Thousands protest for the right to wild camp on Dartmoor

  • Watch Claire Manning's report into the right to wild camp after the High Court this week ruled people would need a landowner's permission to camp in the National Park

Thousands of people gathered in Cornwood, Devon, yesterday (21 January) to protest over what they say is their right to wild camp on Dartmoor.

Earlier this week, the High Court ruled that people would need a landowner's permission to camp in the National Park.

Since then, an agreement has been reached between landowners Alexander and Diana Darwall and the Dartmoor National Park Authority, allowing people to wild camp in certain areas.

However, campaigners say that the right to wild camp should be protected by the government and are calling for a Right to Roam act to be put through parliament.

One woman who travelled with her family to Cornwood to take part in the demonstration told ITV News, "I think it is so important as a society we have access to these spaces that we can experience that. And particularly now, in the middle of a climate crisis, we need to be building our connections with nature, not removing those access points."

As part of the agreement the landowners will be paid an unknown sum of money by the park authority and a new interactive map will be put on the Dartmoor National ParkAuthority’s website to clearly mark where the public can wild camp without seeking individual permission.

Landowners say they are worried about the environmental impact of wild camping, especially litter that is often left behind and that's why the new agreement includes a "leave no trace" rule.

But, Right to Roam campaigners believe that wild camping on Dartmoor should not only be defended but that wild camping should also be made legal in other parts of the country too.

Traffic was gridlocked in the area as thousands of people attended the protest Credit: ITV News

Guy Shrubsole from the group says "Dartmoor National Park has been cut to the bone over the last decade. It's already struggling to field rangers. Why should it be paying landowners for something that just over a week ago was a right enjoyed freely by everyone?"

One of the thousands of protestors at the Cornwood War Memorial was Lewis Winks from The Stars are for Everyone campaign.

"The National Park has entered into a deal which has been cooked up with landowners which gives permissive access to Dartmoor but it doesn't return those rights," he said. "Access can be taken at any time and also the taxpayer is having to pay for the privilege to wild camp on Dartmoor - something people have enjoyed for generations."