There are few things more delightful than to fall asleep on a summer evening on a Highland hillside and to wake at dawn surrounded by the sounds of the weather and the wildlife; separated only by a thin layer of canvas (or a more modern fabric). Camping in the hills above Dunoon and elsewhere in the Cowal countryside can be a wonderful experience.
Since the passing of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act of 2003, we have all enjoyed the right of access to the wild and open places of this country. We may now camp out on most unenclosed land, or even sleep under the stars. It’s part of what is often referred to as the ‘Right to Roam‘.
People who enjoy wild camping and want to be immersed like this in the natural world are almost invariably those who most treasure its wildness, and who care about its conservation. They are the least likely to want to mess it up. The right to camp wild in Cowal comes with some common sense responsibilities. So please make sure you leave our wild, unspoiled places… well, wild and unspoiled! Let it be that a few hours after you’ve gone, when the grass where you slept has straightened up again, there’s no trace of your having been there. There’s a good guide to responsible camping in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Broadly speaking you’ll do well if you observe the following guidelines:
- Bury your toilet waste in a hole in the ground (this means bringing a spade or a trowel with you); and cover the hole with turf when you leave.
- Don’t relieve yourself near water courses.
- If possible bring a stove. If you choose to light a camp fire, then clean up afterwards, leaving no trace.
- Don’t cut down or damage trees for fuel (except the pestiferous Rhododendron ponticum, which burns rather nicely).
- Don’t leave any rubbish at the site – either your own or, if possible, anyone else’s who was there before you.
- Don’t overburden one site by overcrowding or staying there too long. Move on if you can.
- If in doubt, ask the landowner. Their advice might help you avoid problems or find a better camping spot.