Wild camping in Scotland. For some people, the idea alone might be the stuff of nightmares. Wind, rain and midgies – I can see why you might be hesitant.
But done well and in friendly conditions, wild camping can give you the time to explore more remote and wild place. Sometimes you even get views like this:
If you already go camping, you probably have all of the gear that you need. So what extras should you be aware of when you take the step up to wild camping?
The Scottish Access Code
In Scotland, we have some of the best access laws in the world! There are three key principals:
- Respect the interests of other people
- Care for the environment
- Take responsibility for your own actions
For wild camping, you follow these same basic rules. The Outdoor Access Scotland website has loads of great resources giving more specific advice – for camping as well as lots of other activities.
April – October beings the deer stalking season in Scotland, with most of the stalking taking place from August onwards. This doesn’t mean that the hills are out of bounds! However, walkers and campers are expected to take reasonable steps to avoid disrupting stalking.
You can check out the Heading for the Scottish Hills service to ensure that you’re not planning to camp in an area being worked during your trip. You should follow any reasonable requests from signs and stalkers, and you can minimise your chances of disrupting deer stalking by sticking to paths and ridgelines.
While wild camping in most of Scotland is covered by the Access code, there are byelaws in place within the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park. From 1st March – 30th September, wild camping is restricted within certain ‘camping management zones’ to permit areas which must be booked in advance.
Only a small portion of the park is covered by this, and outside of these areas, wild camping can be carried out as normal.
The Scottish midgie is a famous wee bestie that should not be underestimated! They can entirely ruin what should be a beautiful evening at camp. If you think it can’t be that bad, check out this video by BBC Social.
They’re like the wee cousin of a mosquito, but they always travel in swarms. A midgie hood and some insect repellant are a must on any trip, and gloves come in useful even in the summer. Check the weather forecast – a breeze of 6pmh or up should be enough to stop them flying, and give you a break from being their dinner.
Western Scotland is one of the wettest places in Europe, and it can also get pretty windy here. The fastest recorded wind speed in Scotland was 173mph! Thankfully that’s not the norm!
If you’re just getting into wilds camping, it may well be worth waiting for fairer conditions. While Scotland is known for pretty dreich conditions, on a good weekend you may even be able to ditch the tent and bivvy instead!