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Recalling the summer of our discount tents

Camping holidays

Recalling the summer of our discount tents

Wild camping poses real danger to the environment, says John Steele, while Judy Evans ended up sleeping in the car

Wild camping on Fan Foel in the Brecon B…

Camping holidays

Recalling the summer of our discount tents

Wild camping poses real danger to the environment, says John Steele, while Judy Evans ended up sleeping in the car

Wild camping on Fan Foel in the Brecon Beacons. Wild camping on Fan Foel in the Brecon Beacons.Photograph: James Osmond/Alamy

I do not doubt your intentions (Take frozen curry, buy a blackout tent: 16 expert tips for the perfect camping trip, 13 August) but I have grave reservations about the timing of the article in the light of what is currently happening to the UK's countryside and beaches. Local residents - who have spent much of lockdown picking up litter, putting out fires, receiving verbal abuse and watching the destruction of their local environment - would probably prefer the term "trash camping" over "wild camping". The article correctly points to the more liberal "freedom to roam" in Scotland - but the last thing we need is encouragement to extend the use of the wilds of the Highlands and islands, our woodlands and reservoirs as impromptu campsites.

It is one thing for wild places to have the occasional responsible camper; quite another for those places to be regularly and intensely used as campsites. This has been happening for several months, with devastating effects on many environments (as well as on the quality of life of local residents). The problematic behaviours are already prohibited in the fine detail of the Scottish "right to roam" act but unfortunately that detail is usually ignored.

A common mistranslation of the right is as one to camp anywhere, to light fires in woodland, to use ground adjacent to a reservoir or watercourse as a toilet, to break down fences and trees. Everybody should be encouraged to enjoy and appreciate the pleasures of "roaming". There is now a real danger to the environment that underpins that pleasure.
John Steele
Peebles, Scottish Borders

o "Everyone advises pitching your tent at home to practise". In the summer of 1970 my boyfriend and I decided to celebrate the end of our university exams by borrowing a tent and driving to north Wales from Nottingham. Arriving at a camp site as the sun started to go down, we set about pitching the tent - only to find darkness closing in and us clueless as to how to successfully put it up.

Eventually, hungry and tired, we gave up and squeezed ourselves into the small, also borrowed, car to sleep.

He, a 6ft 5in rugby player, struggled to get his legs comfortable on the back seat all night while I, at 5ft 4in, dozed fitfully in the front seat with a handbrake in my back.

The following morning we rose at first light and drove off - all the way back to Nottingham.
Judy Evans
Brighton

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