• Please check with campsites before setting off. Covid means some won’t be open, some will have fewer or reduced facilities and some may be limiting bookings.
    Please don’t wild camp unless you’re absolutely sure you won’t upset local people. Don’t wild camp unless you’re prepared to take all your gear and rubbish away with you.

Wild camping and culture in Scotland

camping ScotlandIf 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.

Nearly wild, totally gorgeous

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.

camping ScotlandThere 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_1024Wheelbarrow to the woods

You 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.


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.

campfire cooking

bivvy hammocks

Preparing some of the bivvy hammocks

Walks and wanderings

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.

welcome in Hawick

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).

One of the best hammocks we’ve found for a proper flat sleep. Lawson Blue Ridge works on the ground too. Check out other flat-bed hammocks too.

Comfort Deluxe SI camping mat

As comfortable as a bed, a Sea-to-Summit Comfort Deluxe self-inflating camping mat. More comfy mats here.

An old favourite kettle with folding handle. More kettles in our reviews too.

Klorane dry shampoo

Dry shampoo for turning dirty camping hair into city hair.

bog in a bag camping toilet

Bog in a Bag camping toilet. Oh, and have a look at our complete round-up of the best camping loos.

Petzl Noctilight

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

Vango’s Transit is fab. Folds completely flat and weighs just 3kg. Around £30.

Thermarest Neoair camping mat

Lightweight Thermarest NeoAir camping mat

We always take a couple of packs of these totally natural Aqua Wipes. Not dear, either.

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

Quechua Tarp Fresh

A versatile tarp. See our article on tarps, by the way.

Camping gear must-haves – our 60 best finds

When we find a new piece of camping or outdoor equipment that we love and that really works, it's here. Everything you see – from barbecues to mosquito repellent – has been tried and tested by a member of the Campfire team and is now one of their actual camping essentials ...
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  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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