Camping Scotland

Aye, it is bracing in Scotland, but camp areas are usually based on some prime real-estate. The following selection certainly fit that criteria.

Bed down in the best campsites Scotland has to offer this summer, with perfect pitches from the new edition of 'Cool Camping: Britain'

Badrallach

Croft 9, Badrallach, Dundonnell, Ross-shire, Iv23 2QP; 01854 633281; www.badrallach.com

An isolated campsite quite literally at the end of the track, eight miles from the nearest main road, in a lost corner of north-west Scotland.

Cool factor: The end of the road is the start of your adventure.

Who's in? Tents, groups, dogs, caravans, campervans, motorhomes – yes. Hardstandings – no.

On site: Campfires allowed. 12 pitches, hook-ups available. You can also rent the gas-lit cottage, stay in the bothy or rent a caravan for a more luxurious stay. The site is a long way from any shop, so come prepared.

Off site: Outdoor adventuring is the name of the game here, and it’s a great place for walking, climbing and kayaking. Kayaks, inflatables and sailing boats are available for hire to residents subject to experience and weather. You can also hire fishing rods. Corrieshalloch Gorge is a spectacular chasm (20 minutes’ drive) that you can reach easily from the road.

Food and drink: The Dundonnell Hotel has a restaurant and also does fine bar meals with frequent live music. If you’re prepared to head further afield, the Frigate Café in Ullapool is a classy continental bistro that seems to have got lost and turned up in the far north-west of Scotland. It has a great backroom where you can hide from the weather with a hot chocolate.

Getting there: Take the A9 north from Inverness on to the A835 to Ullapool. Approximately ten miles from Ullapool, at Braemore Junction, turn left on to the A832 for ten miles then turn right on to the single-track Badrallach road for approximately eight miles.

Open: All year.

The damage: One-person tent £9, two people £13; campervan/caravan/hook-ups £16. The bothy is £8.50 for one person per night, two people £14.50. Caravan rental is £45 per night.

Lickisto Blackhouse

1 Lickisto, Isle of Harriss, HS3 3EL; 01859 530485; www.freewebs.com/vanvon

Perched snugly above a sea loch on Harris, this campsite is perfect for exploring the wilds of the east coast or the breathtaking beaches of the west.

Cool factor: The space and beauty to get in touch with your own wild inner self.

Who's in? Tents, campervans, dogs – yes. Caravans, big groups – no.

On site: 15 pitches, four campervan spaces with hook-ups. There are also two gorgeous yurts if you really want to enjoy the atmosphere without putting your tent up. You can wake up to sunrise over the loch and fresh bread courtesy of Harvey. ‘Bathroom byres’ with three loos, three showers and loads of character. Blackhouse where campers can cook, chat and chill. The site is better suited to small or medium-sized tents: large ‘multipods’ could find it difficult to pitch. A polytunnel with home-grown veg and herbs is open for campers. Bring midge repellent. Campfires are allowed on the foreshore.

Off site: There are several art galleries on the spellbinding East coast of Harris. You’ll see why when you drive along the road. Pick up some genuine Harris Tweed in the shop at Tarbert. Visit the eagle observatory on the road to Huisinish.

Food and drink: Soak up some inspiration (and stunning home-baking) at the nearby Skoon Art Café. The Temple Café in Northton (07876 340416) is also worth a stop if you’re exploring the island, making delicious food in as tiny a kitchen as you’ll ever see.

Getting there: From Tarbert take the A859 south (towards Leverburgh); after five miles take the left turn to Lickisto – the campsite is 1½ miles further, on the left.

Public transport: Bus W13 meets the ferry and the Stornoway bus, ask for Lickisto. The bus stops at the top of the road to the campsite.

Open: March–October.

The damage: Camping £12 per person, kids half-price, ‘small uns nothin’, Price includes use of Blackhouse, free showers and fresh bread every day (eggs too, when the chooks deliver). Yurts £70 per night (extra person £20, larger kids £10).

