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Campers at Glentrool, copyright Forestry & Land Scotland / Robert C. Brady

When the sun shines, it’s the perfect time to dust off the camping gear, pack up the essentials and herd the family out the front door. Head to the countryside, and spend a night or two under the canvas! After all, what could be better than waking up in the wild?

If you’re looking for the perfect place to pitch up in the woods, look no further than our guide to camping (and it's posher cousin, glamping) in the forest.

From no frills, off the beaten track slumbering, to super comfortable forest lodges, where you can chill under the stars – read on for inspiration. We'll tell you all you need to know about Scotland's wild camping laws and share a few of our favourite woodland retreats.

Roughing it

woman camping

Getting closer to nature has so many benefits. It can be a reason to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, or an exercise in self-reliance - all you need are a tent and a few essential supplies and you can head out into the wilderness. If you enjoy the simple life, then wild camping could well be for you.

There are a few useful guides to wild camping - it’s really important that you familiarise yourself with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code so you know exactly what rules apply when camping in the wild. Mountaineering Scotland also have some great tips on how to pick a spot for your tents, and Visit Scotland's wild camping page also has some great suggestions

Making sure that where you choose to pitch up won’t cause any problems. Keep away from buildings and livestock as far as possible. In accordance with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code's guidance on litter and waste, we encourage anyone wild camping to 'leave no trace.' Following these few simple rules is vitally important; keeping Scotland’s forests beautiful and protecting the environment.

Keep it simple

Campers enjoy a hot cup of tea at Glentrool. Copyright Forestry and Land Scotland / Robert C. Brady

If you’d rather strike a balance between roughing it and enjoying some home comforts, camping at an organised site will help you find a happy medium. Kilvrecht Campsite in Tay Forest Park is a popular destination with campers. Located very near to some of the most picturesque parts of Highland Perthshire, and very reasonably priced, the campsite is often used as a base for fishing expeditions.

You can fish nearby Loch Rannoch for trout, pike and perch after purchasing a permit from The Country Store in Kinloch Rannoch, or online via the Loch Rannoch Conservation Association. Facilities here might be minimal, with no bars, clubs or restaurants, but you will wake up in the forest to the sound of birdsong, safe in the knowledge there are loos, washing facilities and drinking water nearby. The wee village of Kinloch Rannoch is just down the road too.

Alternatively, head to the bonny banks of Loch Lomond and stay the night at the very well-appointed Sallochy Campsite. The lochside location is hard to beat, with breathtaking views. Our waymarked trails wind through the tall, tranquil oak trees that line the site, some over 200 years old. Wildlife is abundant here, with elusive roe deer, and a huge variety of bird species.

The loch itself offers plenty of opportunities for wild swimming, or you could enjoy a peaceful picnic on the shore. This is also the ideal spot from which to explore the stunning surrounds of Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, encompassing the thrilling Three Lochs Forest Drive, and the popular Lodge Forest Visitor Centre, with its wildlife hide and all-abilities trails. Sallochy has toilets on site, plus shops and cafes at nearby Rowardennan and Balmaha.

Head north!

Further north, nestled in the heart of Glenmore Forest Park, you’ll find the multi-award-winning Glenmore Campsite, run by Camping in the Forest. Few campsites can compete with the sheer beauty of Loch Morlich Beach, which sits adjacent to the site.

One of Scotland's highest freshwater beaches, Loch Morlich is always busy during the summer months and is a brilliant spot to visit if you enjoy watersports, with Loch Morlich Watersports offering taster sessions, rentals and lessons in sailing, windsurfing paddle-boarding, kayaking and more. 

The lush woodland of the forest park is rich for exploring, with popular trails leading from Glenmore Visitor Centre up into the  stunning Cairngorm mountain range. This campsite has toilets, showers and electric hook-ups available, plus all the convenience of tourist hot-spot Aviemore just a short drive along the road. Check out a few alternative options for where to pitch your tent with Camping in the Forest at Cashel and Cobleland, near Loch Lomond.

Argyll hot tub

Do it in style - go glamping

If you love the outdoors, but love a comfy bed too, there's no reason to feel embarrassed - you can still find a fantastic countryside escape with all those important creature comforts, and then some! There are a few options for you to enjoy a camping experience with a touch of glamour, if that's what you're after.

Just one hour from Edinburgh, you’ll find Glentress nestled in the lovely Tweed Valley Forest Park. A mountain biker’s haven, Glentress offers endless opportunities for fun – with walking and cycling trails, as well as Go Ape treetop adventures. Here, you can stay in one of the charming wooden wigwams next to the forest, where there’s enough room for you to bring up to four friends.

The cabins, or 'pods' as they are known, are operated by Glentress Forest Lodges. There are toilets, showers, internet access, heating, lighting and even a fridge to keep your supplies cool! That's why they call it 'glamping' - these desirable residences are very much the glamorous end of the camping market.

Golden Oak cabin, Forest Holidays, Argyll

If that doesn’t sound quite luxurious enough, then let us introduce you to the sheer decadence of a Forest Holidays lodge! Choose from the Strathyre cabins, nestled in the forest just north of Callander, or the Ardgartan, Argyll cabins on the banks of Loch Long.

Staying in a Forest Holidays cabin means you can wake up surrounded by the tranquillity of the forest, but still enjoy a hot shower and a fresh cup of coffee in the morning. Each cabin also comes with its own hot tub, so don’t forget the bubbly… take glamping to a whole new level! The cabins are dog-friendly too, so do bring your four-legged friend along.

If that sounds like your bag, follow this link to book a Forest Holidays break, and use the code SUMMERSALE when you book to receive 20% off the cost of your stay! Relaxing in luxury in the beautiful surrounds of the Scottish countryside... what could be better? Get that bag packed now!

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