In my recent blog I was wrong about the legislation and I need to correct this. Sorry folks. My (incorrect) understanding was that camping next to your car close to the road is not governed by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code because the code is for non-motorised transport. I was wrong.
It's all explained very well in the 2016 update here - https://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/managing-informal-camping-under-land-reform-scotland-act-2003 - camping close to the road does fall into the catogory of wild camping and we have the right to do it, as long as we do so responsibly.
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code explanation is in two parts, first stating the statutory position in the Act (i) “You can camp in this way wherever access rights apply...”, and then with subsidiary Code guidance (ii) “...but help avoid causing problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or historic structures. "
This does make it slightly confusing due to the conflicting statements that we have the right to camp close to the road but we should try to camp well away from the road. The responsibilities that come with the right are very clear and if we do not observe these responsibilities wild camping becomes unlawful.
"Camping is therefore a legitimate activity wherever access rights apply, including some locations close to roads, subject to responsible behaviour and any restrictions resulting from other legislation, including byelaws - for example concerning car parking. Access rights do not legitimise any activity that is an offence under other legislation and do not, for example, provide an ‘excuse’ for antisocial behaviour.
Scottish access rights apply to non-motorised recreation and do not therefore extend to activities that are entirely based on the use of a vehicle, such as sleeping in cars, camper vans or caravans." Sleeping in your car or campervan falls under different legislation and is not wild camping.
Dave Robinson gave me a great quote - "The bottom line is there is responsible camping on land where access rights apply and if you don't do it responsibly then you no longer have the right. This applies to mountain summits just as much as it does to roadsides."
It is clear to see that lots of irresponsible wild camping has been taking place in very many areas recently. The solutions I suggested in my previous blog still stand and match very closely the approach taken by SNH. They have run national information campaigns and provide resources such as posters for land managers to use - https://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/practical-guide-all/camping
There still seems to be a problem though. The message is not getting through to the right people and the management solutions are not being delivered. In these days of social media, an information campaign combining video and print media with a well known spokesperson delivered by Visit Scotland and SNH should be a quick and simple thing to achieve. It's not so quick and easy to build facilities to mitigate the impact of wild camping, and the process should perhaps be much simpler for local communities.
Thanks to Dave Robinson and Nick Kempe for correcting me on the legislation. It's important to get this right. It's also important to have simple, achievable solutions so that everyone gets to enjoy the outdoors as they should.
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.