Nearly wild camping – good for campers and land-owners

NWC3Sadly, 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.


So far, there are 65 Nearly Wild locations in England, Scotland and Wales (plus two in Italy and one in Spain) – 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.

“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 landowners. “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.”

From farms to woods – peaceful camping

eco1Each 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 almost 1,000 subscription memberships, a growing social media following and numerous business supporters,” says Lee, who’s given up his day job to work full-time on Nearly Wild. “A lot of that is thanks to the original article in Campfire Magazine!

“We’ll have a bigger presence this year at The Bushcraft and Countryfile Live shows along with our newly launched family member Nearly Wild Exploration. This gives us a connection with The Small Woods Association and The National Association of AONBs.”

Setting up camp with bivvy hammocks and tarpaulins.

A lovely woodland pitch for my Lawson Blue Ridge tent/hammock, complete with campfire. Oh, and is that a glass of wine in my hand!?

If you like the idea of an 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
  • Gamping – inexpensive private camping spaces in locations all over the world.
  • Goboony – a ‘dating’ service for motorhome and campervan owners and for campers who’d like a holiday or to test out a campervan before taking the plunge themselves.

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.


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  1. 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.

  2. 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:

  3. 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.

  4. 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).

  5. 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

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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

  9. We’ve passed your details onto Nearly Wild. They’ll be able to help you.

  10. 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

  11. I have some land, would be interested.

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