No Campsite – No Problem! Guidance for “freedom camping” with a campervan.
Posted on by Jo Page
We are very lucky in Scotland to have such an abundance of fantastic campsites, their facilities are extremely useful when you are on a road trip with a campervan or motorhome. But we are noticing a big increase in the number of people asking about “freedom camping”.
Essentially “Freedom Camping” is parking your vehicle in a non-designated place without any facilities. Many find this a great way to experience Scotland, the benefits being you can travel to your own timescale and if you see a view you wish to wake up to and you are safe to stay in that location, you can just remain where you are.
All the hire vehicles at Highland Campervans are perfect for “freedom camping”. The only thing you would be leaving behind is tyre tracks. All our vehicles are fitted with the following:-
Waste water tanks – Any water you may use for washing up or washing/showering is gathered into an on board tank. Leaving nothing to drain from your vehicle, these tanks can be emptied at the correct facilities at a site when on the go!
Cassette toilet/Porta-Potti – on board toilets or the use of a porta-potti means you are able to use the facilities whilst freedom camping and empty your cassette/porta-potti responsibly when next at a site.
Leisure Battery - All vehicles have a leisure battery, so there is no need to hook up to electricity. You do however need to keep an eye on your usage to make sure that you don’t run out but there are lots of handy tips and tricks for this!
Of course with anything that you are not used to doing, it is always advisable to follow a set of guidelines and some common sense Do’s and Don’ts. The Campervan and Motorhome Professional Association (CAMPA) have devised a very helpful leaflet with information to help you along your way.
Scotland is rightly very proud of its access rights; however when you are looking for places to freedom camp in a campervan or motorhome, it is important to bear in mind the following key points:
Scottish access rights and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code don’t apply to motor vehicles.
The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that you can drive a vehicle up to 15 yards off a public road for the purpose of parking, but this does not confer any right to park the vehicle. Most un-metalled roads, unfenced land and beaches are private property, and you don’t have a right to park unless it’s authorised by the landowner by verbal agreement or signage.
In practice, informal off-road parking takes place in many parts of rural Scotland, often in well-established places, without causing undue concern.
Some communities (e.g. Calgary Bay on Mull and the whole island of Tiree) have established their own guidance for campervans and the use of designated overnight parking spaces... if you’re in such a place, follow the guidance!
Common Sense Guidance – Do:
- Use common sense and think whether the spot you have found is suitable for a vehicle.
- Think about the cumulative effect of camping in the ‘fantastic secret place which I’m sure no-one else has ever been’...it is very likely that others will use the same spot, not just you!
- Take great care to avoid fragile ground/sensitive habitats, (e.g. wild flower rich machair on the Western Isles) - never drive down to beaches or onto grass verges as it destroys the habitat.
- Avoid overcrowding. If another vehicle is parked in a secluded spot - try not to park right next to them and find your own spot elsewhere.
- Use only biodegradable detergents and drain kitchen waste water tanks in campsites at designated areas. If it has to be emptied in the wild, keep away from water courses and be aware that animals will be attracted to the scent.
- Ensure your vehicle is self-contained with toilet facilities (such as a Porta-potti) and waste water tanks.
- Do a full ‘litter-pick’ before you leave, taking all of your rubbish, and any you found there already, and disposing of it properly when you’re back in ‘civilisation’.
- Support a sustainable tourism industry – buy groceries in local shops.
Common Sense Guidance – Don’t:
- Park in areas where signs state 'no overnight parking' or where there is a campsite nearby.
- Park overnight within sight of people's houses, even in car park bays.
- Block access tracks to estates and fields.
- Light BBQs or fires unless it is safe to do so, and you can supervise it properly. They should be fully extinguished when finished and no evidence left behind.
- Empty any chemical toilet waste anywhere other than at a designated chemical waste area. Most campsites have facilities for the emptying of a cassette toilet. Public toilets are not suitable places to empty chemical toilets as it upsets the sewage treatment process.
You can print this helpful information out to take on your journey with you and if you are hiring a campervan or motorhome through Highland Campervans this information is already in your vehicle pack! You can print the information HERE.
If you need more information on freedom camping and how it works, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
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It added to the holiday to engage with such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable team in the booking and arrival process....Well Done! Just keep doing what you are doing!