Motorhomes and campervans have become very popular in recent years. They allow you the freedom to choose when and where you want to go. You can jump into your mobile holiday accommodation whenever you fancy a break from your routine. Nothing beats motorhome wild camping!
If new to motorhome wild camping, you might stick to the Scottish motorhome campsites and organised locations with all the amenities thrown in. But with a few miles under your belt and a little bit of campervanning experience, you might be tempted to try wild camping.
For motorhome wild camping, Scotland is one of the top destinations for anyone motorhome wild camping. In this post, we introduce you to campervan wild camping, where you can stay, how to prepare for your first trip and things you need to be aware of – such as the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
What Exactly is Wild Camping?
Also known as free camping, the term means different things to different people.
- For some wild campers, it means trekking off the beaten track with a backpack and minimal supplies, sleeping in a small tent or under a shelter you made yourself. The location might be a field, on the beach, in the woods or on private property.
- Other wild campers think of it as sleeping in a motorhome, RV, or campervan with all the mod cons. The only thing wild about it is no connection to the electric grid.
Wild camping in Scotland is more about a sense of freedom to park, settle down, and enjoy the peace and scenery anywhere that you choose. Why is Scotland so appealing for wild camping? Thanks to the Land Reform Act, it is the only country in the UK that allows wild camping legally!
Do you want to enjoy campervan wild camping in Scotland? Here are some of the things to think about:
- When wild camped, where will you sleep?
- Will you be able to find a parking area?
- Will the location you stop in be safe?
- Are you breaking the law when you park somewhere during your road trip?
Find the answers and much more in this guide to wild camping in Scotland in your motorhome.
Is Wild Camping in Scotland Safe?
Yes, wild camping in Scotland is most definitely safe. However, it always pays to be cautious as you could be quite far from any kind of help. Here are some top tips to bear in mind before you park for the night during your road trip:
- Check if you are allowed to camp. Get permission.
- Arrive late, move on early, and leave no trace.
- Stay for just one night and then move on.
- Keep your group small.
- Pack enough supplies, including fresh water.
- Find a remote campsite but let someone know where you are.
- Make sure you have the right equipment.
- Be careful if you camp on the shoreline because tides can change quickly.
- Take care when you camp next to a road or dangerous location such as a river or cliffs.
- Have a spare mobile phone battery for emergency communications.
- Make sure you have adequate clothing. Even on warm days, the temperature can drop at night.
Can You Sleep Anywhere in Scotland?
In most European countries, sleeping in a public place in a motorhome is not against the law.
However, there tend to be local laws in many countries that prohibit camping in particular areas. If you come across a spot you like the look of, but there is a No Overnight Camping or Vehicles sign, you should obey it.
In Scotland, there is something called the Scottish Outdoor Access Code that states everyone has a statutory right of access to land, and these rights apply to all inland waters and unenclosed land.
However, these rights do not apply to vehicular access, and many non-tarmacked roads, unfenced areas of land, and beaches in Scotland are private property.
You have no right to access land, overnight stops, or wild camping unless that landowner has authorised it.
Wild camping in Scotland comes under specific Scottish law, and we examine that further down the page.
Benefits of Wild Camping in Scotland
- Enjoy with family or friends, as it encourages face-to-face conversation and quality time.
- No set schedule.
- You get freedom and solitude.
- The views can be incredible.
- There are many health benefits such as the fresh air and plenty of vitamin D. You are more active, burn more calories and reduce your stress levels.
- Your sleep patterns will improve because of all the fresh air.
- You might learn a new skill or hobby.
- Wild camping is cheap and might even be free.
- Mental relaxation.
- Immerse yourself in a spectacular local environment.
- Be at one with nature.
- Feel free to cook your food and see a fantastic view.
- Create lots of great memories.
Can You go Wild Camping With Your Motorhome or Campervan?
Yes, you can go wild camping with your campervan or motorhome in Scotland. Just hop in your van, drive somewhere out-of-town, and park your vehicle off-road without access to running water, electricity, or waste-water disposal.
