I put this Wild Camping Kent guide together for anyone wanting to try a stealth camp in this beautiful county. While most think about our National Parks when considering a night out under the stars, I hope to show that (when done respectfully and properly) wild camping really can be done anywhere.
Kent is home to some wonderful natural spaces. So wild camping in Kent is very doable, although you should use this guide to make sure that you follow the rules and pitch in a way that doesn’t disrupt residents or nature.
If you are new to this activity, please read my comprehensive Wild Camping UK guide, which will cover things like the best practices and the best gear. If you fancy something a bit more adventurous, you might want to ditch the tent and try a bivvy wild camp instead! (FYI: A bivvy camp means sleeping outside with just a waterproof cover for your sleeping bag)
Before we begin…
If you’re new to this blog, I’m Bex Band. I’m a full-time UK adventurer, author and founder of the women’s adventure community Love Her Wild. I want to make the outdoors and adventures as accessible as possible. You can read more about me here.
If you have any questions, use the comments box below. And for ongoing tips and inspiration on camping and adventure, make sure you follow me on Facebook and Instagram. You can also grab a copy of my best-selling adventure memoir – Three Stripes South!
Is wild camping in Kent legal?
It’s important to note that wild camping in the UK, including in Kent, is not technically legal without the landowner’s permission. Much of our country’s wild spaces are (sadly) privately owned. Obtaining permission can be challenging, as it’s hard to work out who owns it and how to contact them.
Don’t be scared by this, as trespassing is a civil matter, not a criminal offence, so you aren’t going to end up banged up in a cell!
Wild camping is widely tolerated in National Parks. In areas outside these parks, such as green spaces in Kent, if you camp in a respectful and discrete manner, then the chances are no one will see you or ever know that you were there. So it’s absolutely doable.
Being respectful includes leaving no trace, setting up camp late in the day and leaving early in the morning, never starting a fire, and, in the rare chance you might be asked to move on by a landowner, do so without fuss.
I have experience with wild camping in various parts of England, including urban areas like London. Throughout the many nights I’ve spent outdoors, I’ve never been asked to move on, not even once.
To illustrate what wild camping might be like in Kent and what it’s like trying to find a suitable spot, I recommend watching a short film I made about bivvy camping with my 3-year-old toddler. We did this in a local woodland, which, while not technically legal, went unnoticed, and we ensured we left no trace:
Best places to Wild Camp in Kent
So where is the best place to wild camping in Kent? As you’ll see from my film above, all you are looking for is a quiet place in nature away from paths and houses. That leaves you with a LOT of options.
To start with, I’d get my hands on an OS map (you’ll want either this one or this one, depending on where in Kent you are heading). Look for areas of nature and for spaces that are flat (the contour lines are far apart). Kent is often called the ‘Garden of England’ because it’s so green, so a good place to begin is to focus on one of its areas of natural beauty. The most notable ones are:
- Kent Downs
- High Weald
- Stour Valley Walk
- Romney Marsh
- Isle of Thanet
It’s enough, though, just to find a nearby woods. A quiet hill (you always get great sunrises when you pitch at the top of a hill!) or a secluded section of beach (check the tide line and times!). Avoid busy dog walking routes as much as possible….dog walkers are the most likely to spot you, although in most cases, I’ve been spotted by walkers; they’ve been unfazed and just left me alone.
Here are a couple more suggestions for places you could wild camping in Kent….
….The North Downs Way
Trails are a great place to wild camp as hikers often wild camp while doing the trail. They just find a quiet patch a bit of the way off the path. Kent has a number of long trails, but the most well-known one is the North Downs Way.
This guy walked the North Downs and shares how he wild camps along the way:
….White Cliffs of Dover
The famous cliffs offer a great open space to wild camp (make sure you are way back from the edge and not in extreme weather conditions as you’ll be open to the elements). You are guaranteed epic views. The path can be busy with hikers, so you’ll want to avoid weekends and bank holidays.
This man shares his wild camping Kent microadventure, stealth camping on the white cliffs:
Nearly wild camping in Kent
If the thought of wild camping makes you really nervous, another option is to opt for nearly wild camping. This is using campsites that are basic and remote. You pay a small fee to the landowner but get a wild camping experience without having to worry about being moved on. This can be a good first step for newbies!
Best resources and gear for wild camping
If you are looking for helpful books to get you motivated, grab a copy of Britain’s Best Small Hill’s. There’s advice and suggestions for wild camping spots around the UK. Also the Microadvenutres book is fantastic and has loads of wild camping inspiration.
For wild camping especially (as you are more open to the elements), it’s important to dress warmly and to know how to keep yourself warm at night. Check out my tips on staying warm while camping.
These are my top wild camping gear recommendations:
- Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba (2 person or 1 person) is a premium wild camping tent. Alternatively, Vango Nevis 200 is affordable and storm-resistant.
- Or, if you are planning a bivvy camp go for an Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag – its lightweight with minimal condensation.
- Roll Mat: Thermarest Neo Air, for luxury; or a basic roll mat works for a night if you want to go basic and save the pennies
- Sleeping Bag: Tundra Pure and Dry 0 for warmth and lightness; a basic and cheaper Vango sleeping bag bag is good for summer
Other essential items for wild camping:
- Headtorch: Petzl Tikkina or your phone’s torch.
- Water Bottle
- Food and Snacks
- Rucksack: Osprey Eja 38 is an ideal size for wild camping
- Phone: For safety
- Anker Power Bank: Backup phone charger
Final top tips for Wild Camping in Kent
Hopefully, you are now raring to go and feel like you have all the information you need for a successful stealth camp in Kent. Here are a few final thoughts to keep in mind….
….As a safety precaution, always let someone know where you’ll be and check the weather before leaving.
….If you are expecting windy weather avoid exposed ridges, tops of hills and don’t camp under trees or branches. If you’re expecting rain than avoid areas near to streams or rivers that could flood or boggy areas.
….The biggest thing that holds people back from wild camping the first time is nerves! If you are lacking in confidence, why not commit to doing it with a friend so you are less likely to pull out.
….Always have a plan B. If you get asked to move along, be prepared to pack down and find a different spot or to head back to your car and then home. I’ve spent over 100 nights out wild camping and never been moved on, but I always have a backup just in case.
….If you find a great wild camping spot, keep it to yourself. Never tag the location on photos on social media as this might lead to people following in your footsteps which can result in damage to nature from overuse.
I give all my advice for free on my website. If you want to say thanks, you can buy me a coffee!
good luck with your stealth camp 🙂 Leave a comment below with your questions, or I’d love to hear how you get on with your adventure!