Adventures in the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X Auto pickup
Last weekend I went on a little camping road trip into the Welsh hills. As an avid wild camper, I always look for hidden spots and peaceful locations off the beaten track, even when I’m booking an established campsite, and found the perfect escape at Chapel House Farm. This gorgeous little site at the foot of Hay Bluff in South Wales has just 12 pitches spread across two grassy meadows, all with fire pits and big views of the mountains. It’s the perfect place to pitch up if you want the freedom of wild camping but also want to have your car close at hand – and parking next to your tent means you can bring all the bells and whistles you need for a comfy night under canvas.
The Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X Auto truck was the perfect companion on my little adventure. Four wheel drive means the Barbarian X Auto drives effortlessly over tough, uneven terrain, perfect if you’re in the back of beyond or heading down mountain roads. The pickup bed gives tons of space for outdoor kit – I packed multiple tents, sleeping bags and even a fire pit and firewood in the back (the L200 would also be ideal for transporting climbing gear or mountain bikes). Up front, the interactive display screen is ideal for planning your camping road trip. Apple Car Play lets you connect your phone to the display, so you can access apps such as mapping for easy navigation when you’re far from busy roads.
When you’ve packed up the truck and stuck your tent in the back, it’s time to plan where to go exploring. I get asked a lot of questions about wild camping – what is it, where can you do it, how does it work?
Wild camping is sleeping in the great outdoors, away from established campsites – but it isn’t legal across much of the UK. The exception in England is Dartmoor National Park, where it’s permitted in some specific parts of the park, and some other (usually mountainous) areas where wild camping can be tolerated. The good news is that you can camp on unenclosed land in Scotland if you follow the access rights established by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 – note that Loch Lomond is one exception, as the area is subject to its own bylaws. Do some research before you go, and read online rules and advice carefully for your chosen spot. On Dartmoor, for example, ‘backpack’ or wild camping is accepted if you camp for one or two nights, stay well away from roads and houses and leave no trace of your visit, and the park authority have an interactive map where you can check where wild camping is and isn’t permitted. When wild camping you should never light campfires, and pack out all your kit when you leave.
Wild camping takes a little more planning than a campsite, but the good news is that it’s easy making traditional camping feel like a wild experience if you know how. Here are my top tips for wilder camping to make your next camping road trip feel more like a wild adventure.
How to camp on the wilder side – top tips for wilder camping
Pick a tent-only campsite. Look for campsites that only allow car camping (rather than caravans and campervans), and that have a small number of pitches. If you want to avoid any crowds, try one of these tiny campsites with room for just a few tents.
Sleep in the woods. Camping in the Forest list 15 campsites on forestry land where you can set up your tent surrounded by acres of trees – or even bring a camping hammock instead of a tent.
Try tailgate stargazing. A brilliant perk to owning a pickup truck like the Mitsubishi L200 is that you can use the pickup bed to make the perfect outdoor den to hang out in when you’re camping. Fill the pickup with blankets, pillows and fairy lights, then climb in for an evening of stargazing.
Go (nearly) wild camping. The Nearly Wild Camping Club is a network of more than 120 locations across Britain where you can camp in peaceful, secluded locations that feel wild – but without any worries about trespassing.
Try a beach campsite. Imagine zipping open your tent door to an uninterrupted view of the ocean – Cool Camping list amazing sites by the sea where you can go for a dip in salt water after a night in nature.
Have a campfire cookout. You should never light a campfire when you’re wild camping, but if you’re at a campsite where campfires are permitted, you can cook up a storm on a grill over a hot campfire. Find some of my favourite camping recipes here, or just toast marshmallows if you want to keep things simple. This is another instance where camping right by your truck is a big help for easily accessing your cooking kit and ingredients.
Go bivvy bag camping. Bivvying is the hardcore, no frills version of camping. Essentially, it’s just wrapping your sleeping bag in a waterproof bag, known as a bivouac, and sleeping out in the elements. It’s also a great way to feel a lot closer to nature – the last thing you’ll see before you shut your eyes are the stars and the first thing you see will be the sunrise, with no tent walls in between.
Go proper wild camping. Here’s my guide to how to get started if you want to sleep wild rather than at a campsite. If you’re thinking of packing up the car and heading on a wild camping adventure, Scotland is a great choice, as wild camping is legal as long as you leave no trace of your visit and respect private property. If you’re wild camping, it’s best to leave your car and hike in to the spot where you’re going to spend the night, then hike out again in the morning.