Wild camping in the Lake District guide: Tips & best spots to pitch your tent

Wild camping is an experience I'd recommend to anyone who loves the great outdoors. When everyone else has gone home you have the place to yourself - and the chance to see spectacular sunsets, sunrises, mist filled valleys and the most amazing dark and stary night skies you'll ever see.

Wild camping - a 'bucket-list' experience

Whilst I love my home comforts, it's a good tonic for the soul going on a wild camp. There's nothing quite like the chilled peace and quiet perched high up a mountain side, with no one else about, no mobile phone signal and the only sounds being the sound of the breeze and running water from distant waterfalls. As long as you've got the right kit to make it an enjoyable time (and get a good nights sleep :-) then its total bliss and an experience you'll never forget.

Wild camping lake district best spots tent Helm 2 compact review
If you choose your wild camping spots wisely then you'll see some spectacular sights.

Wild camping in the Lake District - is it allowed?

Technically speaking wild camping is not allowed anywhere in England without the land owners prior consent, in the Lake District however it is tolerated if you pitch your tent high in the fells above the highest fence line or wall away from any signs of civilisation. Just make sure you follow the wild camping code: pitch late and depart early morning and leave no trace of you ever being there. 

Please be respectful and leave no trace!

Most wild campers are respectful but some idiots are giving us a bad reputation and by not following the wild camping code, often leaving a load of rubbish behind and remains of fires with scorched grass which spoil it for everyone else. Through my blog I'm trying to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors and go on wild camps - but please be respectful and once you’ve done your wild camp, leave only foot prints of you ever having been there.

Wild camping lake district best spots tent Helm 2 compact review
It's a great feeling knowing you have a tent to retreat into as the light fades. Even though all there is in your tent is basically a sleeping bag and sleeping mat, you seem to appreciate the cosiness of your tent so much more than home! 


Tips for Wild Camping in the Lake District 

If you do decide to give wild camping in the Lakes a go, then it will be an experience you won't forget - good or bad depends on you haha. But as long as you are prepared then I think you'll enjoy it. The Lake District is my favourite place for wild camping and here's a few tips and photos to inspire you :-)

#1. Get the right wild camping equipment

The idea of doing a wild camp in the Lake District has probably already crossed your mind and that's why you've ended up here. First things first though, you need to make sure you have the right Wild Camping Equipment and you've tried and tested it. When you are wild camping you are away from everything and completely reliant on your kit - you can't just pop to the shop or the car for something. It can even be dangerous in the certain weather conditions or locations - so make sure you have the right kit - the image below links to one of my blog posts on Wild Camping Essential Equipment. 

I love pitching my tents on an over looking amazing Lake District views. However I only do this when I know the weather is favourable, the wind is light and is not forecast to change significantly during the night (it happens often!).

wild camping, lake district, lakes, walks, best views, vango, tent, banshee 200
When the winds are light in the Lake District it let's you have wild camps in much more exposed positions. On this wild camp - as the sun goes down - the moon comes up on this perfect warm summers evening. Total bliss!

#3. Build up your wild camping experience

Wild camping Lake District best spot Angle Tarn
For your first wild camp - don't go for the extreme perched on-a-cliff edge location! It can be dangerous - instead build up your experience by firstly pitching up on a place that isn't too far from your car and is in a more sheltered spot - just in case the weather changes.

#4. Enjoy spectacular Lake District sunsets 

Haystacks, Buttermere, Lake District, Best View walk, Alfred Wainwright, lakes
Most walkers leave the fells as the sun goes down - but Wild Camping gives you a great chance of seeing sunsets from up high and enjoying every last drop of them as your tent is just right there to retreat too when the light has gone 

I'm a sucker for watching the sun go down - it's natures best light show and every time it's different.

#5. Prepare for some amazing stary night skies

wild camping, lake district, lakes, walks, best views, vango, tent, banshee 200
If you are very lucky and get some clear night skies in the Lake District - then prepare for a spectacular star show.  On this wild camp the blanket of cloud moves away and leaves clear skies to roll in - so it's not time to get some sleep! Make sure you have plenty of warm layers to let you sit outside and marvel at the stars.

wild camping stars night dark skies views Perseid Meteor Shower
This is a view from a Wild Camp I did in the Lake District, when the skies where perfectly clear and it was the time of the Perseid Metor Shower in early August. (This meteor shower happens every year in august and is a greta time to plan a wild camp) You could actually see with the naked eye the Milky Way galaxy across the centre of the sky in a sort of faint white mist - it was absolutely awe-some in the truest sense of the word. There must have been shooting stars every 5 minutes too! These are the sort of sights that you can only get when wild camping! Check this link to see that particular Wild camping trip report www.hikingphotographer.uk/2012/08/wild-camp-at-hard-tarn-below-nethermost.html

#6. Set your alarm to wake up early

Wild camping Lake District Scotland Helm 2 Compact Tent
You don't really go on a wild camp to get a load of sleep haha - and if the weather conditions are favourable then you may want to set your alarm to try and see an amazing sunrise!

