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Dartmoor wild camping compromise branded ‘unsustainable’

The deal, which allows people to camp freely on parts of Dartmoor, has been branded unsustainable.

A High Court ruling in January, brought by Alexander Darwall of the Blachford Estate, took away the right to wild camp – also known as back camping – on the moor following pressure from one of the landowners, but Dartmoor National Park quickly found a compromise.

This has meant changes to the areas available for camping and more changes are expected.

In addition, the national park will pay landowners for camping permits for three years, although landowners can opt out at any time in the first 12 months.

Despite the deal, a fundraising page for the appeal against the wild camping ban has raised more than £36,000. She is supported by Torridge Council councilor Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin (Liberal Democrat, Great Torrington), who last month successfully called on many of her fellow councilors to back the appeal and is concerned about the deal that is currently in place.

“There’s a huge difference between a real deal and a tolerable deal,” she said. “I understand that landowners are now being paid to allow wild camping and I just don’t see how that is sustainable. Where does this money come from?

“The agreement can be revoked at any time and I fear that without restoring the right to wild camp on Dartmoor, the camping area is slowly shrinking and future generations will be affected forever.

“I’m really afraid of youth groups and school groups. I want my children and hopefully future grandchildren to have the same opportunities I had to camp freely on the heath. It teaches so many invaluable life skills and the Ten Tors event is something we can’t risk losing.”

The Dartmoor Preservation Association warns that the national park’s deal with landowners is only a temporary solution, it wants to see the right to wild camp returned.

“We were pleased with the speed with which Dartmoor National Park Authority acted to secure an agreement with landowners following the decision, it was important to do so to ensure access to backpacking does not disappear completely,” a spokesperson said.

“This has kept the backpacker map small for the time being and secured the future of organized events like Ten Tors and the DofE which are so vital to giving young people the opportunity to experience and love Dartmoor as so many of them have. in front of them.

“However, this solution only works as a precautionary measure. We see the appeal as the only right way to ensure that backpacking in its truest form can continue.

“A rights-based approach and a permissive approach are two completely different things. The right to camp in a national park should be inalienable and not subject to the changing whims of landowners. This is why we are acting as the official focal point for donations to help DNPA fund the appeal.”

The Blachford Estate did not respond to a request for comment.

More information on areas where wild camping is still permitted by landowners is at

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