National Trust rangers in the Lake District are asking people to check the do’s and don’ts of wild camping in response to an increasing number of people getting it wrong.
The charity’s rangers and volunteers are spending hundreds of hours each week asking people to move their illegally pitched tents and clearing up after irresponsible campers. They say the practice of abandoning camping gear at music festivals is spreading to wild camping. This month they had to clean-up several entire camps including tents, chairs, fires, litter, beer cans and even supermarket trolleys, thought to have been used to bring the equipment in.
Hot spots, where camping and also in some areas campervans are not allowed, include; Cockshott point and Jenkins field, many shorelines including; the West Shore of Windermere, East Shore of Coniston, Blea Tarn near Ambleside, Ullswater, Buttermere, Loweswater, Crummock, Wastwater and Kettlewell car park.
Many of these sites are SSSI’s; Sites of Special Scientific Interest. This means they are home to extra special trees, wildlife, fauna and flora. It’s a formal conservation designation from Natural England.
As National Trust Ranger John Pring explained: “Our focus is always to encourage and support people to have an amazing outdoor experience whilst respecting the environment. The actions of a minority this summer, has prompted us to issue a reminder about how to wild camp responsibly.
“Wild camping, which is camping with a landowner’s permission and not in organised campsite, is all about not being noticed. That means setting up camp away from your car, a grass verge or water and usually high on a hill. Wild campers should take all their litter away, bury their ‘business’, not light fires and only stay a night to avoid disturbing wildlife and to allow the ground to recover.
“Many people who camp prefer to use designated sites with toilets, showers, bins, water and electricity. So wild camping is not for everyone.
“In the last few months we have spent more time clearing up campsites and moving people on to legal sites. The only thing that is wild about this sort of camping is how it makes us feel. It damages an incredibly beautiful place and means we have less time for our other jobs.
“Our experience is that most people want to do the right thing so our focus is on helping them understand where and how they can camp responsibly”, added John Pring.
The National Trust is using signage, information on its website and its rangers and volunteers to provide information about all camping options on Trust land.