The battle to save wild camping on Dartmoor


The DNPA owns 3,590 acres of the 235,700 acres that make up Dartmoor. The rest is made up of private landowners, the largest of whom are the Duchy of Cornwall, Lord Roborough’s Maristow Estate, and the National Trust. Who owns what can be confusing. In the past when I have phoned the Maristow Estate for climbing permission, no one has answered. I am just one of many thousands who exercise their right quietly, leaving no trace. 

Over the next few months, Stall Moor will be used by young people training for the Ten Tors challenge in May next year. Run by the army for the past 60 years (the MOD owns 3,343 acres of Dartmoor with additional training rights), it is the only mass-participation event of its kind in the UK; each year 2,400 young people take part.

For the past 15 years Nigel Coles has organised the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme at Torquay Girls Grammar School, as well as managing training for the Ten Tors, an integral part of which is how to wild camp responsibly, dispose of human waste, carry away litter (and often rubbish that they find).

“If Mr Darwall and his supporters wish to challenge that right to wild camp, in effect they will be jeopardising opportunities for thousands of young people to enjoy the wilderness and respond to the challenges of an outdoor team challenge and learn to respect their environment. It beggars belief that anyone would want to remove that opportunity from our young people,” says Coles, who is a member of the Right to Roam Campaign.


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