Naked Hiking

There is an unmistakable primal appeal to being out in the great outdoors, enjoying the beautiful vistas and the sweeping panorama, away from the hustle and bustle of city life and at one with nature.  That sense of peace and oneness with the natural world is even more apparent when you are naked.

For many naturists, naturism is about embracing the natural world.  For them it is not just about getting an all over tan.  For people who love the ‘nature’ in naturism there are few things better than going out for a walk in the countryside naked.  It is exhilarating, liberating, uplifting and if you are in England or Wales (sadly not Scotland) it is also completely legal.

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I recently joined a group of friends in going for a naked walk in the Brecon Beacons, up to the top of Pen y Fan, the highest point in South Wales.  It was a sweltering hot day, so we were all glad to strip off.  Along the top ridge there was a gentle breeze and the walk was delightful.  We encountered several groups of hikers and walkers.  The first to meet us remarked “Nice day for it.” an chatted with us for a bit.  A group of younger men greeted us with a cheerful “Good effort lads.”  At the peak of Pen y fan a couple of hikers suggested to their shirtless friend that he should join us, as he was already half naked.  There were a few smirks and second glances, some others may not have approved, but there were none who raised any objection.

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One thing I will say is make sure to use  sun screen.  You may find yourself getting unusual tan lines from your backpack.  It is also very easy to rub off the sunscreen if you are repeatedly removing your pack to get water etc, so be sure to rub a bit more on your shoulders from time to time.

Where to walk:  In theory you can walk naked anywhere in the UK, however if you want to avoid confrontations it is better to stick to more remote areas.  Nudity in the UK is only illegal if there is the intent to cause distress, although the general public may not know this.  By going to a remote area you are minimising the amount of people who see you and thus clearly making an attempt to avoid causing undue distress.  After all, most people don’t want to end up like Stephen Gough.  Last year Nigel Keer was arrested in Yorkshire by an off duty policeman for hiking naked and was fined, however the charges against him were overturned.  Because it was in open countryside in broad daylight the judge decided there was clearly no intent to cause alarm and that the policeman had overreacted.

The advantage of more remote areas is that the people who visit them tend to be more adventurous.  They are far less likely to be shocked by the sight of a few naked people.  In a recent trip in the Brecon Beacons we encountered several groups of walkers an in general their attitude towards us was quite positive.  However, in accessible rural areas near where people live you are likely to met local dog walkers etc, who can be less tolerant.  If local people routinely go to that area they are more likely to be upset by encountering any group using it in a way that they object to, whether it be for biking, partying or nude hiking.  Despite it being legal to be naked in England and Wales some naturist hiking groups encourage you to cover up when encountering other walkers.

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If you check out your local area online you will probably find lots of information on good areas for walking.  Alternately just find yourself an OS map and a compass, look for a large open area and plan your own route.  If you go cross country, rather than on footpaths it usually a lot quieter and often even more beautiful.  If you want to avoid meeting too many people, it is also better to go during a week day than at the weekend.

Go in a group:  For some reason nudity is more socially acceptable in larger groups.  If you are on your own people who see you are far more likely to question your motives.  If you are with a group of other nudists people will accept that you are just innocently enjoying the great outdoors.  Even if you are naked with clothed friends people might think you are bare for a dare but are unlikely to feel threatened by you.

The other reason to go in a group is for safety.  It is not a good idea for anyone, clothed or not, to go hiking alone in remote areas.  You will probably be fine, but if anything happens and you are in the middle of nowhere you will need someone to stay with you and at least one other person (preferably more for the same safety reasons) to go for help.

Naked Hiking Groups:  There are naked hiking and rambling groups in England and Wales.  One of the most publicised is the Singles Outdoor club in Southern England (which is open to anyone, whether single or not)
http://www.soc-uk.info/walks.html

They have regular nude walks every couple of weeks from April to the start of October.   I’ve only joined up with them once, but they are a lovely group of people.  There may be other groups like this in other parts of the country, but I don’t yet know them.

There is a group called the Somerset Strolling Bears, but I have had no contact with them.

http://somersetstrollingbears.blogspot.co.uk/

There are also plenty of online resources targeted at naked hiking.

This discussion board is based in America and focuses on nude hiking in America, but also deals with other countries.

http://www.hikingnaked.com/

In France APNEL promote and organise some large naturist hikes

http://www.apnel.fr/

There is a large list of further naked hiking links on the Naktiv site, which may well provide useful and interesting:

http://www.naktiv.net/hiking.html

The group I went out walking with met through the Cardiff naked bike ride.  It is not really a naturist hiking group, as much as a group of people with a common interest in nude activities. They currently have no further plans for naked hikes this year, but are planning to arrange some more next year.

