I love wild camping in the Lake District and have been doing it for years…..so I put together this wild camping Lake District guide with everything I know. I share my insights on the best spots for wild camping and top tips so you can make the most of your adventure. If you’re new to the world of wild camping, I recommend starting with my wild camping UK post first. This resource not only provides a kit list but also delves into essential topics such as toilet etiquette and proper camping decorum.

The Lake District is my absolute favourite place to wild camp! There are countless spots to pitch for the night, lots of opportunities for lush views, and you are never far from a lake. Perfect for a cold dip! The Lake District is an easy place to wild camp if you are a beginner, but it also has loads of options, making it great for seasoned campers.

In this wild camping Lake District guide, I will cover everything you need to know to get you started. My goal is to get more people outdoors adventuring…so I hope my advice will make that a little easier!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Since the pandemic, antisocial wild camping behaviour has risen. Please read this guide carefully and commit to being a conscious ‘leave no trace’ camper. This protects natural spaces and ensures we can all continue to enjoy Wild Camping in the Lake District National Park.

Stealth camping Lake District

Before we start….

If you are new to this blog, I’m Bex Band – a full-time UK adventurer, bestselling author and founder of the women’s adventure community Love Her Wild. I’m on a mission to make the outdoors and adventures easy. I share all my advice in this Lake District Wild Camping guide to help make your overnight adventure as smooth and easy as possible.

If you have any questions, please use the comments box below. And for ongoing tips and inspiration on camping and adventure, make sure you follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Or follow my adventure YouTube channel.

Other relevant blog posts:

Can you wild camp in the Lake District – is it legal?

No….it is illegal to wild camp in the Lake District. Confusing, I know!

The only place you can legally wild camp in the UK is in Scotland and in Dartmoor (although there are some restrictions – more details here).

While on paper, it is against the law, generally, the practice is tolerated if you are considerate and follow good practices. This is especially so for the Lake District, which is a large National Park with many remote places. Wild camping is commonplace in the Lake District.

This is highlighted clearly as even on the official Lake District website they have provided tips for wild camping in the region. So there is no reason why you should have any problems.

Just remember to stick to the expected rules! Make sure you are away from the roads. Don’t jump over any fences or walls, and don’t camp in large groups or for more than 1 day in the same place. It’s essential that you Leave No Trace….the full list of those rules can be found on this page.

How to choose a wild camping spot in the Lake District

You are going to want to get yourself an OS map for the area (see the ‘resources’ section below for a link to the correct map). Before heading to the Lake District, take a look at the map and decide what area you want to explore. Most likely, this will be dictated by a hike that you want to do.

You could either hike in, camp and then hike out. Or do a multi-day trip, camping in a different spot each night. If it is your first wild camp, I’d suggest doing an overnighter first to test all your gear correctly before committing to something bigger.

Using the map and seeing where the end of your hike will take you, decide on a rough area where you might want to camp for the night. Note down 2-4 potential spots that look like they might be suitable for wild camping.

These spots should be on flat ground (the further apart the contour lines, the flatter the terrain) and not exposed (peaks can get very windy). Not somewhere boggy or rocky and not too far from a water source. Ideally, you want to avoid any big paths, although this isn’t always possible.

Really, you won’t know if it is a good spot until you see it in person. On the day, you can take a closer look at the potential camp spots to see if they are suitable. Make sure you aren’t in a ditch or camping under any potential rockfall.

Tarns and lakes can make great wild camping spots if they aren’t too boggy. In the summer months, the most popular spots in the Lake District can get busy, so you may not have the place to yourself.

Everest Challenge in the Lake District

Best wild camping spots, Lake District

Here are a few suggestions of places you can wild camp in the Lake District. It is best to use these as a guide. See what they look like on a map and then search out your own….working out your own wild camping spot really is all part of the fun. And it’s much more satisfying than following someone else’s suggestion!

#1 Ennerdale Valley, Western Fells

Head into the woods to find a quiet spot for the night. The area has been part of a re-wilding project, and walkers are encouraged to leave the path to explore. You’ll find lots of good options nestled amongst the trees.

#2 Codale Tarn

Nestled amidst the serene landscapes of the Lake District, Codale Tarn offers a tranquil escape and the opportunity to immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty. Codale Tarn is harder to get to but not likely to be busy.

