Council of Scotland
There is a pleasure in camping in mountains
inexplicable to the unbeliever, but will at once
be apparent to anyone of imagination.
Camping wild is one of the best ways to enjoy
and appreciate the beauty of Scotland's hills,
glens and coastlines. When done responsibly, it
has minimal impact on the environment. This Code
provides advice on how to keep impacts to a
minimum, as well as setting out the legal
position and describing the advice given in the
Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
Plan ahead, and consider not only your own
impact, but the repeated impact by others.
CAMPING AND THE LAW
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and Scottish
Outdoor Access Code came into force on 9th February
2005. The Act establishes a statutory right to camp
and the Code describes the responsibilities and best
practice guidance that should be followed when
exercising your right to camp wild.
section in the Trespass (Scotland) Act 1865, which
contained an offence of camping on land without the
consent of the owner or occupier, has been repealed
via Schedule 2 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act
2003. The 2003 Act confirms that camping is a lawful
activity when done by a person in the exercise of
the access rights created by the Land Reform Act.
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code contains guidance
on the responsibilities that accompany the access
rights in the Act. The Code provides specific advice
on wild camping and recommends that in order to
avoid causing problems you should not camp in
enclosed fields of crops or farm animals. The full
version of the Code can be found at:
The larger the group, the harder it is to keep
impacts to a minimum. Keep groups small.
Remember that people have to make their living from
Camp as unobtrusively as possible.
Remember that noise travels from tents disturbing
wildlife as well as humans.
SET AN EXAMPLE
Minimum Impact Camping
Commit yourself by following this guidance and encourage
your friends to do likewise.
Consider not only your own impact, but repeated
impact by others.
Develop your own skills in finding a discreet place
to camp rather than resorting to popular
congregational spots that tend to be overused.
in doubt about any of your actions, make an effort
to find out what is right. Don't carry on wondering
whether your present practice is right or wrong.
Enjoy the freedom of wild camping without leaving a
trace of your passage. Protect our country's
outstanding scenery and wildlife as well as the
Camping on the same spot harms vegetation. Aim to
move frequently and do not stay for any longer than
3 nights in the same place.
Vegetation is more sensitive at higher altitudes.
Aim to camp lower down in glens where vegetation
recovers more easily.
Dead wood is an important habitat for insects and
many small animals, so it is best to avoid fires
even for cooking.
Lighting fires poses a high fire risk on peaty soils
and close to tinder dry grass. A high risk of fire
can exist at any time of year, and not just in times
MINIMISE DISTURBANCE TO WILDLIFE
Watercourses and loch sides are important sites for
birds and animals. Take extra care when camping near
burns and lochs, and try to avoid camping
immediately beside them.
Food scraps (even when buried) attract scavenging
birds and animals, some of which prey on more
vulnerable nesting birds. Carry all scraps of food
out with you.
prepared to move if you become aware that you are
disturbing nesting birds or animals.
Always find a spot at least 30 metres from
fresh/running water when going to the toilet.
Bury excrement in a small hole (not under boulders).
A trowel or ice axe can be used to lift a flap of
turf. In areas of sensitive upland vegetation, such
as the Cairngorms plateau, vegetation takes a long
time to recover, so holes should not be dug at all.
particularly careful to bury excrement properly when
the ground is snow covered.
Burying tampons and sanitary towels doesn't work as
animals dig them up. Please carry them out. Placing
them in a container with a tea bag helps to absorb
Follow the more specific guidance on Human
Sanitation in the MCofS Human Sanitation Code
LEAVE CAMP AS YOU FOUND IT
Remove all litter (even other peoples!) Think ahead
and only carry in what you are prepared to carry
out. Do not bury or hide litter under stones as it
can harm wildlife and offends those who visit after
Choose a dry site to pitch on rather than resorting
to digging drainage ditches and removing vegetation
and boulders. In replacing boulders, return them to
the same place, the same way up.
Although camping beside a road is not normally
considered wild camping, it does take place and is
lawful. Following a few simple guidelines can reduce
Whenever practicable use an official campsite with
Ask nearby residents before pitching if you wish to
camp near houses.
Remember vehicles have a great impact on vegetation.
Park on hard ground or on a safe metalled area. It
is better to walk to your car than drive to your
Avoid sites that are at risk of being overused.
Congregational roadside camping can cause
Take particular care with toilet hygiene.
you are just looking for a place for a few hours
sleep, then pitch late, leave early and be
This guidance has been adapted from the leaflet "Wild
Camping, A Guide to Good Practice" first published by
the Mountaineering Council of Scotland in 1996, and last
updated in 2005.