The Shielings

The Shielings, Craignure, Isle of Mull, PA65 6AY 01680 812496 www.shielingholidays.co.uk

This location could not be more dramatic: the waterfront site sits right on the strategic Sound of Mull, in the distance a flurry of mountains stand and wildlife is in abundance.

Cool factor: Glamp or camp with the pioneers.

Who's in? Tents, campervans, caravans, big groups, young groups, dogs – yes.

On site: Campfires allowed (designated communal area). 16 shielings. 90 tent pitches. Excellent toilet and shower facilities. Swing, sandpit and games for children. Communal TV. Communal firepits and benches with views. Launderette. Astroturf tent pitches handy in poor weather, special tent pegs available if needed. Bike hire available. Wildlife trail on site.

Off site: Duart Castle lies just a few miles to the east of the site. Across the bay is a lovely community pool and spa at the Isle of Mull Hotel. Further afield the island capital of Tobermory is a picturesque treat, and is home to the Tobermory Distillery.

Food and drink: The Craignure Inn does a decent pint, and this cosy pub also has a restaurant offering wild Mull venison, smoked trout from Tobermory, Mull Cheddar and Mull Brie. Tobermory has a better choice of eating options including the excellent Café Fish, where the freshest of fish and shellfish is perfectly prepared. Mull’s best pub is in Tobermory, the Mishnish.

Getting there: From the ferry turn left on the A849. After 400m turn left again and follow the signs.

Public transport: Cal Mac ferry from Oban on the mainland to Craignure on the Isle of Mull.

Open: Camping March–November; shielings April–October.

The damage: Tent with two adults from £16 per night (£2.50 discount if no car). Shielings £32 for two people (minimum two nights); en suite shielings from £48. 

Ardnamurchan

Ormsaigbeg, Kilchoan, Acharacle, PH36 4LL; 01972 510766; www.ardnamurchanstudycentre.co.uk

This site clings to the coast just a few miles from the tip of a rocky finger of land that's as far west as Britain goes.

Cool factor: Ideally placed to unlock the secrets of one of the least-known parts of Britain.

Who's in? Tents, campervans, groups, dogs – yes. Large motorhomes, caravans – no.

On site: 20 pitches and four campervan hook-ups, two loos and two free, powerful showers. You can also hire one of two caravans and a bothy. Washing-up area with fridge. Internet access. No campfires.

Off site: Stroll on the sandy beach at Sanna, reached by passing through an extraordinary volcanic landscape. Visit the lighthouse at Ardnamurchan Point, the most
westerly part of the British mainland, and climb the tower. Nearby Ben Hiant is a terrific wee mountain with superb views. You can also pop over to Tobermory on Mull by ferry from Kilchoan.

Food and drink: There’s a fine and fun coffee shop in an old stable at the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse. Bar meals and finer evening dining are on offer at the Kilchoan House Hotel. There’s also food available at the Sonachan Hotel, on the way to the lighthouse.

Getting there: From the Corran Ferry head all the way out west along the A861 through Strontian. At Salen turn left on to the B8007 and on to Kilchoan. The campsite is half a mile beyond the village shop (Ferry Stores).

Public transportation: City Link buses (08705 505050) and trains (Scotrail 01397 703791) run to Fort William, from where Shiel Buses run a daily service to Kilchoan Post office (01967 431272), which is less than a mile from the campsite.

Open: April–September.

The damage: £7.50 each person over 14 years, £3 for 14 years and under (under-5s free). Hook-up £3.

Muasdale

Muasdale, Tabert, Argyll, PA29 6XD; 01583 421207; www.muasdaleholidays.com

It's what's around this campsite that makes it extra special: the grass simply drops away to an elegant crescent of sand.

Cool factor: Marvellous midge-free mini-site on the very edge of the ocean.

Who's in? Tents, campervans, caravans, dogs (must be on lead on site and under control on the beach), family groups – yes. Big groups, young groups – no.

