Dartmoor Rejoices: Wild Camping Allowed Again as Appeals Court Upholds Ancient Tradition
Greetings fellow adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts! We have thrilling news to share that will surely bring a smile to every nature lover's face. The Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) has won a resounding victory in their appeal against the recent court ruling that had temporarily outlawed wild camping on Dartmoor. So, get ready to pack your backpacks and embrace the beauty of this untouched wilderness, as the age-old tradition of wild camping is officially reinstated!
A brief history lesson sets the stage for this heartening tale. Camping had long been assumed to be permissible under the Dartmoor Commons Act since 1985, making it the only place in England where you could camp freely without needing a landowner's permission. But, in January, a ruling shook the foundation of this cherished tradition, questioning whether wild camping truly qualified as open-air recreation.
In the courtroom, legal minds debated the essence of wild camping. Was it merely a form of sleep or, in fact, a genuine outdoor recreational activity? The case pitted the landowner, Alexander Darwall, against the DNPA and Open Spaces Society. Darwall's lawyers argued that camping was merely sleeping and not a legitimate activity, while the defense passionately presented backpack camping as an ancient tradition and a popular pastime on Dartmoor.
The tension escalated until the appeals court panel, consisting of esteemed judges Sir Geoffrey Vos, Lord Justice Underhill, and Lord Justice Newey, rendered a unanimous and resounding decision. They declared that wild camping unequivocally fell under open-air recreation and thus should be embraced on Dartmoor's commons.
In his ruling, Sir Geoffrey Vos clarified that section 10 (1) of the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 indeed granted the public the right to rest or sleep on the Dartmoor commons, whether by day or night, in tents or otherwise. This meant that even a walker lying down for a rest without pitching a tent could enjoy open-air recreation. The judges further emphasized that whether campers used a tent, sleeping bag, tarpaulin, or plastic sheet to protect themselves from the elements, it didn't alter the fact that wild camping remained an open-air recreation.
This victory for the DNPA and outdoor enthusiasts marks a significant moment in the history of Dartmoor. Alexander Darwall, the hedge fund manager and owner of the Blachford estate, had been attempting to restrict wild camping on his land since 2013. However, the appeal's outcome reaffirms the importance of preserving ancient traditions and allowing everyone to enjoy the natural wonders of this stunning region.
We can all breathe a sigh of relief as the appeal court clarified that the Dartmoor Commons Act speaks of "open-air recreation" and not just a "right to roam." This crucial distinction safeguards various activities like bird-watching, landscape painting, stargazing, and, most importantly, wild camping.
The general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, Kate Ashbrook, expressed her joy at the ruling and looks forward to continuing the campaign for extending these rights even further. We stand united with her and other organizations in advocating for responsible camping practices and environmental preservation.
So, dear readers, let us embrace this wonderful news and plan our next adventure on Dartmoor's enchanting commons. The thrill of wild camping under the starlit sky, waking up to the morning chorus, and leaving no trace but fond memories is once again within our grasp. As the DNPA rejoices and we celebrate this victory, let us pledge to protect and cherish this ancient tradition for generations to come.
Happy wild camping, fellow adventurers! May Dartmoor's beauty and wonder continue to inspire and captivate us all.