Wild Camping Northumberland GUIDE // 9 Best camp spots [2024]

by | Last modified on Mar 2, 2024 | Camping & Outdoors

I put together this Wild Camping Northumberland guide to help anyone planning a stealth camp in the county. I’ve been wild camping for years. And while Northumberland might not initially seem like the most obvious place for a wild camp, I want to show that it is very doable!

Northumberland, England’s northernmost county, is the perfect playground for any outdoor enthusiast. Known for its dramatic landscapes, it encompasses the rolling Cheviot Hills, vast stretches of unspoiled moorland, and the iconic Hadrian’s Wall. Northumberland’s coastline, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, boasts pristine beaches and rugged cliffs. The county is also home to the stunning Northumberland National Park, offering some of the UK’s darkest skies for stargazing enthusiasts.

In this guide, I’ll reveal how to make the most of this endless countryside by taking part in my favourite outdoor activity – wild camping. Revealing the best spots, what to pack and top tips to make your adventure a success.

If you are new to wild camping or unfamiliar with the Leave no Trace etiquette, then start by reading my broader Wild Camping UK guide first.

If you are planning a bivvy camp (ditching the tent and being fully in the open), then you’ll find my bivvy wild camp guide helpful.

Wild camping northumberland

Before we begin…

Thanks for reading my blog!

I’m Bex Band. I’m a full-time UK adventurer, bestselling author, and founder of the women’s adventure community Love Her Wild. I never used to be outdoorsy, but that all changed when, in my late 20’s, I decided, on a whim, to hike a 1000km trail.

Since then, I’ve been addicted to going on adventures and have made it my mission to make getting outdoors as easy as possible. In the video below, I take my 3-year-old on a bivvy adventure to a nearby forest.

Watching this short film will give you a sense of how you go about finding a wild camping spot. We managed it with a toddler in tow and just a short drive from where we live!

For ongoing tips and inspiration on camping and adventure, make sure you follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Is wild camping in Northumberland legal?

Wild camping in the UK carries its own set of rules. It’s not outright legal without permission from landowners. Getting permission is difficult as it’s hard to work out who the landowners are and how to contact them.

Generally, wild camping by respectful campers is tolerated. Adopting a considerate and low-profile approach to camping usually means your presence remains undetected.

Since trespassing falls under civil, not criminal law, the risk of serious legal repercussions for wild camping is minimal.

Embracing a considerate camping ethos involves adhering to a “leave no trace” philosophy. This practice includes….

  • pitching your tent as night falls and breaking camp at dawn
  • pitch away from paths and houses
  • never lighting fires
  • never damaging or disrupting the plants or wildlife
  • following correct toilet practices
  • on the off chance you’re approached by a landowner, complying with their request to move on gracefully.

My own adventures have taken me wild camping across England, navigating both the rural tranquillity of the countryside and the unexpected wilderness of urban areas. Despite the many nights spent under open skies, I’ve never been asked to move on!

northumberland Wild camping bivvy

Best places to Wild Camp in Northumberland

The options for wild camping spots in Northumberland are endless. Ultimately, you are looking for a quiet spot in nature, away from houses, where you won’t be easily seen. This can be found in any nearby woods, grassy field or hill.

The examples below are intended to give you an idea of the sort of spaces that are suitable for wild camping spots. Use them as a rough guide, but try and embrace the challenge of finding your own wild camping spot, as that’s all part of the fun.

1. Northumberland National Park

Northumberland National Park is known for its dark skies status – giving it an extra special appeal to wild campers. If you camp here, star gazing at night is a must! On a clear night, you’ll be rewarded with epic views of the Milky Way.

The opportunities for wild camping in Northumberland National Park are pretty endless. One suggestion is to start in the small village of Harbottle. From here, head to The Drake Stone:

Around The Drake Stone, you’ll find several areas of flat grassy space that would make a good spot for pitching a small discreet tent.

If you want to continue further into the Northumberland Moors, then continue hiking towards the Cheviot Hills. You’ll pass lots of suitable places along the way. This video is of friends finding a nice spot at the foot of the Cheviot Hills:

Alternatively, on the other side of the National Park, you’ll find Sills and the Roman Marching Champ. The area looks like this:

Follow the track away from the road into the grassy fields. Look out for a flat section that would be ideal for wild camping. You’ll want to avoid ditches that may get wet and boggy in wet weather.

