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15 Top Tips for Wild Camping in Scotland

15 Top Tips for Wild Camping in Scotland


If you’re planning to wild camp in Scotland, Bradley of “Dream Big, Travel Far” shares his 15 prime ideas and tips to make your expertise safer and extra nice. They’ve been driving world wide since 2020 and have skilled ideas for wild tenting in Scotland and past.

(*15*)

How to Wild Camp in Scotland

Since changing our van (who is known as Helen), we’ve pushed to dozens of nations throughout Europe, in addition to to North America & South America. However, Scotland stays very near our hearts as we spent greater than 4 months there, dwelling in our van and driving round this spectacular nation.

It is hands-down considered one of our private favorite locations to go to wherever in the world. Particularly for vanlifers, because of the many wonderful spots for wild tenting in Scotland. Teeming with extraordinary nature and wildlife, there’s no higher approach to discover the nation than in your individual car. Without additional ado, let’s get proper into it!

1. Understand what wild tenting is

But first… what’s wild tenting?

Also often known as free tenting or boondocking, it’s primarily tenting in a single day outdoors of registered campsites, or at a location the place you don’t must pay for.

Wild tenting just isn’t the identical as tenting in basic. While organising tents in wilderness areas is a type of wild tenting, so is sleeping in an RV, campervan, or motorhome! Some examples embody parking in a discipline, close to a lake, or in a public automobile park.

As the latter is what we’re finest accustomed with, our ideas at this time are for vehicle-based wild tenting. However, most of the factors truly apply to the opposite type of wild tenting, similar to in a tent. Check out a Scotland highway journey at: North Coast 500 – The Ultimate Trip Guide to Scotland’s Epic Drive

2. Choose the best motorhome or campervan

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The very first thing it is best to do earlier than beginning your journey is to decide on the best car. Whether you’re shopping for your individual or renting a campervan, it’s vital to select the very best one for your wants. Some options to consider embody:

Size – Are you travelling alone or with another person? Make positive that you would be able to confidently drive your chosen car. While a bigger motorhome could also be extra snug to reside in, they’re more durable to navigate tough terrains and off-the-beaten observe. This is crucially vital to recollect, as most roads in Scotland are very slender; even alongside the NC500 and notably in cities. Number of beds – Likewise, take note of the variety of berths or passengers {that a} car can accommodate. Budget – Don’t neglect to find out your finances, which can have an effect on the kind of car you will get and its situation. Full service historical past – This final one shouldn’t be a trouble in case you’re renting from a dependable rental firm, however essential in case you’re shopping for your individual car. Ideally, you need it to come back with a full service historical past to make sure that it’s well-maintained.

When contemplating which camper or motorhome to get, bear in mind that it’s going to not solely be a car, but additionally the place you’ll sleep, cook dinner, eat, and calm down all through your journey.

We noticed all types of campers throughout Scotland. Some travellers have been even in massive transformed 4×4 ex-military automobiles that may be pushed onto seashores. You can lease all types of automobiles from massive rental corporations like McRent.

Or even from native Scottish folks by means of websites like Outdoorsy. It actually does rely in your private desire; although I’d advocate the smaller the higher in case you are unfamiliar driving in the UK, and on smaller slender roads.

3. Know the wild tenting legal guidelines in Scotland

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Make positive you’ve learn up on all of the wild tenting legal guidelines in Scotland. Is wild tenting authorized in Scotland? The quick reply is not any, however it’s tolerated and usually allowed, so long as you do it responsibly.

Land Reform Act 2003

This Scottish land reform act doesn’t contemplate parking in a single day in a motorhome as wild tenting. While it’s positively simpler to wild camp in case you’re on foot or bike, as you don’t have to fret an excessive amount of about the place you possibly can or can’t park, it’s typically fairly simple to get permission.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code

how to wild camp in scotland outdoor access code
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The Scottish Outdoor Access Code grants you accountable entry to the Scottish outdoor. This contains forests, hills, seashores, rivers, lochs, parks, and a few farmlands.

Respect others, care for the atmosphere, and be accountable for your actions. Basically, present widespread sense and decency whilst you’re wild tenting. More on Scotland Travel at: 7 Crazy Adventures in Scotland

While this legislation provides entry to all unenclosed land and inland waters in Scotland, it doesn’t truly embody vehicular entry. It does, nevertheless, permit wild tenting so long as it’s “lightweight and done in small numbers”.

Road Traffic Act of 1988

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The Road Traffic Act of 1988 acknowledges most roads as personal land, which suggests it’s crucial that you just ask for permission earlier than parking your car wherever.

Loch Lomond Byelaws

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Wild tenting is mostly doable in most locations inside the nation, besides for one: the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Between March and September, tenting is simply allowed on official campsites or if in case you have a tenting allow.

This byelaw goals to guard the National Park from environmental harm, which is smart as a result of Loch Lomond is without doubt one of the prime vacationer locations in Scotland!

