By: Blonde Two
“You are not allowed to sleep in any vehicle on the Dartmoor access land.”
When we Blondes are out night walking or wild camping on Dartmoor, it is not uncommon, even over the winter, to see the odd camper van snuggled into a quiet car park and occupied overnight. It is also fairly common to see larger motorhomes later on in the year and last November we even spotted a large lorry sneaking in for the night. Unfortunately, all of these happy campers are sleeping on the wrong side of the Dartmoor byelaws because you are not allowed to sleep in any vehicle on the Dartmoor access land (which is most of it). As the Dartmoor loving, new owner of my very own camper van this could perhaps be seen as bad news but as I am just as happy, even in February, wild camping on Dartmoor in my tent or bivvy bag, I don’t think sticking to these particular rules is going to present me with any problems (plus there is always late breakfast in the camper when I get back down off the hills). Here is the section of the Dartmoor wild camping byelaws that lays down the rules about camper vans. If you need a translation, it is telling you that you need to find a proper campsite.
No person shall knowingly use any vehicle, including a caravan or any structure other than a tent for the purpose of camping on the access land or land set out for the use or parking of vehicles except on any area which may be set apart and indicated by notice as a place where such camping is permitted.
Dartmoor National Park Authority offer some great advice to camper van and motorhome owners including information about campsites via Visit Dartmoor and a Dartmoor motorhome driver guide to some of the larger roads (it is a brave and foolish driver who would want to take a motorhome down most of the small lanes). If you do try and camp on Dartmoor in a motorhome or camper you may well find yourself being asked politely to move on by the rangers or even facing a fine if you fail to do so.
We have all heard the arguments (and, I suspect, are about to hear a few more) but the reality is that Dartmoor is not big enough to withstand an onslaught of overnight campervans and motorhomes without losing some of the beauty and wildness that we all love. If you want to wild camp on Dartmoor (and why wouldn’t you) there are plenty of opportunities to do so within the byelaws (see our post on the Dartmoor wild camping map below).