Without doubt, Scotland one of the best places to explore in a camper van in the UK. Endless beautiful beaches, draw dropping mountains and gorgeous lochs. Scotland has legal wild camping rules, but these do not apply to motorised vehicles. However wild camping is tolerated in some areas if done responsible.
The North Coast 500 (NC500) has become a popular route for camper vans.
| The Rough Guide to the North Coast 500 |
Discover the North Coast 500 with this compact, entertaining, 'tell it like it is' Rough Guide, packed with invaluable practical guidance and honest expert recommendations across 86 information-packed pages.
| Lonely Planet Scotland’s Highlands & Islands |
Your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you.
| Wild Guide Scotland: Hidden Places, Great Adventures & the Good Life |
Explores the hidden parts of its better known tourist areas, as well many more remote regions, rarely visited by tourists.
| The Rough Guide to Scotland (Travel Guide with Free eBook) |
This 2020 edition covers the most popular tourist attractions, but it also suggests places off the beaten tourist path, such as remote glens, small museums, and fascinating villages.
The most popular spots in Scotland can get busy in summer, especially during the school holidays.
Be sure to book ahead with campsites to ensure you get a place.
Free camping in Aberdeen
You can park on the Aberdeen beach esplanade. The best places are across from the golf course. All the entertainment, cafes, funfair etc. is further along.
Free camping in Linn of Dee, Cairngorm Mountains
Take the road west out of Braemar to the road end. There is a hard standing car park just over the Linn of Dee bridge which does not display any signs regarding overnight parking. Parking fee appr. £2 per day.
Free camping in Cairngorm Mountains
The sugar bowl car park. No facilities on site, local facilities at Glenmore 1 mile or at Aviemore 7 miles.
Free camping in Fettercairn
There’s an ‘Aire’ at the Fettercairn Bowling Club.
Free camping in Banchory
Try the car park at “Flemings Building Supplies” on the left travelling in from Aberdeen (A93). Keep the garden centre gate clear as they start at 06.30 in the morning.
Argyll & Bute
Free camping in Skipness
On the north east of the Kintyre Peninsula. Take the B8001; then follow sign to Arran ferry. Go past the ferry; the road goes to Skipness which is a dead end. There are several places for overnighting next to the beach. In winter it could be possible to stay on the ferry car park because it is a seasonal service. The ferry car park is gravel, parking in the middle to the back is fine as the sides are deep with stones. If you stop on these parts you won’t get going again.
Free camping in Lochgilphead
Go north from Lochgilphead on the A816; take left fork on B841; go over canal bridge and on your right hand side is a car park. Ask lock keeper to park. There are two car parks along that road.
Free camping in Colintraive
Try the road by the side of the ferry, right on the waterfront. Two shops, a pub and a toilet.
Free camping in Lochgoilhead
- Take the road to Carrick Castle. In 3 miles there’s a turn off on left where you can stay overnight.
- Try the main car park by the sea in the village.
Free camping on the A82 between Luss and Arrochar (121J1)
There are numerous large layby’s alongside Loch Lomond.
Free camping in Fionnphort
The car park at St. Columba Exhibition Centre.
Free camping in Ardfern/Aird
Go south from Oban on the A816 for about 27 miles. Then take the B8002. You go though a village called Ardfern. Keep going till you come up to a gate. Open gate and drive about 100yds in to small car park where you can stay. A nice spot overlooking Jura.
Free camping in Barcaldine
Go north on the A828 past Barcaldine camping caravan site (you can empty chemical and get fresh water there for small fee). North to first roundabout; then first left. Loch Creran is on your left. There are 6 or 7 layby’s on left.
Free camping in Inveraray
- Try the car parks right of the pier on the seafront. Toilets open 6.00 am and there is a fresh water tap just at the side. The car parks next to water have signs saying no motorhomes or caravans. The big car park through the arches has a sign saying ‘no overnighting’. Not sure about the coach park.
- A few miles out of town on A 819 there is a picnic site on the right hand side of the road. It looks like an ordinary layby but it goes back off the road.
Free camping in Lochawe
On the A85, about 5 miles from Dalmally there is a dirt pull in layby on the left (from Dalmally) but behind it is another track hidden in the trees. There are 2 beaches only feet away.