On site: Ten pitches (all with hook-ups). The new washroom facilities suit the size of site and are spotlessly clean. Fridge-freezer and laundry with coin-operated washing machines and tumble-dryers, as well as an iron and board. The games room has pool and table-tennis tables, but the site makes a big point of not being overloaded with amusements and activities. You can hire binoculars and BBQs are allowed off the ground. A fish van stops by every Thursday. The site is right beside a road, although you can use the beach to walk to the local shops. No campfires.

Off site: There’s loads to do in the area. The island of Davaar has plenty to keep you occupied for a day. Time your visit well and you can have four or five hours there, exploring its lighthouse, viewpoint and excellent caves, one of which has its own famous 18th-century painting on a flat rocky wall. At Ardminish Bay on Gigha you can hire boats, kayaks and wet suits. There is a popular sub-aqua club in Campbeltown, and the Seabird Observatory at Machrihanish offers bird-lovers a dream day out. Or you can go pony trekking at Crosshill, Ten miles away (01586 551791). There is also the recently revived whisky industry at Campbeltown, which is focused on three distilleries – Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia. Springbank runs regular guided tours and has a brilliant shop if you feel like buying.

Food and drink: There is a shop five minutes’ walk away for buying camping and food supplies. For sit-down eating, Muneroy in Southend is a top-notch tea room with some of the best home-baking in Scotland. Gallery 10, also in Campbeltown, (01586 554074) offers stylish snacks and lunches served in an easy-going atmosphere. And for full meals, there’s the restaurant at the Ardshiel Hotel, which serves lovely local lamb and game, along with a good assortment of veggie options, and has a bar that is very well-stocked indeed with different malt whiskies.

Getting there: Take the A82 from Glasgow, then the A83 through Inverary, Lochgilphead and Tarbert. Muasdale is 22 miles south of Tarbert, alongside the A83. Alternatively, use the ferry from Gourock to Dunoon, then take the A885 north, and then the B836 to the A886, then the A8003 to Tighnabruaich and ferry from Portavadie to Tarbert; after that it’s a further 22 miles south to Muasdale. Alternatively, if you fancy arriving in style, there is a small airport at Campbeltown, served by www.flybe.com, who fly from Glasgow, Orkney, Shetland, Belfast, Birmingham and the Isle of Man.

Public transport: There are regular bus services from Glasgow that pass right by the site, but the journey takes four hours. See www.westcoastmotors.co.uk and www.citylink.co.uk for more details.

Open: Easter–end September.

The damage: Tent pitch £10 per night, caravan/campervan pitches £13.50. All pitches in £15.50 July and August. Adults £2, children (5–15 years) £1.25 and dogs £1.25.

Horgaborst

Horgabost, Isle Of Harris HS3 3HR; 01859 550386 

The beaches on the west coast of Harris are a competitive lot: ‘Look at the creaminess of my sands’ ‘marvel at my deliciously turquoise waters’ and ‘aren’t I enormous’. But Horgabost sits confidently in the middle of all this one-upmanship, safe in the knowledge that it is probably the best of the lot.

Cool factor: Wild camping by a wildly beautiful beach.

Who's in? Tents, campervans, caravans, groups, dogs – yes.

On site: 50 pitches, no hook-ups. The loos and shower blocks are just metal containers, but inside are clean and homely. Dishwashing sinks. No campfires.

Off site: Walk out to the 16th-century temple at Northton. Visit the eagle observatory on the road to Huisinish. Or just hang out on the beach.

Food and drink: Croft 36 (01859 520779) in Northton does amazing seafood, plus they will deliver to your tent. The Temple Café in Northton (07876 340416), inside a low stone house overlooking a serene sandy bay, does lunches that are even more spectacular than its setting. Gus’s mobile shop pops by every Tuesday and Friday.

Getting there: From Leverburgh head north-west on the A859, passing Northton and Borve. From Tarbert turn south on the A859, passing Seilebost. The campsite is opposite the small settlement of Horgabost.

