(After the storm. Bowmore.)

Is it possible to be a militant wild camper? If it is, I am one. Unlike the rest of the UK, where camping is currently legally restricted, in Scotland you can camp anywhere you like, as long as you are sensible, responsible, and follow the terms of the Outdoor Access Code. The Land Reform Act of 2003 was a great piece of Scottish Parliament legislation. This act ended what was effectively a system of Feudal Law, granted crofting communities the right to own the land they had lived and worked for generations, and enabled public access to one of the best things about Scotland — its amazing landscape.

I love camping, and wild camping best of all. It is not that I don’t appreciate camp site amenities. But for me the silence and the isolation of a wild pitch offers a luxury beyond that of any shower block. Anyone who has been kept awake by insane laughter and someone shrieking ‘come on Kenny, give us another blowback’ (Glencoe) or striking up the banjo a la Deliverance in the early hours (County Antrim) will know exactly what I mean.

Come on, how can you argue with that?

We go to Islay every year, and usually pitch right here. It is a wonderful spot. It faces West, on the shores of a beautiful loch. Behind the pitch is a rocky cliffside and verdant grassland. Water, cliffside, meadow: these environments support an amazing range of flora and fauna which, in your tent, you can quietly live among. It is a wild and lovely place. But in less than half an hour you can walk to a pub and other useful amenities. To be explicit: one can enjoy everything one likes about the great Islay outdoors without ever having to take a shit in it.


(sunlight on Loch Indaal)

This is a place where it is good just to be. To take in the colours . . .

. . . and the textures of the shoreline.

I like the shore’s detritus too. . .

(I suppose these rubbery hand-ghosts are a routine phenomenon anywhere where there is lots of fishing, but I am spotting large numbers of them this year).

So just stick me in a tent on the shores of Loch Indaal, with Mr B for good laughs, camera and bins for the wildlife, and a few tasty wee drams and I’m a very happy camper.


(note, I’m wearing Kaari. Still going strong).

More from Islay and Jura tomorrow.

16 thoughts on “pitch

  1. Sweet as a nut do what you want its our land look after it love it and use it Ime a freeman and I have to stay that way if what you do hurts no one and it makes you happy then do it have fuin enjoy your life and live thats it common law is the only law all else is contract we are free I love you for doin what you do keep it up you will smile more than most :)

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  2. That looks *amazing*. I love the freedom one has in Scotland – in our recent trip to England we were really put off by signs everywhere saying “No camping!” “No picknicking!” “Keep to the paths at all times!”. I’m not very into camping but a large part of that is because I never sleep well, but I’m hoping that a decent sleeping bag and a thermarest will rectify that.

    I really want to go to Islay sometime (not least for the whisky).

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  3. That’s so gorgeous. I wish we had wild camping available in the US, but it’s pretty restricted. This looks like such a wonderful time.

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  4. Oh, how wonderful! We’re planning a camping trip to the Outer Hebrides next year, but now I’m thinking that Jura looks very appealing too. So little time, as they say…
    Lovely photos :)

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  5. Ah, Scotlandshire is rather beautiful, isn’t it?

    I guess I’m a theory-camper: I like the idea of it but the lack of beds and showers puts me off. I prefer staying in cosy B&Bs and going for long hikes. Mind you, I haven’t camped in years, so maybe I’d like it more now. Having a someone to go camping with also makes a difference.

    Seeing your photos makes me wish I had a car so I could go hiking in the West – not stuck in St Andies.

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  6. Well, not exactly ‘illegal’, but you are only supposed to camp wild in England and Wales with permission of the landowner (the exception being Dartmoor (under the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act, 1949 amendment Dartmoor Commons Act, 1985)). But in practice lots of people camp wild in England and Wales: on a quiet northern fell who is really going to bother you? In Scotland, though, public access (including wild camping) is legal without prior landowner permission.

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  7. I hadn’t known about the Scottish camping laws until now. I am also a fan of the wild camping but, like you, I prefer not to shit in it.

    Your photos are absolutely beautiful; I love the way you organised into colour and texture!

    Re: knitted tea-bag, there is quite a lot of tea going on and a spree of brack-baking. You have turned me into quite the Yorkshire tea loose-leaf blend fanatic. It turns out a nice, dark brack.

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  8. Your comment about “C’mon Kenny give us another …. ” and about banjo a la Deliverance style — sent me into my first train of morning laughter!!! Great! AND even though I live in the U.S. I completely know what you mean …the comment about “not taking a shit” … second laugh of day!! Thanks. Lovely post with good information in fun format for this American girl who knows nothing about Scottish camping or its land reform legislation. Love this!

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  9. This is the first time I’ve seen the phrase ‘happy camper’ used in the way that it was meant to be used (not like former VP Dan Quayle, who went to American Samoa and called its residents ‘happy campers’! WTF?). Glad you had a great outing!

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  10. Stunning pictures! – why is it that I forget how beautiful the west of Scotland is when I am not there – we are thinking about going over again in the next few weeks and your pics have convinced me it’s the right thing to do – don’t know about the tent though…………….

    have fun!

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