2. The Pennine Way

Long-distance trails are always a good go-to when looking for a wild camping adventure. Northumberland has two trails: Hadrian’s Wall Path and The Pennine Way.

Because of its historical significance, and much of the wall remains hidden, wild camping is not permitted on the Hadrian’s Wall Path.

However, on the Pennine Way, it’s largely tolerated, and there have been many hikers who have walked the full 268-mile trail, wild camping the whole way. Picking a section to combine a walk and wild camp makes a great little adventure. Note that some parts of the trail are quite boggy, so it’s good to start searching for a suitable space about an hour before you intend to spot.

For inspiration and more suggestions on where to wild camp on the Pennine Way, check out this helpful blog post.

3. Druridge Bay

One of my favourite Northumberland wild camping spots is along Druidge Bay. Backed by grasslands & dunes, this stunning bay features a sandy beach, tidal pools and plenty of wildlife.

The bay is 7 miles long, so you can take your pick. I’d suggest walking along the beach until you are a decent distance from any car parks and then finding a space to pitch your tent back away from the sea (you don’t want to be caught out by the tide) on the grassy verges or in amongst the dunes.

Brave campers can kick-start their day with a dip in the sea!

4. Bewick Moor: Blawearie

The remnants of the farm – now in ruins – and the breathtaking views of the Cheviot Hills, make Blawearie a unique overnight stay for wild campers. take one of the trails that lead you onto Bewick Moor and follow the track until you reach Blawearie.

Here’s a suggested walking route you could follow.

There is an area nearby with nicely spaced out trees that work well for wild camping. Or you can pick any of the wide open moorland. In this video of a guy who wild camped at Blawearie, you’ll note he made the wise decision to re-pitch his tent away from the trees because the wind picked up:

5. Kielder Water

Kielder Water, nestled within the vast expanse of Kielder Forest in Northumberland, is the largest man-made lake in Northern Europe. Its expansive waters are fringed by coniferous forests, creating a beautiful setting. The area around Kielder Water is a haven for wildlife, including the elusive osprey, so keep your eyes peeled.

For those looking to wild camp, the area around Bakethin Nature Reserve, located at the northern end of Kielder Water, provides an excellent spot. This is a less frequented part of the reservoir so you can remain undetected.

6. Hen Hole

Hen Hole, in the Chevoit Hills, is a must for any visitor. This rugged ravine, carved by ancient glacial flows, is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, steep cliffs, and cascading waterfalls, making it a magnet for hikers and nature enthusiasts seeking solitude and unspoiled landscapes.

Park your car at Heathpool and wark up the valley into the Hen Hole. Make sure to take in the waterfall en route. There’s a couple of flat spots near the stream making for a comfortable overnight camp with a very dramatic view! Avoid camping here in heavy rain due to risk of flooding.

Alternatively, head to the other side and pitch at the base of Bizzel Crags.

For inspiration, check out this short video:

7. Ross Hill

Offering sweeping, uninterrupted views and a guaranteed epic sunrise – Ross Hill is a nice, easy choice for anyone looking for a wild camping Northumberland adventure.

Simply head to the top of the hill and take your pick. You can do what these guys did and use the stone wall to provide a bit of extra shelter (especially handy on a windy night). You might even get the luxury of a bench:

8. Thrunton Wood

If you like the idea of wild camping in the forest, then head to Thruton Wood. As with any woodland wild camp, you want to give yourself plenty of time to find that perfect flat space in between trees.

Avoid camping here in windy weather due to the risk of branches falling:

9. Bamburgh

Another great option, if you like the idea of camping to the sound of crashing waves, is Budle Bay.

Budle Bay is a vast, tranquil expanse of mudflats and salt marshes teeming with birdlife, particularly during the migration seasons. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers breathtaking views of the North Sea and the distant Lindisfarne Castle, making it a picturesque spot for wild camping.

