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Dartmoor Disallows Wild Camping With Landowner’s Consent

The High Court has dealt a blow to outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers by ruling that wild camping on Dartmoor, the only place where it is legal in England and Wales, can only take place with explicit consent from the landowner, according to a report by the BMC.

The case was brought to the court in December 2021 by the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA), which proposed amendments to the Dartmoor Byelaws relating to access to land on Dartmoor. 

These bylaws, which were adopted in 1985, state that “the public shall have a right of access to the commons on foot and on horseback for the purpose of open-air recreation” as long as they do not cause damage.

Arguing for the landowner, Timothy Morshead KC, said that the law did not mention camping and it was not included. However, Timothy Leader, arguing for the national park, said that the law was purposely written to be as wide as possible to include all kinds of recreational activities.

The High Court ruled in favor of the landowners, stating that “any such camping requires the consent of the landowner.” This decision has been met with disappointment by the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) and the outdoor community, who see it as a huge step backward for the right to access nature. 

The BMC will support the national park, help defend the rights of access and work alongside other like-minded organizations to try to overturn this result.

The ruling could be better for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, as it limits their ability to freely explore and enjoy the natural beauty of Dartmoor. 

Wild camping, also known as backpacking or camping in the wilderness, is a popular activity that allows people to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of modern life and immerse themselves in nature. It is also a way for people to experience the unique and diverse landscapes of Dartmoor, which is home to ancient forests, rolling hills, and rugged moorland.

The ruling also has implications for the local economy, as wild camping is a significant contributor to the tourism industry in the area. 

Many outdoor enthusiasts, who are drawn to the natural beauty of Dartmoor, also spend money on accommodation, food, and other services while visiting the area. The loss of this revenue could have a detrimental impact on local businesses and communities.

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Kevin Ward
Kevin Ward
March 16, 2024 9:02 am

With the recent Dartmoor ruling, let’s think about exploring new camping spots or joining organized trips. It’s key to keep up with any changes in wild camping rules. What are your thoughts on this? Let’s chat!


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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Dartmoor Disallows Wild Camping With Landowner’s Consent! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/europe/united-kingdom/dartmoor-disallows-wild-camping-with-landowners-consent/