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Adventures in Scotland

Wild Camping in Scotland: a personal perspective in the post COVID era

On July 29, 2020 By Rebecca Field

We are so lucky here – wild camping in Scotland is a perfectly legal activity. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code allows us remarkable freedom, but as a result of coronavirus there seems to have been a resurgence in irresponsible access to the outdoors. Lockdown has inspired many to head out into the countryside and enjoy nature; exercise outdoors etc – especially as the gyms have been and remain shut in Scotland for now. Many have turned to so-called wild camping – much of which is a result of people touring in their own motor, caravan and motorhome. Not what we call wild camping. For us, if you’re wild camping you’re unlikely to see any other people at all and you won’t have the luxury of motorised transport.

 

What is wild camping? – our personal definition

We’re seeing an increasing number of reports in the local and national press these days about rubbish & fires. All these reports relate to what the press call “wild campers”. Social media is full of images of heaps of rubbish collected by local residents from walks in local beauty spots. It seems that there is an increasing problem with camping equipment being left behind and human waste not being properly disposed of. Of course, this is more of a problem at the moment as public toilets have been slower to open up in this age of coronavirus pandemic.

All this though is not due to “wild camping” in its truest sense. By rights wild camping and roadside camping should not be confused.

To wild camp you must:

  • be at least 30 minutes walk from a road
  • leave no trace
  • be independent and self-reliant
  • use no motorised transport
  • no fire

wild camping in Scotland

Wild Camping v roadside camping

“At Mountaineering Scotland, we continue to promote responsible access and behaviour to our members and the mountaineering community through our communications and campaigns. We believe that the problem is the behaviour, not the activity of camping, and that the creation of additional legislation will not be the solution. The existing legislation already deals with irresponsible and criminal behaviour; what is needed is more investment in low cost facilities, improved public information and councils, communities and police working together to find local management solutions.”

There are no doubt many people who camp close to the road and leave no trace. Unfortunately as per normal, it’s the minority who could spoil it for the rest of us. It is especially important in the time of a hugely infectious pandemic, to make sure that you do not leave any waste behind you. By this I am not referring only to plastic, cardboard etc, but also to any bodily waste. If you’re going to go and camp outside a camp site where public toilet facilities are not available, you need to either take your poo away with you to dispose of properly or bury it in a safe site. If you do not know the protocol, make sure you find out before you leave.

Our personal choice

When you work for yourself, from home and your home is your business, it is difficult to get quality time away from work. Our choice is usually to head out for an overnight wild camp – maximum enjoyment for minimum time away. It often feels as if we’ve been away for a week after we come back from an overnight in the hills. The only problem is that we don’t go often enough!

We think it’s such a great way to relax and get away from the stresses of daily life, that we’ve incorporated a luxury version in our programme which you could enjoy too.

wild camping in Scotland

Wild camping with Scot Mountain Holidays

We’ve taken the wild camping concept one step further and made it more of  a glamping experience. However, we’re still conforming with all the principles of “wild camping” above. No motorised transport; more than 30 minutes walk from a road; self-reliant and independent. Check it out.

wild camping in Scotland

 

Respect a few simple rules or run the risk of losing the right to camp responsibly: check out this article

Resources:

Camping – a beginner’s guide by Fiona Outdoors

Wild Camping: Scotland’s top 10 spots

Guide to Wild Camping in Scotland (WatchMeSee)

Visit Scotland guide to Wild Camping

Scottish Outdoor Access Code

MC of S – concerns about Wild Camping

Lockdown encouraged surge of interest in nature

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