The Lake District is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
It’s no wonder that it attracts thousands of campers each year in its vast array of campsites. While it’s a special place to visit, not everyone wants to be surrounded by their fellow campers.
Many of us enjoy the serenity, solitude and peace that comes from wild camping. While it can be a wonderful experience, it needs to be done in the right way.
Here is your ultimate guide for wild camping Lake District.
Is Wild Camping illegal?
Unfortunately, wild camping is not legally allowed in the Lake District.
Most of the Lake District is on private land and there is no wild camping allowed on the small bits of public land.
So does that mean you can’t wild camp at all? Thankfully, the reality is a little different.
While wild camping is not technically legal in the Lake District, it’s considered acceptable behaviour if you follow a strict set of unwritten rules.
The only circumstance where wild camping is legal is when you have permission from the landowner but this can often be difficult to obtain.
There is a rich history of wild camping in the Lake District so you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about doing it.
As long as you are considerate, follow the rules and respect your surroundings, then you can have a fantastic wild camping trip.
Best Wild Camping Spots In The Lake District
Sprinkling Tarn, Rosthwaite
If you wanted to be near Scafell Pike while still being fairly secluded then this would be a perfect spot.
The tarn has a little island which is well known for being a great diving spot. It makes it a great location for a family on a warm day.
With it being near Scafell Pike, it’s unlikely you’ll get the place all to yourself but it’ll never be too crowded.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the stunning Taylor Gill Force which is one of the highest waterfalls in the Lake District.
Where to park: National Trust Car Part, CA12 5XN
Location: Grid Ref: NY 2278 0910 • X/Y co-ords: 322781, 509104 • Lat/Long: 54.47140121,-3.19304676
Do you dislike the idea of being near Scafell Pike and the busier spots?
If so, then Codale Tarn would be ideal for wild camping in the Lake District as it’s usually quite secluded.
It’s a bit of a challenge to get to, so it perhaps won’t be the best option for families.
A wonderful nearby attraction is in the village Grasmere where you can visit the home of William Wordsworth.
Grasmere itself is a lovely little village where you’ll be able to enjoy activities around the picturesque River Rothay.
It makes it the perfect spot for Lake District wild camping.
Where to park: Several spots in Grasmere
Location: Grid Ref: NY 2968 0880 • X/Y co-ords: 329683, 508807 • Lat/Long: 54.46969986,-3.08649377
There are many pretty places in the Lake District but Lingmoor Fell is particularly beautiful.
There is plenty of heather covering and the fell gives you stunning views of the Langdale peaks.
It’s fairly easy to get to and you have the nearby Ambleside to visit.
It can be quite steep in parts so it can be a little challenging but is not overly technically difficult.
There are some great little villages around Lingmoor Fell so when you finish your wild camp, you can enjoy some hot pub lunch and a pint.
Where to park: Blea Tarn Parking, LA22 9PG
Location: Grid Ref: NY 3060 0426 • X/Y co-ords: 330600, 504265 • Lat/Long: 54.42910004,-3.07127976
Holme Fell, Coniston
If you wanted a relatively low fell then Holme Fell would be ideal, as it sits a little over 300m above sea level.
There is plenty of forests here which adds to the wild feel and increases your chances of finding a spot with no-one else around.
You should be able to have a great view over the idyllic Coniston Water.
You’ll also be able to visit Hodge Close Quarry which is a wondrous sight with its epic cave system.
Holme Fell is a great place to explore and will give you swimming opportunities on a nice day.
Where to park: Glen Mary Bridge, LA21 8DP or Coniston Villiage
Location: Grid Ref: NY 3150 0060 • X/Y co-ords: 331503, 500603 • Lat/Long: 54.39630127,-3.05652169
Fleetwith Pike looks intimidating but it’s one of the best spots to hike in the Lake District.
The views you’ll get from it are stunning with Buttermere on one side and the Honister pass on the other.
It’s a beautiful place to watch the sun go down.
There is only room at the summit for one tent so you may need to settle for a nearby spot.
You should visit the nearby slate mine while you’re there.
It’s also one of the best spots in the area to look at the stars as you should get excellent clarity on a cloudless night.
Where to park: Gatesgarth Car Park, CA13 9XA or Honister Slate Mine
Location: Grid Ref: NY 2058 1417 • X/Y co-ords: 320584, 514178 • Lat/Long: 54.51670074,-3.22830728
What Makes The Lake District The Perfect Wild Camping Spot?
We’ve mentioned how wild camping is not strictly legal but it’s accepted that people do it and it’s not policed.
It makes the Lake District a very friendly place for wild camping but you should always be thoughtful of your surroundings.
With the wide-open expanse of the Lake District, you’ll likely be able to find a spot that is well away from anyone else.
It gives you the seclusion you’re looking for while not being too remote that you can’t get help in an emergency.
While it is remote, you’re never going to be too far from a local area where you can buy essentials.
It’s also a great area for those looking for fun activities.
It’s this mixture of reasons which make the Lake District the perfect wild camping spot in the UK.
Things To Do While Wild Camping At The Lakes
You’ll never be short of things to do while you’re camping in the lakes.
