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

(*15*)

How to Wild Camp in Scotland

Since changing our van (who 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, residing in our van and driving round this spectacular nation.

It is hands-down one among our private favorite locations to go to wherever in the world. Particularly for vanlifers, as a result of many superb spots for wild tenting in Scotland. Teeming with extraordinary nature and wildlife, there’s no higher technique to discover the nation than in your individual automobile. 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 exterior of registered campsites, or at a location the place you don’t need to pay for.

Wild tenting 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 embrace 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 the moment are for vehicle-based wild tenting. However, most of the factors truly apply to the opposite type of wild tenting, reminiscent of in a tent. Check out a Scotland street journey at: North Coast 500 – The Ultimate Trip Guide to Scotland’s Epic Drive

2. Choose the suitable 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 suitable automobile. Whether you’re shopping for your individual or renting a campervan, it’s necessary to select one of the best one for your wants. Some options to consider embrace:

Size – Are you travelling alone or with another person? Make positive which you could confidently drive your chosen automobile. 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 necessary to recollect, as most roads in Scotland are very slim; even alongside the NC500 and notably in cities. Number of beds – Likewise, take note of the variety of berths or passengers {that a} automobile can accommodate. Budget – Don’t neglect to find out your funds, which can have an effect on the kind of automobile you will get and its situation. Full service historical past – This final one shouldn’t be a trouble if you happen to’re renting from a dependable rental firm, however essential if you happen to’re shopping for your individual automobile. Ideally, you need it to return 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 automobile, but in addition the place you’ll sleep, prepare dinner, eat, and chill out all through your journey.

We noticed every kind of campers throughout Scotland. Some travellers have been even in giant transformed 4×4 ex-military autos that may be pushed onto seashores. You can hire all kinds of autos 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 choice; although I might advocate the smaller the higher in case you are unfamiliar driving in the UK, and on smaller slim 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 think about parking in a single day in a motorhome as wild tenting. While it’s undoubtedly simpler to wild camp if you happen to’re on foot or bike, as you don’t have to fret an excessive amount of about the place you’ll be able to 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 surroundings, and be accountable for your actions. Basically, present frequent sense and decency when you’re wild tenting. More on Scotland Travel at: 7 Crazy Adventures in Scotland

While this regulation offers 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 simply ask for permission earlier than parking your automobile wherever.

Loch Lomond Byelaws

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

This byelaw goals to guard the National Park from environmental harm, which is sensible as a result of Loch Lomond is likely one of the high vacationer locations in Scotland!

Overall, the overall rule of thumb when wild tenting is to respect any “No overnight parking” signal. And so long as you park someplace distant and smart, try to be advantageous.

We will cowl extra ideas under 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 one of the best place to seek out wild tenting spots all throughout Scotland (and Europe). It’s a free cell app out there on each iPhone and Android that exhibits you all of the spots the place you’ll be able to 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 can make your journey much less hectic. 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 daily. Plus, you’ll be able to share private experiences and ideas a couple of spot, and studying updates from different customers offers you insightful data.

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

beautiful wild camping in scotland
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Another useful gizmo for discovering new places 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 would doubtlessly keep the night time. 

Or merely search “parking” in any space of the map, which can then record 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 seems to be like. 

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

Read extra journey guides in Scotland

6. Ask at pubs & eating places if you happen to can keep there

For instances if you’re wanting to remain close to town, it’s price asking at pubs and eating places if you happen to can park your automobile close by and keep the night time. We have carried out this a couple of instances ourselves and persons are typically very good about it. Just be certain that to ask in advance.

On an identical word, asking locals can also be an effective way to seek out the proper tenting spot. This means, you could find locations that aren’t even talked about in guidebooks and on-line databases. A pleasant howdy might take you to a hidden gem or two!

7. Buy the Brit Stops ebook 

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 ebook for the yr (it’s launched on a yearly foundation) which can then provide you with entry to over 1000 wild tenting spots throughout the UK, together with Scotland, the place you’ll be able to 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 record options numerous distinctive spots, from nation pubs, wineries, and fruit farms to vacationer points of interest, vintage centres, and extra. 

The ebook itself prices £32 and offers you the possibility to remain in some actually cool places. You may buy some native goodies if you’d like while visiting. 

What’s extra, they now supply a model new app with the acquisition that you need to use to fulfill native hosts. It’s undoubtedly an effective way to fulfill new individuals and get native suggestions of issues to do across the space!

8. Don’t depart 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 limitations, indicators and police patrols to cease the apply. 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, reminiscent of rock, gravel, dry grasses and snow Not damaging what you discover (flowers, crops, outdated archaeological constructions, and so forth)

In basic, attempt to minimise any lasting affect 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 regardless of the place you’re wild tenting, and being thoughtful whereas tenting out in nature or public locations goes a good 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 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 every time potential. Whether meaning going to native pubs and eating places or procuring from native shops, you’ll be serving to increase the native financial system whereas being extra supportive to the apply of untamed tenting.

Also, don’t go organising such as you’re at a campsite. This actually winds individuals up, particularly if it seems to be such as you intend to remain in the identical spot for many days! As a rule of thumb, I might 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 probability you’ll get fined and prosecuted for driving beneath the affect. So, it’s all the time finest to keep away from ingesting, particularly if you’re transferring to a brand new metropolis or space.

We personally haven’t had this drawback, however have heard horror tales of this taking place to individuals in Scotland and different nations. If you might be in your automobile 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 intend 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

Dunnet Head Scotland view
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Here’s the factor about Scottish climate: it’s virtually fully 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, but it surely’s typically fairly changeable. For instance, the West will get twice as a lot rainfall because the East.

As you may anticipate, summer time is one of the best time for wild tenting in Scotland in phrases of climate, although the visitors might get intense. Despite the sunshine, it’s 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 have to bug spray if you happen to 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 if you happen to’re unprepared, however actually, I believe the changeable skies add to the expertise…

12. Pack blackout curtains in summer time 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 time months. 

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

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

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

While it’s most likely not one of the best time for wild tenting, the snowy panorama of the winter months does have its personal allure…

13. …what in regards to the rest room scenario?

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One of the most typical issues individuals have when wild tenting is the lavatory scenario. This shouldn’t be an issue if you’re staying near civilization. And in case your automobile 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 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 instantly in small our bodies of water, however larger lakes or rivers can dilute any urine. In alpine areas, it’s beneficial to do it on a rock floor.

Now, when doing quantity two, try to be extra cautious. Walk at the least 200 ft away from a path or water supply, then dig a gap of round 6 to eight inches deep. This is an efficient depth that can nonetheless decompose the waste whereas stopping others from stepping on it.

Once carried out, it’s best to cowl the outlet with the unique filth. If you employ any bathroom paper, be certain that to convey it again with you and get rid of it correctly!

14. In busy season, plan forward

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

Better but, think about visiting in the course of the off season! We did North Coast 500, a 500-mile journey across the Highland space of Scotland, again in November 2020. It was improbable 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 concept of untamed tenting for the whole lot of your journey? There’s no cause you’ll be able to’t method it slowly. For loads of first-timers, it’s an excellent 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 technique 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 actually among the best methods to expertise Scotland. You can cease wherever and don’t need to depend on registered campsites, so in a means it’s rather more liberating.

The Scottish countryside is certainly an oasis of breathtaking sceneries and numerous 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 record, it’s to be respectful and thoughtful in every single place you go!



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