#3 Lingmoor Fell

Just 5 miles from Ambleside, Lighmoor Fell is a brilliant choice for beginners who want an easy escape route or anyone who doesn’t want a long hike to their camp. It’s a popular route but offers great views and plenty of camping spots, which are easy to get to.

#4 Sprinkling Tarn, Rosthwaite

This tarn, a well-known wild camping spot in the Lake District near Scafell Pike, offers ample space for peace and quiet despite its popularity; from Rosthwaite, take the B5289 for about 3km, turn left to Seathwaite before Seatoller for parking, then follow upstream to Stockley Bridge, and ascend Seathwaite Fell to discover Styhead and Sprinkling Tarns, the latter known for its island perfect for diving and secluded camping spots ideal for families with older children.

#5 Codale Tarn

Codale Tarn in Grasmere offers a challenging hike for the more experienced hiker. There are lots of flat spaces near the tarn. It’s a picturesque spot that also offers a chance to have a refreshing wild swim.

#6 Great End or Great Knott

If you are aiming to camp on a peak (only recommended on a day with little wind), you can pitch a small tent on the peak of Great End and also Great Knott. You’ll be rewarded with some spectacular views!

#7 Brim Fell

Brim Fell, adjacent to the more renowned Old Man of Coniston, offers abundant space for wild camping near its summit cairn, especially to the west of the main footpath, in contrast to the limited options on The Old Man. While the views are expansive in most directions, the presence of Scafell to the north may pose challenges during windy nights.

#8 Small Water Tarn

Small Water, located at Harter Fell’s head in Mardale, is a favoured camping site due to its secluded position on the National Park’s fringe, attracting many for its tranquillity away from crowded valleys. The area offers idyllic spots for pitching tents, including a grassy area with a private ‘beach’ by the tarn and a larger, rougher space to the north, with the added bonus of witnessing stunning sunrise views over Mardale from near Small Water Beck.

#9 Haystacks

Haystacks, Cockermouth, is ideal for wild camping as the terrain offers a wide, flat expanse to pitch a tent on. In busier periods, you are likely to be sharing the place with other wild campers.

#10 Angle Tarn

Probably one of the most famous wild camping spots in the Lake District! Here’s a video showing a lovely Angle Tarn wild camp:

Starting from Patterdale in the Lake District, this walk ascends to Angletarn Pikes, passing through Boredale House and Stony Rigg, offering breathtaking views across Martindale, Angle Tarn, the Helvellyn range, and the Far Eastern Fells.

#11 Blencathra

Wild camping near a fell summit, like Blencathra, often depends on the luck of favourable weather. While the southern slopes are too steep for safe tent pitching, the northern side offers gentler gradients with ample pitching options. Despite the summit’s hard ground making for a less comfortable sleep, the breathtaking dawn views are a rewarding trade-off.

#12 Fleetwith Pike

Fleetwith Pike, overlooking Buttermere and the Honister Pass, offers a challenging climb from Gatesgarth Farm, with parking available for a fee. The steep ascent rewards experienced walkers with breathtaking views. Remember to pack thermals for the cold nights, and consider the Mountain Bothies Association shelters for additional warmth.

#13 Allen Crags

At Allen Crag’s summit, there’s ample space for pitching tents on the grassy area, with the ideal spot often determined by the prevailing wind direction; in case of strong winds, descending to nearby Angle Tarn or Sprinkling Tarn is a convenient option.

#14 Dale Head

Dale Head, located at the head of the Newlands Valley, is an exposed peak where the viability of camping heavily depends on the presence of little to no wind. Near its summit trig point, there are two potential camping spots: one adjacent to the summit on a flat grassy patch and another a few yards to the west towards Hindscarth on thicker grass.

#15 Easedale Tarn

Easedale Tarn, a favoured destination for wild camping due to its easy two-mile access from Grasmere and a single short ascent, often sees the grassy area next to the large boulder on its southern shore as the prime tent spot. Arrive early to secure a spot – especially during summer weekends.

