Camping Wild in Scotland
Q. I am making plans to travel around Scotland alone and explore as much as i can within a 3 week period. I just wanted to know would I be breaking any laws if I was to set up camp anywhere if I couldn't make it to a camp site. I would only be at 1 spot for 1 night and I know I wouldn't camp near peoples' property and I would respected the land. Could you help with my question?
Craig Maddocks, Liverpool
A. Hi Craig. Let me congratulate you on your choice of destination. Scotland is a fantastic place for hiking and camping. Unlike England and Wales, Scotland has different laws regarding access and camping. You can pretty much pitch your tent anywhere and have a small, controlled fire within reason. Just steer clear of private gardens and cultivated farmland and you should be ok. My advice would be to get yourself an Ordinance Survey map(s) of your chosen area(s). That will show you any areas where access/camping is not allowed, just look at the different coloured borders around forests etc. and the key to their meanings. Just one word of warning, if your going in the summer months, Midges! They can be a nightmare. Take plenty of insect repellent and I would recommend a mosquito head-net too. Have a great trip. Jez.
Jeremy Manning, Blackwood
A. Wild Camping and The Law in England, Scotland and Wales.
Tents cannot be pitched just anywhere because every piece of Britain is owned by some individual or some organisation and according to the strict letter of the law permission must be obtained prior to pitching tent and camping.
In practice however, this is often impractical and wild camping is usually tolerated in the more remote areas - typically, more than half a day's walk from an official campsite or other accommodation providing you:
- Keep groups small
- Camp as unobtrusively as possible
- Leave camp as you found it
- Remove all litter (even other people's)
- Carry out everything you carried in
- Carry out tampons and sanitary towels (burying them doesn't work as animals dig them up again)
- Choose a dry pitch rather than digging drainage ditches around a tent or moving boulders
- Toilet duties should be performed 30m (100ft) from water and the results buried using a trowel
- At all time, help preserve the environment
- And if you are in any doubt about what you're doing, find out more
In Scotland, the current access legislation (which came into effect in early 2005) is explicit about your right to wild camp on hill land. However, there are exceptions. Since March 2011 you are not permitted to wild camp between Dryman and Rowardennan on the shore of Loch Lomond. See Loch Lomond Wild Camping Ban for more information.
There appears to be an exception to this with respect to camping in Dartmoor National Park where the right to wild camping is actually enshrined in the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act, 1949 amendment Dartmoor Commons Act, 1985 - see Wild Camping in the UK for more details.
For the definitive answer with respect to wild camping in Scotland see the answer supplied by the Scottish Natural Heritage
For a few (tongue in cheek) tips on wild camping see Some Wild Camping Tips.
NB. go4awalk.com cannot offer any advice on suitable locations for wild camping - but click here for walks from exisiting campsites.
Hope this helps