Top 10 campsites

Scotland boasts some fantastic campsites among wonderful mountain and coastal scenery.  Whether you like to camp in pine forests, stay right on the beach with amazing sunsets, prefer to experience a village community with amenities on your doorstep or equally want to get away from it all on a secluded site on a Scottish island, you can find it all here.

My Top 10 list is informed by my personal experience of Scottish camping over … ahem … several decades; I’ve camped at all except 10 of the 28 campsites I’ve highlighted (and a great deal more than haven’t made the Top 10).  Those I haven’t yet been to are frequently recommended by others and so I’m pretty confident this is a worthwhile list.

Of course, a ‘good’ campsite is reasonably subjective.  For me, the essential ingredients include a well run site in a high quality environment, clean and good quality washing facilities and good amenities (shop, pub, cafe) nearby (excepting the ‘get-away-from-it-all’ sites).  The bottom line is that a great campsite is one you would want to return to again and again; all meet this criterion.  For each in the Top 10, I’ve highlighted sites with a similar ‘feel’ or alternative sites nearby so you can select from a slightly wider choice.

10. Port Ban Holiday Park, Kintyre

The owners call Port Ban “a wee taste of heaven on the West Coast” and I would agree.  It’s situated at Kilberry on the Kintyre peninsular with amazing views west towards the Paps of Jura.  It’s well organised with play equipment and a sandy beach, giving a very safe, family-oriented atmosphere.  There’s a shop, cafe and restaurant on site but also, don’t miss the chance to eat out at the nearby Kilberry Inn, famed for its bar meals.

If you like beachside and island campsites with amazing views then good alternatives to Port Ban include:  Seal Shore Camping and Touring Site (Arran), The Shielings (Mull) and Kintra Farm (Islay).

Sunset on the beach at Port Ban with the Paps of Jura on the horizon

Sunset on the beach at Port Ban with the Paps of Jura on the horizon

Kintra Farm campsite, Islay

Kintra Farm campsite, Islay

9.  Red Squirrel Campsite, Glencoe

If you like the idea of informal camping where you simply choose a pitch for your tent in among the trees or along the side of a stream then you’ll like Red Squirrel.  Set in the heart of historic Glencoe, with towering mountains all around, this campsite is definitely on tourist route to Fort William and the Islands.  This is one of the few sites that allows open fires in certain locations.  It’s also staggering distance back along the road from the legendary Clachaig Inn (stone floors, wooden tables, open fires and over 200 malt whiskies and real ales) – see my post on the Top 10 Roadside Pubs.

If you like the feel of more informal camping in and among trees, with open fires, then also take a look at Ruberslaw (near Hawick) Comrie Croft (north of Stirling) and Lazy Duck (near Aviemore).

8.  Blair Castle Caravan Park, Blair Atholl

If Red Squirrel is the epitome of informal camping, then Blair Castle Caravan Park is perhaps the best ‘organised’ site I’ve stayed at in Scotland.  It’s a large and very well run with excellent facilities and has a large area of grass in the centre which is great for kids.  The site is in Highland Perthshire, within the Cairngorms National Park, near to the holiday centres of Pitlochry, Aberfeldy and Dunkeld.  Blair Castle is right next to the site (campers get discounted entry) and Atholl Estates organise a range of outdoor activities on the doorstep.  Highland Perthshire is now building a strong reputation for adventure sports – rafting or bungee jumping, anyone ?  Finally, there’s a great chip shop across the road …

If you like a site with facilities (pubs, shops) nearby then you might also like Glen Nevis Touring and Camping Park (Fort William).

7.  Resipole Camping and Caravan Park, Ardnamurchan

Resipole is set right beside Loch Sunart in the Ardnamurchan peninsular (just to the north of Mull), on a working farm and at the foot of Beinn Resipole (845m).  It has a relaxed, peaceful atmosphere among spectucular scenery.  While Loch Sunart is a sea loch it’s also great for exploring by canoe or kayak.  Nearby you’ll also find the Sunart Oakwoods, designated a Special Area of Conservation, since they are one of the few remaining areas of ancient Caledonian oak forest.

Nearby, a good alternative is the Ardnamurchan Campsite at Kilchoan, the most westerly campsite on the British mainland.

6.  Sands Holiday Centre, Gairloch

With views towards Skye and the Western Isles, this campsite features pitches in among the sand dunes right on the beach.  Gairloch is a good base for a holiday with walking (eg Torridon), fishing, Inverewe Gardens (Poolewe) and the beach of course all on the doorstep.  The site offers bike and canoe hire, a well-stocked shop and a cafe due to open by Summer 2013.

There are some other great coastal sites in Northwest Scotland I’d recommend including Clachtoll Beach Campsite (Lochinver) Ardmair Point (north of Ullapool) and Sango Sands (Durness).