#16 Maiden Moor

Maiden Moor, sitting on the Newlands Horseshoe ridge, is the more secluded neighbour of Catbells. The space attracts fewer visitors due to its distance from civilisation. Despite the limited space near its rocky summit for pitching a tent, its accessibility from Little Town in the Newlands Valley makes it a lovely and quiet camping spot likely to be enjoyed just for yourself.

#17 Sergeant Man

Sergeant Man, perched above Langdale’s Stickle Tarn, offers a prime flat grassy area for tent pitching between the summit crag and a northern unnamed tarn. Only ideal for a calm night due to exposure.

#18 Tongue Head

Tongue Head offers a superb camping spot. Flanked by Allen Crags and Esk Pike, the views are pretty epic. Despite the limited number of comfortable tent pitches, you can look forward to a quiet night.

#19 Stickle Tarn

Stickle Tarn, nestled above Langdale, is a favoured wild camping site due to its proximity to popular walking areas and being less than an hour’s trek from the valley. This can result in a bustling scene, particularly in summer. But the site is pretty and there are lots of places to pitch a tent.

Can you wild camp on Scafell Pike?

Nestled in the Lake District National Park, Scafell Pike stands tall as England’s highest mountain, inviting outdoor enthusiasts to explore its striking beauty and conquer its challenging trails. It’s the most popular hike in the area for ramblers wanting to reach its 978m summit.

Scafell Pike is quite rocky, and its main routes are well-paved. There’s not a lot of options for wild camping on the mountain.

My recommendation would be to head to Sprinkling Tarn, Rosthwaite, which sits nearby to Scafell Pikes Peak at 600m high. Not only is this a great place to pitch up for the night, but you can also go wild swimming.

Wild camping uk

What’s the best tent for Wild Camping?

I’m now the owner of multiple tents, but there is one that is leaps above the others for wild camping. It’s super lightweight, withstands rain and winds, is discrete yet surprisingly spacious and is also ridiculously easy and quick to put up.

I introduce……the MSR Hubba Hubba (see photo above). You won’t regret getting one of these!

Bivvy Bag camping in the Lake District?

Bivvy bag camping is a great alternative if you want a more lightweight wild camping experience, or want to feel even closer to nature. The Lake District offers loads of spaces for bivvying as it’s easier to squeeze a bag into a space than a tent.

For more information, check out my Bivvy Bag camping guide.

My bivvying video isn’t in the Lakes, but it provides valuable insights into locating a suitable campsite for the night. It also serves as a testament to the possibility of enjoying wild camping, even when accompanied by a toddler!

Getting to the Lake District

Please do prioritise taking public transport if you can to help reduce your impact on the planet!

I’ve used buses and trains many times for camping in the Lake District, and it’s very easy. You also get a great view from the window and get to visit some quaint little railway stations.

You can catch a train to the west of Lake District, calling in at Oxenholme, Penrith or Carlisle. Or to Windermere, Kendal or Staveley. From these stations, it is easy to jump on a local bus to get you closer to the hills.

National Express also run coaches to various towns in the Lake District.

Parking in the Lake District

Parking is pricey in the area, especially if you are planning to leave your car overnight. You can see the list of managed car parks in the National Park here. A lot of the pubs in the region also offer an overnight parking fee and this should be advertised on their website.

There’s also a really great park and bus initiative which might provide better value. I couldn’t see clearly though if they will allow you to leave a car overnight.

Where to base yourself in the Lake District

Personally, I like to head to Windermere (or Ambleside, which is close by but a bit smaller) or Keswick to start any hikes or wild camping adventures.

Windermere has coaches and trains running directly to the town. To reach Keswick, you catch a train to Penrith and then jump on a local bus.

Both offer good bases with shops to top up on supplies and plenty of good pub food and fry-ups to keep you fuelled.

My recommendations for Winderemere accommodation:

  • For something a little luxurious and adult only, try Applegarth Villa Hotel, prices starting at £125 (they have rooms with hot tubs!)
  • The Windemere Hotel is basic but very comfortable, and their prices start at £100

My recommendations for Keswick accommodation:

A guide to wild camping in the Lake District

Wild Camping Lake District: resources and books

You are going to want to get an OS map to help you plan and navigate when you are in the Lake District. There are 3 maps that cover the National Park depending on the area you are planning to head to:

For wider reading on the Lake District and wild camping, check out:

For reliable weather forecasts, check out:

If you want to add a little bit of fun to your camping trip, check out my handy guide with 100+ camping games and challenges for adults: CAMPING GAMES FOR ADULTS.

