Wild Camping In The Scottish Pentland Hills

Thursday, October 22, 2020

 With global lockdowns popping up everywhere, keeping track of local and international travel restrictions can be difficult. Although frustrating, it allows us to explore the surroundings that are right on our doorsteps. Camping is something many of us wouldn’t have thought to do before. Camping is affordable, and you can escape the public for a few days. There are so many beautiful spots to camp in the UK. Now is the perfect chance to try wild camping! Here's how to wild camp in the gorgeous Scottish Pentland Hills!

What Is Wild Camping?

The Land Reform Act 2003 in Scotland makes it legal to wild camp in unenclosed areas. There are some exceptions to this act, such as Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, which requires you to have a permit to wild camp. Wild camping is such a great way to get off-grid and spend some time in nature - especially during these crazy times! Before setting off, I would advise researching a little about wild camping. Although it is legal, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Leave no trace
  2. Take your rubbish home
  3. Never light a fire during dry periods
  4. Don't camp in fields with animals
  5. If in doubt, ask the landowner
After that, you can set about searching for the ideal place to camp. Scotland is blessed with an abundance of hills, parks and lochs, so the world is really your oyster. You can get stunning views in the Highlands or spend some time admiring the beach of Sandwood Bay whilst you set up camp on the sand dunes. Your research will help you figure out what to take in your backpack, e.g. if you will be hiking a few hours, you would really want to pack as light as possible.

What You Need Pack

In Scotland, the weather can be miserable, so planning ahead of your adventure is the key. There are lots of hills along with windy, wet weather, so you'll want to make sure you pack the right things. While it may be tempting to pack everything, you need to pack light. Most things are luxuries and things you don't need to be carrying. Remember, you're wild camping! It's not a luxury holiday. Here's a little checklist!

  • Double layered tent
  • Cooking stove, pans and a camping kettle
  • Sleeping bag & roll mat
  • Toilet paper & trowel
  • Easy to cook food like beans, soup and pasta
  • Torch
  • Extra warm clothing for the cold nights
  • Flask for water
  • Hiking boots for all your adventures
  • First aid kit
You will need to get yourself a sturdy tent. A double layer tent is really recommended to protect yourself and your personal belongings against the elements. You will also need a stove for cooking and boiling water for cups of tea! There are many space-saving products on the market. I highly recommend the MSR Pocket Rocket portable stove as a very lightweight alternative. Some water, warm clothes, sleeping bag, toilet roll, a small trowel and food complete your wild camping kit! If you're worried about using the facilities in the wild, I would recommend purchasing a portable She Wee kit. It makes things easier when you really need to go. 

The Pentland Hills

We decided to visit the Pentland Hills. The Pentland Hills are located South West of Edinburgh with a range of hills suitable for a range of hillwalking abilities. After taking a short hike along with the Glencourse View and Castellaw route at Flotterstone - we came across a clearing that was perfect for setting up camp. We spent the evening collecting firewood for fire and cooked some warming ramen to keep us toasty through the night. There is something quite special about being out in the woods and having to think in a resourceful manner. Letting go of a few luxuries to really embrace nature is magical.

The Pentland Hills has so much to offer. There are plenty of trails and walks around the area. There was a sweet little pub around a 15-minute walk away from the campsite, which is perfect for those missing home-cooked meals. You can also enjoy the luxury of having a flushing toilet! If you just want a bit of peace and quiet, sitting at camp under a canopy of trees, having hot drinks is more than enough.
After two nights in the woods, we packed up our things and made sure we took all our rubbish home. We even picked up some other litter that was left lying around. Wild camping was definitely a bucket list item of mine. I am so glad the experience has left me wanting more. 

Wild camping is an adventure that you need to experience in your lifetime. The freedom of picking where you want to pitch and living in the wild is thrilling. There are so many things you can do in Scotland and wild camping if definitely something you should try on your visit. Have you been wild camping before? Do you have any handy tips to share? I'd love to hear your wild camping stories and if there are things you could recommend to make the trip better!

About the Guest Writer:

Vanessa is a travel, lifestyle and food blogger from Aberdeen, Scotland. She has been blogging since 2010 but started her new passion project, These Stories in July 2020. Vanessa shares her travel and life stories with the world. You can usually find her wandering the hills of Scotland, catching up on her Netflix watchlist and hanging out with her fur baby, Bao.

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