While wild camping is not officially sanctioned along the sensitive habitats of Budle Bay to protect its unique ecosystem and bird populations, nearby areas, such as the outskirts of Bamburgh, offer alternative spots. Here, campers can find themselves a respectful distance from the bay, enjoying the area’s serenity under the vast, starry skies, with the soothing sounds of the sea in the background.

Wild camping northumberland beach

How about wild camping in a bothy?

Offering an alternative wild camping experience, why not try overnighting in a bothy?

Bothies, often found in remote areas of the UK, offer basic shelter to hikers and adventurers, allowing for a unique camping experience. They are simple structures, usually with a few basic beds (without mattresses) inside. They are free to use.

Spithope Bothy is a charming, secluded shelter located within the enchanting landscapes of the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland National Park. This bothy, maintained by volunteers, provides a basic but essential haven.

Most nights, the bothy will lay empty, but as you never know how many will be using the bothy on any given night, it’s worth taking a tent with you. You can also pitch your tent outside and use the facilities in the bothy.

Feeling Nervous?

It’s really normal to feel nervous when wild camping. Even though I’ve been doing it for years, I still often feel uncomfortable in the first couple of hours after pitching my tent in the wild. Once you settle into the space, though, all those worries melt away.

Don’t let nerves hold you back from giving wild camping a go. The best way to make yourself accountable is to go with a friend. If you don’t have friends fun/crazy enough to join you, then you can find buddies on adventure Facebook groups like Love Her Wild (women only) and the Yes Tribe.

Another idea is to first try your hand at ‘nearly wild camping’. Using campsites with very basic facilities gives you the feeling of wild camping without the worry of not having permission. This can be a good stepping stone to a ‘proper’ wild camp. Find suitable sites on the Nearly Wild Camping website.

Helpful Resources for your Northumberland Wild Camping Adventure

There are two books any keen wild camper should get their hands on:

  • Britain’s Best Small Hill’s – advice and recommendations for great wild camping spots across the UK
  • Microadvenutres – an inspiration guide from adventurer Alastair Humphreys, full of top tips and ideas for getting outdoors

Wild camping, you are exposed to the elements. It’s vital to know the weather forecast. In strong winds, avoid exposed spaces and camping under trees as branches could fall. In wet weather, make sure you aren’t pitched low or somewhere that could flood.

The Met Office is the best place to check the forecast before you head off.

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.

Best Gear for Wild Camping

I’ve spent many years reviewing and trying out different gear and brands. Here are my top recommendations for a wild camping Northumberland adventure:

  • Tent: The MSR Hubba Hubba (2 person or 1 person) , available in both two-person and one-person sizes, stands as a top-tier choice for wilderness camping. For a more budget-friendly option, the Vango Nevis 200 offers affordability and resilience against storms. For those contemplating a bivvy camp, the Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag is an excellent choice due to its lightweight and reduced condensation.
  • Roll Mat: The Thermarest Neo Air provides luxury; alternatively, a basic roll mat suffices for a night if you’re aiming to economize.
  • Sleeping Bag: Opt for the Tundra Pure and Dry 0 for its warmth and lightweight; a simpler and less expensive Vango sleeping bag suffices for summer use.
  • Other essential gear for wilderness camping:
    • Headtorch: Choose the Petzl Tikkina or simply use your phone’s torch.
    • Water Bottle
    • Food and Snacks
    • Rucksack: The Osprey Eja 38 is perfectly sized for wilderness camping.
    • Phone: Essential for safety.
    • Anker Power Bank: A backup charger for your phone.
Best wild camping spots in Northumberland

Good luck Wild Camping in Northumberland!

I hope you found this Wild Camping Northumberland guide helpful. For more adventure inspiration and advice, follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel.

I give all my advice for free on my website. If you want to say thanks, you can buy me a coffee!

Please leave a comment below if you have any questions. And do pop back to let me know how you get on – perhaps sharing your spot and insights for other readers.

Good luck with your stealth camp 🙂

Bex Band

Bex Band

Welcome to my blog! I'm an award-winning adventurer, bestselling author and founder of Love Her Wild. My work and adventures have featured in BBC, The Guardian and Condé Nast. I love nothing more than travelling and getting outdoors on solo and family adventures. Using my years of experience, I provide advice and inspiration on various topics, including wild camping, charity challenges, glamping and travel itineraries.

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