Camping and culture in Scotland

thumb_IMG_5508_1024If you’ve ever dreamed of woodland living, but can’t quite shake off the attractions of comfort, we may have found the weekend for you! A combination of
wildish camping and city culture.

 

First stop is Blinkbonny Wood in East Lothian. It’s a 100-acre wood in the Lammemuir Hills that offers wild camping with some of the wilder bits slightly tamed. It’s stunning – a beautiful mix of tree species,  panoramic views across the Firth of Forth and, on a clear day, a sight of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and the Bass Rock at North Berwick.

thumb_IMG_5502_1024There are a limited number of tent (or hammock) pitches at £5 a night per person, half price for teenagers and no charge for children under 12. (Minimum charge of £10 per pitch). For that, you get a private spot on the woodland edge or in a clearing. There’s a composting toilet, but no shower and no running water. Each pitch has a fire pit and very basic logs to sit on.

thumb_IMG_5509_1024You park at the entrance and, depending on your pitch, may have a five or 10-minute walk. Wheelbarrows are provided for the trips back and forth with kit. You need to be well organised and have a good memory if you want to avoid that third trip back for the corkscrew or matches! On the way to your spot, you can pick up a bag of firewood for £2.50 and a plastic container of water for washing.

calor-bivouac-camping-stove

Perfect for wild camping – the neat Campingaz Bivouac

We stayed two nights – one of them wet and windy – and it was a brilliant experience. We strung up a tarp between the trees and two hammocks. You can read more about how to do that and which kit to choose in our feature on bivvy camping.

We cooked on the open fire and used our great little Campingaz Bivouac stove to boil water. There were far too many trips back to the van for forgotten things, but that was a chance to chat to other campers and explore the wood a little too.

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bivvy hammocks

Preparing the bivvy hammocks

From the wood, you can cycle into nearby Gifford, a pretty village with two pubs, a co-op, post office and the new Lanterne Rouge café – a great stop for breakfast or lunch. The largest nearby town is Haddington (just off the A1), where we found an interesting new project – the Made in East Lothian community arts hub, with workshops and makers’ markets. It’s small, but promising! There are also lots of walks and the coast is a short drive away.

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We should also mention Hawick – an interesting small town with a cashmere and tweed heritage museum and lots of place to buy jumpers! It’s noteworthy, too, for having a French-style aire – a place designated for free overnight campervan stops right in the heart of town. The lovely part is that there are volunteers who come over to welcome you and to give you information on the town. It’s a great idea that more places should adopt. If anyone knows of others like this, do let us know.

Edinburgh is also a short drive away! So we combined our wild camping (an extra truly wild night high on Eskdalemuir) with the Edinburgh Fringe, gallery visits, shopping and good restaurants. Did anyone mind that we looked a bit bedraggled and smelt of woodsmoke?

 


Here’s some of the kit we used, and you can see our full list of favourite (tried and tested kit).

Comfort Deluxe SI camping mat

As comfortable as a bed, a Sea-to-Summit Comfort Deluxe self-inflating camping mat

An old favourite kettle with folding handle

Klorane dry shampoo

Dry shampoo for turning dirty camping hair into city hair.

bog in a bag camping toilet

A Bog in a Bag camping toilet


Petzl Noctilight

A Petzl headtorch and the handy Petzl Noctilight that turns the torch into a hanging lantern.

Handimoova all terrain camping trolley

A folding Handimoova trolley for carting kit from car to camp

Thermarest Neoair camping mat

Lightweight Thermarest NeoAir camping mat

Water wipes wet

Natural Water Wipes for when showers aren’t available.

calor-bivouac-camping-stove

Neat Campingaz Bivouac stove


 

folding table

Simple, lightweight folding table

Hilarious Happy Going toilet roll cover with flashing light

Clips and bungees to give you lots of options for fastening tarps in place

Exped Ergo flat-bed hammock with mosquito/midge net

 


Ticket to the Moon hammock for not-so-flat sleeping in the trees

Quechua Tarp Fresh

A versatile tarp

Vaude Finsuit

Vaude Finsuit sleeping bag/duvet – doubles as something to keep you warm while sitting round the fire (smoke-smell welcome!)

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2 Comments

  1. I have to admit it was lovely to turn a tap on when we got home, but two or three days without is no bother at all. Stephen, who owns the wood, leaves plastic containers of water out on the track and one was enough to do washing up etc. We took a container of drinking water (which we’d usually do anyway). We used Water Wipes, our favourite take-along for when there’s no easy access to showers or basin, and dry shampoo. Working around what you have is part of the fun.

  2. What a great place!!!
    My visit list is getting longer………
    Did you find it a problem not having running water?

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