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Wild Camping in Scotland – A Beginner’s Guide

Posted on Apr 30, 2012 by Sarah Morton

I could count on one hand the number of times I have been wild camping in Scotland, and that very same number all amount to unsuccessful attempts.

Although I hate to admit it, and no matter how much I love adventure, the outdoors and anything that burns off my excessive amounts of energy, I am more of a five-star hotel kind of gal than up for roughing it. That said, I had my arm twisted at the weekend and got whisked away for my first wild camping expedition. How the pack your camping kit like a pro.

Location, Location, Location

Location and weather are obviously key factors to the success of a trip of this nature, and as luck would have it the Scottish weather played ball – perhaps a little chilly, with the north westerly wind coming in later on in the evening but otherwise it was pretty good. The sun shone all day, and I managed to catch one of the best sunsets I have ever seen, while tucking into a delicious supper. Location, on the other hand, is less to do with luck and more tilted towards planning.

One of the great things about the Highlands is, there are so many remote and wild spots that wild camping is quite accessible, we chose to head for the hills of Assynt, in the North West Highlands, where there is an abundance of secluded spots to pitch your tent. Although I’m not completely convinced I’m cut out for a night under the stars just yet, my night in a tent wasn’t quite as traumatic as I anticipated. The pros most definitely outweigh the cons.

The drive through the wilderness to find the perfect spot was breathtaking, I got within touching distance of more wildlife, sea life and birdlife in two days than some people do in their whole lives, and I definitely woke up feeling more refreshed than I ever have done in any hotel.

A few tips on what NOT to do if you’re camping in Scotland.

Wild Camping Tips

Wild camping in Scotland isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have been thinking of giving it a go, Spring and Summer in the Highlands are the perfect time to take the plunge. Have a read of my essential first-timer tips to get your planning off to a start:

  • Location – chose an area you really want to see, with plenty of things to do during the day be it walking, climbing, biking or paddling, make a full trip out of it.
  • Bring a good map with you – Ordnance Survey maps are the best. Have a rough plan of where you want to go.
  • Check out the roads and local facilities – some areas are really very remote, with just single-track roads and very little local amenities – make sure you bring anything you really need, because chances are you may not be able to pick it up locally.
  • Bring a supply of food – things that are easy to cook or just need heated up.
  • Make sure you know how and where to go to the toilet! If you’re not sure, this book tells you how.
  • Pack out what you bring in – make sure you leave the wilderness as you found it. Pack out all litter and unused food, leaving no trace.
  • Bring plenty of warm clothes – it can get very cold at night, and have extra clothes in case you get wet.
  • Check the weather – pretty much out of your hands, but if it’s going to be bad, it might be better to hold fire and hang on for a better forecast – the most accurate information for the Highlands can be found on the Mountain Weather Information Service website.
  • Bring the right kit – carefully research the kit you need to specifically suit your trip.
  • Know the Scottish Outdoors Access Code.
  • Practice leaving no trace – enjoy the land, but leave it as you found it to ensure we preserve the beautiful but fragile environment.
  • Don’t forget your camera!

VIDEO: Wild Camping and Canoeing in Scotland

Take a few minutes to immerse yourself in the excitement of canoeing wild camping in Scotland as a group tackle the North West Highlands canoeing and camping trip.

Guided Wild Camping Trips in Scotland

If you’re still not sure you’re ready to brave the wilderness alone, why not try one of our canoeing or sea kayaking expedition trips that include wilderness camping, and let our expert guides show you the ropes.

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