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 prime ideas and tips to make your expertise safer and extra nice. They’ve been driving all over the world since 2020 and have skilled ideas for wild tenting in Scotland and past.


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 in every of our private favorite locations to go to wherever 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 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 referred to 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 shouldn’t 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 embody parking in a area, close to a lake, or in a public automotive park.

As the latter is what we’re finest accustomed with, our recommendations as we speak 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 appropriate 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 appropriate car. Whether you’re shopping for your individual or renting a campervan, it’s essential to select one of the best one for your wants. Some options to consider embody:

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 stay in, they’re tougher to navigate tough terrains and off-the-beaten observe. This is crucially essential 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 problem when you’re renting from a dependable rental firm, however essential when 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, keep in mind that it’ll not solely be a car, but additionally the place you’ll sleep, prepare dinner, eat, and chill out all through your journey.

We noticed all types of campers throughout Scotland. Some travellers had 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 way of websites like Outdoorsy. It actually does rely in your private choice; although I’d suggest 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 is not 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 take into account parking in a single day in a motorhome as wild tenting. While it’s undoubtedly simpler to wild camp when 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 not park, it’s usually fairly simple to get permission.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code

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The Scottish Outdoor Access Code grants you accountable entry to the Scottish outside. 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 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 simply ask for permission earlier than parking your car wherever.

Loch Lomond Byelaws

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Wild tenting is usually 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 when you’ve got a tenting allow.

This byelaw goals to guard the National Park from environmental injury, which is sensible as a result of Loch Lomond is among 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 smart, try to be effective.

We will cowl extra rules under that it’s best to comply with to have a secure 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 search 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 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 can make your journey much less worrying. 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 at all times updating day-after-day. Plus, you possibly can share private experiences and ideas a few 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 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 search 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 search out giant open automotive parks or areas the place you can doubtlessly keep the night time. 

Or merely search “parking” in any space of the map, which is able to then checklist parking spots and you’ll zoom in to verify 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 seems to be like. 

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

Read extra journey guides in Scotland

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

For instances whenever you’re wanting to remain close to town, it’s value asking at pubs and eating places when you can park your car close by and keep the night time. We have performed this a number of instances ourselves and persons are typically very good about it. Just be sure that to ask in advance.

On the same be aware, asking locals can be a good way to search 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 may take you to a hidden gem or two!

7. Buy the Brit Stops guide 

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 guide 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 sights, vintage centres, and extra. 

The guide itself prices £32 and offers you the possibility to remain in some actually cool areas. You can even buy some native goodies in order for you while visiting. 

What’s extra, they now provide a model new app with the acquisition that you should use to satisfy native hosts. It’s undoubtedly a good way to satisfy 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 boundaries, 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 fully 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 many others)

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 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 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 suggest shopping for domestically each time potential. Whether which means going to native pubs and eating places or buying 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 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’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 probability you’ll get fined and prosecuted for driving underneath the affect. So, it’s at all times finest to keep away from ingesting, particularly whenever you’re transferring to a brand new metropolis or space.

We personally haven’t had this downside, however have heard horror tales of this taking place to individuals in Scotland and different international locations. 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 number 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 completely 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 usually fairly changeable. For instance, the West will get twice as a lot rainfall because the East.

As you may count on, summer season 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 when 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 when you’re unprepared, however actually, I believe the changeable skies add to the expertise…

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

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Scotland is sort of far north and the hours of daylight could 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 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 a number of sunscreen too!

On the opposite hand, you may 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 approach 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 attraction…

13. …what concerning the toilet state of affairs?

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One of the commonest issues individuals have when wild tenting is the toilet state of affairs. This shouldn’t be an issue whenever 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 study the artwork of doing your corporation outside.

In the wilderness, it’s sometimes okay to decide on any spot that’s nicely away from trails. Avoid waterways and sapling bushes, although bigger established bushes and bushes are okay. Don’t go straight in small our bodies of water, however greater 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 no less than 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 performed, it’s best to cowl the opening with the unique dust. If you utilize any rest room paper, be sure that to convey it again with you and eliminate it correctly!

14. In busy season, plan forward

Many of one of the best 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, it’s possible 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, take into account 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 incredible 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 everything of your journey? There’s no purpose you possibly can’t strategy it slowly. For a whole lot of first-timers, it’s an awesome concept to interrupt up the journey with extra comfy 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 rest room, sizzling 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 must 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 keep in mind just one factor from this large checklist, it’s to be respectful and thoughtful in all places you go!

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