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Lake District National Park view (Freedom of Information Act)

John Hee

Posted courtesy of Michael S. who  approached the LDNP for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Q. What is the LDNP’s guidance on wild-camping?

Although camping should be confined to authorised sites the Lake District National Park Authority accepts that wild camping on un-enclosed fell land, remote from the roads, is generally accepted if undertaken responsibly by small numbers of people.

Most land in the Lake District is privately owned and the attitude of most landowners is to tolerate wild camping unless damage or serious nuisance occurs. Unsanitary behaviour can be a particular problem. The Lake District National Park Authority’s Ranger Service continue to make regular routine visits to the more popular fell camping sites and encourage responsible use.

If you wish to camp on un-enclosed fell land you must:

  • seek the permission of the landowner
  • be out of sight of any road or dwelling
  • not leave any litter
  • not light any fires”

Q. Is issue ever discussed in official meetings?A. “There has been no documented discussion in the last three years of wild camping at the lake District National Park Authority or any of its Committees.”

I also asked if any staff were there to look out for wild-campers and move them on:

“We [LDNP] have 12 paid full-time Rangers and 4 paid full-time Field Rangers who could respond to reports of wild camping where either the public or landowners have concerns or are reporting such activity. This type of work is a minimal part of their work and tends to be reactive rather than proactive.

There are a number of general patrol routes that (approximately 175) unpaid Volunteer Rangers take part in – the activities carried out are rights of way maintenance, patrol of our property holdings, litter collection, and provide advice and guidance to the public and landowners. Some of this activity may include popular visitor sites including some known wild camping sites. Here the task would be to provide friendly advice and guidance to make sure campers meet the spirit of the guidance shown above. If evidence (for example litter and fires) of camping activity is left – this is usually cleaned up and taken away.”

date Posted on: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 11:50 am
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4 Responses to “Lake District National Park view (Freedom of Information Act)”

  1. RichardCole

    I did chat with a Snowdonia national park ranger last March (2007) and he was saying that he/they have powers to confiscate kit (tent/sleeping bags/stoves) from people they find wild camping. This is a bit disconcerting. However, he also said they only go that far if people are being irresponsible and implied that they turn a blind eye to those trying to ‘leave no trace’.

    Is this true ? Can they take peoples belongings and what is the process

    September 17th, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Never heard it happen, or even threatened. I’d think that any
    NP Ranger who tried that would be on very dodgy legal grounds and possibly end up in court themselves on charges in the area of theft/assault.

    I’m doubtful if they can even legally deal with something like dog fouling to be honest

    Now if they called the police to turf you off, that would be another situation.

    September 17th, 2008 at 12:06 pm
  3. John Manning

    Can’t disagree with John Hee’s comments - in my mind rangers are really there to look after and repair trails, provide information, carry out conservation/education projects, lead walks etc … they’re there to protect the landscape. to ENHANCE enhance our experience, not wreck it.

    I’d already posted this reposnse further down the board but repeat it here as the same question’s been asked again:

    I recently emailed Aneurin Phillips, chief exec of Snowdonia National Park, on exactly the same topic and got this reply from Barbara Jones, head of the warden and access service, on his behalf:

    “· The authority is not a significant landowner: only 0.43% of the land area is in NPA ownership, and this is not land suitable for wild camping. The authority is not therefore in a position to directly permit wild camping.

    “· Approximately 71% of the land area is in private ownership. The NPA advises enquirers that they must have landowners’ consent. This is the advice given on our website and on our advisory leaflet “Enjoy your Visit”.

    “· 10.4% of the land area in the SnowdoniaNational Park is in National Trust ownership. Official NT policy is that true wild camping – above the mountain wall, or 450’ contour, single tent, for one night – is acceptable, provided that Mountaineering Council of Scotland Good Practice Guidance is followed. In practice, we are aware that large/organised groups can be a problem, and advise people who enquire that they should speak to the NT about their intentions.

    “· It is worth noting that there is a difference between true wild camping – which should leave no trace and by definition therefore pose no problem - and organised groups visiting popular sites, which can and does result in litter, pollution and loss of amenity and sense of place. This is a problem in some very popular “honey pot” areas, particularly in the north of the Park.”

    No mention of confiscating kit or of whether the powers reside with wardens to do that. National Park rangers in the UK don’t have the same police-like authority that their counterparts in the US are given, far as I know. Thankfully they don;’t carry guns either!

    I have emailed other National Parks on the same subject and most replies are along roughly the same lines.

    In some areas the Commons Act apparently allows some wild camping though Leave No Trace practices should be followed at all times.

    One National Park ranger told me that on very rare occasions landowners/farmers have asked rangers to help them move on unwelcome campers but this was usually in relation to roadside campers of the kind that no-one really wants littering the fields and verges.

    I’ll email Barbara again and alert her to your comment about confiscation of gear and see if she might even post here.

    September 18th, 2008 at 12:24 am
  4. John Manning


    Are you still around?

    Can you let me have the location where you met this warden and, if you have it, his/her name? Barbara at the park has offered to look into this further.

    Might be best of you emailed me the details rather than post them here.
    john (at) outdoorsmanning (dot) com

    September 18th, 2008 at 6:45 am

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