Wild Camping Near Edinburgh

Wild Camping Around Edinburgh

Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, is a city rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. As someone who’s lived in Edinburgh all my life, I think it’s the best city to live in the UK. One particular reason I love living in Scotland is that wild camping is easy and safe to do locally.

Living in Edinburgh means dealing with tourists year-round, especially during the Edinburgh Festival in August when the Royal Mile becomes crowded and everything is more expensive. I’m glad to be working remote from home, so I’m able to avoid town quite easily. Before Covid hit, I was office bound Monday to Friday for too many years.

No matter where you live in Edinburgh, you’re always near a good local walk through a wooded area. We also have the surrounding hills of Edinburgh (e.g. Arthur Seat, Blackford Hill) which make it easy to gain scenic views with small hill climbs. For those seeking a small adventure and tranquility away from the city noise, wild camping around Edinburgh provides an unforgettable escape. In Scotland, you’re always under a 30-minute drive from the perfect hike or wild-camping spot, which is one of the beauties of living here.

Pentlands Camping with Little Ducks

What is Wild Camping?

Wild camping is the practice of setting up camp in remote, non-designated areas, often far from established campsites and amenities. It allows campers to immerse themselves fully in nature, experiencing the serenity and solitude that come with being off the beaten path.

In Scotland, wild camping is legal thanks to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, which grants the right to camp on most unenclosed land. However, it is essential to adhere to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which emphasizes responsible camping practices. In short it means, Leave No Trace!.

The Best Spots for Wild Camping Around Edinburgh

1. Pentland Hills Regional Park (South Edinburgh)

The Pentland Hills (Snow Covered) 2024

The first place I’d recommend for wild camping around Edinburgh is The Pentland Hills, which is to the south. The Pentlands is my favorite and most local place for a quick night away camping. I can find the perfect elevated spot within a 1-hour hike from my home that overlooks the City of Edinburgh, or just slightly further, I can reach the nearest reservoir.

The Pentlands have hundreds of amazing camping spots within woodlands or near its many reservoirs. Or, if you’re brave enough to avoid windy nights, go ahead and scale any of the seven peaks for a summit hike, or just find a cozy spot midway up that offers great views.

Popular routes/spots include Bonaly, Threipmuir, and Harlaw reservoirs, where you can set up camp within 30 minutes of the nearest designated parking areas.

2. East Lothian Coastline (Yellowcraig/North Berwick)

Yellowcraigs Beach Sunset

For those who prefer coastal camping, the East Lothian coastline offers stunning beaches and some good dramatic cliffs in some areas. Spots like Tyninghame Beach and Yellowcraig Beach might allow you to get picturesque images I’ve taken and attached here. Falling asleep to the sound of waves and waking up to a seaside sunrise is really worth the experience, away from the usual green hill area.

3. Roslin Glen (South Edinburgh)

Rosslyn Chapel Camping Area

Roslin Glen is located a few miles south of Edinburgh and is another common camping spot, more so for locals. The glen, with its ancient woodland and the historic Rosslyn Chapel nearby, offers a more mystical atmosphere. Camping here allows you to explore the greenery and the River North Esk.

4. Beecraigs Country Park (West Edinburgh)

Beecraigs Country Park Camping

Beecraigs Country Park is about 20 miles west of Edinburgh and is situated near the town of Linlithgow. This park provides a mix of woodlands, open country, and a large loch, making it an easy camping spot for those in the area. Note that while there are designated camping areas, wild camping can be enjoyed in the more remote sections of the park.

5. Cramond Island (1~ Mile North, Out To Sea)

Crammond Island Camping

If you’re brave enough, consider camping out at Cramond Island. This tidal island is accessible only during low tide, so it’s crucial to check tide timings to avoid being stranded, which is part of the experience with this idea.


The Magic of Wild Camping

Pentlands Camping with View of Edinburgh

The joy of wild camping is the freedom it offers—you can set up camp almost anywhere, from the base of a hill to the peak of a mountain. The flexibility allows for unique experiences, whether you prefer a secluded forest or a breathtaking summit. For quick getaways, the wild camping spots around Edinburgh are ideal for one-night escapes, and perhaps two if you need a bit more space from city noise. Remember to plan ahead, respect the environment, and leave no trace.

For those seeking a more adventurous and extended experience, heading further north into Scotland provides even more spectacular camping opportunities. However, this requires more preparation and planning, including packing extra gear for a longer stay.

During rare times when Scotland gets good hot weather, there is an increased risk of wildfires. During these times, we need to be especially careful to avoid making fires near tree areas and to isolate fires by surrounding them with stones.

Tips for a Successful Wild Camping Trip

  1. Plan Ahead: Research your chosen area and ensure you have the necessary equipment/resources for duration of the stay. Check the weather forecast and be prepared for sudden changes.
  2. Leave No Trace: Follow the principles of Leave No Trace. Carry out all your rubbish, minimize campfire impacts, and respect wildlife and other visitors.
  3. Stay Safe: Let someone know your plans and expected return time. Bring a fully charged mobile phone and consider carrying a portable charger. You should get signal within a short walking distance for all of the places recommended in this post.
  4. Respect Local Regulations: While wild camping is generally permitted, certain areas may have specific restrictions. Always respect local guidelines and be on lookout signs.
  5. Pack Essentials: Ensure you have the right gear. Most importantly you’ll have a good tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat to ensure a good and dry nights sleep. Layers of clothing and waterproofs are essential for the variable Scottish weather.

I hope this post was useful, and you enjoy your upcoming camping trip. Catch you next time!


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