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Where Can You Camp in Scotland? 10 Best Spots for Camping & Wild Camping

camping scotland

Whether you’re looking to unwind in the serene Highlands or enjoy the coastal vistas of the Isle of Skye, Scotland offers an unparalleled variety of camping experiences.

The country’s rich tapestry of lush landscapes, towering mountains, and tranquil lochs make it a favourable destination for both seasoned campers and those new to the outdoor experience. 

Our comprehensive overview will ensure you find the ideal spot to set up your tent and enjoy everything Scotland has to offer.

Camping scotland skye
Where Can You Camp in Scotland? 10 Best Spots for Camping & Wild Camping

Legal Guidelines for Camping

Before setting out on your camping trip in Scotland, it’s crucial to be familiar with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which provides detailed guidance on responsible camping.

The code allows you to camp on most unenclosed land, but it’s important to follow specific rules, especially when wild camping.

You must avoid enclosed fields and always camp at a reasonable distance from residential properties and roads.

Campers should minimise their impact on the environment by taking all rubbish home and avoiding open fires.

By respecting these guidelines, you ensure that the pristine nature of Scotland remains unspoilt for fellow adventurers and future generations.

Understanding and adhering to these regulations will make your camping experience both enjoyable and respectful towards the environment and local communities.

10 of the Best Camping Sites in Scotland

Scotland has some of the most breathtaking and diverse landscapes in the country, making it a popular destination for camping enthusiasts. 

Whether you prefer pitching your tent on a remote beach or being nestled in the heart of the mountains, there is something for every type of camper in Scotland.

But with so many options to choose from, where should you start?

Camping scotland highlands
Where Can You Camp in Scotland? 10 Best Spots for Camping & Wild Camping

Top 5 Scottish Campsites for Amenities & Comfort

Scotland offers a variety of campsites that combine the beauty of the great outdoors with the comfort and amenities that make camping a relaxing and enjoyable experience. 

Here are five top campsites renowned for their facilities and stunning locations:

1) Horgabost Campsite on the Isle of Harris

Located in the village of Horgabost on the West Coast of Harris, Horgabost Campsite offers stunning views of white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. 

The facilities on offer include hot showers, a wash-up area, and a fridge for communal use. 

2) Invercaimbe Caravan & Camping, Arisaig

This family-run campsite offers a range of facilities, including electric hook-up points, a laundry and dishwashing room, and showers. 

You will also be a short distance from the stunning beaches of Arisaig, where you can enjoy a day full of swimming, sunbathing, and exploring.

3) Port Mor Campsite, Isle of Islay

Port Mor Campsite is located near Port Charlotte, known for its beautiful beaches and whiskey distilleries. The campsite itself has a café and free internet access, as well as access to fresh water.

4) Ardnamurchan Campsite, Lochaber

Staying at Ardnamurchan Campsite will put you in close proximity to the volcanic land and picturesque beaches of West Ardnamurchan. 

Facilities include electric hook-up points and direct access to the beach.

5) Sands Caravan and Camping Park, Gairloch

This campsite has a grocery shop, toilet and shower blocks, and a games and TV room. 

It is surrounded by the stunning scenery of Gairloch, with nearby hikes and water activities available.

Camping scotland gairloch
Where Can You Camp in Scotland? 10 Best Spots for Camping & Wild Camping

Top 5 Locations for Wild Camping

Scotland is renowned for its wild camping opportunities, allowing campers to connect directly with nature. 

Unlike the rest of the UK, you can wild camp just about anywhere in the home of the Scots, with vast swathes of unspoilt landscapes waiting for you.

Read our guide to wild camping in the UK, including the rules, exceptions, and punishments

But with so many incredible locations to choose from, where should you pitch your tent? Here are our top 5 picks for wild camping destinations in Scotland.

1) Bonaly Reservoir, near Edinburgh

Located just a short drive from Edinburgh city centre, Bonaly Reservoir is the perfect spot for wild camping. It offers stunning views of the Pentland Hills and easy access to hiking trails.

2) Barrisdale, Knoydart

Knoydart is a secluded and remote location with breathtaking views of Loch Hourn. The rugged terrain and lack of amenities make it a true wild camping experience.

3) Glenfeshie, Cairngorms National Park

Known for its huge array of wildlife, Glenfeshie is a popular spot for wild camping. It also offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

4) Rackwick Bay, Orkney

Rackwick Bay is a remote and peaceful spot for wild camping. It offers spectacular views of the North Sea and the coastal town of Rackwick has a small number of tourist amenities on offer.

5) Gleann na Muice, Fisherfield

Gleann na Muice is the perfect camping spot for those who enjoy mountain climbing. Located in the Fisherfield Forest, it offers access to some of Scotland’s most challenging peaks.

Fisherfield forest
Where Can You Camp in Scotland? 10 Best Spots for Camping & Wild Camping

Essential Gear for Scottish Camping

Preparing adequately with the right gear is crucial for a successful camping trip in Scotland. The weather can be a little unpredictable, so you’ll want to make sure you’re covered for all eventualities.

Use this as a bit of a checklist before heading out on your Scottish camping adventure:

  • A sturdy, waterproof tent is essential, as weather conditions can change rapidly. Choose a tent with a robust flysheet and a high hydrostatic head rating to withstand heavy rain and gusty winds.
  • A sleeping bag rated for three or four seasons will ensure warmth during cooler nights, especially in the Highlands.
  • A portable stove, as relying on campfires is often not viable due to environmental regulations and the wet Scottish climate. Include waterproof matches or a wind-resistant lighter.
  • Clothing should be layered, breathable, and waterproof, with a reliable set of boots for hiking across varied terrains.
  • Navigation tools such as a map and compass are indispensable, given the remote nature of many Scottish camping spots.
  • Finally, a first-aid kit, insect repellent (especially for midge season), and a headlamp or torch round out the essential gear list.
Scottish highlands
Where Can You Camp in Scotland? 10 Best Spots for Camping & Wild Camping

Conclusion

Exploring Scotland through camping, whether at well-equipped campsites or in the wild expanses of its rugged terrain, offers an incomparable connection to nature. 

With the right preparation, respect for legal guidelines, and commitment to sustainability, you can fully enjoy the serene beauty and rich biodiversity of Scotland. 

Remember to pack appropriately, respect the wildlife and environment, and choose your camping spots wisely. 

By doing so, you ensure that these magnificent landscapes remain pristine and accessible for future adventurers. Happy camping!

FAQs

Can You Wild Camp in Scottish National Parks?

Yes, wild camping is allowed in most Scottish national parks as long as you follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. However, some areas may have restrictions or require a permit, so it’s important to check beforehand.

Can You Camp in Laybys in Scotland?

For the most part, camping in laybys is not allowed in Scotland. There are, however, some exceptions, so it’s best to check local restrictions.

Where Can You Wild Camp in England & Wales?

Wild camping is generally not allowed in England and Wales unless you have permission from the landowner. However, there are some areas that allow wild camping with certain restrictions.

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