Camping in the National Parks

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Unzip your tent to a view of mountains, farmland, moors and lakes by camping in the National Parks and breathe easier.

The further information links will help you find campsites, camping barns and youth hostels.

Our guide to good camping will help you make sure your camping break is good for you and the countryside.

Campsites and camping barns

From farmers' fields with just a cold-water tap and toilet, to larger campsites with swimming pools and electricity, your experience can be as wild or luxurious as you like. Some sites are just for those pitching tents, whilst others welcome camper vans and caravans too. Prices range considerably depending on the size and facilities of the site.

You could wake up to the sound of water lapping the shores of Ullswater in the Lake District, to puffins flying along the Pembrokeshire Coast, or the rustle of the wind amongst the Caledonia pine trees in the Cairngorms. Go retro in a classic caravan in the North York Moors or get close to the cows on a farm. Whichever national park you visit there are loads of great campsites to choose from, and you'll know that you are helping to support local communities and protect the countryside by staying at an official site.

Our top 15 camping areas show just a few of the unique camping sites on offer

No tent? No problem!

Forgot your tent? Don't worry, you can still camp out in the countryside in a camping barn, which are barn buildings with water supplies and a platform for sleeping bags. The Lake District has 14 camping barns which cost around £10 per night per person, or try one of the National Trust's camping 'pods'. Or you could stay at a Youth Hostel, which welcome muddy boots and bike riders, and offer low cost accommodation.

Check the further information links for details of camping barns, bunkhouses and hostels.

Camping at Watermouth Valley, Exmoor National Park

Two couples sitting in long grass looking down on a campsite next to a sea cliff

Wild camping, Dartmoor National Park.

A couple sitting by a tent on a snowy tor

Wild camping, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

Wild camping in long grass beside a mountain loch

Wild camping

Some National Parks welcome wild camping, as long as you act responsibly and leave no trace of your visit. Dartmoor have a map of areas where you can camp on common land, and the Brecon Beacons provide a list of farms that welcome campers. In the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond & the Trossachs the Scottish Outdoor Access Code gives everyone the right to wild camp so long as you follow the guidelines.

In some national parks the risk of starting fires on peaty moor and heathland is very high, even in winter. Hundreds of acres of the Peak District moorland have been burnt by accidental fires which are now costing millions to restore. In other areas, wandering livestock and local wildlife need to be undisturbed.

Almost all the land in the national parks is privately owned, and in England and Wales you have to get the landowner's permission before camping. Common land, like a lot of the New Forest, does not mean a right to camp on it. Especially as this could conflict with commoners' rights to graze animals. Some farmers and landowners may allow camping if you ask them and follow our guidelines, but if in doubt find an official campsite; there are plenty to choose from.

More Information

Guide to good camping

  1. Remember that it can get cold at night in Britain, so pack warm clothes and a decent sleeping bag.
  2. Popular campsites can get busy in the summer so telephone first.
  3. Leave your pitch just as you found it, take all your litter home with you, including food scraps.
  4. Use a stove rather than lighting a fire, it is safer and leaves no burnt earth.
  5. Get a taste of the countryside by shopping for local food and drinks.

For wild camping:

  1. In England and Wales (other than Dartmoor Common areas) ask the landowner for permission first.
  2. Care for the countryside by leaving no trace of your visit behind you.
  3. If you pitch late and leave early, you'll cause less disturbance to wildlife and other people.
  4. If there are no toilets, use a trowel to bury human waste at least 30 meters away from running water or lakes, this where to 'go' in the wild leaflet gives a useful guide.
  5. Move your tent after two nights to avoid damaging the vegetation underneath it.
  6. Keep to small groups of just one or two tents to keep noise and disturbance levels down.
  7. Try not to camp immediately beside a lake or river to avoid disturbing birds and animals.