This summer I'm planning a bicycle trip from Manchester (UK) to Trieste (ITA). I don't have a lot of money to spend in hostels or campings, therefore I was thinking that wild camping would be a good idea. But after a quick look at the net I discovered that wild camping in UK, Belgium and Holland is forbidden and it can be punished with prison.

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    Your question is "is it legal" but you already "discovered that wild camping is forbidden." So what's your question? By the way, in the UK no one is going to be put in prison for reasonable wild camping. You sleep might be "interrupted" however. Also, look at warmshowers.org which is a cycling-specific site for people to find accommodation and other help. – John Zwinck Jan 12 '15 at 3:06
  • Be sure to visit the Miramare castle in Trieste =) - there's a camping site located in Opicina piandelgrisa.it/listino-prezzi-camping.html if you ever need it. – Alessandro Da Rugna Jan 12 '15 at 9:40
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    In The Netherlands, there is vriendenopdefiets.nl/en ('friends on bikes'). I have not used it myself, but it offers private accommodation for cyclists for around €20. – Berend Jan 13 '15 at 12:35

So, you have got a lot of questions there at once, let me address two of them I do know about.


In the Netherlands this has been possible for quite a while and was originally called paalkamperen (though it seems it has officially been renamed sometime in the past 2 years), however it must be noted that this is bound by a lot of rules. Most importantly every spot has a designated number of tents that are allowed (normally 3 small tents), if you arrive too late and they are taken you aren't allowed to camp there. Beyond that you aren't allowed to leave any trash, no loud music, 10 meters from the sign, no more than 72 hours, no campfires etc. etc. Either way, a list can be found here. All of this is in Dutch though, so good luck with Google Translate.


Inspired by the Dutch, Belgium has recently set up a similar iniative called Bivakzone. It seems the rules are somewhat similar, though once again all information is in Dutch. Differences seem to be that it's max for 48 hours and that you will find water pumps more often than in the Netherlands (do note this is not drinking water).

United Kingdom

From what I have heard this is not allowed whatsoever in the UK, but if it is I would love to hear about it (still hope to go hiking in scotland some day).

Important to understand

These locations really aren't meant for tourists. Not in the sense of that you aren't allowed to stay there, but you should note that not only information online is only in Dutch, but if you arrive on these locations you will find all signs to be in Dutch only as well. All in all these locations are meant for 'locals' and as a tourist it's not going to be the best holiday experience ever (they can be hard to find, etc.).

Either way, this site might be worth checking out as well, although it's once again in Dutch it does give a good overview both of the Dutch and Belgium situation.

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    Wild camping (which I'll define as camping on land without obtaining explicit consent)is legal on a lot of land in Scotland. AIUI it's not strictly legal in the rest of the UK but is traditionally tolerated in some areas provided you're well away from civilisation, e.g. the Lake District – Nigel Harper Jan 12 '15 at 15:38
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    In general wild camping is legal in the UK, in the sense that it is not a crime. It is considered trespass, which is a civil tort, and a landowner would be within their rights to use 'reasonable force' to make you leave, but they should not be able to have you arrested or prosecuted. – bdsl Mar 22 '15 at 18:32
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    Fortunately a UK landowner is unlikely to have a US interpretation of "reasonable force", so it shouldn't be too dangerous. – gerrit Apr 23 '15 at 21:06
  • Myself and a few friends camped in Cumbria two nights with no problems at all, I believe it is "illegal" to camp in the UK, but it's not likely to be enforced. – AdamMcquiff Jan 26 '17 at 23:13
  • Camped lots of times in Yorkshire, England when younger, never had a problem, even had a cup of tea off a farmer. A farmer could ask you to leave though if they wanted to. Not sure on the legality though. – BritishSam Dec 3 '18 at 9:17

The already provided answer is correct about wild camping in the Netherlands and in Belgium.

However, when it comes to wild camping in the United Kingdom:

  • It is legal in Scotland
  • In England and in Wales you will need permission from the landowner in all areas except for Devon and Dartmoor, there it is also legal.
  • In certain National Parks (like Lake District) there is a lot of toleration by the Park Authority, even when it's strictly speaking not legal. For a full overview I would recommend on of my articles: Wild camping in the UK: complete legal overview

Additionally, you can find information about wild camping in every European country in this article that I wrote recently: Wild camping in Europe: Complete overview.

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  • Again, welcome. Could you add that you are the author of the article and site to which you are linking? – Giorgio Dec 2 '18 at 12:51

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