Cloud inversion walla crag keswick lake district views see
 If you pitch your tent high up in the Lake District - you never know what you will wake up too as often the Lake District valleys fill with early morning mist.

Sometimes you'll wake up early expecting a sunrise but instead it may be a bit murky - still you'll get some stunning views and a head start on the day!

#7. Breakfast - the most important meal of the day

Wild camping lake district best spots
Whatever sort of sleep you get in your tent - a good breakfast and a good dose of coffee will sort you out for the day ahead, so make sure you come prepared with a nice brekkie! 

Best Lake District Wild Camping spots:

I won't share too many wild camping spots as the best thing about wild camping is finding your own perfect little locations, often away from anyone else - but below are a few, more well-known wild camping spots to get you started if you've not done one before and aren't too familiar with the lakes. If you go in the warmer months on weekends, you might well come across others, which is why I'll often try and go midweek if I can.

Hallin Fell, Ullswater

This is a really accessible wild camping spot and great for a first adventure as you can park the car on a quiet road quite close to Hallin Fell and make the short walk to this modest summit but which gives you nice views down Ullswater perfect for a sunrise. Just be mindful that it is exposed to the wind - so if it is windy you might want to try somewhere that is less exposed to the elements. 

Fleetwith Pike, Buttermere

Every seasoned Lake District wild camper will have pitched up near Fleetwith Pike at some point as the views over Buttermere and Crummock Water are classic Lake District, perfect for watching the sun go down.  Whilst Fleetwith Pike itself is quite high and not much space is actually at the summit, you don't necessarily have to reach the summit of Fleetwith Pike. Just walk up the path from Gatesgarth along Warnscale Bottom that follows Warnscale Beck and you'll find some spots as you get near Little Round How. Or alternatively park at Honister Slate Mine as that is quite high up anyway and will give you a head start!

Holme Fell, Conniston

Holme Fell is a relatively low fell of 300m and has great views over Conniston Water with lots of spots to pitch your tent. Half way up is a small tarn which is perfect for an early morning wild swim too! Your also quite near Hidge Close Quarry which is worth explore whilst in the area,

Angle Tarn, near Patterdale

Tarns are a great place to pitch a tent and are like a magnetic for wild campers, and Angle Tarn is one of the most popular tarns and it's about an hours walk from Patterdale. For your first camp at a tarn it's a good place to try. In the warmer months on weekends it's rare to get the place to yourself, but the area is big enough to find a spot, whether at tarn level or higher up, to have some distance between you and others.  Click the image below to learn more about my Angle Tarn wild camp in the Lake District so you know what to expect.

Wild camping lake district
View my trip report on wild camping at Angle Tarn in the Lake District 

I hope this blog post has now made you want to try a wild camp in the Lake District - honestly it's bucket list stuff and something to do at least once (but I know you'll get the bug and keep doing it). If this has inspired you to try a wild camp - then please please follow the wild camping code, pitch high and away from any forms of civilisation, pitch late and leave early and most importantly please leave no trace that you where ever there!

Leave no trace wild camping
Please keep our amazing natural spaces looking exactly how you found them and not give wild campers a bad reputation  

Post by Stuart Hodgson 
'The Hiking Photographer'

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  1. Well I've a good read off this blog, thank you. Never camped before, even as a child so about to start my first camp ever "NEWBIE" within the next month. It is within my preperation of Cycling in the Philippines 5000 miles North to South, and a Guiness world record, camping daily taking me 3 months to complete. I am one of those guys that has "All the gear but no idea. I am excited yet scared as too what to expect and what I am getting myself into.

    1. Hi John - pleased you enjoyed it and it's inspire you. Your never too old to start camping haha - sounds like an amazing adventure you've got lined up there. Any place I can follow it? Insta / Facebook?


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