Here Are the Best Wild Camping Spots in the Lake District

Wild camping is an adventure trend that is sweeping across the country, promising unspoilt views, endless peace and quiet, and the chance to go off-grid and find your way back to nature. The Lake District is one of the most beautiful places in the UK that is incredibly popular with walkers for its range of beautiful villages, mountains and bodies of water, and it is quickly becoming known as a prime location for wild camping as well.

Even though wild camping is illegal in England without permission from the owner of the land you are on, countless places in the Lake District are known for being top spots for campers. We’ve rounded up some of the most popular for this guide to the best places for wild camping in the Lake District.

Can you Wild Camp in the Lake District?

Wild camping in the Lake District is not permitted anywhere unless you have prior permission from the landowner, which means that you can wild camp as long as you check with whoever owns the land you are staying on first. Land belonging to the Lake District National Park Authority is not suitable for wild camping, and you risk being fined if you do pitch a tent here.

It should be noted that whilst it is better to get permission before pitching your tent, many people who wild camp in the Lake District say that this is not often necessary and that camping is generally accepted in most places as long as it does not disturb or impact the surroundings. This isn’t guaranteed however, so be prepared to have to move in the middle of the night if necessary!

How to Choose a Wild Camping Spot

If you do gain permission or decide to wild camp in the Lake District, make sure that you study a map before you set out and have a rough idea of the area you want to camp in. You’re looking for an area where the ground is flat, soft enough to hold tent pegs (unless you’re camping in a bivvy bag), and not too boggy or close to water.

Whilst wild camping in the Lakes, you also want to aim and camp away from any big footpaths or areas that are busy with walkers. The point of this kind of camping is to go undetected in the landscape, and you’re more likely to get moved on if you’re in a place that sees a lot of foot traffic.

Finally, pick a spot where your tent blends into the environment as much as possible, and avoid camping in large groups that need more than two small tents. Remember never to leave behind any litter and never light a fire, even if it looks like someone has made a fire previously.

The Best Lake District Wild Camping Spots

Holme Fell, Coniston

Holme Fell in Coniston is one of the best places for wild camping in the Lake District and also one of the most popular spots for walkers. The fell is only 317m high and offers quite an easy ascent with plenty of spots along the way that are ideal for secluded wild camping and have excellent views out over Coniston Water. Despite its popularity, it’s also unlikely to be very busy no matter the time of year, so you can have the pick of the best pitches. 

A highlight of Holme Fell is the small, old reservoir that is found about halfway up and offers the chance to enjoy some wild swimming along with your wild camping. The size of the lake means that the water can warm up very nicely on sunny days, and it is deep enough in parts to enjoy jumping in from surrounding rocks.

Another standout feature of Holme Fell is the nearby Hodge Close Quarry, which was used to mine slate right back in the 19th century. It’s a great attraction to add to your wild camping itinerary, providing very dramatic views and the chance to explore several caves.  

Sprinkling Tarn, Rosthwaite

If you ask any seasoned wild camper about where to visit in the Lake District, they’ll probably recommend Sprinkling Tarn in Rosthwaite. One of the largest high-level tarns in the whole area, it is situated in the shadow of the famous Scafell Pike, promising jaw-dropping views whichever way you turn.

As one of the best wild camping spots in the Lake District, Sprinkling Tarn can sometimes get busy in the summer months, so you should be prepared to have to walk for a while to find a quiet place to pitch your tent. There is plenty of flat, soft ground around the tarn however, so don’t let its popularity put you off.

Sprinkling Tarn is known for being an excellent place for wild swimming, especially because of the small island right in the middle of the water that is great for diving off. If you’re wanting to tackle Scafell Pike then this is a great place to spend the night before the big walk, and the sunsets in particular from this area are said to be fantastic.

Codale Tarn, Grasmere

If you’re more of an experienced wild camper then Codale Tarn is the ideal destination for your next adventure, known amongst regular camping enthusiasts as one of the best secret spots in the area. It’s quite a hike to reach the tarn, which is found 468m up Grasmere Common, so make sure you’ve packed appropriate walking equipment along with your tent before you head off.

