Planning Tips For Wild Camping Scotland? (Post-lockdown of course)

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MariusD

Member
May 18, 2020
21
5
Kent, United Kingdom
Hi All

I am new to this forum and to camping in Britain. I have enjoyed camping and the outdoors throughout most of my life back in South Africa (been living in the UK for 2.5 years), but haven't found the chance, until now, to go for a proper camp. I was initially put off by the 'traditional green patch' campsites/caravan parks I found when googling and never really considered investigating further.

Having two getaways cancelled in the last few months and sitting at home with a lot of time to think I started exploring the idea of camping in Scotland. I have been to Scotland a few times in the winter and once during summer and it really is one of the most beautiful places to visit (despite the weather). I also found that it is legal to camp almost anywhere in the national parks. This peaked my interest as my wife and I would now be able to do a proper 'wild camp'. We are waiting (as patiently as we can) for lockdown to end so that we can do our trip. I have not fully researched the whole country, but I have seen some truly spectacular spots to be visited.

Because we will be driving up from south east England I would like to spend 1-2 nights in Galloway Forest Park before heading up further north for a few more nights. So, does anybody have any special recommendations or any tips that may be of use to a novice such as myself? What will the weather be like during (I assume) June - August? How far are camp spots likely to be from our car (we don't mind a good hike)?

As far as camping kit is concerned we are basically starting from scratch. Because this will be our first trip (and also due to the amount of waste in this world) we are aiming to buy everything that we need secondhand and within a £250 budget. We do already own a few of the essentials as we enjoy hiking/walking the countryside. But, if anyone has any suggestions or knows of anything being sold then please do get in touch.

Please feel free to share any other information/knowledge that you feel might come in handy.

Thanks
Marius
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
4,864
4,173
Mid Wales
Hi Marius, welcome to the Forum.

Scottish weather - you can have shirt sleeve glorious sunshine in February and wind and sleet in June - you have to either trust the weather forecast and take appropriate gear or take for every eventuality; I recommend the latter.

I won't tell you exactly where to go, but I just love the North West coast and the islands. On a nice day the beaches are like you see on Caribbean postcards (albeit 10 degrees or more colder), the water is blue and crystal clear and the foraging is fantastic. I have camped out on some remote beaches for days and not seen another soul - there's something about just watching the tide come in and out that really sooths the body and mind.

Having said that, there are nice areas on the East coast as well :)
 

Tengu

Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
11,414
771
48
Wiltshire
Scotland can be very cold in the summer.

Take something to keep you warm, and something for the wet. And dont forget it can turn scary fast!

But dont forget it can be hot and sunny. So you will need sun cream for sure. (I doubt the mountains in RSA are much different)

Midges havent bothered me much; I think I am too scary for them. But other people have been midged; I have heard horror stories about how much the midges cost the tourist industry each year in lost revenue.

Ive traveled a lot in Scotland and always loved it; the people are friendly and helpful, (as much as that generalisation wil go).

I wont tell you where to go or what to see; I dont know what you like. There are many helpful guides online. Or maybe just turnup and see what you can find for yourself.

Access to good maps is a great start.
 

MariusD

Member
May 18, 2020
21
5
Kent, United Kingdom
Hi Marius, welcome to the Forum.

Scottish weather - you can have shirt sleeve glorious sunshine in February and wind and sleet in June - you have to either trust the weather forecast and take appropriate gear or take for every eventuality; I recommend the latter.

I won't tell you exactly where to go, but I just love the North West coast and the islands. On a nice day the beaches are like you see on Caribbean postcards (albeit 10 degrees or more colder), the water is blue and crystal clear and the foraging is fantastic. I have camped out on some remote beaches for days and not seen another soul - there's something about just watching the tide come in and out that really sooths the body and mind.

Having said that, there are nice areas on the East coast as well :)

@Broch thanks! I think the uncertainty over the weather is what bugs me most. Our goal is the North West coast. The white sand and crystal waters is a huge draw factor for us.
 

MariusD

Member
May 18, 2020
21
5
Kent, United Kingdom
Scotland can be very cold in the summer.

Take something to keep you warm, and something for the wet. And dont forget it can turn scary fast!

But dont forget it can be hot and sunny. So you will need sun cream for sure. (I doubt the mountains in RSA are much different)

Midges havent bothered me much; I think I am too scary for them. But other people have been midged; I have heard horror stories about how much the midges cost the tourist industry each year in lost revenue.

Ive traveled a lot in Scotland and always loved it; the people are friendly and helpful, (as much as that generalisation wil go).

I wont tell you where to go or what to see; I dont know what you like. There are many helpful guides online. Or maybe just turnup and see what you can find for yourself.

Access to good maps is a great start.

@Tengu thank you for your reply. I am hoping for some really warm weather of course. Are there any particular maps that you could recommend?
 

SCOMAN

Full Member
Dec 31, 2005
2,309
323
51
Perthshire
Midges and there’s an expectation that tick numbers will be up this year too. Everything else has been covered.
 

richy3333

Full Member
Jan 23, 2017
224
56
Far NW Scoootland
If you’ll be by the coast the breeze will negate the midges somewhat. Ticks are always around. Just take the usual precautions and check yourself everyday.

Beach camping is an option. The north west coast has the Gulf Stream warming it. Weather is variable in one day but certainly not much colder than the majority of the rest of the U.K.

If your wild camping be aware that the highland council in their infinite wisdom closed many toilets. Some have reopened and are managed by villages but not all. Where open, the tap water is normally labelled as not drinking water.