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Walking nude in the countryside with friends is such a pleasant, happy and innocent way to spend a summer’s day that it deserves to be more widely practiced and accepted as a reasonable thing to do.

About Colin H

Ancient historian specialising in Greco-Roman siegecraft who also does 11th century reenactment. I am also a keen dancer and a nudist.
This entry was posted in Nudism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Naked Hiking

  1. Scott H. says:

    Thorough and well written article Colin. Walking alone is damn easy to arrange and quite therapeutic but for me it certainly means shorts on if anyone is approaching. I’ll also take that precaution at a blind bend – there’s potential for some to be a little perturbed at a naked person in the distance but if one almost literally bumps into one then it’s going to freak out quite a lot of people.

  2. Gerry says:

    Great report! Hope it encourages more people to get out into the countryside and explore this wonderful country as nature intended.

  3. Nicky says:

    I do it all the time and it feels very natural to hike nude

  4. John P says:

    This is a well-written article that nevertheless contains a serious error: it says “Nudity in the UK is only illegal if there is the intent to cause distress”.

    This would be true if the Public Order Act’s last section were “Section 4A – Intentional harassment, alarm or distress”. Unfortunately the Act also contains “Section 5 – Harassment, alarm or distress”, and it’s that part which has led to various prosecutions, including several times against Steve Gough (though he is currently in prison for breaching an Anti-Social Behaviour Order, which is another issue).

    Section 5 says:
    “(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he:
    (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
    (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,
    within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.

    This offence has the following statutory defences:
    (a) The defendant had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be alarmed or distressed by his action.
    (b) The defendant was in a dwelling and had no reason to believe that his behaviour would be seen or heard by any person outside any dwelling.
    (c) The conduct was reasonable.”

    Note that there is no requirement for any harassment, alarm or distress to occur deliberately! In fact it doesn’t need to occur at all–it merely needs to be “likely”. It’s a controversial part of the law, and naturists are not the only people to have protested againt it. Some convictions under Section 5 have been overturned, as with Nigel Keer, but others, such as Richard Collins’ most recent legal difficulty, have been sustained. Sad to say, simply meaning no harm is not enough to keep a person out of trouble.

    • Colin H says:

      The section 5 statutory defences seems far too vague. The question of what is ‘reasonable’ behaviour is likely to keep lawyers busy for ages.
      Going for a naked walk in the country on a hot day seems perfectly reasonable, however I can see why it is this section that is used to trip up people who push the limits of acceptable behaviour.
      Personally I think that section 5 is not appropriate for prosecuting nudist activity, as it is not threatening, abusive or insulting. It is possible that it might cause alarm or distress, but the law requires that it be through threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour, language or display. Clearly some Judges would disagree.
      There is also the ‘disorderly behaviour’ section, but if cycling and/or walking could be regarded as disorderly then everyone should be getting arrested.

      The law on antisocial behaviour is a bit vague and seems to be open to abuse. People who conduct themselves in a respectful, orderly manner in quiet areas that are out of the way have the law on their side, but if asked by a policeman to cover yourself, you should do so. The danger is for those who want to push the limits of acceptable behaviour, as those limits are not well defined and vary based on the opinion of the individuals involved.

  5. Pingback: Naked Hiking | The Naked Truth

  6. The Activist says:

    Reblogged this on FreewillUK.

    • The Activist says:

      Hope you don’t mind me reblogging this excellent post, I’ve added links to the post and your blog with it

      • Colin H says:

        Of course I don’t mind. You are most welcome. I’m glad you found it interesting.

  7. The Activist says:

    Reblogged this on The Naked Truth.

  8. Pingback: ” Naked Hiking “ | The Naked Truth

  9. sassycoupleok says:

    Great post!! Love hiking nude anytime that I can. Definitely more one with nature when you do so. Loved the pics contained here as well.

  10. Darn! Was going to add this to our ‘Naked Hiking’ section but found that we already had! Well, it’s there, anyway. One of the problems with a collaboratory website; one doesn’t know what the other is doing!

    Good article! Here’s our page on naked hiking for thiose interested: http://www.all-nudist.com/naked-hiking.html#.UlsMJ1BvO_g

  11. Hello!

    Random email here! I am a development TV producer at Crybaby Media in NYC always on the hunt for new shows and larger than life characters!

    Currently I am developing a show on thru hiking! We want to hear your story. Looking for the most intense thru hikers who wouldn’t mind breaking records this up coming season. However you are hiking…. you are doing it in a very unique way. The hikers we are looking for – hike alone, know how to survive in the woods, travel light, and are determined to finish in a certain amount of time. So wether it’s the Appalachian Trail your hiking, the Great Divide or the 100 other long distance hikes in the U.S. – we want to hear your story and approach!

    If this is you OR you know would would be perfect – please call or email anytime! Look forward to telling your more about the project!

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