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, Bradly of “Dream Big, Travel Far” shares his 15 high suggestions and methods to make your expertise safer and extra nice. They’ve been driving around the globe since 2020 and have skilled suggestions for wild tenting in Scotland and past.


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 one in every of our private favorite locations to go to anyplace in the world. Particularly for vanlifers, because of the many superb spots for wild tenting in Scotland. Teeming with extraordinary nature and wildlife, there’s no higher option to discover the nation than in your personal 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 basically tenting in a single day exterior of registered campsites, or at a location the place you don’t must pay for.

Wild tenting will not be the identical as tenting in normal. While organising tents in wilderness areas is a type of wild tenting, so is sleeping in an RV, campervan, or motorhome! Some examples embrace parking in a subject, close to a lake, or in a public automobile park.

As the latter is what we’re finest accustomed with, our ideas immediately are for vehicle-based wild tenting. However, most of the factors truly apply to the opposite type of wild tenting, akin 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 correct motorhome or campervan

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

Size – Are you travelling alone or with another person? Make positive that you could confidently drive your chosen car. While a bigger motorhome could also be extra comfy to dwell in, they’re tougher to navigate tough terrains and off-the-beaten monitor. This is crucially vital to recollect, as most roads in Scotland are very slender; even alongside the NC500 and significantly 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 funds, which is able to 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 should you’re renting from a dependable rental firm, however essential should you’re shopping for your personal 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 loosen up all through your journey.

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

Or even from native Scottish individuals by means of websites like Outdoorsy. It actually does rely in your private desire; although I’d advocate the smaller the higher if you’re 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 brief reply isn’t any, however it’s tolerated and customarily 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 undoubtedly simpler to wild camp should 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 straightforward to get permission.

The Scottish 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 surroundings, and be accountable for your actions. Basically, present widespread sense and decency when 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 embrace vehicular entry. It does, nonetheless, enable 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 anyplace.

Loch Lomond Byelaws

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Wild tenting is mostly potential in most locations inside the nation, besides for one: the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Between March and September, tenting is just allowed on official campsites or 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 among the high 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 have to be positive.

We will cowl extra rules beneath that it’s best to observe to have a protected and enjoyable wild marketing campaign expertise in Scotland. But lengthy story brief, 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 most effective place to seek out wild tenting spots all throughout Scotland (and Europe). It’s a free cellular app out there on each iPhone and Android that exhibits 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 critically such a helpful app that can make your journey much less aggravating. No extra hours of researching on-line simply to find {that a} parking spot feels dodgy and unsafe.

I like that the database is made by fellow van lifers and that it’s all the time updating each day. Plus, you possibly can share private experiences and ideas a few spot, and studying updates from different customers provides you with insightful data.

The interface itself is tremendous easy and simple to make use of. My favorite perform 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

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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 giant open automobile parks or areas the place you can doubtlessly keep the evening. 

Or merely search “parking” in any space of the map, which is able to then checklist parking spots and you may zoom in to test if it’s viable.

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

When you’re wild tenting in Scotland or anyplace else, all the time attempt to be as ready as potential. This contains having an thought 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 should you can keep there

For occasions once you’re wanting to remain close to town, it’s value asking at pubs and eating places should you can park your car close by and keep the evening. We have completed this a couple of occasions ourselves and individuals are typically very good about it. Just ensure that to ask in advance.

On the same notice, asking locals can also be a good way to seek out the right tenting spot. This means, yow will discover locations that aren’t even talked about in guidebooks and on-line databases. A pleasant hey might 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 very cool idea. You purchase a bodily Brit Stops e-book for the 12 months (it’s launched on a yearly foundation) which is able to then provide you with 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 checklist options a number of 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 provides you the possibility to remain in some actually cool areas. You also can buy some native goodies in order for you while visiting. 

What’s extra, they now supply a model new app with the acquisition that you should use to fulfill native hosts. It’s undoubtedly a good way to fulfill new individuals 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 site 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 end result, 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 individuals 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, akin to rock, gravel, dry grasses and snow Not damaging what you discover (flowers, crops, outdated archaeological buildings, and so on)

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

9. Be respectful in different methods

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In addition to cleansing up after your personal mess, it’s additionally good to be respectful in different methods. This is related regardless 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 evening falls. Noise could disturb different campers in the realm or worse, drive away surrounding wildlife from their pure habitat! I all the time 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 regionally each time potential. Whether which means going to native pubs and eating places or buying from native shops, you’ll be serving to enhance 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 individuals 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 ingesting 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’ll get fined and prosecuted for driving underneath the affect. So, it’s all the time finest to keep away from ingesting, particularly once you’re transferring to a brand new metropolis or space.

We personally haven’t had this drawback, however have heard horror tales of this occurring to individuals 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 evening (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 completely unpredictable, and you may’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, but it surely’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 most effective time for wild tenting in Scotland in phrases of climate, although the site visitors could get intense. Despite the sunshine, it’s best to nonetheless put together for cloud, wind, and rain all in the identical day! As properly as midges, that are famously horrendous to cope with so you will have bug spray should 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 evening. It’s all a bit overwhelming should 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 whole lot of alternative to discover the wilderness! But that additionally means sleeping is usually a little bit of an issue. 

I like to recommend utilizing blackout curtains that may preserve the within of your car (or tent) tremendous darkish. Oh, and don’t neglect a number of 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 exterior. Otherwise, you’ll simply be caught inside your van all day, which isn’t an thrilling option to camp.

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

13. …what concerning the toilet scenario?

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

In the wilderness, it’s usually okay to decide on any spot that’s properly away from trails. Avoid waterways and sapling bushes, although bigger established bushes and bushes are okay. Don’t go instantly in small our bodies of water, however greater 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 have to be extra cautious. Walk at the least 200 toes away from a path or water supply, then dig a gap of round 6 to eight inches deep. This is an effective depth that can nonetheless decompose the waste whereas stopping others from stepping on it.

Once completed, it’s best to cowl the opening with the unique grime. If you utilize any bathroom paper, ensure that to convey it again with you and get rid of it correctly!

14. In busy season, plan forward

Many of the most effective wild tenting spots in Scotland will replenish very early on, particularly in the busy summer season months of June, July and August. In some circumstances, you might wish 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 throughout the off season! We did North Coast 500, a 500-mile journey across the Highland space of Scotland, again in November 2020. It was implausible 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 thing of your journey? There’s no cause you possibly can’t method it slowly. For a whole lot of first-timers, it’s an important thought to interrupt up the journey with extra comfy campsites.

You’ll be wild tenting for two nights and staying on a campsite for one evening. This is a pleasant option 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 top-of-the-line methods to expertise Scotland. You can cease anyplace and don’t must depend on registered campsites, so in a means it’s rather more releasing.

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

If you bear in mind just one factor from this large checklist, it’s to be respectful and thoughtful in every single place you go!

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