August 27, 2021 5 min read
Earlier this summer, we had the pleasure of meeting Tommy Aucott and Lydia Routlege as they were meandering through Scotland on an epic wild camping adventure. After chatting with them both and seeing their obvious passion for Scotland, Wild Camping and Photography we asked if they would be willing to share their story for the Meander magazine and they very kindly agreed.
In this awesome photographic journal, they share their adventure, some great advice for wild camp newcomers and some great spots to pitch up.
Like many others, this past year has consisted of checking off the nothing on our to do list whilst tiptoeing the fine line between sanity and lunacy. A year of counting down days, minutes and seconds until we could venture outside again, so when better to plan a trip to the scenic, rugged, paradoxical Scotland. One whimsical suggestion spoken to a person amenable for coercion and there we were. Immediately I began frantically searching Airbnband Coolstays for our perfect roofed home, but this was not financially viable for three weeks. Both Tom and I have grown up going on camping trips with our family and friends and have found this to be one of the best ways to reconnect with nature. Where better to wild camp than Scotland with its stunning landscapes, natural environments, and of course the legality of it all.
Though wild camping is legal in Scotland, it was important that we familiarized ourselves with the guidelines regarding the Scottish Outdoor Access Code before we left. In short, be responsible and ‘leave-no-trace’; our ecosystem is fragile and we must not play a part in degrading the naturalness of these environments.
Travelling up the M6 from Birmingham, it made sense to stop in the Lake District for a few nights. We stayed at a campsite called ‘Burns Farm Campsite’, just outside of Keswick and used this as our base when climbing Grisedale Pike, Helvellyn, and Blencathra. From here we made the three hour drive up to the West side of Loch Lomond. Though camping is welcome around Loch Lomond there are by-laws in place to preserve the cherished Loch shores between March and September. In this case you will need to source a campsite or apply for a camping permit up to four weeks in advance. Due to our seeming inability to plan in advance, we searched for this permit on arrival and within 2 minutes had booked a beautiful spot for £3 a night right on the water edge (+public toilets!).
Our next stop was a little further North West, on the shore of Loch Awe. We found this location and most others using the Park4Night App . This is used by campervan owners and provides information about places for overnight parking with accompanying images. This night we were joined by a pair of bikers from New Zealand on their way to the North Coast 500 Route (NC500).
Oban was next, and after a day of cliff jumping and coastal walks we were happy to find another secluded spot (using the Park4night app) on the ‘Firth of Lorn’ waters nearing Fort William.
We had made our way up to Fort William and booked ourselves into the Ben Nevis Inn pub, a definite recommendation, with the intention of climbing Ben Nevis the following morning. The location of our camp that night was beautiful, nestled in the shadow of Ben Nevis at the beginning of the trail. Although, having searched the surrounding area for a place to pitch up we made perhaps the wrong decision to pitch our pop up tent on the concrete carpark next to the car. At around 5am we were awoken by the sounds of individuals beginning the climb (and comical remarks about our tent placement!).
After our climb we decided to head straight for the Isle of Skye to the remote village of Kylerhea; following its reputation of stunning scenery and spectacular marine life. Having spent the evening at otter hides and admiring the beautiful sunset we soon realized it was getting late and we were parked up in an area with no overnight parking. So off we went, back down the 10 mile one way track into the depths of the national park. After what felt like hours (but was probably minutes) we spotted a small area of grass suitable for a single tent and small car. Tom pulled in. Clunk. Wheel spin. We were stuck having driven two front wheels into a hidden stream. Luckily our campervan friends had found a spot to park up about 4km up the road and having no luck with signal we ran back to find them. Using a combination of brains and brawn we made it out without having to call the AA and returned to the carpark with our tails between our legs. A hand crafted apology sign later, we pitched up and fell fast asleep.
The next night was better planned with the outlook of wanting a decent night’s sleep. We decided to head West to the fairy pools at the foot of the Black Cuillin. This is a renowned location near Carbost for wild swimming and walks with impressive views. This location we found to be one of the most peaceful, at night at least! We parked up at the edge of the river Brittle on a flat, dry area and set up our tent for the night. This spot is located just a little further down the road from the Fairy Pools official car park where toilet facilities are open to the public.
Neist Point Lighthouse was next. The most Western point of Skye and one of the most famous lighthouses in Scotland. Neist Point was a must-see, especially at sunset. We were joined here by many other campers dotted around the cliff tops with their cameras, kayaks, and paddleboards. This wild camping spot was truly spectacular.
Our final night of wild camping on Skye was again sourced using the ‘Park4Night’ app. After spending the day in Portree we pitched up for a final night of rugged scenery and solitude…and cows. We decided to camp on the northeast coast of the Trotternish Peninsula, just off Staffin Bay, in a little field with sea views. However, I did insist we put up our tent on the other side of the stream to avoid disturbing the cattle…and them disturbing us!
As we ventured back down south, we pitched up for a final wild camp by the Falls of Pattack (Pattack Falls) in the Cairngorms National Park along the A86. There are a few lovely spots here which can be located a short walk away from the carpark, with views of the waterfall and nestled within the woodland area. Though this was a popular area compared to most other nights it was very calm and quiet and made for a lovely final night. Just remember to use a camping stove rather than an open fire in these heavily wooded areas.
One final recommendation before we close off is ‘The Barley house – B&B by the sea!’. This was the one roofed home we chose for the trip and we could not have asked for a better location, experience or host; Lynne’s beautiful Airbnb is located just 10 minutes from the Isle of Skye between Kyle of Lochalsh and Plockton.
Written by Lydia Routledge, Images Tommy Aucott.
Thanks so much to Lydia and Tommy for the beautiful words and pictures! You can see more of them over on Instagram (Lydia and Tommy) and if you’re heading on and adventure you’d like to be featured in our Magazine click hereor send us a message on our Instagram.
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