For your first night, you might be in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, with a free overnight parking spot and no strings attached.
People use a lot of different names for this kind of activity, such as motorhome wild-camping, motorhome free camping, or campervan off-grid parking.
Things are not quite what they seem when it comes to a wild camping trip with your motorhome.
What Does the Scottish Law Say About Wild Camping With Your Motorhome?
Specific Scottish laws lay down the rules for anyone thinking about camping with a motorhome in Scotland. They are as follows:
- Road Traffic Act of 1988 – The Road Traffic Act of 1988 states that most roads and land (including beaches) are private land. In such instances, you are not allowed to park wherever you like without the express permission of the landowner.
- Land Reform Act of 2003 – In the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, overnight parking in a motorhome is not considered wild camping. Public access rights to most land do not apply to any motorised vehicles. The use of a motorhome is controlled mainly through the Road Traffic legislation detailed above. Wild camping is only allowed when on foot, bike, or some other form of non-motorised transport.
- Scottish Outdoor Access Code – The Access Code secures public access rights and extends to wild camping. Therefore, wild campervanning is okay in small numbers as long as they only stay in one place for no more than one night. However, the Access Code does say that these access rights do not cover vehicular access.
So is Wild Camping in Your Motorhome Legal in Scotland?
You can enjoy wild camping in your motorhome in Scotland on private or public land as long as you have permission. Unfortunately, you don’t have the same access rights as a camper who is on foot or using a bicycle which means you can’t just park anywhere you like. However, you can park in one of the many free or paid campsites (for a small fee) across Scotland and experience relatively wild camping.
Does Wild Camping With Your Motorhome Have Any Disadvantages?
The main disadvantage of wild camping with your motorhome is that you don’t have complete freedom to park where you want. But there are few travel restrictions and beautiful free and paid campsites you can stay at for a wild camping experience if you use your common sense.
Wild Camping in Free or Paid Campsites?
Best Places for Motorhome Wild Camping in Scotland
Scotland has thousands of acres of glorious scenery and national parks, much of which is in very remote spots. In these national parks and unenclosed lands, you can park and enjoy the peace, spectacular views and be at one with nature to the max. Here are a few favourite spots for free camping in Scotland.
- Isle of Skye: The Isle of Skye is the most populated island in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast, but there are still plenty of unspoiled spots where you can be at one with nature while free camping.
- Loch Assynt, Sutherland: The loch is in the Highlands and is a favourite free camping site for freshwater fishing that includes trout, sea trout, and salmon.
- Bonaly Reservoir: Offers great walking trails in the nearby Pentland Hills.
- Cairngorms National Park: The Cairngorms National Park is the UK’s biggest national park and is full of beautiful hideaways and free wild camping spots. When you visit the Cairngorms National Park, look for the Muir of Dinnet, Loch Miuck, Glen Fishie, Loch Garten, and Glenmore.
- Isle of Mull: The Mull 123 is a 123-mile drive around the island, with stunning sea and incredible views of the mountains. Ideal for free camping.
- Fort William: If you plan on hiking up Ben Nevis, park at the North Face car park.
- Gruinard Bay: Gruinard Beach has stunning views towards the Summer Isles. It’s also an excellent place for a spot of seal spotting.
- Loch Carron: If you’re lucky, you might spot the northern lights moving across the night sky.
- Loch Lomond: You’ll be able to find countless areas to wild camp in, plus there are plenty of campsite options where you can pitch overnight or need a good shower.
- Rhins of Galloway peninsula – Mull of Galloway Lighthouse: Spectacular views towards Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Lake District. Plus, the landscape around it is stunning.
- Vatersay, Outer Hebrides: Are you longing for isolation? The Outer Hebrides is the place for you. There are also picturesque beaches and dunes with informal grassy parking areas.
- Trossachs National Park: There are loads of great places you can camp throughout the National Park. Camping Management Zones are in place in some areas between March and September.
How to Find the Best Wild Camping Spots?