Free camping near Tulla Cott
Parking on the A82 north to Glencoe (near Tulla Cott). Great view to Bridge of Orchy.
Free camping at Bridge of Orchy
Over the old bridge at Bridge of Orchy there is plenty of gravel for parking on. If you feel like it drive on the back road for three miles to Inveroran Hotel where you can stay either before the hotel or in the car park about 1/2 mile further on.
Free camping near Inveroran Hotel
Three miles down the road is a choice of spots for a motorhome, before the pub or in the road end car park.
Free camping at Loch Tulla
On the A82, not long after Bridge of Orchy then Loch Tulla, after a hairpin bend that climbs up to Rannoch Moor, there is a layby on the left. Plenty of coaches pull in there for the view, from where you can see 24 mountain peaks, Loch Tulla and only 4 buildings.
Free camping in Ardtoe
A private car park at Ardtoe, right on the coast. It charges 40p for an unspecified time. I asked if we could stay overnight and we settled on 1 pound. There were rudimentary toilets but they were out of order at the time. Car park is partly grassy and we were the only vehicle there at night. It’s just across a little road from the sea, with deserted coves, clear waters, and fantastic sunsets.
Free camping in Strontian
The car park at the Tourist Info.
Free camping in Fairlie
South of Largs, on the coast. On the south side of the village there are two picnic sites signed from the main road. One has a small toilet block. The other one has a main car parking area that is in view, but a few yards further on is a small spot just out of sight.
Free camping in Braemore
12 miles south on A835 from Ullapool, there is a large layby with public toilets. That’s on the main track, if you go on the A832 there is a large layby overlooking the valley looking towards Ullapool.
Free camping in Thurso
A car park west along the river, in the direction of the Information Centre.
It seems the whole Thurso area is marked “No over night parking”.
Free camping in Lybster
A nice spot can be found in Lybster Harbour near the Waterlines-building. Access via the A99, junction Lybster.
Free camping in Castletown
The car park near the harbour (appr. 200 metres). Access via the A836, junction Castletown (between John O’Groats and Thurso).
Dumfries & Galloway
Free camping in Glentrool Village
In Glentrool Village follow dead end road to Bruce’s Memorial (Loch Trool). Several places along this road, There are toilets at the visitor centre. Keep going till road sign says ‘no unauthorised traffic’. Good place for overnight stay, very quiet.
Free camping in Kirkcudbright
- In Kirkcudbright at the junction of A711 and B727 there is a forestry commission car park, good for overnight stop, 10 minutes walk into town.
- In Kirkcudbright take the B727 towards Borgue. There is a picnic site on right next to sea. Toilet block.
Free camping in Dalbeattie
There are 2 forestry commission parking sites very close to one another. Both under a mile North East of Dalbeattie, just off the A711 Solway Coast Road. Both are well clear of the road and there are no signs to deter overnight parking. One of them has 2 water taps.
Free camping in Moffat
Overnight stop four and a half miles north of Moffat on the A701 for Edinburgh. Entrance is on the left, 30 yards short of the grey/white telephone exchange on the right. Notice board says Ericstane Forest. Follow good track about 60-70 yards, just room to turn a 16 foot van.
Free camping in Ettrick Valley, St Mary’s Loch
Approaching St Mary’s Loch from the Gordon Arms (Moffat) about half way along the loch is a small layby beside the loch, and a longer one on the opposite side. Both are close to the road but it is a very quiet road with little traffic.
Free camping in Glenfinnan
The car park, just off the main road, at the start of the private road that leads under the viaduct.
Free camping in Ardgour
- Overnight stop at the base of the path to Garbh Bhien in Ardgour on the A861. Quiet spot. No passing traffic. Quickest way to get there is to use the Corran ferry from the A82, only a short crossing but saves about 60 miles.
- Go north from Ardgour; there’s a layby in the trees, about 1 mile up the road.
- Go south from Ardgour on the A861. Keep the loch on left and you will see places to park on the old dead road.
Free camping in Corran
The ferry terminal on the Fort William side.
Free camping in Glen Nevis
Some excellent overnight stops in Glen Nevis on the roadside all the way down the Glen. Out of season is the best time as the Glen is fairly quiet.
