April 14, 2023 9 min read
With the freedom to roam and camp almost anywhere, Scotland is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you're looking for a night on a sandy beach, a trek in the mountains, or a peaceful retreat by the sea, Scotland has it all. The stunning landscapes, rich wildlife, and unique culture make Scotland a must-visit destination for any camping enthusiast. From the west coast to the highlands, from the borders to the NC500, there are endless possibilities for adventure and exploration.
When planning any holidays in Scotland, there is always a bit of a dilemma; book in advance, secure your accommodation and take a chance on the weather, or just head off exploring when the weather is looking great and hope you can find somewhere good to stay. If you want the best of both worlds, flexibility and the chance to wake up to some of the best views in the world, then why not try wild camping this summer?
While in the rest of the UK, it’s illegal to camp in most areas, Scotland has the luxury of rights to roam rules allowing you to camp almost anywhere (Scotland isn’t necessarily short of camp sites, however in the high season they are often fully booked up weeks, if not months in advance). There are a few technical points we’ll talk about later but for the most part you can set up camp anywhere so long as you are 200m away from the road or village.
Skye should be on everyone's list for wild camping. The west coast holds endless dramatic terrain and vistas. One of the great things about camping on Skye (the west coast in general really) is that it caters for people wanting a night on a lush sandy beach and for folks looking to trek in the famous Cuillin mountain range or up to the Storr. While you’re there, make sure to check out the whisky distilleries Talisker and Torabhaig.
What to do:
Fairy Pools - The pools are a hotspot for wild swimmers year round. The only question is, are you brave enough to take the plunge?
Cuillin - More recommended to more experienced hikers, Cuillin is home to 12 Munros and of the best climbing in the UK.
Dunvegan Castle - You can't come to Scotland and not visit a castle. We do have over 1000 of them after all. Dunvegan Castle and Gardens is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and is the ancestral home to the MacLeod Clan.
Where to Pitch:
Coral Beach - Now this incredible coral beach is definitely worth the walk, however it comes at the end of open grazing land, home to many cows and one bull. If they are roaming, it is best to go to the north end of the beach where above the rocks awaits the most amazing pitch point.
Camasunary Bay - If you are looking for a particularly remote spot then Camasunary Bay is perfect for you. Located on the south end of the island, its nearest village is Elgol. There are a few Bothies nearby if the weather isn't playing ball, however you also get the best sunsets here.
Neist Point - This is the most popular wild camping spot on the island. Sitting at the most westerly point of the island, take in the famous cliff views and Neist Point Lighthouse.
The Trossachs is home to some of Scotland's most beautiful landscapes and is only an hour or so away from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Since 2017, seasonal bye-laws have been introduced to reduce the strain on the local environment. The result of these bye-laws mean that when camping between the months of March and September you require a permit to camp. Between October and February though you can camp without said permit. While you’re there, make sure to go wild swimming in Loch Lomond. It won’t be that cold. Promise!!
Depending on which area you choose to explore, there are a few villages that provide a great opportunity to rest up, have lunch and maybe a drink or two. Luss is often said to be the most picturesque in the area, but is also a great hub to explore from.
What to do:
Kayaking - If you are with a group, then kayaking is a fantastic way to let off steam. Just try not capsize!
Speed boat trip - Looking to get the heart rate up a bit? Hop on a speed boat explore the area in a slightly different way. The tour takes about 2 hours and isn't all full speed. You'll learn about the history of the area and be able to take in the scenery in your time too.
Water Bus - If you find yourself wanting to explore another side of Loch Lomond then you can get the Water bus from Luss pier which will take you to all major sites in the area.
Beinn Dubh - The hills that sit above Glen Straddle make for an excellent short hillwalk. The ascent up the grassy ridge rising from Luss is a delight and the views over Loch Lomond and towards the Arrochar Alps are just beautiful.
Ben Lomond - 50,000 people climb Ben Lomond every year. The hike takes in all between 4.5 to 6 hours and trust us, there's a reason so many people take on the climb. Get ready for those views!
Where to Pitch:
Rowchoish - Sitting on the northeast shoreline of the Loch, there is a small bothy here which is often used by hikers, but don't worry there is plenty of great places to pitch. It is often still a very peaceful spot, and great for stargazing.
Loch Drunkie - Besides the cracking name, Loch Drunkie site 127m above sea level and sits in the middle of some unforgettable scenery.
River Dochart (Crianlarich) - The rapid river allows water sport enthusiasts to put their skills to the test though come nighttime, offers idyllic backdrops for a great night under the stars.
The Highlands is arguably the most famous area of Scotland. With its expansive rolling hills, the highlands have what feels like endless options for a night under the canvas. There are so many parts of the highlands, however we want to highlight Aviemore. It provides a great hub that you can really go any direction from. Yes, of course you can drive but you can also get the train there from both Edinburgh and Glasgow making it great for anyone looking to escape the city for a few days. You also have a host of different activities close by to choose from!
What to do:
Loch Insh - It doesn't matter whether you're a complete beginner or seasoned pro, Loch Insh has a host of watersports for you to choose from. Everything from canoeing to windsurfing.
