Wild camping – down by law!

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This is Darren Christie – and he might just have started a big ball rolling.

Blogger “Weird” Darren has set up an e-petition at the government’s website calling for the legitimisation of wild camping in England and Wales.

Full marks, and thanks, to Darren for seizing this issue by the throat, and to all those bloggers and websites that have moved to urge their readers to support the petition.

It’s a curious and incomprehensible wrong that while we can camp in Scotland’s wild places without fear of prosecution, we can’t do the same in England and Wales.

We do, of course, where it’s acceptable to do so. But the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2001, which granted us the right to tramp across so much of our beautiful opens spaces, failed to address the issue of wild camping.

Which, I guess, means the law wants us home in our beds at night. Or locked up safe and sound in a hotel, hostel or B&B. Or at best corralled into a commercial campground alongside all the caravans in which sit those wise and fortunate enough to have brought a telly so they don’t miss this week’s episode of Eastenders.

If Darren’s petition is to succeed in bringing about the changes needed to legalise wild camping, it’s going to need more than names of a petition. He’s urging backpackers and all who love wild places to support the effort by writing to their MPs.

If you don’t know who your MP is, this site will not only help you find out but also enable you to email him or her direct.

I’ve already written to David Curry, Conservative MP for the huge patch of the Yorkshire Dales in which I live, and in which I fully intend to wild camp for much of thiscoming  year, and he’s immediately agreed to raise the issue with the government. Perhaps I should be inviting Mr Curry to come and join me for a night?

So it’s worth doing: please, sign the petition now and then badger your MP.

Finally, having made mention of Darren, I couldn’t resist making mention of this clip posted at YouTube by Londonbackpacker. Sorry Darren!

John Manning

Freelance outdoor writer John Manning and his family are based in the Yorkshire Dales

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