When I think back on our recent campervan road trip through Scotland I think dramatic coasts, epic cliffs, old castles, remote roads, mountains and waterfalls. Oh and cows – you cannot forget the amazing highland cows (or heyland coo as the Scots say).
We hired a van for three weeks from Rockin’ Vans who are a Scottish based company that hire out campervans and motorhomes throughout the UK. They are one of the largest motorhome and camper hire companies in the United Kingdom, with locations in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh. We picked up our van in London and were able to drop it off in Scotland three weeks later.
When it comes to a campervan, it’s all about the freedom
The reason I absolutely love travelling in a campervan is that you have so much freedom. You can wake up every morning with different views and landscapes. There is no reason to rush and leave the hotel room at 11am, you can stay as little or as long in a place as your heart desires. A campervan gives you the ability to stay in an amazing location as long as you want.
Scotland is best seen by campervan, especially with it’s flexible views on wild camping
First of all, what is Wild Camping? Well its actually exactly what is sounds like, camping in the wild (for free).
When I started researching wild camping in the United Kingdom and in particular Scotland I was really confused about where we could and couldn’t wild camp. I’ve done my research and spoken to many locals about wild camping and here’s what I’ve found to be accurate: It’s actually illegal to wild camp in most parts of the United Kingdom, however Scotland does have many legal wild camping areas. So while it is legal in most parts of the country, you still need to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code for wild camping is based on three key principles:
- Respect the interests of other people.
- Care for the environment.
- Take responsibility for your own actions.
While most areas in Scotland are unrestricted, there are places you definitely shouldn’t camp. You should also avoid historic buildings, houses and near roads. If you’re unsure as to whether you can camp somewhere, seek the owner’s permission or go to to the folk at the towns local information desk – we found speaking to these people so helpful.
Wherever you choose to camp, it’s important to follow a few simple rules that relate to the principles above. Tidy up after yourself and if you do create a campfire, make sure you remove all traces of it before you leave. Also make sure there aren’t too many people already camping in your chosen spot, avoid overcrowding by moving on to another location if it’s already busy.
With a campervan it can be a bit tricky to find spots as wild camping typically refers to people using tents. You can only park overnight in places that don’t specifically state “no overnight parking” or have restrictions – which is a no-brainer really.
Camping around Loch Lomond in Scotland
As part of Scotland’s access legislation, you are allowed to camp on most unenclosed land. However, due to overuse, Loch Lomond is subject to wild camping byelaws that came into effect on 1st March 2017. You can read more about the bylaws here.
Basically to camp in certain zones around Loch Lomond and in the national park you must have a permit or stay in a campsite.
The byelaws were introduced to manage the environmental impact of camping on some of the busiest lochshores in the National Park. These byelaws affect those wanting to stay on and around some lochshores during the summer season in the National Park, whether they are in a tent, motorhome, campervan or caravan. The Loch Lommond National park website has a good FAQ section about the byelaws and permits here.
We couldn’t really find a good place to wild camp that was outside of the permit area (or even within the permit area to be honest) so we opted to stay at a campsite right on the Loch called Cashel Campsite. It was actually really great and had amazing facilities.
Wild camping VS staying at campsites in Scotland
We absolutely loved the wild camping experiences we had in Scotland and across 12 nights we wild camped for 5 and stayed in campsites for 7. The reason we split our time wild camping and in campsites was purely because the van we had didn’t have a shower or toilet so it was nice to be able to have bathroom/shower facilities every second night. On the nights we wild camped we always stopped at service stations close by to use bathrooms or went our for dinner so we could use the restaurants bathrooms before we went home to bed.
It was also nice to support local campsites and give some money back into the communities we were passing through. Even if we wild camped I made sure we were always respectful and shopped in the towns local shops or ate at their restaurants.
Wild camping is a fantastic way to discover remote parts of stunning landscapes and relax away from busy cities. The experience definitely comes with a great feeling of adventure!
Please note: The Wild Hideaway travelled as partners of Rockin Vans, we spent three weeks testing out their VW Campervan and creating content for them. As always anything you read here is my personal and honest opinion.