Scotland Campervan Guide – 14 Day Itinerary
Scotland is understandably one of the most popular places to go and tour in a campervan. It has oodles of fantastic park ups, a vast area to explore and some of the most stunning scenery in the UK.
You could spend a year in Scotland and still have places to explore – so how do you choose where to go on a campervan holiday road trip? That’s where we come in!
We have spent a lot of time in Scotland over the years in campervans, tents and cottages and like to think we can give advice on some of the best places to visit in Scotland in a campervan. We are also pretty good at staying away from the crowds (we are not miserable – just like a bit of peace and quiet!) so you can be sure we will find you some wild places to frequent!
The aim with this Scotland Campervan Guide is not to provide just 14 places to visit but to give different options which you could feasibly fit in to a 14 day tour without breaking the land speed record! The idea of campervan travel is to take the slow road and take in the sights and sometimes spend a few days somewhere rather than racing around trying to fit everything in. You can use our guide to pick the places you really like the look of and choose a route to suit you.
First things first here are some general Scotland tips!
General Scotland Campervan Tips
If you are touring Scotland between May and September – take midge repellent and a headnet. They are seriously evil. Generally they are worse on the west coast than the east coast and love warm and moist conditions. They don’t like the wind so the best way to escape them is to go high or go to the coast where the wind generally keeps them away.
- Park Considerately
You will find in peak season that some of the hot spots like Loch Lomond and Glen Coe will be very busy and parking may be limited. Our best advice is either get to places early to make sure you can get a spot or go somewhere less busy. The great thing about Scotland is you don't really have to plan park ups - you can just drive and stop when you want as generally wild camping rules are very relaxed up there.
- Take Waterproofs!
Scotland is notoriously wet so make sure you take a waterproof jacket and trousers.
- LPG advice
If you have an underslung LPG tank on your campervan then when you get to the depths of Scotland it can be tricky to find places to refill. It’s best to fill up before you go but if you get stuck there are a few dotted around including Fort William, Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh. You can use the following app to locate gas stations: https://www.mylpg.eu/
- Avoid Popular Spots in the Summer
There are so many places to visit in Scotland so why go to the busy spots in peak season where you will end up queuing and have fewer places to park? We would also advise to avoiding popular routes like the NC500 – Why not make your own route up where others aren’t likely to be? We will be giving some options below for places that aren’t so busy and just as beautiful as the hot spots.
- Check the Forecast
If the forecast is bad for where you were planning to go you may want to change your plans. The weather can be very different on the coast compared ti inland. Sometimes it’s better to change your plans completely (we certainly have) and go somewhere different like Northumberland or the Lake District where the weather can be much more settled.
14 Day Scotland Campervan Tour Itinerary Ideas
Why not break the journey up with a stop over in Northumberland? I previously always used to travel up to Scotland up the west side of the country up the M6 as it was the most direct route. I decided one day to take the east side up the M1/A1 to Northumberland as I had always wanted to see Lindisfarne Castle. I was amazed - it's stunning and well worth a visit en-route.
Northumberland is one of those places that people haven’t quite realised is so beautiful and so it’s still relatively quiet when all the other hot spots like the Lakes and Scotland are heaving. Honestly – the beaches in Northumberland are just as good (if not better) as the beaches in the South West with long white sandy stretches of quiet, unspoilt paradise.
Anyway – enough rambling…here are the top places to stop off at to break the journey up:
This impressive looking castle is just down the road from Lindisfarne so you can combine them both in a day. It’s been there for over 1400 years and is one the largest lived in castles in the UK. It sits high and mighty above the beach and is a very impressive place to go and visit.
Holy Island & Lindisfarne Castle
If you go to Northumberland this should be top of your list – There is a very special feeling at this place – it feels quite eerie as the spooky looking castle, which was formerly a monastery, gets cut off at high tide. You can only get to the island at low tide so be sure to check the tide times before going. There is plenty of (paid) parking and some quaint shops, coffee shops and pubs to explore as well as the castle.
Is a lovely town to have a mooch around with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants. It's a medieval town with interesting buildings with plenty of history. It also has a castle (there are a few in Northumberland!) and is a great place to go if you like shopping or on a rainy day.
