – check out my NEW website – peakdistrictwalks.net

 
 

How to Find a Wild Camp Spot in the Peak District?

Cooking dinner as the sun sets
Cooking dinner at camp as the sun sets

The Peak District has been a regular place for me to hike, increasing over the last few years as my passion for hiking has grown.

This means that I have gained a good knowledge of the area and also potential wild camp spots. The more hikes I do in the area, the more wild camping spots I notice on my walks.

Find spots on walks

My best advice for finding your first wild camping spot in the Peak District would be to go on a day walk first and be extra observant of potential wild camp pitches. Look for places that are sheltered as well as spots with amazing views, the wind can be very loud – and on that topic, don’t forget your earplugs too – these silicone ones are fab.

Look for a spot on a map

The other way you can find a spot is by studying a map before your trip, the Ordnance Survey OL1 Dark Peaks – Peak District is a good map, at 1:25,000 it has a great amount of detail whilst will help you spot suitable place. Look at the contour lines to find a relatively flattish spot.

The closer together the contour lines the steeper the slope, for example, look at the steep contour lines on Winnats Pass. Ideally, you’re looking for places where they are wide apart.

Buy a Peak District Map

Use social media

Most people don’t share their wild camping locations (when you find a good one you won’t want to share either!)

But YouTubers seem to happily share their wild camping locations – you can use this as a guide for where to start looking (or where to avoid if you want a quieter experience). Search ‘wild camping in the Peak District’ and you’ll see what I mean!

Keep your wild camping spots secret!

Peak District views

The more popular a location becomes for wild camping, the increased damage to that area and vegetation. The idea of wild camping is that you pitch up late and leave early, another factor in minimising damage to the environment.

Imagine if I told you the best place to wild camp in the Peak District was ‘Becky’s Hill’, yes, I’ve made that up! Anyone reading this would think, great, that’s where I’m going and before you know it everyone is camping there.

At weekends in the summer it would become more of a campsite than wild camp spot. The reason I love wild camping is because of the remoteness and the feeling of being out there on my own.

There’s also something special about finding your own wild camp spot. If you’re worried about being able to find somewhere before it gets dark then you can always start your search sooner. Just remember don’t pitch your tent until nearer sunset.

First Time Wild Camping in the Peak District

Wild camping spot in the Peak District

A few things to remember for your wild camping experience:

Leave NO Trace

That means, absolutely nothing, all food waste and other rubbish should all be taken with you. I often use the packaging from my Summit to Eat meals as a rubbish bin. PS Macaroni Cheese meal is the best one!

Make sure you do a sweep of the area before you leave in the morning.

Be prepared for zero phone signal

In certain spots, the remote ones and likely to be the places you’ll be wild camping there is often no phone signal. I personally love this, but just be prepared.

When you’ve found your camp spot, take a walk to see if you can get signal anywhere close by so in an emergency, you know where to go.

A power bank is handy to have if you’re planning a multi-day wild camping trip. I have an Anker power bank and it’s great and last for at least four charges.

Enjoy the peace and quiet

Once you’ve set up camp, enjoy the stillness of nature around you.

Linked with the lack of phone signal it’s wonderful 🙂

Hole in ground for wild camping toilet
Wild camping toilet

Using the Bathroom Outdoors

Don’t forget if nature calls whilst you’re out wild camping then you’ll need to be prepared.

Again waste tissues should be taken away, I carry a small bag for rubbish items.

If you need a poo instead of a wee, then make sure you dig a hole and bury your faeces properly. This means away from any water sources and paths.

You can buy a lightweight trowel on Amazon, that doesn’t cost much – this is the one I use on my trips

Buy now so you’re prepared!

Arrive late and leave early

This is slightly harder in the summer months, ideally, you shouldn’t be putting your tent up any earlier than about an hour before the sun goes down.

Most wild camping tents only take 5-10 minutes to pitch so really you can do this even later.

