Wild camping is continuing to become more and 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.
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 🙂
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 by sharing a few top tips I want to ensure people to do it the right way.
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 If you are thinking I’m going to give you GPS coordinates for exact wild camp locations in the Peak District you might be disappointed because I’m not! I will explain why just in case you think I’m being mean!
If you are a beginner or new to wild camping, I have written some starter information about what wild camping is and what you should expect.
You can read it here full beginner’s wild camping guide here for all the info.
*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.
Wild Camping 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.
What is Wild Camping?
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.
- My first wild camping tent – 2-person Vango Banshee
- My second wild camping tent – 1-person MSR Hubba
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?
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.
- Firstly, I try to find a relatively flattish spot, sleeping on a slope, for me personally means I don’t have a great night’s sleep. Remember that’s the sacrifice you’re making for choosing wild camping.
- Check how damp the ground is, in the Peak District some of the moorland areas can be wet and boggy, and even a small amount of rain overnight could turn your camp into a pond.
- Pick a discreet spot, away from the path. Again, it’s wild camping, it’s not supposed to be easy!
- Choose a spot, not too far from a water source, this means you can easily fill up for cooking and also have somewhere to refill up again in the morning. I filter my water with the Platypus Water Filtration Set.
- Check the ground for shit, and I mean sheep shit, much of the Peak District is also shared with plenty of sheep so ideally, you don’t want to be in an area with hundreds of them.
Where to Wild Camp 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 Padley Gorge, Chee Dale and Dovedale, it is a fairly populated area. It’s full of beautiful woods, rivers, streams and cute towns. Not an area that you can be particularly discreet in.
Check out these – Walks in the White Peaks – Peak District
The second area is the Dark Peak Area, there are more remote areas, hint hint, for example, Kinder Scout, Bleaklow and 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.
How to Find a Wild Camp Spot in the Peak District?
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 day walks.
In fact, 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.
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. I’m guessing, you’ll have some basic map reading knowledge if you’re exploring the remoter parts of the Peak District, so apologies for stating the obvious.
Why Am I Not Disclosing Exact Locations in the Peak District?
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 it’s 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
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.
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.
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 🙂
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
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
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. Don’t take my word for here, this is some of the damage caused in 2018 when we had an insanely hot summer.
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.
Are you planning your first wild camping trip in the Peak District? Please message me or comment if you have any other questions, I’m really passionate about people getting outdoors and giving it a go but if you’re unsure on anything feel free to get in touch with me.