If white sandy beaches, rockpools and a bit of dolphin spotting is your thing then this beach is a cracker! It’s huge so doesn't get particularly busy but parking can be limited at the weekends so get there early enough. I was once lay on the bed in the back of the van when a pod of dolphins swam past in the distance – it was a magnificent sight!
Unfortunately you cannot park overnight here so you will have to go back inland slightly for a park up or campsite.
Alnmouth is the Tobermory or Northumberland with lots of cute coloured houses and shops next to a gorgeous beach. There are a few lovely art galleries, excellent cafes and a beautiful coastline to go and explore.
If passing through Seahouses on your Northumberland trip you must stop at Neptunes Fish and Chip shop – they are the best around!! The beach at Seahouses is lovely too – but beware if eating your chips outside – the Starlings will steal them out of your hands!
Scotland East Coast Highlights
We have to admit - the east coast of Scotland doesn't do it for us as much as the west coast does. It lends itself more to beaches and castles rather than jagged mountains which you get in the west and what we tend seek out. That said - there are some great little gems to seek out on the east coast that wanted to showcase to you here. Another plus point is there were much less midges on the east coast compared to the west coast for us and we have heard that account from many other people too.
There are lots of castles in Scotland but this one is quite special. It sits out on it's own little peninsula and you can really imagine it being a medieval fortress look out point all those years ago. There is a great spot to park in the nearby town of Stonehaven where you can park in the harbour car park and then walk up and over the cliffs to the castle too.
RSPB Scotland Fowlsheugh
This place lives up to it's name...it smells foul! However if you are there in the spring and summer months you will have a good chance of spotting puffins! I saw loads in early July and was surprised how small they were. There are also hundreds of guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes and there have been lots of dolphin sightings here. If you can stand the stench of bird poo then it's a great spot for wildlife spotting.
Bow and Fiddle Rock
Bow and fiddle rock is a beautiful natural sea arch at Portknockie and is a fantastic place to watch the sunrise or sunset. I got up at 5am to witness this beautiful sunrise and had it to myself so took the chance to fly the drone above it and through it (Which as a bit scary!)
I had always wanted to to go to Normundy to see the remains of the old world war II bunkers that littered the beaches. I then discovered there were bunkers on the east coast and in particular Findhorn beach was a great place to go and see them. They were built for fear of Germany invading the country and are now slowly being lost to the sea.
We spent a whole month in the Cairngorms over winter and spent most of that time in the Aviemore area so we could explore the mountains. Whilst we can appreciate the beauty of this place it didn't grab us like the mountains of the west coast do. The mountains here tend to be more rolling and wild with some of them requiring a multi-day hike to get to.
There are a couple of places we wanted to share that are worth exploring whilst in the area:
Cairn Gorm via Fiacaill Ridge
Cairn Gorm is the mountain that the area is named after and is the 7th highest mountain in the UK at 1245 meters. The western slopes have been developed as ski slopes as part of the Cairngorm mountain resort so if you are there in the winter you might get lucky with ski conditions and have a fab day on the slopes.
If the conditions arn't good enough (As they weren't for us) or you arn't a skier then then a walk up to the summit of Cairn Gorm via the fiacaill ridge is stunning. The ridge itself isn't particularly difficult as long as you have a head for heights but it can get tricky in winter conditions so make sure you have the right kit (axe and crampons) if going up in the ice or snow.
More info on the walk here.
Ben Macdui is the 2nd highest mountain in the UK and feels very remote. We went up on a very cold wintery day and it would have been very easy to have got disorientated as the visibility was next to nothing! The terrain is very plateau like with not many features and this is how we found the Cairngorms generally. You could potentially do Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm on the same day if you are feeling fit!
More information on the walk here.
Loch Morlich & Cairngorm Reindeer Centre
Photo credit: @drivingmiss_daisea
Ever fancied stroking a reindeer? Well you can at the Cairngorm reindeer centre! They are absolutely gorgeous and it's a real treat to be able to do this.
Loch Morlich is a stunning loch at the base of Cairngorm mountain and is a fantastic spot for kayaking and chilling with beautiful mountain views.
Photo credit: @drivingmiss_daisea
Aviemore is a the Chamonix of the Cairngorms! It's a proper little town which is buzzing with mountain sports people. There are lots of outdoor shops, cafes and pubs to go to which is great on a rainy day.