If you’re asked to move, then move – No arguments, it’s as simple as that. I’ve never been asked but I feel that’s because I adhere to the ‘arrive late, leave early’ principle and also pick a remote spot

Do NOT Light A Fire in the Peak District

Views of moorland from Stanage Edge in the Peak District
Views of moorland from Stanage Edge in the Peak District

There is some controversy over whether you should or shouldn’t have a fire when you’re wild camping. I’m a firm NO when it comes to having a campfire in the Peak District and I’ll tell you why.

Much of the Peak District ground is peat, when peat moss gets very dry it becomes highly flammable and there have been numerous fires devastating the land and wildlife in the area.

Having a campfire does not abide by the ‘leave no trace’ principles. If you have a fire, even if you ensure it’s safe, you’re damaging the vegetation and surrounding area. So no fires in the Peak District, please.

Oh, and talking about light, don’t forget a headtorch, something like this Petzl is perfect to start with – it’s a right pain when you forget!

Are you planning your first wild camping trip in the Peak District?

Please comment below if you have any other questions, I’m passionate about people getting outdoors but if you’re unsure on anything feel free to get in touch.

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Wild camping spot Peak District
Views from Wild camping Peak District

*Becky the Traveller participates in the Amazon Services Associates Programme, as well as other affiliate programmes. If you make a purchase through these, I earn from the qualifying links. This is at no extra cost to you. Read more here.

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10 thoughts on “Wild Camping in the Peak District | Gear, Tips + Where to Camp?

  1. Sammi says:

    Fantastic blog thank you. Wild camped in a few other national parks but first with Peak District. This blog was informative enough for us to be on our way and find “our” spot.

    Thanks Becky!

  2. James Hobbs says:

    Hi Becky, thank you for the info on wild camping in the peak district, very informative and helpful advice, I am possibly getting the train up to Buxton this month and am planning to camp wild somewhere near Axe Edge to the south of the town, and then walking around the Goyt valley the next day! I haven’t been to the area before, would you know if the area around Axe Edge is suitable for wild camping! Looking at the map seems to suggest it would be a good place? Thanks. James.

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Ah brilliant sounds like a great adventure, it’s not an area I’ve wild camped in. I’d imagine it could be quite heathery and boggy in places but as long as you allow yourself plenty of time to explore I’m sure you’ll find a good spot!

  3. Joe says:

    Hi Becky,
    Great website and very informative – thank you.
    I have recently moved to Birmingham and want to explore the Peak District although without a car I’m struggling to find practical places I can go to wild camp with public transport. Do you have any recommendations on alternative locations (whether in Peak District or not)?

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Hi Joe, thanks for the email, I hiked in the Peak District for many years without a car and used the train stations on the Manchester to Sheffield line. There’s a train station at Edale, Hope, Hathersage, Bamford and Grindleford so plenty of places from those train stops to go for beautiful walks and find wild camp spots. As mentioned in the post, I don’t give exact locations but you should be able to find plenty of places around those.

  4. Julian Stumm says:

    Suspect its me who you are referring to who got evicted from Bamford Edge this week at 9pm. Thank you for sharing. We should warn everyone so they dont suffer as I did. Same applied to Stannage Edge as its owned by the same landowner and they are applying a zero tolerance policy there too. Im back home now – for a couple of days anyway – and actively pursuing whether the landowner breached a duty of care. Sending me packing, in the pitch black alone and as far as he knew no place of safety was dangerous imho. One slip in the wrong place it would be ultra easy to go over the edge in the dark.

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Ah hi Julian, yes, it does sound like it’s your FB post I read, although, I’ve seen another one recently too. I’ve never shared specific spots but Bamford Edge has been a known wild camp spots for a long time. I think many people do as there first and then pass the knowledge on to friends which is why it has got so popular! Glad you are home safely and hope it’s not put you off, there are so many places you can wild camp, up in the hills. As a solo female I always try to find a hidden spot and that’s worked well so far. Happy hiking + camping 🙂

  5. Si says:

    Hello Becky,
    Thanks for the blog – I’m about to head to The Peaks for my first ever wild camping experience. Please could you advise how far a spot should be off a path? Thank you.

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Hi Si, ah wonderful, hope you have a lovely trip. It’s difficult to give an exact distance, you’d need to not be visible from the path so it can vary depending on where you are looking to pitch. Have a fun time. 🙂

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