The Unwelcome Rise of Anti-Social, Lazy, Littering “Covid Campers”

Since lockdown lifted in England and other parts of the UK I’ve been following leisure industry news, and particularly news about wild camping closely and have been dismayed by the increasing number of anti-social campers exhibiting bad behaviour and leaving their rubbish behind.

Recently a campsite in the Lake District has made the decision to close following anti-social behaviour and of course we’re all aware of the fact that wild camping has been temporarily banned on Dartmoor, the only place in England where it was legal to wild camp.

Following a dramatic increase in fly-camping, we are taking action to protect public health, wildlife and nature.

From Friday 7th August there will be a temporary ban on camping at Bellever for 27 days. For more information: #Dartmoor #Bellever

— DartmoorNationalPark (@dartmoornpa) August 5, 2020

Increased anti-social behaviour

Both the National Parks Authority and the National Trust have seen a dramatic increase in littering at beauty spots since lockdown was lifted. Campsite booking sites have seen huge increases in demand, tent sales in the UK are thought to be up by 123% and here at Camping with Style, we’ve seen an increase in traffic of 207.13% this month compared to last August.

Camping is more popular than ever, but it would seem that some new campers are exhibiting anti-social behaviour.

I’m always delighted to turn more people on to camping and to help them do it in a way that ensures they’ll love it and keep coming back for more, but I hate the thought of my blog potentially encouraging people who don’t care about the environment to go camping.

There is never an excuse for littering. If you arrive at a campsite or a beauty spot and take something with you, then you can take it back.

Kevin Bishop from Dartmoor National Park Authority had this to say on the matter:

We, alongside other National Parks and countryside organisations, are appalled and concerned at the actions of the disrespectful few; those who are treating the countryside like a toilet or a rubbish dump.

There is simply no excuse and I have nothing but contempt for people who litter and create not only an eyesore in the natural environment but who put wildlife at risk in doing so.

I’m not one for elitist attitudes and I truly believe that the outdoors is for everyone – to a point. If you can’t show even the most basic level of respect for the great outdoors however, do you really deserve to have access to it?

It’s not about education, it’s about common sense

Anti-social camping and “fly camping” as opposed to true wild camping, is not about education either. As toddlers we learn that tidying up after ourselves is good and that littering is not. Obviously littering is a bad thing to do, so why do people do it, especially in beautiful locations?

They do it because they are lazy and simply don’t care, and if they don’t care about the natural environment, then what on earth are they doing camping in the first place?

It would appear that camping has attracted a high volume of new participants, many of whom, clearly hold the outdoors in utter contempt.

After lockdown, we couldn’t wait to spend a night away from home and explore further than our home towns, and with foreign travel off the cards for many this year as a direct result of Coivd-19, it would appear that camping has attracted a high volume of new participants, many of whom, clearly hold the outdoors in utter contempt and are only camping because they can’t do what they’d normally do.

I can only speculate, but it looks to me like those that would usually book a cheap package deal to somewhere like Magaluf, where their loutish behaviour is normalised and tolerated, are amongst the new “Covid Campers” causing mayhem – ruining the experience for other campers and leaving behind them a sea of litter.

I make no apologies for saying that loutish behaviour is neither tolerated nor welcome in the great outdoors and I urge fellow responsible campers to call out such behaviour, reporting littering and bad behaviour to site wardens when necessary.

Camping littering

Leave no trace

The countryside code and leave no trace philosophy are pretty basic concepts and it really doesn’t take a genius to understand that leave no trace applies to all outdoor spaces, whether wild camping in the hills or pitched up a campsite.

I don’t for one moment think that
the cheapness or ease in availability of camping gear is to blame for littering
and the leaving behind of camping gear, nor do I believe lack of education is
to blame.

It’s simply down to respect and common sense and sadly, “Covid Campers” and “Fly Campers” seem to be lacking in both departments.

The No-Nonsense Idiots Guide to Camping Etiquette

  1. Canvas is thin and noise carries. Late at night and early in the morning, shut up.
  2. If you take it with you, either take it back home with you, or bin it.
  3. After you take your tent down and pack up, walk around and make a visual inspection of your pitch. If there’s anything at all, even a tissue or banana peel that you’ve left behind, pick it up, bin it and leave no trace.
  4. Wild camping is NOT legal anywhere in England or Wales without the express permission of the landowner, apart from in areas of Dartmoor.
  5. Even in areas where wild camping is legal, there are still rules to adhere to, which include not pitching close to a road, no groups, using small unobtrusive tents and leaving nothing behind.
  6. Wild camping means taking minimal kit, arriving late and leaving early having packed away everything you took with you, to minimise your impact on the environment and other people who might want to enjoy it.
  7. Be respectful of other people no matter where you’re camping. Most campers want peace and quiet, not loud music and drunken louts yelling at 2am, dogs barking all day long or kids screaming and shouting at 7am.
  8. Choose a campsite that is right for you. If you want to be rowdy and camp in a group, book a campsite that welcomes groups and has lax noise rules, or book the rally field in a campsite.
  9. Don’t lie to campsite owners about group bookings. Many will exercise their right to ask you to leave if you’re in breach of their noise rules.
  10. Don’t use disposable barbecues on the ground. They can cause a lot of damage and please consider not using them at all.
  11. Many campsites do not allow barbecues or campfires. Check the campsite rules first to be sure.
  12. Don’t be surprised if your loutish behaviour is treated with hostility by other campers and isn’t tolerated by the campsite who are well within their rights to ask you to leave.
  13. Don’t be a dick. It’s really not that difficult.

Where to next?

Shell Robshaw-Bryan Shell loves all things travel and outdoors and is a nature-loving, comfy-camping kinda girl. Shell started the Camping with Style blog after a serious snowboarding accident which left her with a broken back. Despite this she used the outdoors and healing power of nature to aid her recovery and she continues to spend time outdoors whenever she can.

From open water swimming, snowboarding and kayaking to hill walks and meditation, Shell shares her travels and microadventures here on the blog and in various publications she’s written for, Shell has a particular interest in promoting wellbeing and the many benefits of nature therapy.

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