Hope that helps.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
4,864
4,173
Mid Wales
There is one point you may need to consider; you're not wild camping, in the Scottish regulations sense, if you arrive by car. The definition says you must walk, cycle or paddle there (or words to that effect). I have never been asked to move on or had any problems and I'm in a 110 Land Rover - unless I've actually backpacked or canoed from a drop-off point.
 

richy3333

Full Member
Jan 23, 2017
224
56
Far NW Scoootland
You’ll not be bothered if in a vehicle. Last summer over a stretch of 40 miles every lay-by was occupied by a motorhome, caravan or car camper. The police won’t bother you. There are far to few cops covering massive areas and they have better things to do (mainly scraping up crashed tourists doing the NC500 in high powered cars or on motorbikes, driving like it’s the Nurburgring).
 
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Dougster

Full Member
Oct 13, 2005
5,215
186
The banks of the Deveron.
Can I throw a spanner in the works...?

Try the Moray Coast. The Cairngorms too. There are significantly fewer midges, the beaches are still incredible and there is plenty of wide open space to camp. It is also significantly drier.

There are quite a few German and Dutch tourists and it is geared up for this. It is the centre of the Speyside whisky and there are visitor centres at Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and others with superb cafes.

We still have ticks and the area is more agricultural between the beaches and hills so be careful.

It is also worth noting that Covid numbers are still rising in North Scotland, as they are in North Wales, so the end of lockdown may not guarantee that it is a good idea to journey here.

Enjoy and shout if I can help.
 
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SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
753
460
Ceredigion
There is one point you may need to consider; you're not wild camping, in the Scottish regulations sense, if you arrive by car. The definition says you must walk, cycle or paddle there (or words to that effect). I have never been asked to move on or had any problems and I'm in a 110 Land Rover - unless I've actually backpacked or canoed from a drop-off point.
Does it count as wild camping if you park up and then walk in some distance? I'm thinking 1-2 miles in, not 50 m!
 

MariusD

Member
May 18, 2020
21
5
Kent, United Kingdom
Thanks for all your responses guys. Really helpful info - please keep it coming.

@richy3333 @Broch my intentions are not to park up and camp alongside my car. My wife and I intend to park our car and hike a little way before setting up camp in what I imagine to be a secluded spot of natural beauty. Not really keen to be too close to any other campers and we do not wish to be aiding any overcrowding.
 

MariusD

Member
May 18, 2020
21
5
Kent, United Kingdom
@Dougster thanks for the suggestions. We did visit the Cairngorms 2 years ago and did a whisky tour/tasting (although, I am not a whisky drinker) and we loved it! It is a shame about the virus numbers, I will not be travelling until relatively safe to do so. So far it is looking most likely that we will have to spend a night or two in Galloway park before venturing further north. How far north do we go? I have no idea yet. Also looking around Glencoe.
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
4,864
4,173
Mid Wales
Does it count as wild camping if you park up and then walk in some distance? I'm thinking 1-2 miles in, not 50 m!

Yep, I think that's fine - I seem to remember there was actually some distance figure advised but I can't remember where.

I've just searched for the original information I had on this and can't find it. I have found the Scottish Mountaineering Council advice and that seems to say it's OK as long as it's for a short time - a bit confusing. I wish I hadn't raise the subject now :)

 

SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
753
460
Ceredigion
Yep, I think that's fine - I seem to remember there was actually some distance figure advised but I can't remember where.

I've just searched for the original information I had on this and can't find it. I have found the Scottish Mountaineering Council advice and that seems to say it's OK as long as it's for a short time - a bit confusing. I wish I hadn't raise the subject now :)

Thanks!
I only stay one or (on very rare occasions) two nights in the same place when wild camping anyway.
 

brambles

Settler
Apr 26, 2012
750
45
Aberdeenshire
Layers are your saviour in clothing, in the summer months as long you have a fleece and good waterproofs you will be warm enough, it's the combination of damp and windchill that makes bad summer weather miserable. And remember the better the weather and clearer the skies during the day, the colder at night. I live in the Cairngorms and we have had pretty bad frost in the last couple of weeks after glorious days. If you are heading to the true north west Torridon to Tongue, remember shops and supplies can be few and far between out there. Whatever tent you get make sure that is plenty big enough for 2 in case you are weatherbound in it for a few days, has a full waterproof flysheet and not one of those half baked American types and has good midge netting.
 

MariusD

Member
May 18, 2020
21
5
Kent, United Kingdom
Hey guys, below is my (incomplete) kit/gear list that I have started putting together (for 2 persons). One thing I am not too concerned about is clothing and boots. We have invested in good outdoor clothing and footwear over the last few years, so I am sure we will be warm and dry.

As mentioned in my first post we are trying to only buy secondhand/used items and stay as close as possible to a £250 budget.

Please share any recommendations/reservations you may have. I am currently struggling to decide on the best bed/sleeping option. Our tent is a decent size and does have a little covered 'porch', so we will have refuge to cook or just sit should the weather be too miserable.

ITEMDESCRIPTIONPRICE (incl. P&P)
TENTVANGO BERKELEY 500£80 (EBAY)
BACKPACK
BACKPACK
SLEEPING BAG
SLEEPING BAG
MATTRESS
MATTRESS
BED/S
CROCKERYSAUCEPANS, MUGS, PAN SET£12 (EBAY)
CUTLERY
GAS STOVECOLEMAN OUTLANDER STOVE£29.1 (EBAY)
TORCHCHEAP CHINESE LEDN/A
LAMPSILVERPOINT 300 LUMEN LED£12.9 (EBAY)
HEADLAMP2 x PETZLN/A
KNIFE
AXE/HATCHETCHEAPIEN/A
SOLAR SHOWER
FLASKCAPE UNION 750mlN/A
WATER BOTTLE/SACK
COOLER
SHOVEL
POWER BANK
FIRST AID KIT
 
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