Overall, the final rule of thumb when wild tenting is to respect any “No overnight parking” signal. And so long as you park someplace distant and wise, you need to be nice.

We will cowl extra ideas under that it is best to comply with to have a protected and enjoyable wild marketing campaign expertise in Scotland. But lengthy story quick, we by no means as soon as had any issues wild tenting in Scotland after dozens of nights in each single a part of the nation.

4. Download Park4Night

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Park4Night is by far the very best place to seek out wild tenting spots all throughout Scotland (and Europe). It’s a free cellular app obtainable on each iPhone and Android that reveals you all of the spots the place you possibly can park up in a single day.

Whether you’ve lived in a van earlier than or that is your first-time wild tenting, that is significantly such a helpful app that may make your journey much less tense. No extra hours of researching on-line simply to find {that a} parking spot feels dodgy and unsafe.

I really like that the database is made by fellow van lifers and that it’s at all times updating each day. Plus, you possibly can share private experiences and ideas a couple of spot, and studying updates from different customers offers you insightful info.

The interface itself is tremendous easy and straightforward to make use of. My favorite operate is the short search, which helps you to browse particular factors like nature spots or water refill stations, and filter solely 5* areas.

5. Use Google Satellite to seek out new areas

beautiful wild camping in scotland
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Another useful gizmo for discovering new areas is Google Satellite. You can use the satellite tv for pc view on Google Maps to seek out massive open automobile parks or areas the place you could possibly doubtlessly keep the night time. 

Or merely search “parking” in any space of the map, which can then listing parking spots and you’ll zoom in to test if it’s viable.

Alternatively, if you have already got a selected spot in thoughts, that is nonetheless an effective way to scout the realm and see what it appears to be like like. 

When you’re wild tenting in Scotland or wherever else, at all times attempt to be as ready as doable. This contains having an concept of what the positioning you’re planning to sleep in appears to be like like.

Read extra journey guides in Scotland

6. Ask at pubs & eating places in case you can keep there

For occasions once you’re wanting to remain close to the town, it’s price asking at pubs and eating places in case you can park your car close by and keep the night time. We have executed this a couple of occasions ourselves and persons are usually very good about it. Just be sure that to ask in advance.

On an analogous notice, asking locals can also be an effective way to seek out the right tenting spot. This approach, you’ll find locations that aren’t even talked about in guidebooks and on-line databases. A pleasant hi there may take you to a hidden gem or two!

7. Buy the Brit Stops e book 

tips to wild camp in scotland scottish highland cow
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This one is a extremely cool idea. You purchase a bodily Brit Stops e book for the 12 months (it’s launched on a yearly foundation) which can then offer you entry to over 1000 wild tenting spots throughout the UK, together with Scotland, the place you possibly can keep at for free. 

It was impressed by the corporate Harvest Hosts in the USA (which we additionally love), so that is just like the UK model. The listing options numerous distinctive spots, from nation pubs, wineries, and fruit farms to vacationer points of interest, vintage centres, and extra. 

The e book itself prices £32 and offers you the possibility to remain in some actually cool areas. You may buy some native goodies if you need while visiting. 

What’s extra, they now provide a model new app with the acquisition that you should utilize to fulfill native hosts. It’s positively an effective way to fulfill new folks and get native suggestions of issues to do across the space!

8. Don’t go away any mess (Leave no hint coverage)

how to wild camp in scotland leave no trace
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Following Covid lockdowns, van visitors and wild tenting in Scotland has exploded. And the poor behaviour of many of those new van lifers has actually upset locals. As a outcome, most of the finest wild tenting spots have began to shut down and now have obstacles, indicators and police patrols to cease the follow. Be part of the answer, not the issue.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code encourages campers to keep away from inflicting issues for native folks and animals, therefore the “leave no trace” coverage.

This contains issues like:

Removing all of your litter Keeping fires small and placing them out utterly afterwards Not inflicting any type of air pollution Travelling and tenting on sturdy floor, similar to rock, gravel, dry grasses and snow Not damaging what you discover (flowers, crops, previous archaeological constructions, and so forth)

In basic, attempt to minimise any lasting impression on the grounds!

9. Be respectful in different methods

tips to safely wild camp in scotland
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In addition to cleansing up after your individual mess, it’s additionally good to be respectful in different methods. This is related irrespective of the place you’re wild tenting, and being thoughtful whereas tenting out in nature or public locations goes a great distance.

For instance, don’t be noisy, particularly as soon as night time falls. Noise might disturb different campers in the realm or worse, drive away surrounding wildlife from their pure habitat! I at all times go about it by remembering that I’m merely a visitor and to maintain quiet as a lot as I can.

I’d additionally advocate shopping for domestically every time doable. Whether meaning going to native pubs and eating places or purchasing from native shops, you’ll be serving to increase the native financial system whereas being extra supportive to the follow of untamed tenting.

Also, don’t go organising such as you’re at a campsite. This actually winds folks up, particularly if it appears to be like such as you intend to remain in the identical spot for many days! As a rule of thumb, I’d say that staying for solely an evening or two is finest.

