Dartmoor is the only real area in England where – under the Dartmoor Commons Act – you have a legal right to camp in many areas of wild moorland.

Sadly, one of the big landowners on Dartmoor seems set on questioning that legal right. I’ve been very critical of the Dartmoor National Park Authority in recent years, but I was pleased to see that the DNPA is seeking to see off this landowner’s absurd legal challenge.

Pleased to see too that the Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA), of which I was once chief executive, is backing the park authority in its fight. Today the DPA issued the following statement:

Wild camping controversy
Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) said recently that it will defend wild camping on the moor, following a case brought by landowners to clarify current legislation.
Dartmoor is one of the few places in England which currently allows wild camping in certain areas. The DNPA fears that the case, if successful, could jeopardise overnight events such as Ten Tors and the Duke of Edinburgh’s award. It questions the legality of National Park byelaws, which allow for responsible backpack camping, where campers leave no trace in permitted areas of the National Park. The landowners argue that their consent is required and that, if it is given, this consent can be made subject to additional conditions and requirements.
Kevin Bishop, Chief Executive of the DNPA said the Authority would not give in to pressure, saying, “We will defend the right to responsibly wild camp on the moor because national parks exist to both conserve the environment and to create opportunities for public enjoyment and understanding of nature.”  We agree. Responsible wild camping is not a threat to the environment nor a significant risk of wildfires. If the case is successful, it will open the door to other large landowners refusing members of the public the right to camp on Dartmoor.
DPA trustees have provided information to help the DNPA defend the case and in the meantime, there is little else to be done pending the outcome of the legal action. However, we view this as a very serious threat to a long-standing entitlement to public access. At a time when the need to provide public access to our countryside is greater than ever before, it seems unbelievable that it should be called into question.”

Well said, the Dartmoor Preservation Association – if you love Dartmoor please support the DPA by becoming a member, via their website.

13 thoughts on “Dartmoor Wild Camping Defended

    1. It was really just a minor problem in the pandemic. What we can’t have are landowners suddenly arriving on Dartmoor, buying thousands of acres and challenging traditional and legal access. After all we don’t ban all motorists because a minority drink and drive,


      1. I think that the minor problems started in the pandemic, yes – but they’ve continued ever since. It’s really bad in some previously quiet areas of the Lakes now – Swinedale (near Mosedale & Mungrisedale) for instance – that used to be quiet and unfrequented. Now it’s filled most days with non-countryside-lovers who are parking along the footpaths, throwing litter everywhere, having booze parties most afternoons and evenings. I once wanted to camp down there myself because it was peaceful and quiet but I’ve now totally cancelled that plan! It’s turned into Glen Etive roadend (that’s been bad for years).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I actually thing hydro is a good thing – I haven’t seen the one down Glen Etive though. But if you go to the loch at the end and see where people are camping, you’ll see what I mean. Also you get the beer and barbecue groups of ‘party animals’ on all the pulloffs all the way down the glen in the evenings too.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hydro is generally a good thing, but every Scottish mountaineer I’ve seen is appalled at the new driven tracks etc they’ve scarred Etive with.


      4. They could do much more hydro on our major rivers totally within the stream – at the moment they rely on Pelton Wheel technology which needs fast flowing water – usually a large downfall or similar. But really, they need to be putting Francis Wheels into the major rivers – they just rely on the greater flow and volume of water and not the speed of the water so could be placed anywhere in the major rivers.


      5. A lot of Cumbrians are litter louts too. We regularly clean country lanes that are almost entirely used by locals – and appalling they are!


      6. quite a lot of them, if it’s like the Skipton area, are actually farm lads! They were terrible when I was doing my 5 years of agriculture study at throwing litter out of the minibus windows when we were going on ‘field’ trips!


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