/ Your Favourite Scottish Campsite (Free if poss..)

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Anna Healy - on 13 Feb 2018

We've got a bell tent arriving soon and are keen to take it for a test run as soon as possible. We're based in Newcastle upon Tyne. 

Whilst up in Torridon last year, we were really impressed with the free campsite scene and were wondering how far south this custom extends? 

I know in theory you can wild camp anywhere in Scotland, but I was wondering if there are beautiful places that you can stay at for a few days? Ideally also using a wood-burner..

We're also interested in:

1) Reasonably priced campsites in all parts of Scotland/ good free spots (ideally near climbing areas)

2) Campsites in Dumfriesshire that are open in winter. 

3) Rules regarding wild camping - number of days, fires, size of tent (I have searched online for this, but most of the guidelines seem pretty vague?)


Thank you!


Cloverleaf - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Anna Healy:

Not sure why so many dislikes. Anyway, if you're in the NW the campsite at Melon Udrigle isn't free, and it is basic, but it has one of the most stunning views of anywhere in Scotland. Some easy short cragging within walking distance, both down at the point and at Slaggan on the other side of the headland.

marsbar - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Anna Healy:

As I understand it the spirit (if not the letter) of the wild camping laws refer to wild camping not car camping.  

As such my personal view is that the size of the tent for wild camping is that which you can carry or transport in a kayak or on a bike etc.  

I’d also say (and again this is my personal opinion only) that rocking up for a week in the same place is something that should be done on a campsite, not wild camping.  

If you want to have a fire then the easy responsible way is to get something with legs so it is off the ground.  You can get fire bowls in various sizes.  If you have the landowners permission to do something different then that’s fine.  

IPPurewater on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Anna Healy:

In answer to number 3: Look up the Scottish Outdoor Access Code here.



Anna Healy - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to marsbar:

Thank you. Yes, you're probably right about that.  I think I'm trying to ask too many questions all at once. We're probably going to be mixing campsites with other venues. We won't be lighting any fires on the ground. 

Melon Udrigle looks great. Any more suggestions welcome!


Anna Healy - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to IPPurewater:

Thanks for that. Like I say, I've spent a while reading those documents. They're useful in a way I suppose, but I find them a bit lacking in detail? - particularly regarding duration of stay. 

jonnie3430 - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Cloverleaf:

Cos free campsites would be clogged with bell tents with wood stoves in them?

Tents should be down during the day and limit the waste you leave behind.

Tall Clare - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Anna Healy:

I echo what the others say about free campsites and wild camping. Bell tents with wood burning stoves, set up for a week, veer into a similar arena as slacklines set up for extended periods, and music blaring from VW transporters -  namely, some of the things that many people seeking out these spots are trying to escape from. 

Regarding cheap campsites in lovely locations, there's a very cheap one at Kinloch Hourn, well located for a walk in to Knoydart if you're not getting the boat across to the other side of the peninsula. There's a tea shop at Kinloch Hourn but otherwise it's a bit of a schlep to the nearest pub...

Scott K - on 13:49 Wed
In reply to Anna Healy:

The link below might be better. This sets out what is expected and where you can and cannot camp (broadly). Leave no trace, pitch late and leave early is a good start when wild camping. Fires can cause a lot of damage and can burn underground in peat for months. Some estates ask you not to light any fires. At certain times of year there will be a high fire risk too. Rothiemurchus has a good campsite and round Derry Lodge is pretty good with easy access. Sands campsite in Gairloch is lovely too. There's another one up near Gairloch but I can't remember the name - just remember it only had a water tap for facilities but was only about £2 per night.

CurlyStevo - on 09:08 Thu
In reply to Anna Healy:

There aren’t many free campsites like the torridon one.

For pay campsites this has to be up there.

The nearest pub is a drive away but it serves great food at a good price for the quality (the owner also runs a Michelin stared place not too far away)

if you make it that far you could continue to shieldeg which also has a free campsite, backs on to a nice small beach, we had the place to ourselves. Nice climbing too.

Post edited at 09:10
GrahamD - on 12:48 Thu
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> if you make it that far you could continue to shieldeg which also has a free campsite, backs on to a nice small beach, we had the place to ourselves. Nice climbing too.

....and the worst midges I have ever encountered !

marsbar - on 14:15 Thu
In reply to GrahamD:

I think I might get one of these for future trips


Ciro - on 15:39 Thu
In reply to Anna Healy:

There's some camping restrictions around loch Lomond now in the summer months, but otherwise it should be just a case of common sense - if you see somewhere nice to camp where you're not going to cause a nuisance you should be fine, and that extends all the way to the border.

I think the guidelines are intentionally wooly, because they're only there to encourage you not to make a nuisance of yourself -- as far as I'm aware there's no law that prevents you camping over a certain length of time, unless someone gets a court order for your removal because you're causing a problem.

So don't camp too close to buildings, don't cause damage, don't set up large noisy camps and leave no trace, and nobody should have a legitimate complaint

Eric9Points - on 15:52 Thu
In reply to Anna Healy:

What Ciro says is right. If no one knows you're there and you leave no trace then there's no problem.

The wood burner concerns me. Don't cut down trees and if you do collect firewood, don't take it all.


BrendanO - on 23:36 Thu
In reply to CurlyStevo:

+1 for Clachtoll. Stunning location, appears v relaxed but Jim runs it very well, if anything happens he's on it in seconds (we stayed a lazy week and saw him twice intervene within 60 seconds of summat happening). Loose chickens, so free eggs if laid in yer tent. Chip van twice a wk. Nice showers.   B  E  A  C  H  .


Macrihanish is good too...they provide a caravan for tent folk to use, so you can brew up, sit in proper seats, and get a break from your tent if crap weather. Thoughtful.

Bob Aitken - on 10:56 Fri
In reply to Eric9Points:

I'm afraid what Ciro says is probably only partially true.  Fair enough, "If no one knows you're there and you leave no trace then there's no problem" but putting up a bell tent for a week or thereabouts is unlikely to pass unnoticed.  That doesn't really qualify as 'responsible' wild camping under the Code, which as this thread shows, is intended to permit backpack-style lightweight camping with a small tent and staying just one or two nights.

As I understand it - and I may well be wrong, the law's complicated - longer-term 'encampment' without the consent of the landowner may still fall under the provisions of the Trespass (Scotland) Act of 1865.  That was in part aimed at travelling people, and could theoretically result in a criminal conviction.

I'd say that for longer-term camping with a big tent, a serviced campsite is your best bet.  Not least for the toilets ...

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