North Coast Highlights
I spent many years going right up to the north coast with my family as kid - we would tow a caravan on the back of our ford sierra for what seemed like an eternity from the Midlands. I think, with stops, it was actually about 12 hours - but thats a long boring way when your a kid! Travel aside - it is absolutely beautiful up on the north coast if you have time to play with. It has white sandy beaches with cows on with the most magnificent mountain back drops.
This section is fairly brief - not because it's not worth going (because it really is) but because we haven't been there in over 20 years so haven't got much imagery.
Kyle of Tongue
Photo credit: @csa_adventure
The Kyle of Tongue is a place my mum and dad used to take me year after year and it holds very special memories. Cows on beautiful white sandy beaches with Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains as the backdrop.
This place is truly spectacular even though it is a hell of a long way north! The photo above shows the popular Kyle of Tongue causeway which features on many picture postcards!
Embo Beach. Photo credit: @csa_adventure
The beaches in Sutherland must surely be the most beautiful in the whole of the UK. You're not likely to be spending too long sunbathing on them as most of the time it's freezing but wrap up, take a little fire and soak up the beautiful surroundings!
Duncansby head is an amazing place for photographers and bird watchers! It has a similar odour to fowlsheugh due to the number of sea birds on the sea cliffs. The stacks are stunning and an amazing place to catch the light at sunset or sunrise.
The great thing about this place is it's actually slightly further away from lands end than John o' Groats so technically further north but is far less crowded and more beautiful.
Photo credit: Frank Winkler
Assynt is another place jam packed with beautiful views of mountains and seascapes. These mountains look different from the relatively nearby Torridon mountains. The Assynt mountains look like they come straight out of the sea with flat plateaus in-between them and seem to be much darker stone with a lot more green on them.
The signal seemed better here generally and if the weather is bad you can always have a wander around Ullapool and have a cafe and cake day!
Here are some amazing things to do in the Assynt area:
This is one of my favourite hikes in Scotland. If you haven't seen the film Edie then you need to as it will fill you full of inspiration to climb Suilven.
It's 12.5 miles with most of it being relatively flat until you reach the base of the mountain - that's when you climb up steeply and really feel the burn! Suilven is such an iconic mountain shape - it looks rather like a snail and rises up from the wilderness on it's own. The easiest route up starts from just outside Lochinver and you can park overnight in the carpark which has an honesty box (which is tiny - so it's worth getting there early or parking overnight). More info on the walk here.
Ullapool is one of the biggest towns in the far north west and has a good amount of shops, cafes and pubs to explore. Great for a rainy day in between exploring other areas.
Stac Pollaidh Hike
This is another fantastic hike in Assynt which is a good half day hike being only 2.75 miles as a whole circuit. Stac Pollaidh looks scary to climb but actually has a relatively easy path up to the top. It does require an airy and tricky scramble to get to the true summit but even if you don't do that bit it's an awesome hike. More information on the hike here.
The is another great half day hike being just 2.75 miles. The caves have been famed due to bones of polar bears, lynx and reindeer being excavated here - hence the name bones cave.
Clachtoll Beach and/or Achmelvich Bay
If white sandy beaches and clear blue waters are more your bag then you must go and spend some time and Clachtoll beach and Achmelvich Bay. They are both stunning and Clachtoll Beach has a great little campsite next to it so you can park up with a beach view.
Torridon is an absolutely beautiful spot full of mountains and wildlife. I adore the sandstone mountains which have eroded layers to them and they are really craggy too so make beautiful photos. It’s absolutely jam packed with beautiful park up spots but I warn you - getting one with signal can be tricky!
The midges can also be pretty bad here so make sure you have plenty of midge spray and nets! Don’t let that put you off though - it really is stunning!
Here are some amazing things to do in the Torridon area:
Beinn Alligin Hike
This is a fantastic hike which on a good day gives you stunning views all over the Torridon mountains. It's only 6.5 miles so not a massive day out either but gives you the views and some airy scrambling if you decide to take the Alligin horns on direct! You can avoid them by taking a traversing bypass path which skirts around them but the scrambling isn't too tricky if you have a good head for heights. More info on the walk here.
Beinn Eighe Hike
If you are looking for something a bit easier and shorter than the Alligin scramble then this 4 mile walk is perfect! It's noted as the only waymarked mountain route in the UK so is very easy to navigate although the terrain is still very rocky so you still need decent kit!
