Tourism

As campsites across the UK book up – Britons can now pitch up in people’s back gardens

express– Wild camping isn’t allowed in the UK, except in Scotland, but this doesn’t mean a camping holiday is off the cards, even with campsites filling up fast. New websites are offering a legal alternative to wild camping, which means campers could soon be pitching a tent in someone’s garden for free, or for a small fee.

Working like AirBnB, Wildpoint offers holidaymakers the option to find a “garden host” for a tent pitch, or even a motorhome pitch, in England and Wales.

From a large garden in Surrey, and a woodland area in Staffordshire perfect for a hammock, to a garden with vineyard in Kent or orchards in Somerset and Wiltshire, over 4,000 hosts have applied to let holidaymakers pitch their tent on their property.

For a club of like-minded people, Nearly Wild Camping has exclusive locations and works on a membership basis.

Locations get “wilderness ratings” and there is a focus on sustainability, but the premise is still to pitch – or park – on someone else’s land.

A five-star wilderness rating lets travellers camp on a land with no buildings visible and located at least two miles from the nearest shops, an immersive outdoorsy experience which also means they won’t have access to any facilities, not even drinking water, so it’s wise to come be prepared.

On the other side of the spectrum, a one-star rating gives access to all the “conventional” facilities expected from a campsite – for example flushing toilets and an indoor area – making it a true alternative to “official” campsites.

Pop-up campsites have sprung all over the UK to try and meet the rising demand for outdoorsy staycations.

Aided by the new law that allows temporary sites to open for 56 days – double the previous allowance – pop up campsites range from glamping on country estates to spare fields put aside by farmers as new camping locations.

With everyone wanting to gear up and head to the great outdoors, campsites everywhere around the country are filling up fast.

Calls to allow wild camping in England and Wales are gaining traction, but National Parks Wales, Natural Resources Wales and the National Trust are resistant and have had problems with wild campers during the pandemic.

One of the main issues are “fly campers”, wild campers who don’t clean up after themselves.

Wild camping campaigners believe the fly camping problem could be easily resolved by governments setting out clear guidelines.

A focus on educating people on how to behave in the countryside and the importance of the “leave no trace” ethos could make wild camping sustainable, even for beauty spots and National Trust sites.

For a free, legal, alternative to wild camping, the BritStops book lists over 1,000 hosts that will let holidaymakers park up their motorhome or campervan for one night.

This can be done without having to reserve a spot or pay a fee.

The goal of BritStops is to bring motorhome tourists and local producers together. Updated every year, the 11th edition of the book is valid until the end of February.

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