I know first hand that travelling anywhere for any length of time can add up financially. As you may have guessed I love to explore Scotland at every opportunity and share all the wonderful places I find on my blog. Like most people I don't have a huge bank account and my travels are funded by my 'real' job but there is a way to stay in some pretty special places for cheap and even better for free!
Yes, I'm going to use the 'C' word, if you want to travel on a budget then it is time to embrace camping.
My most recent camping trip took me along the west coast from Ayrshire to Dumfries and Galloway. For 2 people and our four legged companion we managed to visit some pretty special Scottish places and our accommodation costs for 4 nights were only £36. The possibilities for camping are endless but this is a summary of my trip which you could easily do or seek out your own little haven under canvas.
We spent our first 2 nights in the lovely village of Maidens in Ayrshire with a beautiful harbour view, a handy picnic table, 2 minutes from a toilet block and a couple of minutes from the beach where we watched the sunset. Can you believe we enjoyed all this for free? We basically found a nice piece of public grass and pitched our tent.
This is classed as wild camping which is permitted in Scotland providing you follow some common sense rules. For more info have a read at the Visit Scotland guide.
People passing by kept commenting on how envious they were as we had such an idyllic place to stay for the night. Camping may not be for everyone but for me it's hard to beat if you're looking to save money and still have a great adventure.
There is a hotel in Maidens if you don't fancy cooking and it is nearby Culzean Castle and Country Park which is worth visiting for the day, you can read about it on my blog. As I sat on the rocks watching the sunset with our tea brewing on our little camping stove I did wonder if life gets any better than this?
After a couple of lovely days we continued heading south along the coast with the sea breeze and sunshine really putting us in the holiday mood.
We stopped off at Girvan along the way to visit the supermarket and stock up on supplies. This is a fairly large Ayrshire town and a place I spent the first two decades of my life enjoying family holidays as we owned a caravan nearby. Sadly it has lost much of it's seaside holiday charm but the harbour with colourful fishing boats and the long, beautifully clean sandy beach are worth stopping for.
We didn't plan where our next camping spot would be but fate directed us to Portpatrick. After 2 nights wild camping we decided that hot showers would be a welcome treat and followed a signpost directing us to a campsite on the edge of the town. Sometimes it is good to leave things in the hands of the Gods when travelling as you never know what unexpected surprises lie ahead.
For us it was Castle Bay Holiday Park. When we drove in it was pretty standard and unassuming but as soon as we got to the area for tents we decided there and then that we would book for 2 nights as we had a view to die for!
The camping area is high on an exposed hill which makes erecting your tent a fun challenge but once you are set up you can sit back and enjoy an open outlook across the sea to Ireland and admire the magnificent ruins of Dunskey Castle perched on the adjacent clifftop.
A short, easy walk from the site takes you to the castle and if you continue on for a bit you are rewarded with the most amazing coastal vistas.
Another path takes you to a wild little rocky bay below the castle. There was a large cave but without a torch I decided not to explore it this time!
On the first night we were lucky enough to have all the views to ourselves. On the second night we were joined by three other tents but the large camping area meant we still had lots of space and privacy.
The facilities are basic but there are hot showers and for £17 for a two person tent we felt this was reasonable. Dogs are allowed at an extra £1 per night which meant we paid £36 in total, if you could put a price on location then I'd say we got a real bargain!
I had not been to Portpatrick in years and I had forgotten how pretty this little coastal town is.
We spent a full day just walking around enjoying the peace and quiet. The Southern Upland Way starts here and we walked part of the route which gives a stunning view of the town below and we passed hundreds of herring gulls nesting on the cliffs along the way.
There are umpteen hotels with pubs and restaurants in Portpatrick and on the second evening we enjoyed a nice and reasonably priced dinner at The Harbour House Hotel which is also dog friendly.
Portpatrick makes a great base for exploring more of Dumfries and Galloway and we spent the second day visiting the Mull of Galloway which you can read about on my blog.
Although planning on continuing along the full length of the coast, a rattling and noisy car exhaust meant we reluctantly had to cut our trip short and head back to our friendly mechanic in Glasgow which does mean I have an unfinished trip to complete and a great excuse to return with my tent again.
I recently wrote a guest blog on Camping, Glamping and Campervanning for ScotBloggers which you can read here. If you have found any great camping spots on your travels around Scotland feel free to share.
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