Backpack camping on Dartmoor commons

The High Court has declared there is no legal right to backpack camp on Dartmoor Commons. We have sought permission to appeal this decision.

We have secured a new permissive system to ensure people can continue to backpack camp, following the leave no trace principles.

Please see our page for more details on the permissive system, our appeal and how you can support the legal costs.

How can I go backpack camping (wild camping)on Dartmoor?

Tent with green tick next to it

We have worked with landowners on a new interactive map showing areas where you can backpack camp without needing prior approval from the landowner. You must check this before you plan your trip

Campervan with red cross next to it

No overnight stays in vehicles, campervans or motorhomes.

Search for a campsite or caravan park

Large tent with red cross next to it

No large tents or large groups camping.

Search for a campsite or caravan park

What is backpack or wild camping?

If you can carry everything you need in your backpack as part of a Dartmoor walking expedition, you can backpack camp for one or two nights in some areas of open moorland, and out of sight from roads or settlements using a ‘no impact’ approach.

Planning and preparation is essential for this type of activity. This includes having the right equipment and navigational skills to survive safely ‘well away from civilisation’, and crucially, knowing where you are allowed to camp. This is the only type of camping permitted, however it is not permitted everywhere in the National Park and so checking our camping map is essential to find out where you can go. The areas where you can backpack camp, provided you also follow the code of conduct, are shaded in purple.

Check the Interactive Camping Map

Find out how you can love moor life by following the Ranger Code

Ground nesting bird season 1 March - 31 July

Please take extra care during this time and avoid the rare bird nesting sites.

Backpack Camping Code

Following the Backpack Camping Code will help to protect Dartmoor’s fragile moorland environment. Check the Camping Map to find out where you can pitch your small tent.

Travel light

  • Use a lightweight tent and equipment that fits into a backpack you can carry
  • Staying one or two nights max as part of your longer walk or expedition

Stay out of sight

  • Small and lightweight tents which easily blend into the landscape
  • Out of sight from roads and buildings
  • There must be no more than six people in a group

Tread lightly

  • No open fires or BBQs
  • Take all litter home
  • Bury poo and used toilet paper under at least 15cm of turf (you will need to take a trowel with you)
  • Don't pollute streams or rivers
  • Avoid disturbing wildlife, particularly during lambing and bird breeding season (1 March - 31 July)

Remember Dartmoor is a beautiful and special place

If you worry about carrying your rubbish out, need a bin or a toilet ,or need more equipment and facilities to enjoy back pack camping, then this isn’t for you – please use a campsite instead!

Camping in family sized tents, as a large group, in camper vans and motor homes

Designated campsites are a must for large tents, camper vans and motor homes.

There are friendly farm campsites, rustic camping barns, isolated bunk houses and fantastic hostels, together with huts and pods where you can view Dartmoor’s dark night skies and enjoy its peace and tranquillity.

Look out for small farm campsites if you want a remote, more intimate feel with basic facilities.

Search campsites and caravan parks

Motorhomes and camper vehicles

If you plan to visit in a motorhome the vehicle size may mean some roads are off limits. Please don’t rely on satellite navigation systems to get you to your destination, but use the helpful Coach Driver and Motorhome Guide for Dartmoor map (PDF) to plan your route.

It's OK to pull into a layby to admire the view and have a cup of tea, but overnight sleeping in vehicles at the roadside or in car parks is not permitted under National Park byelaws.

Please use designated sites which accept motorhomes for your overnight stay.