10. Avoid consuming alcohol

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If you might be requested to maneuver on by police and you might be over the alcohol restrict, there’s a likelihood you’re going to get fined and prosecuted for driving underneath the affect. So, it’s at all times finest to keep away from consuming, particularly once you’re shifting to a brand new metropolis or space.

We personally haven’t had this drawback, however have heard horror tales of this taking place to folks in Scotland and different nations. If you might be in your car with the keys accessible, and you’re the driver and over the restrict of alcohol, then it’s classed as an intention to drive drunk. 

Your name; however in my opinion, the dangers merely don’t outweigh the prices. If you propose on having a couple of drinks one night time (which, let’s face it, you’re in Scotland so why not?!) then keep in a campsite.

11. Be ready for temperamental climate

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Here’s the factor about Scottish climate: it’s virtually solely unpredictable, and you’ll’t depend on forecasts. This dramatic local weather and shifting climate is, in half, what has helped make Scotland so wild, rugged and delightful. 

The local weather additionally varies between areas, nevertheless it’s typically fairly changeable. For instance, the West will get twice as a lot rainfall because the East.

As you would possibly anticipate, summer season is the very best time for wild tenting in Scotland in phrases of climate, although the visitors might get intense. Despite the sunshine, it is best to nonetheless put together for cloud, wind, and rain all in the identical day! As nicely as midges, that are famously horrendous to take care of so you will want bug spray in case you go to in this time interval.

Winter in the Highlands means snow and ice, with the temperature reaching as little as minus 4 at night time. It’s all a bit overwhelming in case you’re unprepared, however actually, I feel the changeable skies add to the expertise…

12. Pack blackout curtains in summer season or headlamps in winter

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Scotland is kind of far north and the hours of daylight will be fairly an excessive throughout peak winter and summer season months. 

You can rise up to 18 hours of daylight in June in the Northern Highlands, which is a variety of alternative to discover the wilderness! But that additionally means sleeping could be a little bit of an issue. 

I like to recommend utilizing blackout curtains that may hold the within of your car (or tent) tremendous darkish. Oh, and don’t neglect numerous sunscreen too!

On the opposite hand, you would possibly get daylight solely from 9am to 3pm in December. Pack sufficient headlamps and flashlights so you possibly can nonetheless do stuff outdoors. Otherwise, you’ll simply be caught inside your van all day, which isn’t an thrilling approach to camp.

While it’s in all probability not the very best time for wild tenting, the snowy panorama of the winter months does have its personal allure…

13. …what concerning the rest room state of affairs?

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One of the most typical issues folks have when wild tenting is the toilet state of affairs. This shouldn’t be an issue once you’re staying near civilization. And in case your car has a rest room, it’s all a matter of accountable waste disposal. If not… Well, time to be taught the artwork of doing your small business outdoor.

In the wilderness, it’s sometimes okay to decide on any spot that’s nicely away from trails. Avoid waterways and sapling timber, although bigger established timber and bushes are okay. Don’t go immediately in small our bodies of water, however larger lakes or rivers can dilute any urine. In alpine areas, it’s really helpful to do it on a rock floor.

Now, when doing quantity two, you need to be extra cautious. Walk no less than 200 ft away from a path or water supply, then dig a gap of round 6 to eight inches deep. This is an effective depth that may nonetheless decompose the waste whereas stopping others from stepping on it.

Once executed, it is best to cowl the opening with the unique dust. If you employ any bathroom paper, be sure that to deliver it again with you and eliminate it correctly!

14. In busy season, plan forward

Many of the very best wild tenting spots in Scotland will refill very early on, particularly in the busy summer season months of June, July and August. In some instances, it’s possible you’ll need to arrive at your location by round 2 or 3pm to have a greater likelihood of securing a spot to arrange in a single day.

Better but, contemplate visiting through the off season! We did North Coast 500, a 500-mile journey across the Highland space of Scotland, again in November 2020. It was unbelievable as a result of we just about had the route all to ourselves.

15. Try The 2:1 Rule

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Intimidated by the thought of untamed tenting for the whole lot of your journey? There’s no motive you possibly can’t method it slowly. For a variety of first-timers, it’s a terrific concept to interrupt up the journey with extra snug campsites.

You’ll be wild tenting for two nights and staying on a campsite for one night time. This is a pleasant approach to benefit from the pleasure of untamed tenting whereas nonetheless having fun with the advantages of a campsite’s amenities. A pleasant bathroom, scorching bathe, stocking up on necessities, and extra.

All in all, wild tenting is really the most effective methods to expertise Scotland. You can cease wherever and don’t must depend on registered campsites, so in a approach it’s rather more releasing.

The Scottish countryside is certainly an oasis of breathtaking sceneries and numerous wildlife. I hope the following pointers will assist make your upcoming journey go extra easily.

If you bear in mind just one factor from this huge listing, it’s to be respectful and thoughtful in all places you go!



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