Dartmoor Wild Camping To Continue Under New Agreement

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Following the court ruling last week that no rights to wild camp existed under historic laws permitting access for ‘recreation’, it was thought that wild camping on Dartmoor could be a thing of the past – at least for anyone especially law-abiding. However, the Dartmoor National Park met with the Dartmoor Common Owners’ Association on 18th January and agreed in principle for permissive rights for camping to continue. Here’s the press release:

Agreement has been reached that will enable people to continue wild camping in parts of Dartmoor National Park.

Landowners and the National Park Authority have worked together to agree a way forward following the High Court judgment published on Friday.

The Dartmoor Commons Owners’ Association  and the National Park Authority met yesterday (18 January 2023) to discuss how wild camping on the Dartmoor Commons might be facilitated going forward.

Agreement was reached in principle on the following:

•    Landowners will grant permission to the Authority to allow the public to wild camp through a permissive agreement.
•    This new system will provide clear guidance on what constitutes wild camping based on the principle of ‘leave no trace’.
•    Areas where the public can wild camp without seeking individual permission from landowners will be communicated via an interactive map on Dartmoor National Park Authority’s website in the coming days.

Anyone planning to wild camp now or in the future must refer to the interactive map and follow all ‘leave no trace’ principles. 

Whilst the agreement is completed, wild camping (including Ten Tors and The Duke of Edinburgh Award) is permitted with immediate effect. 

John Howell, Chair of Dartmoor Commons Owners’ Association, said: “We recognise the importance of people being able to enjoy the natural beauty of Dartmoor, including through wild camping, and the benefits that this can bring.”

Dr Kevin Bishop, Chief Executive of Dartmoor National Park Authority, said:  “We have all worked quickly and collectively to ensure clarity is provided. Our thanks go to those involved in the discussions who have engaged in this process so positively and proactively. We’re committed to working together to continue all our good work that helps keep Dartmoor special for everyone.”

All present at the meeting were clear that there is no place for illegal fly camping on Dartmoor. ‘Fly camping’, which often involves large groups with barbecues or open fires, should not be confused with true wild camping and will continue to be prohibited.

While this is welcome news for anyone hoping to use the area with confidence that they won’t be ‘moved on’, the fact remains that this is a permissive right, rather than an absolute one, so the position is still poorer than when it was considered that historic rights were in place.

Update, 20th January

The National Park has now created a Wild Camping page with map on its website. This makes it clear that under the agreement, the public will not have to pay the landowners to wild camp. However, the Park Authority will have to pay the landowners to secure this permissive right. As yet, that amount has not been agreed, and no source of funding has been identified. However, the National Park is predominantly publicly funded and will be asking DEFRA for extra, so ultimately it seems likely that the public will be paying for this permissive right.

What will this new permissive system cost?

People wild camping will not be charged under this system. It is free at the point of delivery.

The new agreements will involve a payment to landowners by DNPA, but the amount has not yet been discussed in detail. These costs have not been budgeted for by the Authority.  We will be writing to Defra to ask if they will provide funding to support this process.

Dartmoor National Park Website FAQs

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Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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  • Dartmoor Wild Camping To Continue Under New Agreement
  • jam-bo
    Full Member

    as I posted on the other thread.

    permissive rights are better than no rights but leaves a bit of a sour taste.

    I hope the appeal goes ahead still and this isn’t an attempt by the landowners & DNPA to spike it.

    Full Member

    from righttoroam: https://www.instagram.com/right.2roam/

    Our response to the supposed ‘deal’ between Dartmoor National Park Authority and (as yet undisclosed) major landowners RE: Wild Camping.

    Tl;dr: It’s a stitch up.

    The proposed deal replaces long held rights with ‘permissive access’, which can be withdrawn at any time, entirely at the whims of the landowners.

    We have also been told that ‘permission’ to wild camp will also involve some form of public payment to major landowners.

