A Basic Guide to Wild Camping

Camping in the Wilderness

Basic Guide to Wild CampingWhenever people think about the romantic side of camping, they’re thinking about wild camping.  It’s the type of camping that doesn’t involve campsites with communal showers or the worst toilet in Scotland, but does involve great joy.

This section is an introduction to Wild Camping in Scotland. If you already know the basics here are some links to what you’re probably looking for:

Why go Wild Camping?

There is no great mystique to wild camping.  It’s just fun.  It’s pitching a tent somewhere knowing that there’s no one else around, that you can be as silly or meditative as you like.  It’s about enjoying the silence.
I first went wild camping when I was in my early twenties, before it had a name – it was just camping.  I’d love to go out by myself in the Highlands of Scotland, find a path that would take two or three days, and walk it.  Because I brought my own gear with me I could do that.  I could go out for more than a single day, and pitch a tent half way through to get some sleep.
And that’s the main reason to go wild camping – it extends your time outside.  You can take longer and go further.  You can stop when you want, get a brew on, watch the sun go down.
That’s the great promise of wild camping.  It gives you the freedom to carry on a great experience a bit longer.

  

Who can go Wild Camping?

Scottish SunsetI’m a strong believer that everyone can go wild camping, if they want to.  If you don’t mind leaving behind some creature comforts for a couple of days in exchange for an amazing time, then you can go.
It doesn’t take a great deal of kit.  You don’t need designer camping gear, or metal widget-things for pulling out tent pegs, you just need the basics.
It does, however, take a little bit of knowledge.  Not a lot – just some.  Sensible things mostly. That’s why I wrote this guide to wild camping.
So it’s divided into a few sections.

  

Is Wild Camping Legal?

The first section, and probably the one you should check out first, is whether it’s legal to go wild camping at all.  I’ve heard quite a few different accounts, but this section on Legal issues in Scotland should give you the definitive view of do’s and don’ts. Basically, yes it is legal, with a few caveats. So long as you leave it exactly as you found it, which includes no setting fire to anything out there, then you’ll be ok.

  

What should I take Wild Camping?

The second section is on gear that you should think about taking with you.  To start with pick your season.  If you go out in summer, and in good weather, you don’t need a lot of kit at all.  Winter or high altitude that costs a bit more, but not summer.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune either.  Camping shops will probably disagree, but what you can’t borrow you probably can get from the local supermarket (including sleeping bags, tents etc.)  At least to start with.  If you try it out and like it, that’s the time it’ll be worth replacing and upgrading some of that basic stuff.
There’s a phrase that comes up in a few outdoor sports – “All the gear, no idea.”  Far better is to focus on knowledge and actually getting out there rather than just buying stuff.

  

Where can I go Wild Camping?

The next question is, where can I go Wild Camping?
Well, there are two parts to the answer.
The first is, anywhere you can find a good spot to camp.  Here’s my short guide on selecting a wild camping site from an Ordnance Survey Map.
The second is, where are the great areas to look for wild camping sites.  Here’s my rough guide to camping areas in Scotland.
Finally, I thought it would be good to see what’s on offer if you can get as far as the Highlands of Scotland.

  

Go Wild Camping!

If the idea of living by your own means, packing own bag, finding a spot and getting on with it whatever the conditions sounds interesting, then wild camping is for you.
If the idea of being somewhere far away, free to enjoy yourself, then wild camping is for you.

I hope you like my guide, and please do leave comments or drop me an email.  I’d love to hear from you.