Many people are drawn to Scotland by the lure of the Isle of Skye. There is no better way to explore the wild coasts, epic mountains, and hidden mysteries of the island, than by walking and camping in these places. Whether you want to risk a high camp among the towering Cuillin mountains, or stay closer to sea-level, there are a wealth of choices available, including a camp among the stunning Quiraing, or the remote Camusanary Bay.
Harris and Lewis
Although each has their own name, and their own character, the island of Lewis and Harris is actually one landmass. If you have transport, or do not mind a long walk, it is easy to find a hidden and beautiful beach or lochan (small lake) to camp beside. You will be surrounded by nature and, if the wind drops enough to hear, an absolute lack of human-related sound. Many of the best places are on the west coast, and some are miles from the nearest road.
This definitely classes as ‘hidden gem’ and an overnight stay will leave you wondering why so few people visit. An area of legends and history, this 19 kilometre (12 miles) long loch is supposed to have a resident kelpie (water-horse) and is also where treasure chests of gold were allegedly hidden by supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie. You are unlikely to find either of these, but you will definitely see waterfalls and wildlife in abundance.
Ardnish is a peninsula in Lochaber, on the west coast of Scotland, not too far from the famous Road to the Isles and the West Highland Railway. What sets this area apart is that, following the Highland Clearances, it is now completely uninhabited. The ruins of buildings of a different time can be found here, and there is a bothy at the former settlement of Peanmeanach. It should be noted that there is often little in the way of dead wood or driftwood here, so if you want to build a fire you will need to carry your own fuel to the peninsula. Despite the extra weight, this is worth doing, as sitting on the beach with a fire here is quite special. The nearby inlet of Loch nan Uamh is where Bonnie Prince Charlie arrived and left Scotland.
Although this remote stretch of pinkish sand is now much better known than it used to be, it is still rare that a camper won’t have the whole bay to themselves. Situated in the far north west of Sutherland and, like Ardnish, requiring a long walk in, Sandwood Bay is beautiful and worth the effort. With an impressive system of dunes, stunning wild flowers and the impressive sea stack at the southern end of the bay, a night at Sandwood will stay in your memory long after you are home, and that’s not even mentioning the incredible Atlantic sunsets.
An iconic Scottish mountain, Suilven is remote and wild. A wild camp here is an experience you will never forget, but as conditions can change suddenly and without warning, it is not to be lightly undertaken. The walk to the mountain is long, whichever direction you walk from, but it is this sense of isolation and remoteness that makes it such an attraction to the wild camper. The landscape is tough and rugged, but this only adds to the beauty.
The huge area of the Cairngorms offers the wild camper an impressive array of wild camping spots, from those that are relatively easily reached to mountain tops, by way of beautiful reforested glens, such as Glen Feshie. Although the area attracts many people each year, all year round, it is still easy to find yourself alone due to the scale of the place. Some estates, such as Rothiemurchus, offer a halfway point between wild camping and traditional site camping.
It doesn’t really come much wilder than Knoydart. You can only get here by a ferry to the tiny settlement of Inverie, featuring Britain’s remotest pub, The Old Forge, or by a very long walk across mountains and through glens. This is a place of wild beauty, and your chances of up close and personal encounters with some iconic wildlife, including the rarest of the rare, the Scottish wildcat, are greatly increased by camping out here.