Public transport: Bus W10 runs from Stornoway to Leverburgh and passes the site (01859 502441).

Open: May–October.

The damage: One-two man tent £7, Three+ man tent £10.

Marthrown of Mabie

Marthrown of Mabie, Mabie forest, Dumfries and Galloway, DG2 8HB; 01387 247900; www.marthrownofmabie.com

Follow in our ancient ancestor's footsteps in one of Europe's only reconstructed Iron Age roundhouses that you can actually stay the night in.

Cool factor: Enjoy the simple life and cosy nights by the fire like your ancestors.

Who's in? Tents, glampers, groups, parties (stag, hens and weddings) and dogs – yes. Caravans and motorhomes – no.

On site: Wooden facilities building houses a kitchen, hot showers, composting loo and urinal. Large woodburner/campfire in the Roundhouse and firepit outside. The Marthrown Challenge course is a low ropes climbing circuit that has sorted the men from the boys on many a stag weekend (needs to be booked in advance; no need for helmets or instructor; under-16s must be accompanied by an adult). There’s also a Finnish sauna and spacious wood-fired hot tub in the grounds. BBQs are allowed under the covered all-weather area. Campfires are not permitted in the woodland camping area.

Off site: You can hire a bike from dedicated cycle centre ‘the shed’ just a mile away and explore the forest, which has been opened up as part of the excellent Seven Stanes programme (www.7stanes.gov.uk). Forrest Estate Experiences offer the chance to try your hand at clay pigeon shooting, fishing and all sorts of outdoor activities. Not far away is the tiny village of New Abbey, which is home to the expansive ruins of the oddly named Sweetheart Abbey, a 13th-century complex whose widowed founder carried the heart of her dead husband with her for life. Nearby Dumfries, to the north, is south-west Scotland’s largest town and was the home of Scottish national poet Robert Burns, who spent the last 5 years of his short life here and was buried at St Michael’s church in the town. There’s an impressive mausoleum, and you can also visit the poet’s house, which remains much as it was in the 18th century and has been turned into a small museum devoted to Burns. Burns wrote ‘Auld Lang Syne’ just to the north of Dumfries, at Ellisland Farm, now a museum.

Food and drink: On the site you can get breakfast for £5.50 or a light brekkie for £4 and three-course dinners for £13.50, but you have to book all meals in advance. For groups of 40 or over, Marthrown offer a hog roast (price on application). In terms of eating out, you’re spoilt for choice in Dumfries, five miles away. The Globe Inn was Robbie Burns’ favourite watering-hole and as such is worth a visit for its Burns memorabilia and an interior barely changed since the poet drank here. A couple of the best places to eat in are the riverside Coach and Horses (01387 279754), which serves hearty pub grub, and the Hole in the Wall (01387 252770), although both only serve lunch. For evening meals, try the excellent Linen Room (01387 255689) whose modern Scottish menu won’t disappoint.

Getting there: Leave Dumfries on the A710 towards New Abbey. 1.6 miles after you reach Islesteps, look out for the right turn to Mabie Forest and Mabie House Hotel. When you come to the sign for Mabie House Hotel the road bears left and you will see signs for Marthrown of Mabie. The site is a mile from here along a winding forest track.

Public transport: Bus 372 from Whitesands in Dumfries stops at the bottom of the road; from there it’s a 1½-mile walk into the forest. If you have a heavy load, it’s perhaps best to opt for a taxi from Dumfries.

Open: All year.

The damage: From £16 in low season and £17.50 in high season per person in the roundhouse; one-three person tents £15; family tents £25. The Mongolian yurt costs from £60 per week night and £125 per weekend night in low season and £70/£150 in high season. Duvets, towels and sleeping bags are available to borrow.

 

The campsites outlined her come from Cool Camping Britain (Cool Camping;). Order your copy online now to discover a hand-picked selection of exceptional campsites.