When wild camping, many people simply love to take in the nature that surrounds them. This includes outdoor activities such as hiking or climbing.
Depending on where you are, there may be plenty of other activities to enjoy.
There are plenty of visitor centres, historic attractions, gardens and museums. Another option is to simply stroll around the nearest town and see what it has to offer.
If you’re by one of the ‘main’ lakes, then you’ll have even more opportunities for fun such as a boat ride on Lake Windermere.
Along with boat rides there are swimming, fishing, canoeing and kayaking opportunities. You can do all of this while enjoying the breath-taking surroundings.
What Can You Do At Night After You’ve Pitched Up Your Tent?
Well, you should hope for a clear night and look straight above you.
You’ll have an immense opportunity for stargazing with a much clearer view than you’ll get in any town due to the lack of light pollution.
Essential Gear For Wild Camping
Whether you’re Lake District National Park camping or anywhere else in the UK, it’s always important to take the right gear with you. This is especially important for wild camping as you don’t have the amenities of a regular campsite.
- Rucksack – For carrying your gear
- Tent/Bivvy bag – Whichever you prefer
- Sleeping mat – For sleeping comfort
- Sleeping bag – With the right temperature rating
- First-aid supplies – In case of emergency
- Suncream and insect repellent – To protect yourself
- Multi-tool – Always come in handy
- Water filter – Gives you constant access to healthy water
- Torch – Vital for any camping adventure
- Cooking equipment – For obvious reasons
- Eating equipment – That you can bring back with you
- Trowel – For buying your business
This video is also very useful for packing essentials.
What Food Should I Take For Wild Camping?
The best food for camping is food that is easy to cook and doesn’t take up a lot of space.
There are many options for you here and the best choice of food will depend on whether or not you have a stove.
If you do have a stove then the rice or pasta can be a brilliant source of carbohydrates which don’t take up much space. These can be cooked very easily and even saved for the next day.
Another good way to use a stove is for boiling water that can then be added to powdered food such as soup and noodle packets.
For snack options without a stove, your options are going to be vast.
Cured meat is always going to be a good option, with salami being a popular choice. You can also opt for nuts or dried fruit which are both lightweight and easy to pack.
To go with this, you may want to take snacks to enjoy such as chocolate bars, granola bars and Kendal mint cake.
It’s always important to pack light and therefore it’s a good idea to make a plan of what you’re going to eat.
If you love having tea or coffee then you can also carry them up with you. There are plenty of good powdered milks available and you can choose your own tea bags or coffee.
This can be a nice treat when you wake up on those colder mornings.
How Does Wild Camping Differ From ‘Regular’ Camping?
Wild camping is loosely defined as camping above the highest fell wall and without the help of any amenities.
For many people, camping should be an authentic experience where you get away from the modern trappings and be self-sufficient for a little while.
It also gives you a serenity that you simply can’t get with regular camping.
You won’t be around any people and that means less noise pollution.
That wild experience is what most people are after.
The downsides to this are that you’re not going to have the amenities of a campsite. You also won’t have any access to electricity or be close to any shops.
The true wild camper, however, won’t see these as downsides and just part of the experience.
- Access to shops
Best Time To Go Wild Camping
As with any form of camping, it’s always important to prepare for the conditions that you’ll find yourself in.
Summer will always be the most popular time for camping as you have more chance of being warm and dry.
If you want to wild camp then you’re likely the type of person who loves a challenge. If that sounds like you, then you may want to camp in one of the milder seasons. You’ll also have the benefit of the Lake District being much quieter than usual.
Having fewer people around can be a huge positive of wild camping but you’ll need to have the appropriate gear. With this gear comes a heavier weight and added difficulties.
Most people will prefer summer camping but you may want to have a truly wild experience.
Wild Camping Tips & Tricks
Before you set off on your wild camping adventure, it’s good to know the unwritten rules.
Here we have a quick recap so you’re not putting a foot wrong.
Leave no trace – When you leave your camp spot, it should look as though you were never there at all. Take any rubbish with you.
Location – You’re expected to camp above the highest fell wall and away from any property or attractions. Choose a dry pitch that requires no drainage work.
Fire – You should not light any fires. Cook via a portable stove.
Duration – Stay for one night only. Try to arrive late and leave early.
Groups – You should not camp in large groups, with a maximum of two tents.
Be discreet – Camp unobtrusively and try and to blend in.
Toilet – Any toilet business should be done at least 30 meters from a water source. Excrement should be buried.
Land – Remember that you’re on private land. If the landowner requests that you move, do so right away.
Let someone know – Let someone know where you’re going to be wild camping. This can be crucial in case of an emergency.
Avoid busy areas – You are most likely wanting to wild camp for the nature and seclusion. It’s best to avoid the busy tourist spots.
Prepare for boggy areas – Test out the ground with a hiking pole as there are many boggy areas in the Lake District. Give yourself enough time to find a dry pitch.
Monitor the weather – Weather can always change quickly in the UK and even quicker in the Lake District. Keep an eye on it so you’re not caught out.