UK camping advice for those on a budget.

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by d87francis, 31 Jul 2012.

  1. d87francis

    d87francis Well-Known Member

    Hi all,
    my girlfriend and I are off on a gentle tour for a couple of weeks meandering around the South West of the UK. While I have a lot of experience of what some call 'wild camping' as a teenager, it was mostly in places close to home where I knew I would be alright, however, I'm well aware of the mantra of leave a site as you found it.

    My main plan is to ask farmers nicely if we can pitch a tent for the night, saying we will leave no mess and won't light any fires. I have also read that pubs can be good places to ask. We will have funds should we not find anywhere and have to book into an overpriced field full of other people, plus I think we may do a night or two in a cheap B&B to keep my girlfriend happy. We plan to do a night or two on Dartmoor, which I understand is one of the few places where 'wild camping' is tolerated; but in other places if finding the land owner is not feasible and we don't cross fences and keep away from paths is it reasonable to camp and just be very apologetic if discovered/say it was late/ we were tired/it was only for the night? Advice and opinions wanted, my preferred option is camping with a farmer's permission, but don't want to spend hours everyday seeking this.
  2. rollinstok

    rollinstok Well-Known Member

    I have spent a night in a farmers field on several occasions
    Each time, the weather was atrocious and I asked the farmer in every instance if it would be ok first
    They never said no and I was told by some that I could stay as many nights as it took for the weather to clear up
    I suspect that if the weather is fine some may just direct you to the nearest camp site.. nothing lost in asking though
    I very much doubt they would be impressed to find someone camping on their land without permission, and they do rise early
    Good luck with your plans but always ask first.. you would be a bit upset to wake up and find someone camping in your garden
  3. Tiberius Baltar

    Tiberius Baltar Active Member

    How overpriced are the campsites by you? I have found that if its just one tent then the most I have paid is £9. Which I don't think is too bad if you have use of a toilet/sinks and a shower. There is a website called "ukcampsite" which has a handy tool that shows all campsites within a twenty mile radius of any point on the map. Most of the sites have been reviewed by members and its useful when planning a route.
    As for your plan to wild camp, its generally tolerated above 600m and usually only on land that isn't regularly cultivated or used for grazing. I would avoid a very obvious farmers field in the lowlands as I don't expect you would get a good reaction from the owner when you got noticed. Your problem will be your tent, mine is very low profile and is green and black but its only for me and my kit so relatively small. I suspect you and your missus may stick out like a sore thumb so wild camping my not be the best option until your way out on Dartmoor.
    If your on a budget then why not plan a route with only two stops? Home - campsite - campsite - home. This way you know you will get undisturbed sleep and run no risk of upsetting anyone. Plus, you or your girlfriend may not even enjoy doing it so why not try just an over nighter? test the waters first?
  4. chrtho

    chrtho Well-Known Member

    I regularly camp in fields and have never asked for permission, preferring to rely on not being noticed, although I tend to arrive late and leave early. If someone turns up and asks what you are doing just ask if it's OK to stay until the morning. If not, apologise and move on. I work on the principle that most landowners couldn't really care less about a cyclist camping overnight and would prefer not to be bothered by people knocking on the door at night asking permission.
  5. OP

    d87francis Well-Known Member

    Thanks all, I should have mentioned we have a black and green tent, and I think we will likely cook dinner before we pitch the tent late on and pack it up early. We're both keen hikers and have done a fair bit of camping on high moorland with no trouble. I would be worried to camp on a field without permission as growing up next to a farm, quite often the farmers would plough late at night or you'd be walking a dog and have to dive for a hedge as some lampers would start shooting anything that moved.

