Friday, 25 January 2008


From what I have learned recently, the Ordnance Survey look like they want to make criminals of those that post their mapping on their blogs without paying them large amounts of money or making them jump through ridiculous arcane hoops.

However, until yesterday, I had not realised that in fact I had been a criminal for the last forty years of my life. Indeed, I compounded this criminality on my Land's End to John O' Groats walk last year in aid of Sue Ryder Care.

"What heinous crimes has he committed?" I hear you cry!

I have been camping in England. Camping, not on campsites, or not with a landowners permission. Camping 'wild'. Finding, that at the end of the day, I am tired, I look around for a suitable site to pop the tent up, climb inside and sleep until dawn.

Obviously I tend not to choose urban settings for this peculiar past-time. I tend to opt for the wild places; places where there is solitude, isolation. A place that will give me the morning sunshine and a glorious view, to lift my spirits.

Almost the essence of backpacking.

But, and I know Marian, I should never start a sentence with 'But', but this is important: I had never realised until yesterday that in fact this was illegal in England & Wales.

This was brought to my attention by Darren Christie - on his excellent posting on his blog.

He has organised a petition on the 10 Downing Street E-Petition Website to de-criminalise this harmless past-time. You can find the petition here. If we get over 200 signatures before 24th May, then Downing Street are bound to consider doing something about this.

Now I am not usually a supporter of changing policy by petition, but I feel that if don't support this worthwhile endeavour then we might be missing a trick here. I am convinced that we should be able to bust the target of 200 like-minded souls apart by easily a factor of ten.

There must be thousands of us, who as children camped in the woods in our cheap little two man tents and who now, later in life, quite fancy trying it out again. Let's not be criminalised by this wonderful activity.

Go now and sign the petition.

Legalise my camping!


  1. Been there, signed up, had the confirmation email from the PM's office.

  2. Putting my legal hat on just for a moment (I try to avoid it these days!): wild camping is not a criminal offence, it's a civil wrong.

    So, you may have been a criminal for forty years, but it's unlikely that you've achieved that through wild camping in England or Wales.

    It still remains that camping is not currently permitted at law, so I fully support the petition. I just thought I'd point out (or be pedantic, if you prefer) that point.

    (swiftly taking my legal hat back off and replacing it with something more appropriate)

  3. I signed it too. The English/Welsh access laws are pretty poor compared with the Scottish legislation. Its not just wild camoing, I can't take my dog on the moors nowadays up here in Lord Barnard/Earl of Strathmore land, and they can and do close the land for "management" at short notice..... grrrrrrr....

  4. Thanks for that Gayle,

    So I am just the wrong side of the law then? That's a relief.

    Pieman: When these chaps 'close' the moor and you happen to be on it, what can they do? Can they remove you? Do they have to use polite persuasion or is force used?

    I have never been put in that situation. I thnk that if someone was to ask me to leave the moor I would carry on on my route that would eventually have me leaving 'his' land.

    What is thhe psition here? Perhaps Gayle can help?

  5. Actually, don't ever tell Lord barnard, when you meet him, but his head keeper is a really nice bloke and considers hillwalkers to have the same love of the countryside as himself and in any case they're usually much too far up the hill for him to bother about and there aren't any grouse up there anyway.....

    Its yer landowners/landmanagers who are paranoid about walkers in general and would prefer that they visited the area even less than they do...(!)

    But to answer your question, indeed, there's not much they can do - but you can be banned from returning for 72 hours according to the Act. (OOooer!)

    By the way, paddling/dipping in the beck is "illegal", too....

  6. Thanks Mike

    I think I might like to visit your neck of the woods. It would be nice to meet some of these landmanagers. Perhaps they would like a cup of tea on the moor whilst I invite the landowners along to discuss it while pitching my tent for a wildcamp.

    Food for thought there...

    A modern form of Kinder Trespass perhaps?

  7. We'd have to tell them we're coming, otherwise they might not notice..

  8. It's just a pity that so many who have so much to say on a forum "in another place" can't be bothered to use their real names and take a serious subject seriously!

  9. Ohmigawd, Grumpy, are you saying that "Alan" is some sort of pseudonym?
    Even I was taken in...
    Outrageous..., I'm stunned.

  10. Our Big Al, no way. But (and sorry Marion) there are some very dubious names on the Government petition!

  11. I'm sure all petitions suffer from people's right to be flippant. TBH, I can only see 2 from early on. Not sure how that compares to other petitions.

  12. Hey,

    How come there is now a picture of me on this post with the word 'Criminal' directly above my head?

  13. I was chatting in the pub with Lord Elpus and Miss Whiplash this Sunday lunchtime. Our concern with this 'E Petition' is that the petition for 'making banger acing an olympic sport' has (currently) some 359 supporters.

    Now I can't see Lord Coe and his boys on the British Olympic Committe supporting this petition, even if it had 35,900 supporters.

    Unless this petition scores well and more importantly is supported across all the media (newspapers, television, radio) then realistically it stands little chance of getting a reply from anyone in any position of anything like power - let alone Golden Brown.

  14. Ah - Hi Phil!

    Both posting at the same time there.

    You should be proud of the stand you are taking. As they take you away in the tumbrill I will see you on your way to the better place.

    Well done - yu could be the campaigns first martyr.

  15. Phil - LOL.

    Alan - yup. We're formulating various tacks on the OB Forum, and with chats to Darren. I'm sure he'd welcome any advice you can give directly or indirectly.

  16. By coincidence, I posted on the OB Forum wanting kind volunteers to email me photos of England/Wales wildcamping that could be turned in to non-commercial A4 pamphlets.

  17. I notice on the other blogs that the identities of the guilty have been concealed. Lord Elpus has no such sense of mis-placed bashfulness.

    'Publish and be damned!': I am sure that is what he was hollering over the noise of the tumbrills iron rimmed wheels rumbling on the cobbles approaching the Tower.

  18. Indeed, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done;
    it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."

  19. Has anyone seen Lord E? He went down to answer a knock on the door in the night-not seen him since.

    Miss W

  20. If Lord E would like a Chaplain to visit him in his cell I'd be happy to oblige ...


  21. Still no sign of Lord Elpus?

    Perhaps it wasn't an Easyjet plane they were loading him onto - might have been one of those rendition jobs. He is probably tucked up somewhere nice and warm like Afghanistan or Iraq.

    Cuba is a popular destination, I hear.

  22. No need for your services just yet, David, nor the orange overalls...but maybe after next week end, when Alan & I will be off backpacking and wildcamping somewhere in England.

    Ooooo - er!

  23. It's Lord E! Still a man at liberty - what a relief! Miss W had us worried for a while there.

    Next weekend, mmmm, could be a nice test case ...


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