5.  Applecross Campsite

The ‘entertaining’ journey to Applecross across the single-track Bealach na Ba, the third highest road in Scotland, rewards you with peace and tranquility on the coast at Applecross.  There’s no mobile phone reception here – just the views across to Skye, wildlife, beaches and a slower pace of life.  It’s well worth eating out at the Applecross Inn (see my previous post on the Top 10 Roadside Pubs).

Good alternatives for tranquil coastal sites include Badralloch Campsite (west of Ullapool) and Portabhaigh Campsite (near Achiltibuie).

4.  Fidden Farm, Isle of Mull

There are several excellent sites in Scotland that boast very little in the way of ‘official’ amenities – don’t expect much more than basic washing facilities – but this is more than compensated by spectacular scenery.  Fidden Farm, right at the western end of the Isle of Mull just near the ferry terminal for Iona, is a perfect example.  Stay when the sun’s shining and you will probably have the glorious white sand beach all to yourself to play on.  (Conversely, when it’s wet or windy – or both – you’ll need to make your own entertainment !).  A new washblock was being constructed when we last stayed here a couple of years ago.  Just watch out for the sheep dogs if you have young children though; they’re working farm dogs and not used to kids (ie they can and do bite).

If you like island ‘get away from it all’ sites then I’d also recommend: Glenbrittle (Skye), Horgabost (Harris), Ardroil Grazing (Lewis), Uig and Cnip Grazing (Lewis).

Fidden Farm Campsite, Mull

Fidden Farm Campsite, Mull

Luskentyre Beach, Harris

Luskentyre Beach, Harris

3.  Cannich Camping and Caravan Park, near Loch Ness

With pitches set in among the pine trees, this site has a wonderful ‘outdoors’ feel to it.  It’s not far from Loch Ness and near to Glen Affric National Nature Reserve, with umpteen munros plus great cycling and kayaking on the doorstep.  The owners have gone to great lengths to develop the site; there’s a cafe serving breakfasts, lunches and home baking, mountain bike hire and lots of information on things to do locally.  It has a similar ‘feel’ to it than Rothiemurcus (see below).

2.  Camusdarach Campsite, Arisaig

The white-sand beaches between Arisaig and Mallaig, with panoramic views to Eigg, Rum and Skye, must rate among the best in the UK.  We’ve been here on a hot, summer’s day when you could easily be forgiven for mistaking Camusdarach beach for being on the Mediterranean coast … except that there are no crowds here.  It’s a relaxed and well-run site with direct access to the beach.  If you do feel able to leave the site there’s plenty to do nearby including island and wildlife boat tours, sea kayaking, a day trip to Knoydart or a trip on the ‘Harry Potter’ train, the steam train which runs between Mallaig and Fort William over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

There are several campsites along this stretch of the coast between Morar and Arisaig with fantastic views out to the Small Isles (Rum, Eigg), with Invercaimbe also recommended.

1.  Rothiemurcus, near Aviemore

Set in a superb location right in among Caledonian pine trees in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, Rothiemurcus is the perfect location to experience wild Scotland at its best.  You have walking and mountain bike trails right beside the site and another 50 outdoor activities able to be booked at the nearby Rothiemurcus Centre.  You’re just up the road from Aviemore with all the facilities of this main holiday centre.  Choose between three distinct camping areas: in among tall pines, beside the small river or on the island formed by the river.  And best of all, after an energetic day enjoying the outdoors, there’s a modern, heated washblock.

An excellent alternative nearby is Glenmore Campsite, right beside Loch Morlich, which is run by Forest Holidays.

Taking a walk through the pine woods at Carrbridge

Taking a walk through the pine woods at Carrbridge

As I say, choosing a Top 10 is a subjective matter – I’d be interested to hear if you think I’ve missed any other great sites out.  It’s also worth pointing out that wild camping is enshrined in law in Scotland (unlike in England and many other parts of the world) – look out for a future Top 10 guide to wild camping spots.

Postscript:  You may also be interested in finding out about the Top 10 Scottish campsites that allow campfires and my Top 10 recommended beach campsites.

Article updated July 2015

34 Comments on “Top 10 Campsites in Scotland

  1. Pingback: Beware the Curtain-Twitchers | Wild about Scotland

  2. Pingback: Top 10 Campsite that allow Campfires | Wild about Scotland

  3. Thank you for sharing this information , having not been camping in a long time , this site has given me options .

  4. Wish I’d come across your blog last year – we stopped at the Glenbrittle site on Skye and I honestly thought that should have been one of Scotland’s top sites. Was I wrong……..it’s not on your list….?
    If ever you’re headed Wales way give’s a shout and I’ll give you my Top 10 (of the North 😉
    Mrs B, North Wales
    PS: thanks for the follow 🙂

    • Glenbrittle is certainly up there but it’s difficult to include them all in a Top 10 ! We were actually in Glenbrittle wild swimming at the Fairy Pools three weeks ago (see my post) – the Cuillin provide a stunning backdrop. I’ll be sure to pick your brains next time we’re headed down towards Wales.