It always helps if you plan when you go to Scotland wild camping. There are plenty of online resources for this if you want to stay somewhere for two or three nights. Here are some of the best currently available:
Mobile apps make things so much easier. Here are a few places you can look for free camping:
- Park4Night: Anyone can upload locations and post comments for places found. Information includes campsites and even car parks.
- Search for Sites: Visit the website, add the page to your home screen, and use it as an app.
- Parkopedia: This app is excellent for finding car park locations and includes prices, opening times, and height restrictions.
- Brit stops: This is a good backup option that helps if you need to find someplace wild to camp.
- Pub Stopovers: Again, this offers alternatives to campsites.
- iOverlander: This could be your go-to app for finding places to park overnight and much more.
- Campercontact: This app has more paid campsites than free overnight wild spots.
2. Facebook Groups
Several Facebook groups are relevant to Scotland. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Scottish Hill Walking and Wild Camping
- Wild Camping in Scotland
- Wild Camping in Scotland
- Wild Camping UK
3. Reddit and Wild Camping Forums
Reddit is a great place to discuss wild camping and all things motorhome-related in the UK. There is also a wide selection of forums that offer advice and recommendations on motorhomes wild camping. Here are the links to some of the most popular UK forums:
As well as apps and forums, there are various website-based alternative UK campsite finders, for example:
Check this source for more overall information on wild camping in the UK.
The Best Places for Overnight Parking
Are you looking for free overnight motorhome parking? Here are some possible spots to spend the night.
- Parking Loch Garten Osprey Center: If you want to avoid the crowds, make sure you arrive after sundown. Enjoy a quiet and calm night surrounded by wildlife and nature in a secluded spot.
- Parking Stoer Lighthouse: Find a great motorhome free parking spot at this location. Plus, you can climb the lighthouse to take in the view.
- Tobermory: Tobermory campsite is located one mile west of Tobermory. facilities include a hook up, showers and toilets, and chemical disposal. There are lots of spaces but it’s recommended you book as it can get quite busy.
- Parkview Terrace: This overnight parking spot is in the harbour car park. Plenty of seafood restaurants are within walking distance, plus you get a fantastic sea view.
- Calgary Bay: This is not an official campsite, but wild camping is permitted. The area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI )and is protected. It consists of unique grassland known as machair, so stick to the clearly marked areas.
- Dark Skye Trumpan Car Park: This idyllic park has plenty of walking trails and beautiful church ruins. But make sure you have lots of supplies because civilisation is several kilometres away and there is minimal light pollution.
- Salen Bay: This site lies off the beaten track but provides an elevated wild camping spot with 360-degree sea and mountain views and easy shore access.
- Rhins of Galloway peninsula – Mull of Galloway Lighthouse: This is a great wild camp park site if you plan to visit the lighthouse. The views are stunning, and you wake up to the sounds of the sea.
Top Wild Camping Tips With Your Motorhome for Maximum Experience
If you want to avoid official campsites and prefer to experience wild camping in all its glory, there are some essential things to know.
- Use all available resources such as apps and websites to find a wild spot that allows overnight parking.
- An overnight stop means you should arrive late and leave early.
- Make sure you stock up on enough supplies such as water, food, fuel, and other essentials because you might find shopping a little challenging.
- Follow the principle of leaving no trace. In other words, pick up all your litter, avoid disturbing wildlife playing loud music, and respect your surroundings.
- Avoid unpacking too much of your stuff when you park for the night, just in case you have to move.
- Stay away from busy seafronts and touristy areas and be as unobtrusive and remote as possible.
- Always be respectful of other people by not parking too close and keeping the noise down.
- Only empty your waste tanks and toilet in hygienic and appropriate places.
- Keep your fresh-water tank topped up as much as possible.
- Trust your gut and if a site doesn’t feel right, move on.
- When you park for the night, consider your security and safety.
- Avoid congregations of campervans and motorhomes.
Making Your Supplies Last as Long as Possible
- Use a trigger-style shower head as this will reduce the amount of water needed for a shower quite a bit.
