Nearly wild camping – good for campers and land-owners

Sadly, there’s not really a (legal) chance to camp wild in England, so too often the option is a campsite with tarmac and not a lot of privacy.

Nearly Wild Camping is a network of places across the UK offering…you guessed it…nearly wild pitches. Dark skies, maybe a composting loo, definitely peace and quiet. And read on for other similar schemes.



Latest update: September 2020

More than 125 nearly wild camping locations across the UK

So far, there are Nearly Wild locations in England, Scotland and Wales (plus a couple in France and Italy) – most with no outdoor lights at night and guaranteed distance between pitches to ensure peace and privacy.


A Wildness Rating works the other way round to what you might expect – 1* have facilities and are close to civilisation and 5* are remote land with no facilities  (not for everyone). The majority are 3* with basic facilities and a wilder feel.

wild camping woods

Basic camping kit for a comfortable night in the woods.

From farms to woods – peaceful camping

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). It costs £20 to join.

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’ve got 4,000 subscription memberships, a growing social media following and numerous business supporters,” says Lee, who gave up his day job to work full-time on Nearly Wild. “A lot of that is thanks to the original article in Campfire Magazine!”

A new website is promised, as the existing one is a bit frustrating! Bear with them.


Wild locations are more than a place to sleep

Some ‘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.


Neglected or wild? Read the reviews

We’ve just camped at a Nearly Wild site in Shopshire. Just us, acres of fields and an outside tap.

But…while we had a lovely view out the front, dilapidated farm buildings and a couple of dead caravans spoiled it out the back.

We’ve noticed that some locations are more neglected than wild, in the sense of pristine nature. Read the reviews and read between the lines before you go.

Or, like us, accept the idiosyncracies as part of the experience. At least you’re not looking at a row of caravans across a carpark-like site!

If you like the idea of a wild-but-comfortable alternative to bigger campsites, here are some more options for you

CampSpace – it’s like AirBNB for campers

More than a thousand places to pitch a tent on every continent (except Antarctica), in gardens, paddocks and unusual places.

A lovely woodland pitch for my AquaQuest star-gazing bivvy tent. Oh, and is that a glass of wine in my hand!?

HomeCamper – inexpensive private camping spaces in locations all over the world

Setting up camp with bivvy hammocks and tarpaulins.

Nearly Wild is the perfect way to try out one of our favourite camping experiences – hammock camping, Read all about that in our special feature on bivvy hammocks.

Goboony – a ‘dating’ service for motorhome and campervan owners and for campers.

A good way to test out a campervan before taking the plunge…or simply another way to have a holiday!


Car camping – how to camp in an ordinary car

Yep! The cheapest. simplest and most freeing way to travel? Have a look at how to do it comfortably.

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  1. Tony, only members get to see the full details of the locations. The new website may reveal more to potential members but that is still in the pipeline. We may seem quite secretive as an organisation and that is because most of the locations in the directory are not open to the general public and don’t want their contact details to be in the public domain. This is why we refer to them as locations (for occasional camping) and not camp sites. Lee

  2. Would like to see examples of sites that take small/medium campervans before I join. I appreciate a map showing sites taking campervans is available, but I really need to be able to check out a few actual website locations, and read some reviews.

  3. Hi, like some other comments in this thread; I am looking for somewhere to wild camp in woodland in the Durham & Northumberland area. I will gladly pay £20 as it is not much for what i could get in return but, due to family commitments i am stuck to the above mentioned areas. This means that if there are no sites in my area it would be a bit of a waste.

    I do think this is great site as, in England we are very restricted and cant get anywhere.

  4. There have been lots of updates to the Nearly Wild Camping website over the last few months including a map of locations on the homepage:

  5. I’m willing to join as I’m after a nearly wild spot to camp with my family to get away from it all a few hours drive from the southend area where I unfortunately live, I hate typical campsites and want total privacy and not hear another person, the few sites shown is not enough to make me part with £20, I want to see all sites before I pay out otherwise I’m just gambling my money. Editor: That’s something to mention to Nearly Wild Camping, Phil. I can see your point, but it’s a small organisation trying to do something good. Unless people join they won’t be able to make the network grow.

  6. Kate,
    How much locations charge is varied. Some charge say £5 per person per night (bring your own tent) or maybe £15 per family of 4. Usually provided accommodation and equipment heading towards a glamping experience would be more in the £30-£70 range (upto 4 persons).

  7. Hi, I’m interested in listing our farm, have an amazing earth ship and fields overlooking river dart on Devon. How much would we charge to campers? Thanks

  8. Hi James, my good lady and i are looking for wild camping spots in beautiful Wales. Could you get in touch , currently planning an Isle of Wight camping trip for this weekend..small island with a big heart.

  9. I have ‘wild land’ in Wales if people would like to get in touch 🙂

  10. Hi, there is a page of example locations (accessed from the website) and a map showing where about they are located. There are new locations joining all the time and we hope to fill the gaps around the country soon so that everyone has a fairly local place they can escape to. Lee

  11. Kim Craigie

    Is there anyway to just see a map of rough locations before joining. I think Nearly Wild is a great idea but we are on a very tight budget where £20 goes a long way. If none of the locations are on our radar then it would be a waste to join, but otherwise we would like to join and support the idea. Thanks

  12. I have some land, would be interested.

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