A camper van is an ideal way to explore the wild places of Scotland. This page will give you information to help guide how you do that. There are many great camp sites in Scotland and we recommend that you make use of them. There are also various ways that you can camp in locations that are a bit more unrestricted so long as you follow some simple rules.
This guide from Visit Scotland gives you a great introduction to using a motorhome or camper van in Scotland.
Access laws in Scotland mean that you are allowed to camp on most unenclosed land. Whilst this law does specifically exclude the use of motorised campervans, it is generally accepted that as long as common sense is employed the practice of wild camping in a motorhome is accepted.
One of the main stipulations that run alongside these laws are that campers leave wild places unblemished by their visit. The ideal is that you should leave the land without any evidence that you have been there. When thinking about wild camping in a camper van it is particulalry important that this is considered. Will you cause damage to the spot by driving over ground to get there? Will you be able to get out again if it rains overnight?
It’s possible to free or wild camp just about anywhere in Scotland. That said, it depends on what you are prepared to put up with!
Stay the night scheme
The Forestry Commission in Scotland have introduced a scheme where self contained camper vans and motorhomes are allowed to camp in some forestry sites for a night. This is designed as a stopover stay, not a long term camp. You can find details here.
Don’t park up near residential areas
You shouldn’t park overnight in your motorhome or camper van within site of residential dwellings.
Go north and go west
A general rule would be that the further north and the further west you go the more options you have for genuine free or wild camping in a campervan. The western isles provide some of the best camper van wild camping. (This is with the exception of some areas of Skye. Again though, the further west you go the more wild camping you’ll find on Skye.)
Get off the main roads
Another rule would be that you’ll find the best wild camping spots by leaving the main roads. If you drive straight up the A9 for example, you’re unlikely to come across the isolated and picturesque wild camping spot of your dreams!
Mix it up
On some days there is nothing better than taking your time on beautiful back roads. Stop when you fancy and camp up for the night at a beautiful wild spot. Other days it makes sense to book a campsite in advance and get some miles under your belt. Booking a campsite also means you can shower and easily top up on water etc.
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides full guidelines for accessing the countryside and choosing appropriate campsites.
In sumary you should follow the guidelines below:
- Try not to pitch up near inhabited areas – you should ideally be out of site of all dwellings
- Avoid overcrowding. If a site is busy move on to another location
- Carry a trowel to bury toilet waste and urinate well away from water courses
- If you are near the sea then it is also acceptable to toilet below the high tide mark
- Use a stove or leave no trace of any camp fire. Never cut down or damage trees
- Take away your rubbish and consider picking up other litter as well
- If in doubt, ask the locals. Their advice might help you find a better camping spot and generally speaking you’ll find them friendly and helpful
Other useful information can be found here:
The Highway Code Rules regarding parking at night.
Specific information in the access code regarding parking.