Landmark - Especially good if you are exploring with the family, Landmark offers waterslides, rollercoasters, rope walks and much more!
An Lochan Uaine - Also known as the green loch, stands at the centre of a great circular walk through the hills (nothing too strenuous).
Pubs - This is also something Aviemore isn't short of. Two traditional suggestions would have to be The Winking Owl and The Old Bridge Inn.
Where to Pitch:
Loch Morlich - With small beaches on its shores, Loch Morlich ables you to pitch up right next to the water. Perfect for a morning swim.
Loch Garten - Look out for Ospreys! Loch Garten is surrounded by lovely wooded areas, perfect for if you prefer to sleep in a hammock.
Loch Einaich - Not great if you're bringing a hammock but the lack of trees provides breathtaking panoramic views. The walk or cycle here can be challenging but if you are confident at trekking then it is certainly worth the effort.
The North Coast 500 has become increasingly popular over the last few years which has resulted in there not being enough campsites for the amount of people wanting to explore the route. Wild camping is the best option and is the best way to experience it in our opinion! With the populated areas of the north of Scotland so dispersed, you are never short of quiet and scenic spots to set up for the night, however here are a few that are worth keeping in mind as you meander your way through the wilderness.
Scourie, located on the north western coast of Scotland, is a remote and rugged destination that's perfect for those seeking a true wilderness camping experience. The village of Scourie is nestled amongst beautiful hills and surrounded by stunning lochs, offering spectacular views and a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. One of the highlights of camping in Scourie is the abundance of wildlife that you may encounter. The area is home to otters, seals, eagles, and red deer, among other creatures. You may even be lucky enough to spot a dolphin or a whale in the nearby waters.
Poolewe is a small village located on the west coast of Scotland, known for its stunning scenery, rich history, and unique culture. For those who love outdoor activities, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the area on foot, bike, or kayak. You can hike to the summit of Beinn Eighe, one of Scotland's most iconic mountains. If you're a water sports enthusiast, you can go kayaking on the nearby Loch Maree or try your hand at fishing. Also, the nearby Inverewe Gardens is home to a vast array of flora and fauna, including rare and endangered species. The gardens also offer a fantastic opportunity to learn about the local environment and the history of the region.
Latheronwheel Harbour is a picturesque spot located on the northeast coast of Scotland. It's a hidden gem for those who love wild camping, offering breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding landscape. There are plenty of places to pitch your tent, and you can wake up to the stunning views of the sea and the distant hills.
One of the main attractions of camping in Latheronwheel Harbour is the opportunity to explore the local area. The nearby coastline is home to an abundance of wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and seabirds. You can also hike in the nearby hills, or visit some of the local attractions, such as the historic Dunbeath Castle or the famous Whaligoe Steps.
Under the Land Reform Act, you have the right to roam and are allowed to camp on most unenclosed land in Scotland with a few key exceptions. It must be ‘unenclosed’ land, you can’t camp in people’s gardens, you can’t camp on the motorway and some areas such as Loch Lomond and the Trossachs have specific bylaws preventing camping during peak months. Other than that, you are free to explore and set up camp where you like. It’s recommended to camp at least 100m away from any roads for privacy and safety as well as to make sure you’re camping somewhere with unspoiled views. You should also camp away from buildings and historic structures.
In term of other rules, it can essentially be summed up as; make sure you respect the environment you’re camping in and leave no trace of you being there. Always take your litter with you, remove all traces of your tent pitch and of any open fire (Don't light a fire during a drought) and where possible, use a camping stove. For more info on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, Click Here.
Tent - Make sure that it’s waterproof! Sleeping bag - We would recommend ensuring you get a good quality one, especially when camping in the chillier months. Sleeping mat – you’ll want to make sure that you’re comfortable and these help insulate you from below Cooking kit (stove, pot etc) - You don't need anything complicated. Remember you'll be carrying it on your back. Fresh water – Bring plenty of water. A purification system can be very useful as well. Fire starter - Now as much as we all like to think we're Bear Grylls, sometimes it's better just to take the easy route at the end of the day.
Torch - Always recommended not only for convenience, but if you need a signal. Map and compass - No matter how experienced you are, your tech might break or run out of charge and an old-fashioned map and compass can prove most valuable. Phone and power bank - (for emergencies we recommend downloading the WHAT3WORDS app). Knife - a great multipurpose tool when camping. Ideally, you'll only need it for food prep, but if you get stuck it can be valuable in collecting material for smoke signal.
Waterproof Jacket- Though the rain can create the most amazing atmospheric landscape, you always want to stay dry. If you are looking for a great lightweight waterproof, shop here! Thermal tops (base layer and mid-layer) - Lightweight clothes are usually best for hiking. Thick socks - Nobody likes blisters. Beanie hat - A sometimes under rated accessory for wild camping. Hiking boots – Make sure you have comfortable shoes for exploring, ideally with good ankle support. Microfibre towel - You don't want to lug around a heavy, wet towel. Rucksack – 35-40L rucksack should be more than enough for a couple of nights.
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