Camping in the Lakes wouldn’t be complete without an impressive body of water nearby, and the beautiful Codale Tarn certainly delivers on that front. It’s a small, relatively shallow pool of water that is surrounded by gentle sloping terrain and offers total peace and quiet, making it an ideal place to pitch a tent.

The popular town of Grassmere is only 2 ½ miles away from this wild camping spot, but you’ll soon leave the business of the town behind as you ascend to Codale Tarn and enjoy absolute serenity in your surroundings. Other notable nearby attractions include the beautiful Easedale Tarn and Belles Knot waterfall, and confident walkers can venture up to Tarn Crag which offers amazing views of Easdale, Windermere and Rydal Water.

Lingmoor Fell, Ambleside

If you’re looking for recommendations for wild camping near Ambleside, Lingmoor Fell should be the top of your list. The whole area is known as being one of the best places to camp in the Lake District, and heading out into the wild to pitch your tent means that you’ll better appreciate the scenery that entices visitors all year round. 

The terrain of Lingmoor Fell is rocky and boggy, so wild campers will fare better in the spring and summer months when the ground is much drier. There are plenty of secluded areas across the fell where you can set up camp and enjoy views of the nearby Langdale Peaks, but be warned that the ground only gets steeper the higher up you go.

Lingmoor gets its name from the Norse word Lyng which means heather and refers to the plant that covers the majority of the fell. The scenery is particularly spectacular when the heather is in bloom, particularly as the sun is setting and the light is golden.

Haystacks, Cockermouth

Haystacks is the name of a hill in the corner of the Buttermere Valley, popular with walkers, fishing fans and campers alike. What makes this location so good for wild camping is its large, flat plateau that offers plenty of sheltered space to pitch a tent, although you’ll often find many other campers enjoying the landscape during the summer months.

The famous walker Alfred Wainwright made Haystacks famous when he requested that his ashes were scattered at Innominate Tarn near the fell’s summit. This tarn is another great place for wild camping, although it is a well-known walking spot so you should be prepared for a lot of traffic past your tent if you pitch during the day.

Ennerdale Valley, Ennerdale

The Ennerdale Valley is home to the most westerly lake in the Lake District National Park, and is also one of the most remote parts of the whole area. It is this fact that makes the valley one of the best wild camping spots, thanks to the miles of untamed woodland and hills that are crisscrossed with paths.

A highlight of wild camping in the Ennerdale Valley is the chance to visit Ennerdale Water, which is a spectacular lake from which you can see the crags of the impressive Pillar mountain. The water in the lake is exceptionally clear, and even in the summer months it is uncommon to meet more than a handful of other walkers as you explore the area.

The best places for wild camping in Ennerdale are the woods, where it is easy to find a totally secluded clearing to set up camp and enjoy the silence of the surrounding trees. Angler’s Crag presents a walking challenge with excellent views of the lake and surrounding hills at the summit, or you can just wander between patches of trees and rocky outcrops as you enjoy the famous lack of traffic thanks to the lack of roads running through the valley.

For more information on camping in the UK, you can read our guides to the Best Wild Camping Places in Scotland, The Best Campsites Near St Ives or Fantastic Campsites Near Canals in the UK.

FAQs

Can you be fined for wild camping?

Wild camping is illegal unless you have the permission of the landowner to camp on their land, or are camping in a spot that you know wild camping is allowed on. If you are found to be wild camping without permission you do risk being fined, so it is incredibly important to check your spot before you pitch a tent and ensure that you do not damage the area you are camping in.

How do I get permission to wild camp?

Getting permission to wild camp on a privately owned piece of land is as simple as contacting the landowner and asking if you can stay in a certain sport for however long you want to camp for. They are well within their right to refuse you, but as long as you are polite and promise not to leave any trace behind after you leave, it shouldn’t be a problem.

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