    I'd heard from others that they had frequently found a nice pub to eat in and having asked there always found somewhere to camp. I don't mean to knock camping in a field full of other people, but it really isn't my cup of tea. I was thinking if we struggle to find somewhere with permission we would try woodland and copses.
  6. Tiberius Baltar

    Tiberius Baltar Active Member

    I know how you feel about camping in proper sites it does lose some feeling of adventure. If you are prepared to camp virtually anywhere and are happy to stealth camp then it really just comes down to your own route planning skills and map reading abilities. If your confident that an area of woodland you find on a map close to your route is suitable to stop off in then you just have to try it. Only you will know what your limits are so I say go for it and enjoy the adventure!

    Just let us know how you get on because I like stories about how people manage when they're out and about like this. Just try and avoid any dogging spots unless thats what your secretly looking for! :whistle:
    d87francis likes this.
  7. gilespargiter

    gilespargiter Über Member

    N Wales
    I will not even countenance paying for a place to lie down and sleep on my own planet in my own country.
  8. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    You'll happily pay in England though?:thumbsup:
    mr Mag00 likes this.
  9. lukesdad

    lukesdad Guest

    I had a nap in my storm shelter in a wood a couple of nights ago, as it happens. On another note but slightly related I can't believe you touring types don't have a sticky for UK campsite reccomendations, facilities , price etc. I find this rather slack to be honest.
  10. Cubist

    Cubist Still wavin' Moderator

    Ovver 'thill
    Right on!!!!
  11. Bodhbh

    Bodhbh Veteran

    There are decidcated websites for this (tho I never bother with them) I suppose it would quickly become unmanagable. Then again, there is always the 'search' button.
  12. Tiberius Baltar

    Tiberius Baltar Active Member

    Gathering all that info onto a thread on here would be a bit of a waste of time really there is a website which is rather easy to find that has already got that sorted. I have addresses and telephone numbers of sites written around the borders of most of my OS Maps but thats only for places I have been and or know about in areas I have toured. There would be a danger of overkill if we all started listing sites and prices plus at the end of the day one of the best parts of touring is planning and adjusting your route to accommodate your circumstances and occasionally finding that little gem of a site that you were not looking for :smile:
  13. lukesdad

    lukesdad Guest

    Almost forgot why I don't come in here very often, thanks for reminding me !
  14. Ticktockmy

    Ticktockmy Veteran

    I personally do think that people do make quite an issue about wild camping, understandably so, as fear of trespass, and nasty landowners. But once you have done it a few times, sixth sense kicks in, and soon as you cycle along a road or track you start to spy idea spots. Once you get your eye in, you will see the small patches of waste land hidden alongside the road or track where you can tuck the tent behind a hedge or wall it is surprising just how many spots you will see as time goes on, often if you are on back roads, look at Field gates this will tell you if the gate is used very often, if it seem that the gate is not been used much, then it likely that you can get away with spending the night in the field.

    I Like to use small woods or copses, tuck myself a few yards into the wood better so if there is some undergrowth to break up the outline of your tent, Just try to find a place some distance from houses and dogs.

    If I am cycle-packing, i tend to stop and have my evening meal, an hour before Dusk, then cycle on looking for the idea spot, sometimes if I spot a nice barn, if I can find the farmer I will ask if I can camp in the barn, if not as someone said ask at a Pub, quite a few I have found are happy to let you use the garden. If no luck there, I ride on spotting any places, then in the last 1/4 hour before dusk I decide on what site i will use. Then its tent up, a quick brew up and to bed. First Light (well 06:30ish AM) up tent down, then cook breakfast and away. If its Peeing down with rain I tend to cook breakfast and then tent down.
  15. Tiberius Baltar

    Tiberius Baltar Active Member

    This is the same sort of thing I tend to do too. You would be suprised how close the edge of a wood you can pitch and be completely invisible to the outside world. If its quite dense then 15 feet inside and unless someone saw your stove flame or smelt your food then you would never be disturbed. Again it comes down to map experience and the ability to spot a suitable site.

    I like wild camping its the last little bit of adventure you can have in this country and you get a great feeling of satisfaction knowing your not tied down to check in/check out times or other peoples schedules.
    middleagecyclist and d87francis like this.
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