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Camping in Scotland - to complete the Scottish experience

Updated on December 14, 2009

Camping in Scotland is not quite the same as in Canada

Camping allows for a great way to get away from the drone of the everyday, and in the beauty of Scotland there is no shortage of great areas to explore.

Camping in Scotland, and the rest of Europe for that matter, is a bit different than the typical Canadian campground experience. In Canada, we seek isolation and have campsites which can take at least 5 minutes of driving through the forest to reach the actual campground from the highway. In Scotland, camping tends to be more for those in camper vans/caravans. Often you will find yourself in a an open field, sharing the space with other campers.

Wild Camping with a view of Isle of Skye

Looking towards Isle of Skye
Looking towards Isle of Skye

Wild Camping is your right in Scotland

Camping in Scotland does allow for cheaper accommodation and a way to explore areas which may not have a lot of accommodation. What we found to be the most exciting part of camping in Scotland is that they allow for wild camping anywhere. Though - you must still be respectful and not pitch your tent right next to someones farm.

The Land Reform Act of 2003 establishes a right to camp, given you adhere to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which describes your responsibilities while wild camping. Do not expect to be able to have a camp fire (the highlight of a central Canada summer camp trip). Also be sure to leave a minimal impact on the land, and of course, pack in-pack out. Do not leave any waste behind.

While on a bus going around the northern tip of Isle of Skye, I saw the most spectacular wild camping view - an SUV pulled off the road onto a cliff, with a tent set up and a woman sitting beside the tent reading, as the waves crashed below. This was a particularly sunny weekend on the Isle of Skye, and I was immensely jealous of her camping location. Even if it was visible from the road.

Beware of the Midges!

One aspect of camping in Scotland not to forget, is the dreaded midges. We had heard about them but had yet to experience them. They are not to be underestimated. They are not like mosquitoes, but far...far worse. There is very little you can do to fight them off. Many people swear by Avon's Skin So Soft as a protector. While in line at the grocery store I overheard one woman talking about the jugs and jugs of repellent she brought back with her from Dubai.

These bugs attack in the thousands. They don't leave you alone and they will bite. The bites don't remain itchy like mosquitoes, but they do hurt at the time. They are also tiny so they have the ability to get into your tent in the night. Midges are more common later in the summer, but since there was a warm spring when we went camping, we experienced them in their full force in May.

Even though we only camped 2 out of our 4 expected camping nights (we stayed in a B&B for the last two nights), experiencing the midges seemed to complete our Scottish experience.

And in our defense, we were camping without our usual camping gear which we left behind in Canada- a £20 tent and two £5 mats, and no camping gear beyond one cold weather sleeping bag. That does leave us at a bit of a disadvantage.

Stay tuned for my "Camping in Germany" experience -- no midges, but not necessarily a better experience.

Beautiful Scotland

Ferry Glen on Isle of Skye
Ferry Glen on Isle of Skye


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    • ForTheInterim profile image

      ForTheInterim 8 years ago from Montreal

      Sounds wonderful! I did some cycle touring through Germany, but I bet Scotland would be amazing with its open camping policy and how quiet it can be on the west coast. Camping in Germany is a whole different experience - you're so close to the next person you could share their tent pegs!

    • Drwibble profile image

      Drwibble 8 years ago from UK

      My partner and I cycle toured and camped in the west coast of Scotland last year. Stunning scenery, but those midges were annoying. We tried to locate the tent to be in a breeze to reduce the numbers biting us.

    • E Cruz profile image

      E Cruz 8 years ago

      Your pics are amazing!! Part of my family's lineage is from Scotland, and we're all dying to take a family trip. Thank you for reading my hubpage, and I'm certainly glad I checked out yours! Take care!