In a quiet corner of Wiltshire, there is a small campsite with a big heart.
It goes by the name of Wild Camping Dark Lane and it offers visitors the chance to experience a combination of camping and rewilding.
Traditional countryside camping, taken back to its roots.
So, what makes Dark Lane different? Two things; a genuine commitment to sustainability and a nice back story. Let us start with the back story, it’s how this place came to be.
We were met upon arrival at the campsite by owner Louise who, along with her husband Chris, own and run Dark Lane Camping. Louise told me how they’d bought the plot of land when it went up for sale because they couldn’t bear the idea of the land being developed.
This plot was more than land to them. It was where they wild camped with their own children, walked their dogs, reaped the benefits of being outdoors. It brought them so much joy, they wanted to share it. As a family, they carefully nurtured the land into an off grid, low impact, dog friendly site.
Dark Line Wild Camp is currently the only campsite in Wiltshire to be Greener Camping Club certified.
The Wild Camp Experience
Family run, low impact, sustainable. You might be wondering how all of this translates into the camping experience.
It begins upon arrival. You can park the worries of modern life at the gate and you can park your car with them. The site is car free
Should you need them, wheel barrows are provided for ferrying kit to and fro. Doesn’t work for wolfy dogs, who just look puzzled by the whole thing and would far rather trot alongside.
Think open space but limited capacity. There are just ten pitches set over almost three acres, with a maximum of four campers per pitch. This not only allows each camper the space and peace to embrace a back-to-nature experience, but also prevents too much wear and tear on the land.
The mantra here is, ‘leave no trace’.
The facilities; off grid, so no electricity. Leave the straighteners at home, pack a power bank if needed. Toilets are of the composting variety. They are clean, you use them much like any other bar the fact they don’t flush. And they absolutely don’t smell.
Running water comes from a bore hole. It’s fine to shower with and rinse off pots and pans, but best not to drink. Chris or Louise will leave you a bottle of drinking water from their own supply.
Showers are fantastic. A basic set up, but hot and powerful. Enclosed enough for privacy but semi- wild showering; I was able to look up and see green branches waving overhead. Rather lovely Faith in Nature toiletries provided by the campsite.
The wash hut, the hub of the facilities. A place to wash your pots and meet your fellow campers. There is hot water, a table and chairs if you’d like to sit for a while. You’d have time, the pace here is slow. Lovely rural views to boot.
You’ll notice an authentic wildness to the site. Rustic facilities are tucked away between trees and hedgerows. The grass between pitches is long, wildflowers unruly and abundant. There are no pesticides used here.
If not for a discreet sign on the gate, you wouldn’t even know this was a campsite.
Lack of light pollution makes this a great place for star gazing. The only light is likely to be from campfires or torches. Fire pits and wood can be provided at a small cost, or you are free to bring your own. Marshmallows and hot chocolate a definite bonus.
If you feel like a bit of a night out, the village of Wilton is just under a mile away. A picture postcard of a village and keeper of a working windmill, it’s also home to a lovely local pub, The Swan. Good food, great drinks selection and a warm welcome assured.
The Practical Stuff
Find Wild Camping Dark Lane at Dark Lane, Marlborough, SN8 3DL.
Alternatively, use what3words: candy.stun.revisits
You need to be a Greener Camping Club member to camp here, membership costs just £12 per year. Membership can be purchased at time of booking.
As mentioned, the site is car free so pack light. Essentials in my opinion: a good torch or head torch, power bank and matches or lighter if planning a fire. Camp stove and brew kit for morning coffee in the great outdoors.
Tether if camping with a dog, especially if you have a big and barky one.
The season is coming to a close for this year for all but the hardiest of campers, but if your exploring in Wiltshire in the coming year, I highly recommend this lovely little campsite.