Have you tried?: Wild camping
I wrote about the hows, whys and joys of wild camping in Scotland in a recent Sunday Mail column. You can read the pdf or read the copy below.
Wild camping in Scotland
What is it?: Wild camping, also known as informal camping, refers to sleeping “in the wild”, rather than at a campsite.
As part of the Land Reform Act of 2003, the Scottish Outdoors Access Code allows for “responsible” camping in Scotland.
The code states that wild camping must be “lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place”.
You should not camp in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals, nor close to buildings, roads or historic structures.
In addition, wild campers must take away all litter and remove traces of the tent pitch.
While there are rules of responsibility to follow, wild camping is free and very rewarding.
Tell me more: Everyone should try wild camping at least once to discover the wonders of a night under the stars, away from urban and ordinary life.
You don’t have to go far on foot or by bike to get off the beaten track, especially in Scotland, and it’s easy to feel as though you are in the middle of nowhere.
You could head for a local hill and pitch a tent half-way up or perhaps on the summit, if the weather if favourable.
Alternatively, follow a trail, such as the route of Scotland’s Great Trails, and find a quiet spot to camp.
If you do fancy a longer trip, there are moorlands, forests, coastlines and mountains to enjoy.
Gordon John, a keen wild camper, said: “I like to get out into the wilds for three or four days at a time.
“I’ll pick a few mountain summits that I want to reach and then camp in between.
“For example, a few days of walking on the Knoydart Peninsula or to the Fisherfield Forest is my idea of wild camping heaven.
“You leave the modern world behind and rely on your feet, navigation and basic survival skills.”
What kit do I need?: Many people choose to sleep in a tent, but others prefer a hammock or bivi bag.
A tent will offer the most protection from the elements but it can be heavier to carry.
These days, more campers are sleeping in hammocks but you do need to find a place to hang it up. A hammock sleeping pad will add to a restful night’s sleep.
A bivi bag has the advantage of being lightweight and very simple to use.
When packing a rucksack aim for lightweight but without sacrificing warmth and safety.
Walking or cycling to a wild camping spot is easier if your pack is kept to a minimum.
As well as a tent or bivi bag, you’ll need a sleeping bag, camping mat, stove, basic cooking and eating equipment, simple food, water and a torch.
If you will be sharing the tent with your partner or a friend, split the tent items between you to even out the weight.
Summertime wild camping will probably require a midge net and some kind of insect repellent.
The outdoor code encourages the use of a stove for cooking or heat, rather than lighting an open fire.
However, if you do wish have a fire, it should be small, under control and supervised. All traces should be removed before you leave.
Anything else to know?: While the vast majority of Scotland’s countryside is open to wild campers, there are byelaws in operation in some places.
In Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, Camping Management Zones operate from March to October.
The zones are meant to help to protect some loch shore area where they have been previously affected by over-use and vandalism.
A spokesperson said: “The byelaws create Camping Management Zones cover less than four per cent of National Park.
“We do encourage people to camp in these zones but you must have a permit or stay in a campsite.”
To find out more see www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/things-to-do/camping/get-a-permit/
A great walking resource is the website www.walkhighlands.co.uk.
Scotland’s Great Trails: www.scotlandsgreattrails.com/
Two books by Wild Things Publishing could be useful, too: Wild Guide Scotland: Hidden Places, Great Adventures & the Good Life and The Scottish Bothy Bible. See www.wildthingspublishing.com
Great gear for wild camping
MSR Pocket Rocket Stove Kit
You will need to supply you own gas but the rest will keep you cooking for as many days or wild camping as you fancy.
At its core, the rugged stove delivers fast boil times for quick meals.
Two colour-matching dish sets include ultralight Insulated Mugs, DeepDish Bowls and folding sporks.
Everything nests inside the two-litre aluminium pot to create a lightweight and space-efficient kit for backpacking pairs or couples.
It’s priced around £80 on-line and in outdoors stores.
Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm air mattress
It weighs just 430g yet offers a sleeping area of 51cm x 183cm and a thickness of 6.3cm.
The multiple and reflective ThermaCapture layers give the XTherm air mattress superb warmth without weight or bulk.
In addition, the mattress has a textured, non-slip fabric for better next-to-skin comfort and a more peaceful night’s rest.
The mattress can be deflated and folded into a neat stuff sack. A repair kit is included.
See www.thermarest.com. Buy from around £150 in outdoor stores and on-line.
Robens Kite tent
The product is lightweight at 2.15kg and packs to an easy to carry size.
It is made with a fabric that has a good rating for being waterproof.
The HydroTex AWT siliconised polyester also provides a high tear strength and great stability when pitched.
The design allows for enhanced head and foot shape, which is a bonus when there are two sharing.
Putting up the tent is straightforward and requires minimal pegging and easy-to-adjust guy lines.
The tent sells from around £340 on-line with a two-year warranty. See www.robens.de