It has super views and is a very pretty walk despite it's modest distance. More information on the walk here.
Applecross Pass - Bealach na Bà
This is a fantastic single track mountain road which really feels like the mountain passes you get in the Alps. It's absolutely stunning and if you are a confident driver then you will no doubt enjoy it. It takes you the scenic route up and over to Applecross which is another place to stop and explore.
It is a single track road with passing places and it also has a hair pin bend section so only attempt it if you are a confident driver and used to the size of your van. It may be closed in the winter as it would be treacherous in the snow too - best left for a nice clear day so you appreciate the views!
Applecross is a lovely little village next to the sea which has some nice cafes, pubs and galleries to explore. There used to be a lovely cafe opposite the public toilets/main car park and fuel station which if it's still there having the coffee and cake was lovely. Also make sure you go up the Applecross gallery which has some beautiful photographs available to peruse and buy.
There is a tap outside the public toilets so you can also fill up your water tanks/carriers. When I was there 2 years ago a stag jumped over a fence onto the main road through the village and then just casually just wandered about. Here he is next to the pub garden on the beach! Apparently this is quite normal in Applecross!
Isle Of Skye
There is no doubting the Isle of Skye is stunning and it has some truly magical landscapes to explore. It has areas that give you the same other worldly feeling that Iceland does. There are 2 issues with Skye for us:
- The weather: It is often wet and windy making days out hard work! For us, it's only really worth going over if you have a good forecast otherwise you tend to be camper bound.
- Tourists: In the peak season Skye is absolutely packed full of tourists...coach loads of them! It has been bad since the bridge was built as it's so easy to get to now and it's also part of the NC500 which is very popular. Our advice is try and avoid June-August as it will be heaving and if you can only go during those months be prepared for early or late starts to get places to yourself.
Here are a few must see places on the island to go and explore:
Old Man of Storr
This place is a photographers dream with craggy rocks, fairy hillocks and a sea backdrop. There are lots of paths dotted about and you can get away from the crowds if you go up onto the higher paths. Even if it's a misty day this place is stunning and slightly dodgy weather just adds to the drama.
The fairy pools are another place perfect for photographers but it is always heaving! For the brave you can take a dip in one of the plunge pools (renowned for wild swimming). You do have to cross a stream to get to the pools and if it's been raining a lot this can mean a wade rather than using stepping stones. We lept over a narrower section further downstream to avoid getting wet feet but you need to be fairly athletic to make it!
Unfortunately the weather was too foul for us to venture here but it looks stunning from the photos we have seen. The landscape looks fitting to be in lord of the rings or stardust as a place where fairy's and elves live with cute little hillocks with a mountain backdrop.
Neist Point Lighthouse
Neist point is the most westerly point on Skye and has fantastic views over to the Western Isles.
It's a great spot for wildlife spotting where there have been many whale, dolphin, sharks and porpoise sightings. There are also a great deal of sea birds too.
Mealt falls is a fantastic waterfall that runs over a sheer cliff at Kilt Rock straight into the sea. It's 60 meters high and during high winds can blow back up the cliff in a spectacular fashion. The cliff is made up of balsalt columns which are said to resemble the pleats on the kilt - hence the name kilt rock.
Arisaig is a must for beach lovers. It has white sands and stunning blue seas. It is on the far west coast and is accessed easily from Fort William. There are plenty of campsites in the area to stay and a few park up’s where overnight stays are tolerated.
If you like kayaking then you are in for a real treat here – the little islands that are dotted around are gorgeous and great for exploring and you are bound to see plenty of sea life including seals whilst out paddling.
The road through Glencoe is one of my favourites in the UK. Firstly you pass the gatekeeper of the north – the massive beast that is Buchaille Etive Mor. Then the road winds through stunning the stunning mountains that are the Three Sisters on the left and my favourite ridge walk in the UK – Anoach Egach. This is a knife edge grade 2 scramble so isn't for the faint hearted but for those who like a thrill it's the best!
The Lost Valley Walk
There is a gorgeous walk up into the lost valley which is accessed from the main large car park next to the three sisters. Here is more info on the walk itself.
The hanging valley is historically where a Scottish clan hid their rustled cattle. It’s a stunning spot and would be a great place to take a picnic or even wild camp for the night if you have a tent.
