Responsible wild camping

Responsible wild camping

by Scottish Tourer November 26, 2014

Wild camping in Scotland has increased in popularity dramatically over the last decade, with more and more tourists and UK natives hiring campervans in Scotland in order to wild camp.  

However, this influx of wild camping has led to a wild camping backlash, with more complaints and disturbances being reported by locals and other campers.  

This begs the question: how do you go wild camping in a responsible manner?  

In this article on wild camping in Scotland, we’ll take a look at what to do with your camping waste, what you should use as a wild camping toilet and give you some excellent wild camping tips to ensure you are a responsible and conscientious wild camper when on your motorhome or campervan holiday in Scotland. 

Wild camping by the loch in Scotland

How to dispose of camping waste  

Bodily waste needs to be disposed of correctly and responsibly when you are wild camping in your motorhome or campervan hire in Scotland.  

There should only be two end-destinations for any bodily fluids: 

  1. A sewer  

  1. Under the ground in an area that doesn’t lead into a water source  

Although manhole covers may seem like a good option for disposing of camping waste, it’s important to remember that many manholes are not for sewers, and therefore contaminating them is unacceptable. 

If you choose to dump camping waste in a manhole cover, be absolutely sure that it leads to a sewer.  

You can also ensure your camping waste reaches its proper destination by emptying it in a public toilet. Please be considerate to other users and ensure you leave the public toilet in the same way you found it (which was hopefully clean!).  

The final option for disposing of waste when wild camping in Scotland is to bury your camping waste. When wild camping in a true wilderness scenario (without a luxury motorhome that has a toilet), this can often be the only solution. 

Old school wild campers will be aware of the practice of digging a latrine, a large communal toilet that is dug in a secluded woodland area.  

This would then be used by everyone in the camping party. This is a very environmentally friendly way to dispose of camping waste as once it was filled back in with soil, you would never know it was there! On subsequent visits a year or so later, a latrine could be dug in the same exact area and there would be no evidence of last year's toilet activites, just a lush compost instead.  

However, it’s important to follow the proper rules for disposing of waste in the wild. These are:  

  • Only dispose of camping waste that has no added chemicals  

  • Ensure the hole or latrine is dug at least 18 - 24 inches deep 

  • Make sure your buried waste is not contaminating a water source 

morning view from your wild camping Scotland spot

Best wild camping tips to be a responsible wild camper  

To help our readers and customers be responsible wild campers in Scotland, we’ve put together some tips on the topics that can most often cause issues.  

Below, we have some detailed information on wild camping with alcohol, wild camping and saving electricity, and general behavior that has garnished a bad rep for wild camping.  

wild camping in a motorhome in Scotland


Wild camping & alcohol 

When wild camping you should consider that you might be asked at any time to “move on” by the landowner or even the police. For this reason, you should always be fit to drive when camping in a public place. 

In the UK and some European countries there is a “drunk in charge” law which means that you commit an offence just by being in charge of a vehicle when over the driving limit. If you were charged with this offence, then you would have to prove that your intentions were to sleep and not drive. 

One would hope that a Police Officer would use common-sense when seeing you in your pyjamas and realise you have no intention of driving. However common sense seems to be less common these days, so the advice has to be, do not drink too much when wild camping in Scotland in your motorhome. 


How to responsibly use (and save) electricity when wild camping  

For short-term wild camping in the summer, you can get by for a few days on just a single battery and no hook up.  

However, most regular wild campers will be well geared up to go for long periods without an electrical hook up. They may have a combination of extra batteries, solar panels, and generators to ensure their power never runs out. 

Having procedures in place to keep use of electricity to the bare minimum when wild camping in a motorhome for long stretches can be a good idea as if you wild camp a lot in your campervan you can spend a lot of money on portable power, 

With today’s technology however, it is such that as long as you have money, you can stay off the grid indefinitely, topping up your electricity as you go and benefiting from solar panels.  


Wild camping in a motorhome: The backlash 

While there are those individuals that campaign tirelessly on our behalf; who write letter after letter to local authorities informing them of the benefits that motorhome tourism can bring to their area.  

However, there is no doubt that a few selfish motorhome users are shouting louder and ruining beautiful locations for the majority. 

These selfish few can often be seen parking in the same spot for days on end with rubbish bags stuffed under the motorhome, generators running and deck chairs out. This behaviour angers locals who wonder, among other things, where these long-termers are dumping their more toxic waste! 

Campers get reported for more spurious reasons that might include noise or ruining views.  The end result is almost always the same; a sign is erected stipulating “No Sleeping” or “No Overnight Camping”. Sadly, it’s only a matter of time till almost every beauty spot has one of these signs due to irresponsible behaviour of a handful of wild campers.  

No wild camping signs in Scotland

Wild camp in Scottish Tourer Motorhome 

Despite the backlash, wild camping is a fantastic experience.  

Imagine how nice that first cup of tea tastes when you are the only person seeing the early morning mist on a lake, and the only sound for miles around is birdsong.  

Wild camping in Scotland is not dangerous and with the application of the common-sense tips above, wild camping in your luxury motorhome hire from Scottish Tourer will be a breeze.  

If you would live to give wild camping a go or if you are interested in hiring a motorhome in Scotland contact Scottish Tourer today. 

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