A Romantic Winter Wild Camping Adventure in Scotland
Camping in Scotland is not for the faint hearted. Luxury lovers, look away now, this is all about getting out there, getting your hands dirty, and thoroughly roughing it in the wilderness. With the right kit, and some common sense, wild camping can be a year-round accommodation option for those who truly love the outdoors and can appreciate the wild, cold, rugged beauty of Scotland in the winter months. From snow-capped peaks and high wind-swept plateaus, to icy glens and wild-waved shores with crisp, fresh feeling cliffs and beaches, where a fog that rolls in can be swept off again just as quickly by strong breezes leaving a brittle sort of sunlight, there are plenty of places to set up a winter camp. We set out on a road trip, for a wild camping adventure in sub-zero temperatures that turned out to be a romantic journey for the two of us as we found ourselves alone together, in perfect isolation, in a succession of idyllically beautiful locations.
Our first stop was a Glen towards the west of the country, a popular wild camping spot but on this particular evening we had the place to ourselves. We parked the car in a small car park and walked a short distance to pitch the tent in frost-tipped grass beside a Loch whose shoreline was covered with a thin layer of ice which glimmered in the sunlight. All around us high mountains towered, brown and green and grey, with blindingly white snow on their peaks like icing on a cake. They were reflected in the still calm of the sunlit loch. It was fairly late in the day, so we started work on the fire, collecting dryer deadwood from beneath the trees, and putting it in our ring of stones on the pebble beach of the Loch. After a short while, we got the fire going, and warmed our hands in its pleasant glow as the light levels began to fall.
In Scotland we say that there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. Fortunately, we were well wrapped up and in spite of the sub-zero temperatures, we were able to stay warm enough, toasting our hands and faces by the roaring flames as we cuddled up together next to the fire. It was a clear night and the stars up above were spectacular this far from the light pollution of the cities. In fact, there is still light pollution in most places on the planet, and we can only see the stars nowadays as they used to be by heading out into the furthest reaches of the ocean. But those who are used to the stars as they are seen from a town or city would be astounded by the sheer number and clarity of the stars one can see from some parts of the Scottish Highlands.
We had the fire, and the crisp cold night air, and the stars, and the mountains, and the moonlight playing in ripples on the Loch, and we had it all to ourselves. What could be more romantic than that?
Leaving our loch-side camp behind, we travelled out of the Glen and north, then round through the dramatic and beautiful mountainous scenery of Glencoe, before heading out towards the wild west coast. Our romantic trip continued on winding single track roads that we had almost entirely to ourselves. There was a sprinkling of snow on the roads, but with winter tyres on, our car was easily able to cope since we stayed at a steady pace and took it easy. At one point, a large red deer stepped out in front of us and we sat and watched him as he watched us for a minute or two before he moved to one side and we were able to drive on.
We completed a lazy dog-leg round Loch Eil and passed the Glenfinnan Viaduct before turning off and parking for our walking expedition down the banks of Loch Shiel. We were not in the mood for a serious hike, so this gentle Loch sidewalk in the winter sunshine was just perfect. The beauty of it was that as soon as we felt tired we could just look for a suitable spot to pitch our tent. That is exactly what we did, finding a suitable spot with an excellent view down over the Loch, and settling down to enjoy the sunset. There were thick dark clouds on the horizon, but the sun had edged them in pink and gold, making a wonderful display that seemed to have been designed just for us. We could have been the only people in the world. Snow in the sun-shadows of the hills created bright patches amidst the gloaming.
For the final night of our romantic wild camping adventure, we decided to journey to the Westernmost point of mainland Britain, the tip of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, a favourite spot of ours year round, with beautiful wind-swept sandy beaches and ancient native woodlands. We drove out along the twisty, narrow road through fairytale grottos of trees and rock and eventually, after a long and leisurely day's drive, we reached the end of the peninsula, and pitched our tent for the night near Sanna Bay. We walked the long strand, making footprints, writing our names in the sand and looking together for Cowrie shells, which are good luck. Luck was certainly on our side since the weather had threatened rain or snow but none had yet arrived. As we sat in our tent that evening and ate our romantic meal together, the sun went down on yet another crisp and perfect day.
The following morning we awoke to deep tranquil silence – the kind that only comes from a muffling blanket of snow. The field was covered with a few inches, and the odd large flake was still falling as we unzipped the tent door and went out to survey the scene. From a nearby field, some Highland cows, with gentle eyes and snow settling on their thick shaggy coats watched us curiously. Though with their horns, we were very glad that they were on the other side of a fence.
We returned home with many wonderful memories, sure that we would repeat our romantic wild camping adventure.
Ethnic groups (2011)
96.0% White 2.7% Asian 0.7% Black
Devolved government within constitutional monarchy
Union with England
1 May 1707
Area - Total
78,387 km2 30,414 sq mi
Population - 2013 estimate
Pound sterling (GBP)
Drives on the
Scotland Is Beautiful
Scotland Flag And Map
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