    Many of these landowners already receive hundreds of thousands of pounds from the public via subsidies.

    Right to Roam will not accept any agreement based on permissive rights. We have to end the hold this patronising, feudal system has over our access nature.

    We will not accept our rights being stripped away in exchange for a pat on the head.

    We will respond in further detail as more information is available.

    Full Member

    As the article says an erotion of the historic right to wild camp. Not that the local bye laws allowed cycling on the majority of the National Park anyway, the rights were for those accessing the park by foot or horse not on a bike.

    Will now be left with a guessing game where wild camping will be allowed and landowners will I expect move on anyone they want at anytime.

    Full Member

    There is a petition for what it’s worth, when MP is taking ‘donations’ from investors buying up land on Dartmoor and blocking access. Maybe better than nothing




    Free Member

    I’d sign the petition if it was better worded. The problem is that once a petition gets rejected it makes similar petitions harder, and suggesting that landowners shouldn’t be allowed to own land isn’t going to get far. If it said something like landowners shouldn’t be allowed to prevent public use of wild land that isn’t harmful to the landowner’s use, it would be worth signing.

    Free Member
    Free Member

    Amazing that the authority managed to pull this together in a matter of hours after doing the sum total of **** all to increase mountain bike access over the past 25 years.

    Full Member

    It’s heading towards a fiefdom scenario.

    Full Member

    Has anyone checked whether this association actually speaks for all the Dartmoor landowners who would need to give their royal blessing to wild campers, including the hedge funder who brought the legal action? Unless it covers all the major landowners, it shouldn’t be presented as a solution in this way.

    Have we heard anything substantive from major Dartmoor landowners such as the National Trust and the Duchy of Cornwall?

    Full Member


    updated map.

    most of maristow estate owned land removed. remarkably similar to the updates that DNPA proposed last year…

    Full Member

    I’m not blessed with a deep knowledge of Dartmoor NP, but comparing that map with this one:

    Who owns Dartmoor?

    suggests that a large chunk of privately owned open land is excluded. And am I correct in thinking that the biggish land owned by the national park itself around Combestone Tor has been excluded?

    Either way, it’s clear from your map that the end result isn’t permission to wild camp responsibly being extended across the national park, and shouldn’t be presented as such.

    Full Member

    exactly. and can now be removed at the whim of a landowner.

    its better than no access but only just.

    Full Member

    Having listened to a piece on Radio 4, it appears that the National Park is paying landownwers for access by the public.

    England the land of greedy landowners

    Full Member

    I’ve just updated the story with some further information about the payment, and a link to some new info on the National Park’s website.

    Paying landowners for the right to have the public camp on their land… smells awfully like that tax break that Cycling UK was having a rant about, where the landowners were supposed to be giving access to land in exchange for tax breaks. Which reminds me, I must ask what’s happening on that front!

    The Duke, the bike ban and the taxman

    Grr. Harrumph. Mutter. etc.

    Full Member

    I’m beginning to think a few heads stuck on pikes might be the only effective solution.

    Full Member

    Grr. Harrumph. Mutter. etc.

    Completely agree.

    Free Member

    Next time I’m on Dartmoor I must give my thanks to the landowners for kindly allowing us serfs a day or two to pitch a flimsy tent on a tiny bit of moor.

    What a load of bollocks. The last patch of wild England has been formally fenced off from the peasants. It’s all just a theme park now.

    And people talk about rewilding. Lol.

    Full Member

    Please ensure you remove your helmet before tugging your forelock.

    Full Member

    The French got this sort of bollox sorted about 200 years ago c/o beheading all the aristols.  Wish we’d had the same here. And still do.

    Full Member

    Appeal successful


    ‘However, the appeals court noted that the Dartmoor Commons Act did not mention a “right to roam” but a right to “open-air recreation” if one entered the common on foot or horseback.’

    The bikepacking debate is presumably for another day.

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