Camping games for adult couples

Get inspired!

If you are undecided, then watching these videos about wild camping in the Lake District should sway you pretty quickly!

They provide a bit of an idea of what you might expect a good Lake District wild camping spot to look like:

A few top tips

  • A lot of people head to the Lake District to climb England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike. If you want peace and quiet, avoid this area – especially during sunny holidays and weekends
  • There are lots of tarns and lakes in the Lake District, so boggy areas are not uncommon. More than once, I’ve put my foot knee-deep in a bog!! It’s worth keeping this in mind if you are going off track. This can also be a problem when looking for a wild camping spot, so I tend not to cut it too fine when it comes to searching for a camping spot close to nightfall in case I need to try a different area. Hiking poles are a great tool for testing boggy ground.
  • As is good practice with wild camping, you should always tell someone where you are heading and what time they should expect you back.
  • Make sure you fully understand the Leave No Trace rules to protect the land you are camping on. For more details, check out Wild Camping UK
  • You should be monitoring the weather continuously throughout your adventure, as it can change with little notice. Listen to any weather warnings.

Other relevant posts to help you get ready:

I hope you’ve found this wild camping Lake District guide to be a valuable resource. If you’re new to this adventure, remember that taking that initial step is often the biggest hurdle. So take that leap and embrace the experience! In the unlikely event, things don’t go as planned, you can always pack up and head back home.

You can stay up to date with my adventures and advice on Facebook and Instagram. Or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Good luck with your wild camping adventure…..I’d love to hear in the comments how you get on 🙂

12 thoughts on “Wild Camping Lake District / 19 Best Camp Spots + Top Tips [2024]

  1. Hi box
    Love the blog
    Me and my son are going wild camping and was thinking about the lake district.
    We was thinking starting in the south and walking north stopping of on the way
    We was going to spend a week doing this.
    as were are looking for the harder walk was just wondering if u could give us a starting point
    Many thx

    1. Sounds like a great adventure! For something like this I would suggest working it out as you go along. Perhaps plot a rough but each night you can decide where to head the next day and potential areas to stop at for camp spots. It’ll give you a lot more flexibility as you can see how far you are covering comfortably and have an easier/harder day depending on how you feel.

      1. Bex, proper wild campers were always welcomed, but last year a new group of ‘fly’ campers brought with them some atrocious behaviour. It might be useful to do an update letting readers know that, as it is impossible to tell the difference between fly and wild campers, that welcome or acceptance is 100% not guarenteed.

        1. I just wouldn’t want to start creating an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. It was such a shame to see the damage done by the few who misused our wild spaces last year, but I still believe the majority used the outdoors with respect. And that we all have an equal right to our National Parks regardless of if you are local or live in a city.
          I’d hate to think people wouldn’t be welcomed or that locals would assume the worst of those travelling (when allowed) for wild camping or other activities.

  2. Given that wild camping is illegal in the Lake District without the land owners permission what are you doing to combat the people who trash the lakes. Leaving their rubbish for others to clear away. The last two weekends have seen some disgraceful examples of wild camping.

    1. It’s such a shame that a few people decide to behave this way. However, I firmly believe that the majority take part in the activity respectfully so will continue to try to educate those who do search for information so that they leave no trace and approach wild camping in the correct way.
      From what I read, the majority of offenders are young people so perhaps we need to look at better education at school level and finding ways to engage people in our wild spaces so they grow to respect them.

  3. Hi Bex,
    I’m hopefully going to start my wild camping experience in a few weeks time but one thing that is baffling me is everyone saying it’s ok with the owner’s permission, how do you go about getting that?


    1. Hi Jon – it’s a good question!
      If you want to do it with permission then it’ll most likely just be a case of walking up to a farm building and knocking on the door to ask if it’s ok to camp in their fields. Or contacting someone you know in advance who has woods or fields you might be able to use. Both these options are tricky for most which is why so many end up making it happen without permission.
      Just make sure you follow the rules and leave no trace. Enjoy your first experience!

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