By: Blonde Two

A careful choice of words

Sometimes a change of words can make a huge difference to the message you are trying to deliver and we Blondes have been very impressed with a subtle change recently made to Dartmoor camping information on the Dartmoor National Park website. You might argue that the terms ‘wild camping’ and ‘backpack camping’ are interchangeable and in some respects they are, however we think Dartmoor National Park Authority have made a very wise choice.

What is wild camping?

Due, in part, to its rise in popularity, wild camping has become a very searchable term and has expanded to include all manner of camping type events. Lay-by motorhome and campervan camping and larger gatherings, all the way down to lonely solo hikes into the middle of nowhere and bivvy bag nights are all now labelled as ‘wild camping’. We see nothing wrong, in the right place, and with the right approach, for any of the above and have long said that ‘wild’ is a subjective term.

Just you and your rucksack

The possibility that one girl’s wild may well be another girl’s everyday gives us all kinds of outdoor adventure options, and everybody the opportunity to experience a bit of their own wilderness. However the Dartmoor National Park bylaws and individual land owners are very clear about what is and isn’t permitted on the land within their boundaries, and this is where the term ‘backpack camping’ comes in very useful.

What is backpack camping?

Backpack camping gives a very clear picture, you can camp but only with the equipment you can carry in your rucksack. Ask our DofE and Ten Tors youngsters how much they have to carry and you will realise that the amount you can stuff into a rucksack is actually quite a lot.

Backpack camping or wild camping?

Will we Blondes be stopping our use of the term ‘wild camping’? The answer to this question is that we will probably gradually replace it with ‘backpack camping’ but can’t do so yet. There is a good reason for this, we rely on both public and search engine understanding to spread our messages about the outdoors and, at present, ‘wild camping’ is a far more recognisable and approachable term than ‘backpack camping’.

Giving helpful messages

Google ‘wild camping Dartmoor’ and you will usually find an Ordnance Survey Blonde-written article that explains the National Park principles on the topic at the top of the list. We obviously want to keep this above all the articles that contain misleading messages, such as, ‘You can camp anywhere on Dartmoor’, and ‘Look at my lovely Dartmoor campfire,’. There are many of these and it is small wonder the wrong information is getting through.

Well done Dartmoor National Park for finding the right words… not always easy in a world where so many are written every day!


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


Dartmoor Wild Camping Courses 2021