One late evening, on a dreary September night in Wales, my boyfriend and I decided to go on a wild adventure. We fancied getting off the beaten track and experiencing something new. Thus, on a whim, we decided to go wild camping in Scotland!
And the best part about it? Camping is pretty much allowed anywhere. As part of Scotland’s legislation, the Land Reform Act of 2003, campers are allowed to set up camp on most uncensored land. Meaning, we had the best pick of the bunch and pretty much had the opportunity to camp anywhere we’d like!
After researching places to go wild camping in Scotland, we decided on the beautiful area of Glencoe! More specifically, Loch Etive.
So, the next morning, when the eerie September fog was hovering above the green grass and the sun had just peaked over the Welsh hills, we packed up the car and hopped on the M6 towards Scotland.
Whilst sipping on our travel mugs filled with hot coffee, mine being about 50% soy milk and sugar, Dan’s straight black (what’s wrong with him???), we brought up Google Maps and figured out the directions to get to Loch Etive. According to the map, our destination was about 6 hours away.
Not bad, not bad! At least in my opinion. Coming from a huge country like the US, a 6 hour drive is nothing! In Minnesota, it takes me roughly 5 hours just to get to the Twin Cities from where I live. In Dan’s opinion… well the look on his face said otherwise. A 6 hour drive is the equivalent of hell for him.
Nonetheless, we were going to have a great time! I mean, come on. I’m damn near one of the best road trip buddies! Entertaining? No doubt. Hilarious? Uh, duh. Fascinating life story? Eh, maybe not.
Whilst making our way to Loch Etive, I was absolutely blown away by Scotland. The rolling green hills dotted with little puffs of white, also known as sheep; the mountains towering above us, flowing rivers snaking through the valleys, and adorable Scottish villages every 20 minutes or so.
Scotland was quickly becoming one of my favorite countries I’d visited yet.
About 3 hours into our journey, we made a quick stop at the small village of Luss, located on the banks of Loch Lomond and within The Trossachs National Park. And even though the village is teeny tiny, it – and its backdrop – is nothing short of beautiful!
The area is surrounded by stunning scenery; boats bobbing in sparkling Loch Lomond, crystal clear waters just begging to be swam in, and a breathtaking landscape.
As the sun was quickly setting behind the mountains, we finally reached the road that would take us to our end destination. About 13 miles long, a single narrow lane takes visitors down Glen Etive to the head of Loch Etive. As we headed down the road, we only saw a few other campsites and what looked like empty cottages. Seemed like we were the only ones who’d be venturing to the very end of the road!
But the vacancy of the place wasn’t even the best part.
As we found our little campsite, smack dab in the middle of two mountains, surrounded by a flowing river and a crystal clear lake, I swear my heart stopped.
The area of Glencoe and Loch Etive was like nothing I’d ever seen before.
After the car was parked and we took in our bearings, we began to set up camp. Our wild night of wild camping in Scotland was about to commence! Dan took out the pop-up tent and set it up, while I just sat idly by and observed the area. I’m awful at setting up things like that. Last time I set up a tent was 4 years ago… and I forgot to check if the tent poles were in the bag.
Thus, my tent set-up skills are terrible and it was just easier for the both us if he did it. Although, my uselessness was put to rest when the tent was all set up as it was my job to blow up the air mattress. And, even though my lungs were slowly dying, I did a great job!
So, after about an hour, our luxurious campsite was completely done!
Next thing on the list: making dinner for our awesome night of wild camping in Scotland! Considering we’d been on a 6+ hour road trip and all we’d eaten was some small sandwiches, we were famished. So, Dan took out the propane stove we packed along and got to work setting up our makeshift kitchen!
Although, despite my desire to cook outside, there was no way in hell that was happening.
The darn Highland midges were everywhere.
And they were pretty much eating my face off! Midges are tiny flying insects, well known for collecting in large clouds and biting humans. These stupid little things are no doubt a pain in the ass!
So, after our plans to eat outside under the stars were completely uprooted, we set up our little stove in the tent. I know, probably not super safe, but it actually worked perfectly! We had the heat on low and all we needed to do was quickly cook up our frozen vegetarian patties. It was amazing.
How such a mundane situation – eating vegetarian patties with creamy hummus and spicy sriracha in a teeny tent – could make me so darn happy is remarkable.
And even better? The heat from the propane stove deterred the midges from creeping into our tent! It was a win-win situation. We were eating delicious food, heating up the tent, and saving our faces from teeny tiny midge bites!
After dinner was finished and we put everything away, it was time to resume our Star Wars marathon.
Oh yes, we are the biggest nerds on the planet and watched a Star Wars marathon while wild camping in Scotland. And it tops my list as one of the best nights I’ve ever experienced.
But, despite our success in preparing for our Star Wars marathon by downloading the movies, we failed at preparing for actual sleeping. Since we hastily packed up the car before leaving Wales, one crucial thing was left behind…
We completely forgot to pack along pillows.
Although, the next morning no doubt made up for it.
While the early morning dew still stuck to the ground and the sun was just peeking over the Scotland hills, we sluggishly rubbed the sleep from our eyes and opened our tent to this view.
Can we just take a quick sec to appreciate this? I’m still in awe.
Not only did we wake up to a breathtaking view of Loch Etive, but as we climbed out of the tent, I noticed we weren’t the only ones in the valley.
As I admired the surroundings, I realized that we had some curious pals staring at us from the grass field across the river.
What looked to be a species of deer, a herd of about 10 of them were peering at us. The deer didn’t seem scared or anxious, only curious as to what we were doing. They continued to watch us whilst we cleaned up the campsite and packed away our things.
Or… should I say as Dan packed up while I took pictures.
After everything was back in the car, it was time to head out. It was disheartening to say farewell to our cute little campsite – and our new found animal friends – but it was time for the next adventure! Although, no doubt, wild camping in Scotland is close to the top of my list of awesome experiences!
Driving through the Scottish Highlands, camping between mountains, cooking up dinner in the tent, having our faces almost eaten off by midges, meeting some new animal pals, and waking up to a beautiful view of Loch Etive is unsurpassable.
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