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There’s nothing better than waking up in the woods. You get to explore the forest any time of day, and see the different wildlife that comes out from dawn till dusk. There’s no bin lorries to wake you up at 6am, no traffic jams to stress you out, and no loud neighbours keeping you up at night. It’s just peace and quiet, and nature. We’ve put together our rough guide to getting out and enjoying a night under the stars.

family camping in forest with dog in foreground

Where to stay

First up, you need to pick your location. Think about what sort of surroundings you want to be in, and what sort of facilities you need. Head to Kilvrecht Campsite in Tay Forest Park to take in some of the most picturesque parts of Highland Perthshire. Alternatively, head to the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and stay the night at Sallochy Campsite – its lochside location is hard to beat. Camping in the Forest has three forest campsites in two National Parks and VisitScotland has a great list of sites around the country to choose from.

Key things to take

You know all the obvious things: tent, sleeping bag, roll mat, camping stove, torch, lots of water. Depending on how much you can carry, there’s plenty more things to take to make your trip extra comfy. Always remember to pack lots of warm layers. This is Scotland after all, not the south of France, and we only get about three days of hot weather a year.

woman looking out red tent in the snow at Aviemore

Know your rights

If you enjoy the simple life, then wild camping could be for you. Scotland’s access legislation means that everyone can enjoy camping wherever access rights apply, as long as it is short-stay, lightweight and in small numbers. Familiarise yourself with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code to find out how to camp responsibly.

Practice makes perfect

Head out to your garden or nearest park and practice putting your tent up, especially if it’s new or you haven’t used it in a while. There’s nothing worse than unpacking your things in the middle of nowhere and realising you’ve left a key structural pole in the loft.

camping wild camp ten

Know where to go

If you go wild camping, you’ll often be a good distance away from a public toilet. So it’s best to choose a toilet spot before it gets dark. Make sure to bring a trowel to bury any human waste, and take any toilet paper, sanitary items and wipes with you to bin them. Try to pick somewhere more than 30m away from open water, rivers and streams, and a good distance from buildings and farm animals. No farmer wants to watch random strangers squatting in their fields.

Be prepared for midges

Midges are so well known they could almost be Scotland’s national animal. If only they weren’t so universally hated. These little insects will swarm around you, given the right location and time of year, and can potentially drive you nuts. But never fear, midge repellents are widely available to ward off biting beasties.

Don't leave a trace

Camping impacts the flora and fauna around you, so make sure to take away all rubbish. Don’t leave any food scraps (even buried) as they can be eaten by animals and spread diseases. Leave the site as you would wish to find it: clean and untouched.

family in outdoor hot tub at forest lodge

Treat yo' self

If camping doesn’t sound like your thing, but you still want to wake up in amongst the trees, you can upgrade to four walls and a roof. From camping pods to cabins with hot tubs, there is a range of choices across the country for all budgets. For a touch of luxury, Forest Holidays have cabins in Strathyre near Callander, and Argartan, on the banks of Loch Long. Champagne, anyone?

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