By: Blonde Two

If you’re anything like us, your thoughts have recently turned to summer holidays and wide-open spaces. After staying at home for so long we’re probably all looking forward to a well-deserved break and a change of scenery. Dartmoor is quite rightly a very popular destination for walkers, campers, and visitors of all kinds. Interestingly 2020 saw a rise in the popularity of camping in all forms across the UK including backpack or wild camping.

Remote but not that remote

When it comes to camping, getting the planning right can make the all difference between a great time and an okay time. So you might want to start planning your visit to Dartmoor now. Wild camping is great for that sense of adventure and being away from it all. But we completely understand if it’s not for you. If you think you would prefer to feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere but actually have a few facilities on hand, or know you definitely have permission to be at your camping spot, we have three fantastic alternatives to wild camping on Dartmoor (and elsewhere).

Nearly Wild Camping

Nearly Wild Camping is based on a successful but really simple idea. The team links up landowners who are happy to hire out a camping spot, with campers who are looking for secluded and quieter campsites. The Nearly Wild Camping map can be viewed on a subscription basis and offers a whole range of stunning, peaceful campsites right across England and Wales. There are offer plenty of really interesting options including campervan campsites, hammocking spots, organic growing, and nature-watching opportunities.

If you want to be in the middle of nowhere but have the security of knowing there’s a self-composting loo somewhere in the vicinity. Nearly Wild Camping is really worth checking out. As a great example, Blonde Two and I had a wonderful time when we visited Hole Station Woodland Campsite near North Dartmoor a couple of years ago.

I recently chatted to Lee from Nearly Wild Camping, he’s rightfully proud of the success of this fantastic wild camping alternative.

‘Setup as a co-operative, Nearly Wild Camping takes pride in helping people to connect with nature in a wilder, secluded or quieter camping experience. With a growing number of members and locations it is obvious we have something special on offer.’

National Trust Bothies

A bothy is basically a stone tent (building) without the guy ropes. The advantages of stone tents are that they rarely blow away in the night, and usually come with some form of toilet. The National Trust has done a very clever thing with some of their (very) small buildings and turned them into accommodation for walkers or visitors who really want to get away from it all. National Trust Bothies are a bit like Mountain Bothies Association Bothies except you can book them, guarantee a bed (platform), and aren’t expected to share with lots of strangers (although this can often be great fun).

The National Trust has three bothies in Devon, all on Exmoor, and all wonderful. Mr B2 and I have enjoyed stays in two of them but our favourite (so far) is Peppercombe Bothy, which has a loo with a view and its very own beach shower (if you can stand the cold).

When you can, if you fancy doing your ‘wild’ camping with a few friends, why not try out one of the fabulous National Trust bunkhouses? I’ve stayed in their Beach Head Bunkhouse in Cornwall twice and loved it on both occasions. Within throwing distance of the South West Coast Path and just a lovely walk from the iconic Porthcovan Beach, it really is a remote wild camping alternative made in heaven.

Dartmoor campsites

Wild camping on Dartmoor is limited to backpack camping, which means no big tents or campervans. However, Dartmoor National Park does have plenty of stunning campsites, with a range of facilities. If you’re looking for a back-to-basics experience we can thoroughly recommend Huccaby Farm near Hexworthy. There’s a long walk to the loo but the camping field is right next to the river, and the wonderful Forest Inn pub is just across a beautiful stone bridge and up the lane.

Peaceful Brimpts Farm sits just above the River Dart at Dartmeet and has the added advantage of some rather comfortable (and dry) wooden camping pods if you fancy a bit of Dartmoor glamping. There’s plenty of space for a campfire here and you might even get to say hello to some of the rather beautiful Clydesdale horses that live on the farm.

If, after a few days wilder camping, you fancy a few facilities and a shop, Harford Bridge Campsite near Tavistock has some beautiful riverside camping pitches. It also has some lovely walks that will take you straight up onto Dartmoor. This one is suitable for campervans, I treated myself to a peaceful writing retreat there once and got plenty of opportunity for creativity (as well as a paddle in the river).

Learn how to wild camp on Dartmoor

Update on Dartmoor wild camping

January 23rd 2023

The picture for wild camping on Dartmoor has changed following a well-publicised High Court decision. This is a developing and controversial situation. Thanks to efforts by the Dartmoor Commons Owners’ Association and Dartmoor National Park Authority, there are currently some areas on Dartmoor where you are still permitted to backpack/wild camp. You can read the news release from Dartmoor National Park Authority here. Please find below a summary.
  • You can currently wild camp on a reduced area of Dartmoor
  • You can view the new Dartmoor wild camping map here
  • If you camp within this area, you don’t need to seek the landowner’s permission
  • If you camp within this area, you don’t need to make an individual payment
  • This is a permissive agreement, which means it can be removed
  • Which means it’s more important than ever to make sure you adopt a leave-no-trace approach
  • Large groups, barbecues and campfires on Dartmoor are still prohibited

If, after reading all of that, you still want to try your hand at wild camping on Dartmoor, how about joining us on one of our wild camping courses? We’ve been teaching people how to wild camp safely, respectfully, and enjoyably for twenty years now, and we still love sharing our skills. For more information about wild camping on Dartmoor please feel free to download our handy wild camping infographic.

Two Blondes Walking has an affiliate advertising relationship with National Trust Holidays.