A few weeks ago I had my first experience of camping in Scotland. Contrary to my fears, it was actually fun. And as promised, I’m going to share my most helpful hints and tips, for anyone else considering it:
(Please note these are for camping in the summer months, when it’s not freezing.)
1. Weather Wisdom
Check the forecast. If it’s going to be pouring the whole time, I would reschedule. It makes for a miserable time when you get drenched to even go to the toilet, and your clothes are wet without hope of getting dry. You’re never going to get a full week of dry weather in Scottish summer. But check that it will be dry or just showery some/ most of the time you’re there.
2. Campsite Comforts
It’s amazing how much a hot shower can perk you up! Clean bathrooms, showers, water points- does the campsite have these, and how many are there of each? For even more comfort, some have laundry facilities. Where’s the camp site located? Does it have coffee shops/ shops/ eateries near by? Also, check if there is a hairdryer.
3. Calculated Clothes
Less is more. I packed far too many outfits and not enough under wear. No you won’t need that extra pair of white jeans just in case you go out, or that cute top.
Pack a couple of pairs of dark (hard to see stains) trousers, preferably thin easy-dry material. And a pair of shorts. A couple of long sleeved tops, one with short or no sleeves (in case of heat wave). Have a layer you can add if necessary, like a hoody or fleece. Bring your swimming costume/ wetsuit if you’re going near water or a swimming pool. Something to sleep in- I’d advise long sleeved jammies as it can get a bit cooler at night. And EXTRA pants! If you’re swimming once or twice a day you might shower more than normal and therefore use more underwear. Never EVER go camping in Scotland without a waterproof jacket.
4. Sensible Storage
Keep your clothes in the car. That way you’re garanteed they’ll stay dry, and won’t take up space in your tent. Take out the clothes you need for each day/ activity, as and when you need them.
5. Facilitating Footwear
No sexy sandals. No sassy slip ons. Bring a pair of rubber flip flops for easily getting around the camp site. And a pair of water proof boots or shoes for walking. Period. Wellies might come in handy too.
6. Cool Cosmetics
Bring a large, waterproof wash bag to carry to and from the shower. Not the spider man one you inherited from your son, or the ugly one aunty Mary bought you for Christmas. One you’re not embarrassed to be seen with. And with cosmetics, just the basics. 2 in 1 shampoo/ conditioner you can use for hair and body, deodorant, toothbrush tooth paste. You don’t want to be lugging your whole house to and from the showers in full view of all other campers. And definitely no make up. Don’t even think about perfume. I also packed some paracetamol and antihistamine tablets in my wash bag. This is not essential but can come in handy. See number 7.
7. Mind the Midges
I have NEVER, EVER encountered a more ferocious insect than the Scottish midge! My word! They attack, and they bite! On my first night camping I got a bite on the inside of my lip which looked like Botox gone wrong for the next two days. Who knows what it would have been like if I hadn’t taken my antihistamine. These things are nasty! I would say when they come out (usually at sun down), you go in! But if you have to be out while they are around, just spray yourself with everything: Avon’s skin so soft, pure deet, and everything in between. Wear long sleeves, burn the candles, do everything you can do. Cause these midges… They mean business! And while we’re on the subject, bring some insect spray. Some of the flying enemies can creep into your tent, so a wee spray once a day is never bad.
8. Terribly Tidy
You know how old people say ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ ? This is useful camping advice. See when you’re on all fours in the tent trying to find the nappy cream, your clean bra, or the bottle opener? Not cool. Not fun. Stressful. Can be avoided by having a place in the tent for everything. And keeping it there. If you can, get those collapseable net boxes from ikea and use them as storage. Anything to keep things from getting messy.
My Scottish friend Fiona, when I was conveying my fears of Scottish camping, said to me: “Ah but you’re going with the right person.” My husband is the world’s most practical man. And he is trained to camp in extreme situations. So the logistics of family camping are, shall we say, a piece of cake for him. This made our camping experience so much easier than it could have been! So I can’t stress this enough. Go with someone who knows what they’re doing, and someone you know well. Don’t go with your new boyfriend that you’ve been dating for 3 weeks, don’t just go with your bestie that you go clubbing with. Go with someone who’s in the know, and someone who won’t be put off by your face in the middle of the night when you’ve had to go out in the rain to do a pee…
10. Consider the Coffee
Last but not least… Make sure you’ve got a way of getting a decent cup of coffee each morning. After sleeping on the floor, or an air mattress, trust me, you’ll need it. Take a cafetière you can put straight on a camping stove, or an aero press espresso maker. If you’re anything like me, this will make your day. I found that sipping a good coffee while looking at the mountains each morning outside the tent was one of the best things about camping.