Before you read this wild camping Peak District post, make sure you read my more general wild camping UK guide first. Here you will find a broader overview on areas like what kit to take, going to the toilet and best practices.
The Peak District is a National Park conveniently located in central England. It is known for its rolling hills, plateaus and valleys rather than jagged peaks. The most popular hike in the region is Kinder Scout, the highest summit in the Peak District at 363m.
The Peak District is split into two areas: the Dark Peak and the White Peak.
I would say the Peak District isn’t as easy to wild camp in compared to some of the larger National Parks like the Lake District or Snowdonia. Having said that though, it is very possible and something I have done multiple times.
- Since the Covid Pandemic hit, there has sadly been a rise in anti-social wild camping behaviour. PLEASE read this guide carefully and always follow the ‘leave no trace’ rules. This protects nature and ensures we can all continue to enjoy Wild Camping in the National Parks.
- Due to wildfire risk, barbecues, disposable barbecues or any form of open fire and flame are not permitted in the open countryside anywhere in the Peak District – Read more here.
Before we start….
If you are new to this blog, I’m Bex Band – a full-time UK adventurer and founder of the women’s adventure community, Love Her Wild. You can read more about me here. I share all my advice in this Peak District Wild Camping guide to help make your overnight adventure as smooth and easy as possible.
Also, grab a copy of my best-selling adventure memoir – Three Stripes South.
Is wild camping in Peak District legal?
Legally, you are not permitted to wild camp in the Peak District. The National Park land is privately owned and without permission from the landowner to camp overnight you are technically breaking the law.
The only areas you can legally pitch a tent overnight in the wild are in Dartmoor (although there are some restrictions – more details here) and Scotland.
However, with the right care and approach, it is tolerated for the most part and is a practice that is undertaken regularly.
It is worth noting that the risk of moorland fires is very high in the Peak Districts. Fires have caused huge damage in the area in recent years making authorities more alert of wild campers. It is absolutely vital, for the protection of our natural spaces, that you do not have an open fire if wild camping.
Make sure you’ve had a good read of all the Leave No Trace policies on this page before attempting a wild camp.
How to choose a Peak District wild camping spot
Having an OS map (see the ‘Resources’ section below) is an essential bit of kit you will need to work out potential wild camping spots.
Decide what hiking route you want to do. For first-time wild campers, a simple hike in and out with a wild camp overnight is ideal. A more advanced adventure could include a multi-day hike, wild camping in a different spot each night.
Using the map, mark a few potential wild camping spots that are in the area your hike finishes. Aim for 2-4 potential spots that you can check in person on the day.
For a good wild camping spot look for the following:
- a spot a few km from the nearest road and preferably a bit away from any major paths
- somewhere that doesn’t involve jumping a fence
- flat spot (the closer the contour lines are together, the steeper the terrain)
- no too exposed (you don’t want to be high up on an exposed spot where you are open to the elements)
- running water nearby for resupply
You’ll only know if they are definitely a good choice when you see the place in person. Check that you aren’t sitting in a bog or at the bottom of a ditch that might flood if it rains. Ensure there’s no danger of rockfall, and you don’t need to trample lots of wildflowers or vegetation to make a space.
Places to wild camp in Peak District
This list of places to wild camp in the Peak District is just intended as a guide. See what these spots look like on a map. Then use that as a guide to try and find your own spaces.
The beauty of wild camping is that the place feels like it isn’t known, and part of the joy really does come from discovering your own hidden place!
- Find a spot in the woods in Burbage Valley
- Reynards Cave in Dovedale provides an interesting spot for a wild camp – works well for a bivvy bag camp
- A small tent will fit below Agden Rocher, but be wary of rockfall here and leave enough space so you aren’t right up against a wall
- Bleaklow and Derwent Moors have plenty of flat spaces for a camp.
- Lawrence field Quarry is a nice spot but can be popular with parties and climbers.
Getting to the Peak District
As with any adventure, I like to promote leaving the car behind and taking public transport. It’s an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint on your travels…..and is much more adventurous!
There are lots of stations that stop nearby where you can then easily catch a bus to take you more in the heart of the Peaks:
North of the Peak District – train lines stop at Derwent, Hope and Edale Valleys
South of the Peak District – train lines connect Derby to Matlock
West of the Peak District – train lines stop at Glossop and Buxton
During the summer months, there is also the Hope Valley Explorer. A hop-on-hop-off bus with commentary that will take you to all the best hiking spots.
Where to base yourself in the Peak District
My recommended place to base yourself for any adventures in the Peak District is Bakewell. The town has everything you need to stock up and is close to the Peaks. It is easy to reach from most places.
If you are travelling from the West, Buxton could be an easier alternative if coming by train.
If you are looking for somewhere nice to stay before and after your adventure, check out The Rutland Arms Hotel, with prices starting at £40 a night
Resources for wild camping lake district
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 Peak District and mini-adventures, check out:
- Wild Guide to Central England (inspiring book with lots of mini-adventure ideas in the region, including Peak District)
- Pathfinder Outstanding circular walks (ideas for circular hikes in the Peak District)
- 50 Walks in the Peak District (ideas for hikes in the Peak District region)
- Britain’s Best Small Hill’s (a great all-around wild camping guide for suggestions across the UK on where to sleep wild for a night)
For reliable weather forecasts, check out the following:
If you are thinking about taking a Bivvy bag rather than a tent for a more wild experience, check out my Bivvy Bag camping guide. I’ve also written wild camping guides for other areas in the UK, including:
Other relevant posts to help you get ready:
- How to pack a hiking backpack like a pro
- 7 tips for staying warm when camping
- 19 Fun camping games for adults
For a bit of inspiration
If you want to get an idea of what wild camping might look like in the Peak District, take a look at these vlogs:
A few top tips
- The most popular climb in the Peak District is Kinder Scout, the highest peak so choose a different mountain if you want a quieter experience
- Because the Peak District is smaller and less ‘wild’ than other National Parks, it’s especially key that you pitch late and leave early so you are discreet and unseen.
- Any time you go wild camping, tell someone your general plan and direction. As well as what time they should expect you home.
- It’s vital you understand and follow the ‘Leave No Trace’ rules so you protect the land you are camping on. You can find them on this page – Wild Camping UK
- Check the weather each day so you are up-to-date with any changes or warnings
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