City Centre Camping

city centre campingYou may be used to camping in the wilderness, exposed to the harsh, unrelenting bite of Mother Nature, but have you ever thought about setting up camp in the middle of London? London nights are perhaps not as harsh as Alaskan nights, but it could be the most unique camping experience of your life.

Pitching up in Hyde Park, within a stone’s throw of the grandiose Buckingham Palace sounds like a pretty cool idea – but is it practical and, most importantly, is it legal?

The trespassing laws are not as strict in England as they are in the States, i.e. you won’t get immediately handcuffed for it, but it is still frowned upon. In a perfect world, we would be able to camp on any spot of land that we thought looked even remotely comfortable, but, unfortunately,it’s not that simple.

Most National Parks in England allow a certain amount of wild camping, but, even if it is forbidden in a certain area, it is unlikely that you will get more than the well-built farmer asking you to move along if he finds you (courteous ignorance goes a long way in these situations). In a city centre, though, the chances of being oustedwill shoot through your canvas roof. You’ll stick out like a tent pitched in the middle of a metropolitan wilderness.

However, I do seem to recall pictures of many a happy camper pitched beside Westminster Abbey in the not-so-distant past. There was a wedding going on, I think, or something along those lines. Forgive me for my ignorance if there was some kind of temporary law established for those couple of weeks, but if they were allowed to camp out on the street, then why can’t you camp out in the park?

A little longer ago – 2007, in fact – a group of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants were camping their nights away in the hidden corners of Hyde Park while they looked for work. The Daily Mail quoted one of them as saying: “If you find a hidden area, then you can stay for days in your tent and you will not get caught.”

Well, there you have it; camp away, as long as you’re well hidden!I don’t know for how long they were actually there, but the park manager later insisted that the Royal Parks Police would not tolerate such encampments… perhaps it’s not such a good idea then.

You probably would be breaking some kind of law and you would get into some kind of trouble, but it’s an intriguing thought and an intriguing challenge at that. Camp in the city at your own risk, but, if you get caught, remember:you didn’t get the idea from me!

Image credit: Europe a la Carte