High Court Judgment Backpack Camping

High Court Judgment Backpack Camping

The High Court judgment

The High Court declared on 13 January 2023 in the case of Darwall vs Dartmoor National Park Authority that Section 10(1) of the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 does not confer on the public any right to pitch tents or otherwise make camp overnight on the Dartmoor Commons.

This judgement means permission needs to be sought from the landowner before you backpack camp on Dartmoor.


We believe the High Court judgment raises important issues of public interest that are central to the purpose of our National Parks. For this reason, the Authority has determined to seek permission to appeal the judgment.

This does not automatically mean we have a right to appeal. The Court of Appeal will decide to grant permission or refuse permission to appeal. This decision could take up to six months from when we filed our appeal notice in February.

Whilst we await determination of the application to appeal, and any subsequent appeal, we remain committed to working in partnership with landowners and other partners to ensure a permissive backpack camping system is successful.

Fundraising for legal costs

We would like to thank everyone for all the offers of support to help with legal costs.

The Dartmoor Preservation Association will act as the focus for fundraising to support the legal costs for the appeal and have set up a Just Giving page to help us with this. If you’d like to help us, please click on the link below.

Permissive agreements

We are very grateful to The Dartmoor Commons Owners’ Association who have worked quicky with us to agree permissive arrangements so backpack camping on some parts of the Dartmoor Commons can continue.

The new system enables people to continue backpack camping on identified common land without needing to secure landowner permission first or pay a fee. It has also provided much-needed reassurance to the schools and young people preparing for Ten Tors/Duke of Edinburgh.

A recent report to Authority contains more details of how that system will work. It involves landowners entering into a legal agreement with DNPA with up to £300 paid annually to landowners who opt-in.

The fee acts as a ‘seal’ for the agreement. Landowners are able to retain the fee, but several have already indicated that they may donate it back to the National Park via the Donate for Dartmoor fund. We welcome this because Donate for Dartmoor supports the vital conservation work that keeps Dartmoor special for everyone.

Areas that form part of this agreement can be found on our camping pages. People planning to backpack camp should check the map before they head off and leave no trace of their visit.