“Being the Year of Natural, we were delighted with this contribution from Laura. Laura Canning is the Content Manager for Pitchup.com. An avid birdwatcher, she hopes one day to have her very own campervan. If you want more information from Pitchup, check out their section on Scotland”
‘I’m off to Scotland to go birdwatching,’ I hardily announced at the age of seven or eight, full of flush and determination after reading Enid Blyton’s The Sea of Adventure. Boating around tiny Scottish islands, wild Scottish camping, befriending anthropomorphic puffins and foiling baddies was, I felt, just as good as it gets. I showed good taste from an early age.
So it was at the ancient age of 19 when I finally camped in Scotland for the first time. I’ve been back camping in Scotland several times since, moving on from my youthful wild camping in the middle of nowhere to glamping, hiring caravans and staying on campsites near cities.
Laying down my Enid Blyton book and binoculars, here are some of my favourite Scottish campsites and caravan parks.
Top 5 Scottish Campsites
Loch Tay Highland Lodges, Perthshire
Any raucous laughter from unimaginative types when you say you’re going camping in Scotland in winter should be silenced when you show them this site, which has a wigwam with heating – and a wigwam telly. There’s also a tepee with electricity, shower and cooking facilities, and a yurt with wood-burning stove, all set on a hill overlooking Loch Tay with salmon and trout fishing, sailing and kayaking close to hand.
One for folk who want to combine wild camping with facilities and laundry service (raises aging hand), eco-camp is a also a comfortable option for anyone who remembers having a crying fit that time they couldn’t get their tent up in Loch Lomond (cough). You can pitch your own tent in a wildflower meadow at this tiny Isle of Lismore site, or book an eco-camp ‘Rent-a-tent’, sleeping two, three or up to six people. To really lie back in the lap of luxury, there’s a heated camping pod available too, complete with DVD player and DVDs.
Seton Sands Holiday Park, East Lothian
Because sometimes you want to be near a city when camping, especially when the Edinburgh Festival and Edinburgh Book Festival are on. Seton Sands is thirty minutes from Edinburgh but less than a mile from a sandy beach, and has an indoor pool, kids’ clubs and a café bar on site. And, most happily, the Scottish Seabird Centre is twelve miles away, with interactive cameras to see the puffins up close. Pitches at Seton Sands are for tents, touring caravans and motorhomes, and include access to most park entertainment and facilities in the price.
Sundrum Castle Holiday Park, Ayrshire
If it’s not birds I’m trying to see on an average holiday, it’s castles. And sometimes/often pubs, nightlife and a racecourse. The aptly-named Sundrum Castle Holiday Park four miles from Ayr has over thirty castles in its local area to geek around, including Kelburn with its secret forest and buzzards and peregrine falcons swooping about the estate. Pitches at Sundrum are for tents, tourers and motorhomes, and there’s an indoor pool, bar restaurant, bowling, wildlife trails and kids’ clubs for days staying on site.
Castle Point Caravan Site, Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfries and Galloway tickles my fancy for Scottish camping as it’s got the Red Kite Trail, which at 24 miles could even be completed in one day (ha, how my optimism amuses me). For a Dumfries park, Castle Point Caravan Site at the seaside resort of Rockcliffe has three beaches within a mile and there’s a bird sanctuary at nearby Rough Island. There are tent, tourer and motorhome pitches available on site, but after a hike around looking at red kites the luxury holiday home is my pick, coming with sea views, heating, TV and wifi.
‘I’m off to Scotland for most of the year,’ I’ve just announced to my mum, after filling up my battered travel notebook with several dozen other things to do in Scotland after the birdwatching. At the age of [redacted] rather than seven or eight, all I got was a ‘That’s nice’, which I suppose is progress. But I’m still bringing The Sea of Adventure with me.
For ideas on things to do on a holiday, check out our camping summer pocket guide to Scotland.