- Reduce the amount of washing up by cooking in one pot.
- Think about how you might reuse waste hot water from boiling food.
- Invest in a water filter to use the water from rivers and lakes.
- Wear layers of clothing so you can turn the heating down.
- Use extra blankets on the bed and wrap around yourself when sitting by the campfire.
- Use glowing embers from your campfire under your camp chair.
- Cook your meals outdoors on a campfire if permitted and safe.
- Cook using a pressure cooker to save on fuel.
What to Avoid While Wild Camping in Scotland
- Avoid leaving your motorhome in front of houses or blocking views.
- Do not park overnight in a no-overnight-parking zone. Respect signs!
- Do not park where you block access to fields and tracks or roads.
- Do not stay longer than one night.
- Do not litter or leave waste or a mess.
- If you want to light an open fire, avoid causing damage. Keep it off the ground and in a self-contained unit.
- Do not dispose of your black or grey waste until you find a designated place.
- Keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum just in case you have to move on.
If asked to move on, avoid arguing about it. Be respectful, apologise and ask the person to recommend somewhere else to stay.
Essentials Things to Take for Your Motorhome Wild Camping Adventure
- Fold-up shovel: Just in case your toilet cassette reaches maximum capacity. Make sure you go as far away from wildlife, watercourses, and buildings as possible, dig a hole and do your business the old-fashioned way.
- Powerpack/inverters: You can use your mobile devices and recharge batteries on your trip.
- Solar panel: You also need a regulator to connect the solar panel to the battery.
- A decent-sized battery for your motorhome: Make sure the battery is for leisure use and get the biggest one you can find.
- Waste and freshwater tanks with sufficient capacity: You could use bottled water, but it needs lots of space for storage. If frugal with your water/waste, you can stay off-grid for longer.
- Gas for heating and cooling: You need heating when using your campervan during the UK winter. Avoid struggling to keep a camper warm using electricity, and make sure your motorhome has heating that runs on gas. A fridge that runs on gas is also a must-have.
- LED lighting: LEDs are more efficient. To save power, turn your lighting off when not using it.
- Wireless security camera: You might find this a worthwhile investment because it will give you great peace of mind knowing your motorhome is safe when exploring or going for a walk.
How to Choose a Motorhome or Campervan for Your Scottish Wild Camping Adventure?
Do you plan to buy a motorhome or campervan? What features should you consider? Here is a list of the top considerations:
- Budget: Your budget will determine the type of motorhome you buy, its age, and its condition.
- Size of vehicle: Choose a motorhome or campervan that is easy for you to drive, has sufficient storage space and has enough seats for everyone to sit on. If you plan to travel off the beaten track, you should avoid larger vehicles.
- The number of passengers and beds (berths): Campervans are the perfect size for two or at most three friends sharing. Some camper vans have four berths. If the size of your wild camping group is going to be four adults or more, a panel van or motorhome will be the best choice. There also have to be enough seatbelts for all passengers.
- Service history and mileage: A good buy is a vehicle with full-service history as this shows it was maintained and inspected regularly.
While there are many motorhomes you can buy privately, you should buy from a trusted, reliable, and respected motorhome dealer such as Oaktree motorhomes.
Oaktree motorhomes are one of the most trusted used motorhomes and campervans dealers in the UK and have more than 60 years of combined experience in the industry. We have also sold more than 10,000 vehicles to our happy and contented customers.
Hopefully, we’ve inspired you to try out wild camping next time you visit the gorgeous country of Scotland. You could start by renting a motorhome or campervan for your first wild camping adventure.
Wild camping is all about stopping virtually anywhere and not relying on campsites. With a motorhome trip, you experience the freedom that comes with being on the road, but you still need to use your common sense. If you like the look of a site – decide if you want to pull your vehicle over and take a rest.
Scotland is a beautiful country full of dramatic and stunning landscapes, stunning coastlines, and a wide selection of wildlife to experience first-hand.