I’m sure I’m not the only peaceable outdoorist who feels as though they’ve been blown off the hill and back on again by the Dartmoor wild camping news that has emerged over the last couple of weeks.
Places we can no longer wild camp
The Dartmoor wild camping High Court decision has been documented and reported; sometimes with accuracy, sometimes without. Sometimes the news has represented my idea of wild camping (i.e. with a rucksack and a walk) sometimes it hasn’t.
Am I disappointed with the High Court decision? Yes
Am I sad about it? Yes
Am I immensely grateful to those seeking to make sure we can continue to camp carefully on at least some areas of Dartmoor? Yes
Lost Dartmoor stories
But no matter what my views on the matter, no matter how keenly I feel the need for a Right to Roam in England, no matter how relieved I am to have my backpack nights returned to me, in these events we have all lost something tangible.
We have lost places and the stories we connect to those places.
The updated Dartmoor wild camping map
The Dartmoor wild camping map has been updated. There are areas in which I could previously sleep easily, where I can no longer do so.
For me and for so many other responsible wild campers and outdoor leaders, it isn’t the amount of lost acreage that matters.
It’s the lost stories.
There are too many for me to list or tell in full here but below I’ve picked a few specific locations and told the wild camping stories I link to them.
I’ve written each one in twenty or less words. I hope they have some meaning for you and I hope they help you to tell your stories.
I also hope they add a gentle punch to the wild camping discussion.
Dartmoor’s lost wild camping places
All of the locations below were very carefully picked and precisely located as available for wild camping on the original Dartmoor wild camping map and within all guidelines.
Higher Hartor Tor
Breakfast overlooking ancient Drizzlecombe made up for the night’s ‘marital’ in our poorly pitched tent. Our first married wild camp.
Near King’s Tor
After pitching her tent, our new friend left her wheelchair and rolled down the bank to join us for dinner.
Near Foggintor Quarry
We and our guests returned from our Dartmoor night. The fox had obviously already enjoyed my breakfast.
Camping alone in March. I had forgotten my torch. Dartmoor night gives its own light to those who seek it.
Near Holming Beam
In the wisping mist my upright walking pole became an ancient man. That night he was my dream guide.
Stories to save the planet
Everyone who has wild camped, on Dartmoor or elsewhere, has a story to tell. It’s those stories, the ones that build a connection between us and the land, that matter. As we head into an age where our relationship with nature could well be the thing that saves humankind, what could be more important?