Free camping in Fort William
- From Fort William go north on A82; about 2 miles on right hand side is the road to Ben Nevis. Loads of space in car park.
- Leave Fort William on the A82 towards Inverness and turn left at the lights signposted Corpach and the road to The Kyle of Lochalsh (A830). Take the first right after the Bridge and wind your way up the road. On the right there is a narrow entrance which takes you on to the loch side. Parking is for 4 or 5 vehicles only. There is a much larger car park at the bottom. Water is available, but ask the lock keepers first. It is likely that a better parking can be had at the lower car park near the Moorings Hotel as you turn right off the main road.
- Nice parking lot at top of ‘Neptune’s Staircase’ locks N.E. of town built to service yacht owners at top of Locks on Caledonian Canal. Very picturesque setting and free toilet block for boaters run by Waterways. No charge or signs apparent.
Free camping in Invergarry
Near Lock Garry on the A87 you have a choice of three off road layby’s. Good places to use as a base, if you want to tour around Lock Ness for a few days.
Free camping in Clunes
From Fort William take the A82 up to Spean Bridge; then take the B8004 from the Commando Memorial to Gairlochy and then the B8005 to Clunes. Through the Mile Dorcha (dark mile) to a car park on the right. Car park is level hardstanding.
Free camping in Fort Augustus
South of Fort Augustus take the B862. Along that road there are two layby’s in which to park at the top of the hill. Road narrow at first.
Free camping in Beauly
9 miles west of Inverness, there is a truck stop behind the police station. Very quiet, good lighting, nice place for an overnight stop.
Free camping in Inverness / Loch Ness / Dores
Coming out of Inverness on the B862 after 8 miles you come to a fork in the road; take right fork on B852. There is a pub on the t with a spot to park by the beach.
Free camping in Rosemarkie
From Rosemarkie take the A832 towards Cromarty. Pass the turning onto the B9160. On the right hand side there is a large car park which goes well off the road. Good for overnight.
Free camping in Edinburgh
Head towards Dean Bridge from Queensferry Road, hang a left at Church immediately on your right before bridge and head into crescent past residents spaces, don’t turn first right. Great views over Dean Village and free parking Friday night – Monday morning.
Free camping in Heriot
On the A7 watch for sign “Heriot layby” on left.
Free camping in Tomintoul
The car park of Tomintoul Bowling Club, Lecht Drive, Tomintoul, off the B9008. Continental type Aire de Service. The site is specifically for motorhomes. The cost is £5 per night, maximum stay 2 nights.
Free camping in Tomintoul
A free parking can be found at the “Estate Office” towards the end of Mainstreet in Tomintoul.
Free camping near Elgin
Leave the A96 (Elgin to Keith) on to the B9015 (travelling inland), just before B9103 there is a Forestry Commission Car Park with plenty of space
Perth & Kinross
Free camping in Lochearnhead
24 miles west of Perth city on the A85 you can wildcamp virtually all the length of Loch Earn. Popular with fishermen, this area is used a lot but fairly clean if you pick your spot.
Free camping in Milton Morenish
- On the A827 near Milton Morenish is a small lane towards the Bridge of Balgie. Go up the lane over cattle grids and keep climbing up the mountain till you come to the visitor centre for Ben Lawers Mountain. Use the car park. If you go further up the road, still climbing, you will come to a dam where you may also find a place to park.
- Overnight spot on the dam past the Ben Lawers visitors centre on the road down to Glen Lyon. At about 1200 feet it is quiet overnight and in a superb setting.
Free camping in Crieff
Crieff Visitors Centre car park. Shop opens in the morning at 9am and the shop has a nice toilet. Quiet spot.
Free camping in Aberfeldy
- In Aberfeldy take the A826. In about a quarter of a mile there is a picnic area. Go onto top car park. OK for overnight stay. Few minutes walk into town.
- On the same road, drive further on; ignore the first picnic site on right (no overnighting). There is another car park on the left off the main road used by walkers. There is a path leading onto Forestry Commission land.
Free camping in Pitlochry
North of Pitlochry turn left onto B8019; just past Queens View turn right into picnic area (Loch Tummel). There are toilets here.
