Last year, many people found that they felt a deep desire to find open spaces, to explore the beautiful landscape of Scotland, to get outside and to connect with nature. It is such a fundamental thing to do that is fundamentally good for us, in so many ways.
Lots of us did explore our wild places and, because they left no trace, nobody was aware of them being there. The people that we did notice were mostly very receptive to being offered a bit of guidance so that they minimised their impact on the land and on other people. If you are new to it, it is not obvious what we should do to behave in a way that does not impact on other people and on the nature of the landscape. A bit of help goes a long way to us all being able to enjoy the landscape of Scotland, and to kep it beautiful.
To maintain our stunning landscapes, we must ensure we protect, respect and enjoy our countryside, towns and cities responsibly by asking people to leave no physical trace of their visit.
Last year, many campsites were not open or did not have their shower/toilet blocks open if they were accepting campers. This made many people think of informal camping (AKA wild camping) as an alternative, and rightly so. It's a wonderful feeling, traveling around the most beautiful parts of Scotland and setting up a tent for the night, tucked out of anyone's way, and spending a night in the wild under the stars. With no light polution and with only the sounds of nature all around, it's a perfect escape from our cooped up lives.
It's also very easy to impact other people without even realising it. We have the right to go camping, as long as we do so responsibly. To make sure we are doing it responsibly we need to:
We DON'T have a right to roam. We DO have a right to responsible access.
Touring around Scotland in a campervan is awesome! It gives you the freedom to go anywhere, to find out of the way places, and to take all sorts of toys to be able to go biking, surfing, walking and climbing.
It is also very easy to have quite an impact on everyone else if you are not used to it. Hiring a campervan for your holiday brings the excitement of exploration, as well as the challenges of driving a bigger vehicle than you might be used to, on smaller roads than you might be used to, with all the hazards of sheep, deer and distracting views.
Try to use official campervan sites to stay at overnight, or stop-over points provided by local communities, Forest and Land Scotland or the national parks. Parking up and sleeping in your van is not covered by our access rights in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code but lots of the same principles should apply. Leave no trace, take all your waste home, don't empty your toilet waste or waste water anywhere other than a proper disposal point, and think about how intrusive you might be to local communities.
Visit Scotland is encouraging us to make a promise:
And they are helping us understand how we can keep the promise.
I promise to care for Scotland's nature. I will…
• Not disturb the incredible wildlife that has roamed this epic land for centuries.
• Tread lightly to protect their habitats.
• Be considerate to farmland and livestock.
• Keep my dog on a lead when needed.
• Stick to the marked roads, tracks and paths.
• Take my litter home with me.
• Take only photos and leave only footprints.
• Observe the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
I promise to care for Scotland's communities. I will...
• Slow down, and savour every moment of what there is to see, do and learn.
• Shop local to enjoy the best products and support Scottish makers and businesses.
• Respect the locals and their resources.
• Fáilte (embrace) and respect the Gaelic language.
• Sample the delicious, seasonal foods available all across Scotland.
• Seek out and respect the rich and diverse cultures that are found throughout Scotland.
• Avoid crowded places and come back when it’s less busy.
• Take care when exploring the great outdoors, and bring/wear the right equipment.
• Check ahead to see if there is access or parking.
• Park my vehicle safely and responsibly.
• Follow physical distancing guidance and wear my mask as required.
I promise to care for Scotland and the world's tomorrow. I will…
• Leave the car when I can and walk, cycle, paddle or use public transport instead.
• Hire an electric vehicle where possible and take advantage of the many charge points that are now available across Scotland.
• Check the green credentials of all of the businesses I use to travel, stay and explore.
• Enjoy the pure waters that run from the tap, not single-use bottles.
• Switch off the lights and look up at the stars.
Seems like a good plan to me.
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.