Sadly, there’s not really a (legal) chance to camp wild in England, so often the option is a campsite with tarmac and not a lot of privacy. Nearly Wild Camping is a newish idea – a network of places across the UK offering nearly wild pitches.
So far, there are 50 Nearly Wild locations in England, Scotland and Wales (and two in Italy) – all with no outdoor lights at night and guaranteed distance between pitches to ensure peace and privacy. Many are campfire friendly and most have only basic facilities.
“They’re more than a place to sleep,” says Lee Barton, who looks after the admin and is working hard to build up the network of land-owners. “These ‘sites’ offer the chance to explore – through guided walks, star-gazing, badger-watching, having a go at some regular tasks (from feeding the chickens to carving a spoon), cooking up homegrown veg on your campfire and more.”
Each location is different – from family farms to nature reserves and hilltop smallholdings to riverside woods. Each listing has a personal note describing what to expect, any facilities and any restrictions (not suitable for young children, for example). There’s also a ‘wildness’ rating, prices and a form to contact the owner.
Some owners are more detailed than others in their descriptions and there aren’t many photos at the moment, but it’s easy to see whether the facilities you need are available or not. There are few possibilities for campervans or caravans, though it might be worth checking with owners in case they can come up with an option.
“We set up as a community co-operative because all the campers and hosts are working together for everyone’s (and nature’s) benefit,” says Lee.
It could be the perfect way to try out one of our favourite camping experiences – read all about that in our special feature on bivvy hammocks.
There are more projects planned, but Nearly Wild currently has an online directory of the locations and experiences with details of what to expect. It costs £20 to join.