  5. Pingback: Top 10 Scottish beach campsites | Wild about Scotland

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  8. Great write up. Will be using this when I make the trip from Australia. Just what a gal like me wants to know when planning the driving section of my holiday, will share with my circle:)
    Thanks heaps

    • Thanks very much for the feedback and hope you find these recommendations useful when you get over here.

  9. Pingback: Top 10 Scenic Roads in Scotland | Wild about Scotland

  10. I was interested in your top 10 sites but really surprised that the Clachtoll beach campsite never made it, it must be one of the most beautiful and relaxing locations and the owners could not be more helpful

    • That’s a good suggestion and great to hear such a positive recommendation.

      I did actually highlight Clachtoll as an alternative to the Sands Holiday Centre at Gairloch and it’s undoubtedly a great site. These are my personal recommendations for Top 10 sites based on my own experiences.It’s a good shout though – I think I’ll have to pay a return visit to Clachtoll.

  11. Pingback: Happy Campers: Ewan and ‘Lydia’ | Wild about Scotland

  12. I once hear it saiud that camping was a poor mans holiday, but I
    wass not so sure about that. Just imagine being able to go back to thee nice
    cooled off tebt after a day oof hijing and playing in the great out doors.
    From her, I was able to get a good grasp of life in Atsuta, as
    well aas about the cokuntries sshe had visited, and those she would like to visit.

  13. Pingback: Campsite Review – Applecross Campsite | Wild about Scotland

  14. Pingback: Camusdarach beach - Maverick

  15. Pingback: Camusdarach beach - Scotland

  16. Very interesting list, was just about to book Rothiemurcus, but was undecided between this and Witches Craig for our next family adventure. Was surprised not to see Comrie Croft campsite on the list, its a great little site where you can camp in any of the 3 areas, high meadow, low meadow or in the woodland, camp fires are allowed which is a bonus, new toilet block and showering facilities and lots of bike trails.

    • Personally I’d head for Rothiumurcus any time over Witches Craig; the location is just fabulous.

      Comrie Croft is great (I don’t live that far away) but I’ve never stayed there since I tend to go further afield.

  17. Spent a night this last weekend at http://www.resipole.co.uk. Would just like to say although a nice place for camper vans for tents it was not nice, the ground was very rocky, the tents area is at the bottom of the hill and with the rain it was rather miserable.It was also very close to a busy road and our tents lit up with headlights each time a car zoomed past. We also found the owners rather unfriendly. It also seemed rather expensive.Moved to Sunart Camping Strontian 15 min away and had a wonderful weekend. Terry the owner was lovely. The camp site was secluded and we had deer to watch every morning. It had a common room where everyone gathered in the evening and shared stories with other washed out campers 🙂 It was great.

    • Thanks for the useful feedback and good to hear positive reports of Sunart Camping in Strontian. When I stayed at Resipole I was in my camper van but I have to say that I don’t think I saw any tents – there were a few camper vans / motorhomes and statics towards the back of the site. A great location though.

    • Many thanks to WildaboutScotland for selecting our site. Our family owned site has been running for over forty years and we appreciate your recognition.
      I am sorry to read that you did not have a satisfactory stay with us. Please do get in touch with us so that we can discuss your comments. We welcome any feedback and are always keen to find ways to make improvements to our site. I am glad to hear you had an enjoyable stay in the Sunart area and do hope that you will return in the near future.

  18. We are planning a trip to Scotland t the end of October in our motorhome – are there plenty of sites open in the winter months – only got 10days so plan the west coast?

    • The ‘season’ for most sites is Easter to mid/end October but some are open into November and a few open all year round. You’d have to work out your general route and then see if the sites on my ‘Top 10’ list are open when you’re there in October. It needs some research I’m afraid.

  19. Please note that Camping Ruberslaw (near Bedruie) only accepts tents, no (small) campervans like our California :-(. We find that out after a search of 45 minutes…..

    • Yes, that’s correct – and sorry you had a fruitless search. Ruberslaw, Comrie Croft and the Lazy Duck are all sites that take tents only.

  20. Thanks very much for this, I am just about to start camping again. After about a ten years. It would be good to be able to look at this again, as I would love to camp near the sea.

  21. Thank you for a great list – planning a camping trip to Scotland with our kids, this gave a better direction to my research 🙂

  22. My wife and I have just purchased Badrallach Campsite, Cottage and Bothy and am glad to see it here as an alternative. If you decide to visit us we shall give you a discount if you found us on the wildaboutscotland blog. We shall also be running nature-based retreats and workshops from there.

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