Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. There really is nothing quite like the thrill of wild camping. For many, especially those based in the UK, wild camping in Scotland is where it’s at. Why is this? Well, firstly it’s legal. Unlike in England and Wales, where it is most definitely not legal. Secondly, because it’s Scotland, which has some of the best natural scenery you’ll find anywhere on Earth.

Not all those who wander are lost

Because of Scotland’s access legislation, the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, you are allowed to camp on most unenclosed land. However, because of overuse, East Loch Lomond is actually subject to wild camping byelaws.

red tent wild camping on the sand beach of oldshoremore

If you’re planning a wild camping trip, be sure to familiarise yourself with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. It’s not complicated – basically, campers should follow a policy of ‘leave-no-trace’.

  • Avoid overcrowding by moving on to another location if it’s already a busy spot.
  • 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 landowner. Their advice just might help you find a better camping spot.
  • Check the forecast before you leave and decide if it’s a good idea to go.
  • Bring a good map – Ordnance Survey maps are the best.

Principles – the Code is based on three key principles:

Respect the interests of other people.

Acting with courtesy, consideration and awareness is very important.  If you are exercising access rights, make sure that you respect the privacy, safety and livelihoods of those living or working in the outdoors, and the needs of other people enjoying the outdoors.  If you are a land manager, respect people’s use of the outdoors and their need for a safe and enjoyable visit.

Care for the environment.

If you are exercising access rights, look after the places you visit and enjoy, and leave the land as you find it. If you are a land manager, help maintain the natural and cultural features which make the outdoors attractive to visit and enjoy.

Take responsibility for your own actions.

If you are exercising access rights, remember that the outdoors cannot be made risk-free and act with care at all times for your own safety and that of others. If you are a land manager, act with care at all times for people’s safety.

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