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Car Campgrounds and "Wild Camping" in Scotland

Author:

Kally is an amalgamation of both my partner and myself, and we document all of our adventures no matter how big or small.

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Camping

Camping is an outdoor activity involving overnight stays away from home in a shelter, such as a tent or a recreational vehicle.

So whether you chose to go camping in a tent, in the back of your car or van, in a motorhome, or in glamping pods, it's all about the experience and what's best for you! It's not for everyone; if it's not for you, keep your eye out for B&Bs along the trip.

Things to Take Car Camping

There are always ways to get comfortable. Things to take with you for creature comforts might include:

  • An airbed instead of camping mats (let's face it, higher off the ground so won't get that cold air, and 100% more comfortable). But on the other hand an airbed takes up space! Get a rechargeable pump to save yourself the hassle of DIY!
  • Solar Shower: handy for when you're wild camping and you need to freshen up because wet wipes can only do so much (bad news if it's not sunny for a good hour or more, then that water is at best lukewarm).
  • Books. Or save space and take a kindle
  • Solar charger with USB outlets: for your phones, smart watches, etc.
  • Big 5-liter bottle of water (Tesco sell for £1.10) handy for refilling when you're using it for washing up, etc.
  • Cool bag. Trust me! Having cold drinks when you're driving and camping is amazing even for Scotland.
  • Portaloo. Make sure you get biodegradable bags for your waste that are good quality. Some even have the powder to help soak up liquids and reduce the smell.
  • Privacy tent. Not only is this good for your portaloo and solar shower, but even just being able to stand up and get changed without getting cold or wet was the best buy!

My other half thinks I was over-prepared for our 9-day road trip NC500/Kally 1000, but I packed to be prepared for all weathers and all conditions with some home comforts! If you have space, WHY NOT!

Using Established Campsites

Most campsites work on a first-come first-served basis, and in Scotland charge for a vehicle and the type of pitch (electrical/non-electrical). Some change for participants too. Some do have advanced booking/reserving, so do your research!

We have found that most campsites charge around £20/night for one car on a non-electrical tent pitch. Many have information online, such as dedicated booking sites or Facebook pages.

Pros of Established Campsites

  • Most have facilities (toilet, shower, dishwashing areas).
  • Most have enough space to park next to your tent.
  • There are usually pubs, restaurants, and shops close-by for food.
  • Locals who run the sites are the best people for advice!

Cons of Established Campsites

  • Many do not allow open fires. Some others allow them only in designated spots and under a curfew so they have to be put out by a certain time of night.
  • Not all are open all year round.
  • At some you have to be checked in and out by a certain time.

Wild Camping

According to Visit Scotland:

If you don't mind sacrificing the usual day-to-day comforts and conveniences and want to explore the areas of Scotland that very few visit, then wild camping is for you. It's a great way to discover remote parts of our stunning landscapes and get close to nature. Plus, the experience definitely comes with a great feeling of adventure!

READ THE SCOTTISH OUTDOOR ACCESS CODE

If you're planning a wild camping trip, be sure to familiarise yourself with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. It's not complicated - basically, campers should follow a policy of 'leave-no-trace'.

Here are some top points to follow:

  • Avoid overcrowding by moving on to another location if it's already a busy spot.
  • Wherever possible, use a stove rather than an open fire. Never light an open fire during dry periods or in sensitive places like forests or peaty ground.
  • Take away your rubbish and consider picking up other litter as well.
  • If in doubt, ask the landowner. Their advice just might help you find a better camping spot.

Pros of Wild Camping

  • The freedom! Getting to park up and camp pretty much anywhere!
  • Doesn't cost anything to wild camp.

Cons of Wild Camping

  • No facilities, so be prepared to discard of human excrement!. Don't just do it anywhere (especially near freshwater) or dig a hole then leave your toilet paper or wipes; bag it and bin it! . If in doubt, take a portable loo and get some biodegradable bags and dispose of your waste efficiently!
  • No security
  • Only one-night stay overs (max 2 but not advised)

Leave No Trace, Just Footprints and Memories

Treat the land the way you found it, don't ruin it by spoiling nature. If you come across rubbish, stick on some gloves, pick it up even if it isn't yours, and dispose of it in the MANY bins along the roads!

Caravans and Motorhomes

As above, campsites and wild camping are obvious options. However, I don't have prices for campsites costs so look them up on the booking sites and reserve as many as you can. Most get booked up really quickly especially for electrical pitches.

We also came across a great app that had downloadable maps called Park 4 Night that came in handy when we were looking for ideas for where to wild camp. They had notes/comments from people who had stayed in those places and the App is free, but to comment or add any content you need to pay for membership.

Whether you chose to do the NC500 like we did or have a staycation elsewhere, have fun on your adventure and stay safe!

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© 2020 Kally

Comments

Liz Westwood from UK on August 30, 2020:

This article gives useful information for anyone considering camping or wild camping in Scotland. I know someone who did some wild camping in Devon recently. Its not for everyone, but I can understand that there are some advantages.