The Ice Factor – Kinlochleven
If climbing is your thing then there is also a fantastic climbing centre in Kinclochleven which is between Glencoe and Fort William. It has an ice climbing wall and you can park in the car park for free overnight. There is a tap for water around the back of the centre and showers (payable) inside so is a great stopping point to freshen up!
Fort William is a great place to have a wander on a wet day. There are plenty of shops to peruse (including lots of outdoor shops!) it has a great little bouldering wall called three wise monkeys if you like climbing.
It also has one of the best vegan cafes we have ever been too called The Wild Cat.
This is a beautiful valley down the bottom of Glen Nevis which has a lovely waterfall and rope bridge. It's a fairly narrow drive to get up to the parking area but it's ok in campervans up to 3 tonne.
The walk in is lovely as you walk up alongside a gorge with a view down Glen Nevis on your way up. This is a great one to fit in when you want to fit in a short 1-2 hour walk on a showery day. More info on the walk here.
Fancy climbing the highest peak in the UK? The start for the route is from Fort William and it’s a very rewarding but long climb. There is a relatively easy but tiring tourist path up (called the pony track) with more details here.
If you are an experienced walker and want to try a more spicy route then why not take the CMD Arete route up via The North Face car park? This is a grade 1 scramble and offers an amazing view over the craggy north face of the Ben. More info here.
Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull? What about Skye I hear you say! We much preferred touring Mull than Skye. There were miles of open quiet roads, beautiful beaches, big mountains and some stunning islands to visit like Staffa. We found Skye busy, park ups and campsites full and the weather was pretty foul! Yes it’s got some amazing places but it is always busy in peak season with coach loads of people visiting attractions. Skye is also quite far north so it's a long way to go on a 5-7 day tour.
What I would say is - if you plan to include Mull in your itinerary maybe think about skipping one or two of other areas out from your trip so you have plenty of time to explore. You could easily spend 5 days on Mull alone.
To get to Mull you need to catch the ferry from Oban which is easily combined with a visit to Glencoe and Fort William en-route.
With beach park ups like this why would you want to go anywhere else?
You will think you are in the med on this beach – the sand is so white and the water so clear and blue it’s simply stunning. Combine a visit here with a trip to the cute little town of Tobermory.
Fingals Cave & Staffa
Staffa is a fascinating island to visit and worth every penny of the trip cost. The island is formed from huge basalt hexagonal columns and is a great place to spot puffins. Fingals cave is located on staffa which is famed for it's natural acoustics and the eerie sounds it makes with the crashing waves that flow into it.
Eas Fors Waterfall
The parking is right next to the waterfall and within a 5 minute walk you are at the top of this absolutely amazing waterfall. If you have a drone – take it, you will no doubt get some stunning shots.
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs
If you do go up the west side of the country to get to Scotland then you will likely go through Loch Lomond. You may also go up the East and come back down the west which is ideal as you will get to see it all!
Loch Lomond is stunning however it has been affected by people visiting and not being respectful by leaving rubbish and generally trashing the place. You will therefore notice a camping ban in place for the much part during peak season.
Our recommendation is to stick to a campsite stay here if in peak season or go slightly further out and visit and the Trossachs. There are a couple of little mountains in the area which are well worth a climb:
This small little hill (350m) is very easily attained but offers panoramic views over Loch Lomond and is one of the best view points in the area. More details for the walk here.
I love this little mountain and have climbed it many times. It’s craggy, has a fabulous profile and is generally pretty quiet compared to the more popular Ben Lomond in the area. The true summit is on top of a pinnacle (seen in the photo at the top of this area section) which to get to you have to go through a gap in the rock (Known as threading the needle) and then a very airy scramble up onto the summit. Good fun but a bit scary for those who don't like heights. If scrambling isn't your bag then a walk to the top of the mountain not including the true summit is still phenomenal.
I would recommend picking a few of the above and spending plenty of time exploring that particular place rather than trying to cram all of the above into 14 days. It can be tempted to try and fit everything in - indeed, many do by ticking off routes like the NC500 but we have heard so many times people actually haven't had time to enjoy anywhere because they just ended up driving loads. it's better to explore places thoroughly and use it as an excuse to go back up to explore a new area on another trip.
Do you have any places of your own that you recommend? Please do let us know in the comments below.