The more perceptive of our readers may have noticed a post in our forums about an e-petition to Gordon Brown.
Outdoors blogger Darren Christie wants outdoors lovers in England and Wales to have the same rights to pitch in the wild as our fortunate campers north of the Border. Darren wants to legalise wild camping, just as it is in Scotland.
Wild camping the the English Lake District, still against the law
At present, anyone who camps in England and Wales without the landowner’s permission is committing an unlawful act. Wild camping is traditionally tolerated in some areas, such as the Lake District, but there’s always the chance of a knock on the canvas and an instruction to ‘get off my land’.
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act afforded walkers and many other outdoor users far superior rights than those granted by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act in England and Wales. Although landowners such as Euan Snowie and Ann Gloag have gone to law to get the great unwashed off their estates, there is still a general right to walk, paddle and camp on Scotland’s countryside.
In England and Wales, the right to walk and climb is only granted on designated Open Access land and even then, the right to camp is excluded.
The Scottish legislation is modelled on Scandinavian practice and balances rights with responsibilities. The Act is backed up by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which outlines how visitors to the countryside should behave.
The code says wild camping should be lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place. It advises not to camp in enclosed fields of crops or where there are farm animals and to keep away from buildings, roads and historic structures.
All sensible advice, which any thoughtful camper should be following anyway. Litter, human waste and the building of fires are all covered and, in theory, there should be no reason why the same rights should not be extended to the outdoors in England and Wales.
The petition is growing and you have until 24 May this year to add your name. It has already attracted some well-known luminaries from the outdoors, including Chris Townsend, Cameron McNeish, Dave Mycroft and even our own grough editor Bob Smith.
Expect some stern opposition from landowners’ groups and the usual suspects whose blood boils at the site of walkers enjoying the outdoors.
So a healthy number of petitioners would be a good thing, surely. If you want to support Darren’s campaign, visit the Downing Street e-petition website. You must be a British citizen or resident in the country to be eligible to sign.
Now, where did I put that trowel?