A campervan or motorhome is a fantastic way to explore Scotland, offering an amazing combination of freedom and comfort. Many campervanners like to make the most of their trips by choosing free wild camping spots for overnight stops.
The joy of parking and sleeping where no-one else is also camped is incredibly attractive. And waking up to a view that is only yours is a fantastic experience.
Scotland boasts a wealth of wild camping spots, dotted all over the countryside. We are not going to tell you where these are because that might spoil it for others but if you keep your eyes peeled as you drive you will easily spot a perfect location.
If it’s just a quick and convenient overnight that you require, perhaps during a long drive north, you’ll discover lots of campervanning spots on the side of Scotland’s main roads. These won’t be the quietest or most scenic places for a sleep but the locations are simple to find.
There are also plenty of super quiet spots just off the main roads. Although you will need to do a bit of searching. And then there are all the other secret and hidden spots that you will just need to discover for yourself.
The rules of wild campervanning
In most European countries it is not against the law for you to sleep in a public place in your motorhome. But while there might be no camping ban, many countries, including the UK, have local laws that prohibit camping in particular areas. Signs that say no overnight camping or vehicles should be obeyed.
In Scotland, there’s the unique Scottish Outdoor Access Code. This states:
- Everyone has the statutory right of access
- Access rights apply to all land and inland waters, unless excluded (as below)
- Access rights are for outdoor recreation, for crossing land and water, and for some educational and commercial purposes
- Exercising access rights, and managing access land, must be done responsibly.
Note, however, that these rights do not apply to motor vehicles and that many non-tarmacked roads, unfenced areas of land and beaches are private property. This means that you do not have a right of vehicle access unless it’s authorised by the landowner, by verbal agreement or signage.
The Road Traffic Act 1988 also states that you can only drive a vehicle off-road – away from a public road – for the purpose of parking and within 15 yards of a public road.
Rules of the communities
There are some places, such as the Island of Tiree, that have established their own guidelines for campervans and the use of designated overnight parking spaces.
Tiree, for example, has created special croft sites and pitches for campervanners.
15 dos and don’ts of wild campervanning
Do use commonsense and think about whether the spot you have chosen is suitable for a vehicle.
Do take great care to avoid fragile ground and sensitive habitats. For example, Tiree and the islands of the Outer Hebrides have beach-lined areas of machair (wild flowers) and these should be avoided.
Do respect other people’s privacy and avoid parking up next to another van in a secluded spot unless they have invited you to do so.
Do use only biodegradable detergents and drain kitchen waste water tanks only when you find a campsite or other designated place.
Always urinate away from open water and use a trowel to bury human waste.
It’s vital that toilet paper is bagged and taken away by you. Do not bury it because animals may dig it up.
Do think about security when parking your van.
Do keep a low-profile where you camp. So you should avoid loud music, long washing lines, sprawling parties and bbqs, for example.
Do visit a campsite when you want a shower (if your motorhome doesn’t have one) or for an electrical hook-up.
Don’t park in areas where signs state “no overnight parking”. (We have stated this before but its’ worth repeating.
Don’t park overnight within sight of people’s houses.
Don’t block access tracks and fields.
Don’t make a mess and leave behind dangerous litter or waste.
Do enjoy your wild campervanning – and don’t spoil the privilege for the generations to come.