Ethics of Wild Camping: Footnote to Part Two


Its been over a week now since I got back from…SCOTLAND!…and my feet are doing very nicely. The hard supplementary sole is now lifting away, as have three toenails, accompanied by a constant itch. I’m still blown away that there’s no pain in the hip. Every day out there it kept me loving it despite the rain, the marshes, the deviant routes. I just reveled in the reality of being able to keep on going, alone. So it looks as though I’m not going to need another steroid injection just yet; maybe never given the tests I’ve put the last one under.

Plans for Part Three are underway. April. In the meantime there’s plenty to keep me occupied. Part Three is the big one – all the way to Inverie, Knoydart; all 289 miles. I’ll need a lot more pemmican, sauerkraut and dried fruit, and this time I’ll add nuts and seeds (pulverized like the fruit to make space). The whiskey store will obviously also need adjustment!

It’s occurred to me that the rest of the journey is going to be different from a ‘political’ point of view. In Scotland you have the right to wild camp, enshrined in law, whereas in England the situation is more complex, in fact it can be quite ambiguous. It’s a shame, because the last thing you want to be doing when you’re on your last legs, and searching for a suitable spot to lay your head, is worry about the nuances of criminal and civil law. I try to follow the spirit of the law, which means no damage, no disturbance of animal and plant life and leaving so sign of having been there. I usually take away rubbish left by others, as well as my own of course, as recompense for my stay. My philosophy is one of personal responsibility, and includes the caveat that not all laws are good ones, nor enforceable in practice, and just because something is legal doesn’t make it automatically right nor sensible.

Beyond issues about land ownership there are the ones about belonging in nature. In my view nature cannot belong to individuals, and as animals we have a right to meet our basic needs. So when I can’t move any further my first priority is to sit down somewhere safe and rest. That’s what I do. The natural environment is what our bodies understand – the context of our evolution – and too many people have been alienated from the experience of living in an unmediated relationship with nature. I like to be discreet, I hate destruction and pollution, and I love the natural environment. With these attitudes I feel responsible for myself outdoors, and I don’t worry about what people might want to do with the law, such as it is.


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