Free camping on The Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye has many opportunities for wild camping in layby’s, picnic sites etc. Avoid areas too near a proper campsite, where they will try to discourage you, and of course avoid blocking the passing places on one-track roads.
- A free camp on the Sleat Peninsula, the road doesn’t have a number. It’s a loop road going through Tarskavaig and Tokavaig, off the A851 before you get to the clan Donald centre. The site is between the two villages but closer to Tokavaig – a nice flat and sheltered bit of green near a ruined Macdonald stronghold and right at the waterside.
- Don’t bother trying to camp anywhere near Elgol, it’s very steep and there are few places you can even pull in.
- The coast road of the Trotternish peninsula has various pull-ins overlooking the sea. A couple of times we asked permission to camp outside a hotel/restaurant where we were eating or drinking. No problem (except midges).
- A picnic layby near Flodigarry, north of Staffin. There were several places we could have stopped in that area.
Free camping at Kyle of Lochalsh
- If you go up the A890 from Kyle of Lochalsh there is a large layby overlooking Loch Carron where you can park.
- You can also go up the mountain pass. It is ok for motorhomes; lots of passing places, just take your time, let cars pass you and keep everyone happy. You can park at the top (large view point).
- Going down there’s a campsite just as you get to village on left.
- Going round the bay you come up to a church park on left where it’s o.k. to park.
Free camping in Glenelg
Take the A87 toward Glen Shiel; go right through the Glen until you see a petrol station on your left. Turn left just after this, following signs for Glenelg and the ferry. This is an old military road, single lane with passing places. Follow this road up the Ratagan pass, but beware as it is extremely steep! There is a picnic area about two thirds of the way up where you can stop. Carry on over the pass and descend into Glen More. Follow the road almost into Glenelg, but take a right turn (signposted to the ferry) before you reach the village. Drive about another half a mile until you see the sea, then just park up wherever you fancy.
Free camping in Contin
A picnic area along the A835, appr. half a mile west of the village. The toilets are closed at night.
Free camping in Poolewe
Go from Poolewe on the B8057 towards Cove. Very nice beaches along that road with parking. Keep going until you come to a car park for old WW II base. Park there.
Free camping in Nigg
Try the ferry at Nigg, which has a large car park and although there is no fishing from the pier, if you have a good rod and a good casting arm a salmon or two can be taken in late August. Watch out for the school of porpoises and the occasional whale. While the porpoises are in the bay they drive the salmon into the shallows, making it easier for poor fishermen like me.
Free camping in Portmahomack near Tain
A quiet camp site is the one at Portmahomack near Tain, the site is owned by The Kirk so there are rules about not putting out washing on Sundays etc, but any rules fade into insignificance beside the gently sloping beach where the waves only just lap the beach as it is almost directly facing Northwest and safe within the Dornoch Firth.
Free camping in Newmill
On the A7 there’s a layby going north just before Newmill. The layby is on the right side of the road 100yds before pub.
Free camping in Carter Bar
On the A68 south of Jedburgh. There is a layby each side of the road.
Free camping in Jedburgh on A68 (Scottish borders).
- Just off A68 there is a car park around which flows a small river. On the other side is Jedburgh Castle, which is beautifully illuminated at night-time. 5 minutes walk away is town centre and the house Mary Queen of Scots lived in. On car park is also toilets and small cafe and souvenir shop. Have seen many campers there. As far as I know there is no charge.
- Also on A68 right on Scottish borders on top of big hill are 2 large layby’s with fantastic view to the north up to 8-10 mile on clear day.
Free camping in Coldstream
On the A697 in Coldstream. A car park about three-quarters of the way through the Borough. Toilets in the car park.
Free camping in Carfraemill
Between Carfraemill and Fala on the A68 are two layby’s on opposite sides of the road on the uphill drag. Don’t use this spot if snow is forecast as it’s between the snow barriers. If they close the road (regular when there is snow) you are trapped between the barriers.
Free camping in Stirling
Try the Wallace Memorial car park in Stirling.
Free camping in Kinlochbervie
Plenty of space to stay near the harbour. One of the locals advised to stay on the north side, near the yacht harbour, close to the houses.
Free camping in Durness
Lots of places to park on the A838 from Laxford Brige.