Ten top tips to help you get the most out of your wild camping trip in Scotland…
1. Bear in mind the impact camping has on flora and fauna; leaving your tent on one spot for too long damages ground vegetation. Plants are more sensitive at higher altitudes so aim to camp lower down in glens where vegetation recovers more easily.
2. Don’t cut live wood and remember that fallen timber is an important habitat for insects and small animals.
3. Open fires pose a high risk on peaty soils and close to tinder dry grass, or woodland. Dig up a square of turf and put it to one side so it can be placed back over the site of your fire to ensure no trace is left behind. Line your fireplace with large stones to prevent it spreading.
4. Bag up all your rubbish and carry it out with you. Don’t bury it or hide it under rocks. Scour your campsite before you leave to ensure you haven’t left anything behind. The only trace of your presence should be some flattened grass.
5. People go to the hills for solitude so keep groups small and pitch away from other campers – they don’t want to hear your snoring, or whatever other sounds may emanate from your sleeping bag during the night!
6. Don’t scatter food scraps – they attract scavengers which prey on more sensitive creatures. Be prepared to move if you become aware you are disturbing nesting birds or animals.
7. Watercourses and loch sides are important sites for birds and animals. Avoid the temptation to camp immediately beside them. Look around for other sites if possible.
8. Aim to be as inconspicuous as possible. Pitch up well away from houses and farms and don’t camp on agricultural fields. If you have no option but to camp near habitation, do ask permission first. If the answer is a firm no, move on. Often, however, the person you ask may suggest a suitable place. Sometimes walkers have even found themselves being invited in for a cup of tea and a round of scones. You never know your luck!
9. While commercial campsites offer a range of facilities, including toilets and showers, wild campers must live without such home comforts. If you’re out for several days, the laws of nature mean the time will come when you need to find a quiet spot. Carry a small trowel with you and dig a hole. Always find a spot at least 30 metres from fresh running water and make sure you’re well away from structures like bothies.
10. Finally, pack plenty of midge repellent and a midge hood – you’re bound to need them!