Camping in Scotland
I go tent camping in Scotland every year as it allows me to travel on a budget when I want to save my pennies but it also allows me to stay in some of the most beautiful spots in the country for free. There are some great campsites out there and they are especially handy if you need to freshen up with a proper shower, but personally, I enjoy the freedom of wild camping and choosing the view from my 'room'.
I often get asked about places to camp and particularly the rules about wild camping in Scotland so I thought I would put together this guide based on my own experiences. It covers all the basics for beginners or those planning a holiday in Scotland with their tent for the first time.
I've just returned from my latest wild camping trip to try out my new Vango tent and this time I went to Shapinsay, which is one of the Orkney islands. After a day exploring, I found the perfect (albeit windy) spot by the beach and this was my view. I think you'll agree it's a pretty good one considering it cost me nothing. If I was staying in a hotel, I'd be charged a premium for a sea view like this. I realise how lucky I am living in Scotland and having all this outdoor freedom.
My guide to camping with a tent in Scotland
If you are travelling on a budget or just want the flexibility that travelling with a tent brings, then Scotland is one of the best countries in the world for a camping excursion. In my book, spending the night under canvas is the ultimate accommodation experience when it comes to truly immersing yourself in the spectacular Scottish landscape.
With our extensive roaming and camping rights, there are many options when it comes to enjoying a tent holiday. If you're not sure where to start or where you can go with your tent, my guide covers advice on the following topics -
Choosing a tent
The most important thing for your camping trip is choosing the right tent. Forget supermarket bargains or cheap festival pop-ups, they are a false economy. Your tent is your accommodation, and ultimately, all that is protecting you from the Scottish elements is some material so it needs to be up to the job.
If you want a comfortable night's sleep it is worth buying the best quality you can afford which is suitable for your purposes. Not only will it last a long time, keep you dry and cosy, it will also make your life far less stressful when it comes to transporting, setting up and breaking down.
Some basic things you need to think about when buying your tent -
There are all sorts of extras that might be important to you like storage, doors, separate compartments etc so think carefully about what kind of trip you are planning before buying a tent and if possible visit an outdoor shop to get professional advice.
My latest tent is a Vango F10 Erebus 3 which was gifted to me to review (you can read what I think about it at the bottom of this article). I chose this particular model as is very compact and lightweight which is ideal for future bike-packing trips that I'm planning in Scotland.
I have bought tents from Vango before and have always been impressed with the quality and this was no exception. The company was established in Scotland in 1966 and have a long history of designing and manufacturing outdoor equipment. Needless to say their tents have been thoroughly tested in the Scottish outdoors and around the world so I have confidence in their products.
They have a wide range of tents for every style of camper so I recommend checking the Vango website out to see what options are available.
Last week I spent 2 nights at The Lovat Loch Ness Hotel which sits near to the shores of Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal in the village of Fort Augustus. I have stopped off at Fort Augustus fairly regularly to stretch my legs on journeys from Fort William to Inverness but never really stayed long enough to explore properly.
Through my itinerary planning service I also get asked a lot about this area as it is a popular tourist route so I felt it was time to get much better acquainted. It is also important to me that I can personally endorse accommodation based on my own experience whenever possible.
- spoiler - I will definitely be recommending The Lovat Loch Ness!
On my most recent visit to Aberdeen I stayed at the recently opened Sandman Signature Aberdeen Hotel for 2 nights and it is the kind of accommodation the modern traveller to Scotland expects and that the city has been crying out for.
Sitting in the heart of the city centre it is conveniently located for visiting most of the main city attractions and I found exploring on foot really easy with the occasional bus ride to reach places of interest outwith the centre.
If you have a car, you can use the hotel car park although it is on a first come, first served basis. Having your own transport means you can venture further afield in the region, personally I love the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail and exploring the outdoor scenery and castles of Royal Deeside.
I've stayed in a few places locally and this is by far the best which is why I just had to write this review. From the Instagrammable interior (yes, I really did just say Instagrammable, what has my life become!) to the quirky nods to Scotland in the decor, not to mention the superb service, hopefully you will love this place as much as I did.
From the outside, the hotel is a sprawling granite building, very in keeping with Aberdeen's grand architectural style. Previously it was part of the Robert Gordon University campus and I can't imagine many businesses would be able to take on a structure this size so I'm glad it has been preserved and given a new lease of life.
When I first walked through the entrance I was wowed by the interior, a mix of grand, colourful, funky and Scottish. Did I also mention that it is very Instagrammable! The seating area is super comfy and conveniently has wireless phone charging pads on the tables.
My check-in was super easy and friendly. I arrived quite early so I could drop off my suitcase at reception while I explored Aberdeen. When I returned later in the day to check in properly I was impressed to find that my suitcase had already been taken to my room for me.
As I made my way across the thistle carpet to my room I realised just how big the hotel is on the inside as the corridors seemed to go on forever. There are 218 guest rooms in total of various styles and I was booked in to Corporate King Room with a sofa bed.
The room was a good size and the decor had an industrial warehouse feel thanks to the copper lights, old school radiators and exposed brickwork in the bathroom. However, there was no mistaking I was in a Scottish hotel thanks to the tartan throw and funky Highland Coo and stag cushions. Photographs of local Aberdeenshire landmarks also added a regional touch.
From a smart tv to a microwave, the room was well equipped and most importantly the bed was super comfy. At my age a good night's sleep is essential so I'm becoming increasingly fussy about my hotel bed standards and I'm pleased to say this one rated highly.
I've been sharing my love of Dundee for years, long before it became all cool and started gracing the pages of glossy magazines which makes me feel like a bit of a Scottish travel trendsetter. I've visited the city quite a few times since i started blogging and don't need much of an excuse to pack my bags and jump on the train back to Scotland's sunniest city. When Apex City Quay Hotel got in touch to invite me along to their V&A Dundee event, with an opportunity to take an exclusive walk around the exterior of the new £80m museum of design, I promptly donned my shades and headed east.
On arriving at Dundee I was totally disorientated as the train station has undergone a face-lift along with the rest of the waterfront and the entrance and exit had been moved since I had last visited. However, despite the confusing major transformations confronting me, I was glad to see that the 'Sunny Dundee' weather was unchanged.
After an easy 10 minute stroll I arrived at the Apex City Quay which is situated next to the former Victoria Quay. This area has been redeveloped in to a retail and leisure complex, with the 200 year old HMS Unicorn taking centre stage.
This was my first visit to Apex in Dundee and I was immediately impressed with the efficient and friendly check-in. I was lucky enough to have a corner room which had double the light and panoramic views over the quay and surrounding historic buildings. I definitely recommend going for this choice if it's available.
My bedroom was spacious and had everything I needed for a comfortable stay with a few fun extras including one of the famous Apex rubber ducks, chocolate duck shaped lollies and a relaxing pillow mist just to make sure I got a good night's sleep, although my bed was so comfy a deep slumber was pretty much guaranteed.
The en-suite had both a bath and walk-in shower which is always a nice dilemma to have, although I was pretty busy during my trip so didn't have time for a relaxing soak in the tub with my new duck friend. If I was staying more than 1 night it would definitely have been at the top of my 'time out' list!
Follow my Scotland travel adventures on social media
If you have found my blog useful and would like to support me in creating future Scottish travel content, you can by me a coffee on my Ko-fi page. All 'coffee' donations are hugely appreciated