Camping wild in Scotland is a great way to experience Scotland’s wild and wonderful countryside, it gives you the freedom to choose exactly where you want to stay away from the crowds. But camping wild does have some responsibility and you have to ensure you do this without any impact on the environment and to the land owners, Following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code will allow you to do this without any serious impact.
Choosing the Ideal Camping Spot
Look closely into finding your designated camping area, try and find a place away from any other people and away from Houses, keep the size of your camping group minimal to minimise any noise. If you are planning on staying more than a couple of nights, plan ahead to move your tent so you don’t damage any vegetation, try not to stay in the same place for more than 3 nights. Remember farmers work the land so please try not to camp in any areas that are likely to be worked on, this can cause disruption to the farmers and yourself. Also be aware of the local area and plan for emergencies, where is the local Hospital and village, be constantly aware and this will help minimise any situations.
When Camping Close to Water
It’s always nice to camp next to a river or loch and this also helps keep your supplies of water close by, protecting the water should be a priority, remember a burn could be a supply for a local cottage. Never use the water as a toilet stop and don’t contaminate any water with waste cleaning products, To clean your teeth or wash dishes collect your water in a container and clean them a few meters away from the water source.
River banks and Lochs in Scotland are a vital part of Animal life, be aware that you are not camping next to any nesting birds and be prepared to move if you discover you are disturbing any wildlife. Noise will travel across water also disturbing wildlife, be aware where you pitch your tent you could be over an entrance to a burrow or warren, check the ground carefully before choosing your spot. Don’t leave any scraps of food when you leave, this could attract scavenging birds and animals that could prey on nesting birds and small mammals, leave the area how you found it. If you are near any farm animals please do not disturb them or leave any gates open.
It’s not advisable to light fires inland, but acceptable to light fires in a tidal beach where your fire is below the normal high water mark. Lighting fires poses a huge risk on peaty soils and close to dry grass and heather. If you need to cook it is advisable to use camping stoves, if you use BBQ’s please use them on top of rocks and dispose of the waste sensibly.
When you have the urge to go to the toilet always ensure that you are at least 30 meters away from any water source, bury any human waste in a small hole and cover back up, do not cover with any rocks or foliage. Be responsible and do not go to the toilet in sensitive areas like Machair on the West Coast and farmers crops. If you use toilet paper please take away and dispose of sensibly. Take all sanitary towels and tampons away with you in a closed plastic box and dispose of when you reach a public toilet.
Leave the Camping Area as you Found it
Minimise any potential litter before your arrival, plan carefully what you need to bring with you and what you don’t need, Remove all your litter before leaving camp and anyone else’s litter if you see that. do not bury any litter or hide, this can cause harm to wildlife, if you remove any rocks please replace them where you found them originally. Please bring with you suitable refuge bags to place any rubbish into, if left outside at night ensure the bags are tied up securely and not in any danger to blow away with any wind.
Safety Comes First
When choosing a place to camp always make sure that it is a safe area, Do not camp near any roads or any areas that may have farm vehicles. If you are camping by water ensure that you are not in any areas of high tide or a flooding area, when camping in mountain areas always make sure you are not near any cliffs or steep slopes, find a well sheltered spot away from any possible strong winds. When wild camping alone try and let someone know your plans and where you intend to camp and give them a time when you are expected to return. If you have a dog with you please make sure the dog is controlled at all times, especially near farm animals.
Wild Camping in Scotland can be fun and safe if you follow the simple rules in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code within this link are PDF files you can print out and take with you for reference, read carefully and respect the rules within the code. Scotland is there for all of us to enjoy, if your camping or staying in a hotel, respect the land and the environment, so Scotland remains a beautiful area for many years to come.