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Wild Camping in Scotland

From the striking mountain tops to the calm and mysterious lakes that hold so many secrets, Scotland’s rural landscape promises a whirlwind of discoveries for your #vanlife holiday. During your adventure to Scotland, you can stay off the beaten track and surround yourself by nothing but nature through wild camping, the only part of the UK where it is legal with your campervan.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code allows campers to set up camp wherever they like, as long as they behave responsibly and leave no trace behind. As you’ll be sleeping in your campervan, you’ll need to be extra cautious about where you can and can’t wild camp and what the common etiquette is when doing so. Read below for our tips on how to wild camp in Scotland with your campervan and some of the best spots to add to your itinerary along the way.

Photo credit @connormollison via Unsplash

Things to Consider when Wild Camping in Scotland with your Campervan

Tip #1 – Plan ahead before you travel

It might seem fun to take a spontaneous approach but, more often than not, doing prior research can help you get the most out of your wild camping experience. Have a look online for the best spots for you and your camper along your route, and familiarise yourselves with the guidance that is out there.

Photo credit @lighttouchedphotography via Unsplash

Tip #2 – Leave no trace

Considerate campers are happy campers, and you’ll need to respect any area of land that you stay on along the way. Pick up your rubbish, don’t destroy the foliage and clean up properly after a campfire. It’s really simple to follow and keeps Scotland a beautiful place for everyone to camp.

Tip #3 – Park your vehicle on hard ground or a safe metalled area

Due to the increased popularity of campervans in recent years, there has been more damage done to soft and grass lands from people driving off road. If you are in any doubt about the ground conditions or the suitability of a spot, you are best moving along to another location.

Tip #4 – Explore areas away from tourist hot spots or congested areas

Stick to the road less travelled and find spots that incapsulate the meaning of wild camping. If you had a spot in mind that’s busier than expected, you’ll probably have a better night’s stay elsewhere anyway!

Tip #5 – Arrive late, leave early

Although it might be tempting, use any wild camping spots as a simple overnight rest stop on your journey.

Tip #6 – Avoid parking up close to people’s houses or on private property

Make sure that wherever you stop for the night you are not being disruptive or trespassing on someone’s land. Most people won’t mind you staying on their land overnight if you ask them beforehand so it is always worth checking!

The Best Places for Wild Camping in Scotland with Your Campervan

Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms is the largest National Park in the UK and has a tremendous range of walking trails, nature reserves and heritage sites to keep your mind wondering. There are fantastic options here for wild camping, from stopping at the tranquil Loch Morlich to positioning yourself for a spectacular sunrise at Cairngorms Mountain lower carpark.

Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms National Park

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

From rolling lowland landscapes in the south to high mountains in the north, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs is a treasure-trove for excitement and adventure in the great outdoors. Due to the Park’s popularity and the need to preserve its beauty, between March and September, seasonal Camping Management Zones are in place in certain areas. This means you’ll need a permit to stay overnight outside of a campsite in many spots across the park. However, there are still plenty of designated lay-bys throughout the park where campervans can park up for the night permit-free. It’s still worth looking into the permits as they give you access to beautiful spaces for a margin of the price you would pay at a campsite.

A family at the summit of Ben A-an in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park with views over Loch Katrine

Vatersay, Outer Hebrides

If visiting the Outer Hebrides is on your Scotland Itinerary, you should definitely make the trip to Vatersay, which is the most southerly inhibited island. It is blessed with sand swept beaches and a striking past making for a diverse visit. One of our recommended overnight stops is Vatersay Hall Cafe, where you can not only park your campervan next to the beach, but also enjoy some delicious food. There are also shower facilities at a small cost!

Isle Of Harris, Outer Hebrides.

Sumburgh Head, Shetland

The Shetland Isles are on the top of most people’s list of places to visit in Scotland, and with its rich Viking history to famously adorable wild ponies, is it really a wonder why? To stop over somewhere where you’ll feel on top of the world, make sure to visit Sumburgh Head on the southern tip of the island. From here you can admire the diverse sea life and marine colonies that thrive around the mighty cliffs, and venture to the striking lighthouse. The car parks here are popular spots for overnight stops, so we suggest always having a backup option if you can’t find a space.

Sumburgh Head and lighthouse, Mainland, Shetland.