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 tips to make your expertise safer and extra nice. They’ve been driving world wide since 2020 and have professional 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 among 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 technique 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 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 shouldn’t be 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 automotive park.

As the latter is what we’re greatest accustomed with, our options in the present day are for vehicle-based wild tenting. However, lots 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 appropriate 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 appropriate car. Whether you’re shopping for your personal or renting a campervan, it’s essential to choose one of the best one for your wants. Some options to consider embrace:

Size – Are you travelling alone or with another person? Make certain which 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 essential 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} car can accommodate. Budget – Don’t neglect to find out your price range, which can have an effect on the kind of car you may get and its situation. Full service historical past – This final one shouldn’t be a problem 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, keep 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 every kind 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 choice; although I might advocate the smaller the higher if you’re unfamiliar driving in the UK, and on smaller slim roads.

3. Know the wild tenting legal guidelines in Scotland

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Make certain 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 usually 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 should you’re on foot or bike, as you don’t have to fret an excessive amount of about the place you may or can’t 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 outdoor. This consists of forests, hills, seashores, rivers, lochs, parks, and a few farmlands.

Respect others, care for the setting, 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 car 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 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 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 wise, you have to be effective.

We will cowl extra rules beneath that it is best to observe 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 cellular app accessible on each iPhone and Android that exhibits you all of the spots the place you may 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 traumatic. 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 all the time updating on daily basis. Plus, you may share private experiences and ideas a couple of spot, and studying updates from different customers will provide you with 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 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 may probably 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 verify if it’s viable.

Alternatively, if you have already got a particular 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 consists of having an thought 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 should you can keep there

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

On an identical notice, asking locals can also be an effective way to search out the proper tenting spot. This manner, 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 ebook 

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 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 may 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 a number of distinctive spots, from nation pubs, wineries, and fruit farms to vacationer points of interest, vintage centres, and extra. 

The ebook itself prices £32 and provides you the possibility to remain in some actually cool areas. 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 should use to satisfy native hosts. It’s undoubtedly an effective 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 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, lots of the greatest wild tenting spots have began to shut down and now have limitations, 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 consists of 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, outdated archaeological constructions, and so forth)

In basic, attempt to minimise any lasting influence 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 irrespective 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 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 domestically each time potential. Whether which means going to native pubs and eating places or procuring 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 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 greatest.

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’re going to get fined and prosecuted for driving beneath the affect. So, it’s all the time greatest to keep away from ingesting, particularly whenever you’re shifting 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 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 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 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 exquisite. 

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

As you would possibly anticipate, summer time is one of the best time for wild tenting in Scotland in phrases of climate, although the site visitors could get intense. Despite the sunshine, it is 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 want 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 night time. 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 time or headlamps in winter

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

You can stand up to 18 hours of daylight in June in the Northern Highlands, which is numerous 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 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 may 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 in all probability not one of the best time for wild tenting, the snowy panorama of the winter months does have its personal attraction…

13. …what in regards to the toilet scenario?

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One of the commonest considerations individuals have when wild tenting is the toilet scenario. This shouldn’t be an issue whenever 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 study 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 timber, although bigger established timber 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 beneficial to do it on a rock floor.

Now, when doing quantity two, you have 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 finished, it is best to cowl the outlet with the unique filth. If you employ any rest room paper, be certain to deliver 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 instances, you might 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 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 concept of untamed tenting for the whole lot of your journey? There’s no motive you may’t strategy it slowly. For numerous first-timers, it’s an incredible 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 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 services. 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 need to depend on registered campsites, so in a manner it’s far more releasing.

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

If you keep in mind just one factor from this huge record, it’s to be respectful and thoughtful all over the place you go!

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