Great Big Scottish Campervan Road Trip

5 Places you Must Visit in Scotland & Skye

Roadtrip
On the road passing the welcome to the highlands sign on a Scottish camper van road trip
Officially kicking off our Scottish camper van road trip!

Scotland in a campervan is basically a rite of passage in the campervan world. Much like Yosemite or Joshua Tree is a must visit place for anyone who has ever shimmied up a rock wall.

We took Wanda away for 12 magical days of epic travelling around Scotland, Skye and The Lake District in September.  We visited so many places, but I’ve managed to narrow it down to 5 absolutely must dos to help anyone else out who is thinking of undertaking a similar trip.

Preparation

If you have a finite number of days for your Scottish campervan road trip, I would suggest you put in some serious planning effort beforehand. One of the main attractions of taking a campervan to Scotland is the accessibility and freedom of wild camping.  There are many resources available that help out with this planning stage:

  • You can use Google Earth to locate exact spots where you will park up for the night;
  • Get engaged in online forums to ascertain any specific points of interest;
  • Make use of apps like Park4Nightor Campr;
  • Make use of options such as Britstops that allows you to stay over in a pub car park usually in return for nothing except a pint.  A price worth paying!

You can get some fantastic inspiration from Instagram and books about places to visit.  We thoroughly recommend the WildGuide Scotland for some out of the tourist path places to visit.

Glen Coe.  All of it.

View over Glen Coe mountains on a Scottish road trip
View out onto the Glen Coe mountains from the camper van

Glen Coe was probably the point I decided I had fallen in love with the Scottish scenery.  It is breathtakingly spectacular with inviting mountains, high peaks and a riot of colours on the ground from the lakes and heather clad fields.  

If you are a James Bond fan, then a chance to drive down the same roads as the DB5 in ‘Skyfall’ means a trip along the A82 near the striking peaks of Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe.  You can park up overnight with a tremendous view directly overlooking the mountain itself.  We had a surprisingly quiet given the popularity of the location and, it has to one of the most Instagrammable back door campervan views ever!

You don’t have to be a mountaineer to enjoy Glen Coe, you can keep your feet at ground level to appreciate the impressive scenery.  In fact, it’s pretty awesome to simply be driving in your campervan around the roads there!

Ice Factor

Scotland is renowned for its cold weather and Winter mountaineering in Scotland is an absolute joy.  However, whilst you can pretty much guarantee rain at any point in the year, ice is another matter entirely.

If you fancy having a go at ice climbing, then I’d thoroughly recommend the Ice Factor at Kinlochleven.  It is one of the few places in the UK with an indoor ice climbing wall and, the one at the Ice Factor is actually the biggest in the world.  If you’ve been ice climbing (indoors or outdoors) before or have done any winter mountaineering then you will be allowed to climb unsupervised. The centre does run regular introduction and supervised sessions that anyone can get involved in, including full kit hire.

Ice climbing at the Ice Factor in Scotland
Ice climbing at the Ice Factor

A massive bonus about the Ice Factor is that they have showers that you can use for the very reasonable rate of £3.  Their super friendly café staff will also let you refill your water tanks in return for a cake that, in reality, you weren’t going to be able to resist anyway!  You can actually stop overnight in their carpark which has the added benefit of an indoor loo until closing time.

Steall Falls

Steall Falls is a huge waterfall located on the Glen Nevis Estate. You can get to it via a short two-mile hike, starting from the sensibly named Steall Falls car park.  The Glen Nevis Estate is a vast expanse of natural beauty with walks all over to explore; it’s worth pointing out that wild camping is not allowed on the grounds – you can’t really avoid the signs telling you this! 

The Steall Falls walk is a gentle hike that takes a well-trodden path but which does involve a little bit of scrambling over rocks at some points.  It culminates in a very entertaining wire-bridge over a river deep enough to make the return trip very unpleasant should you happen to fall in, but shallow enough for the water to come just up to your thighs if you do!  Be mindful that if you undertake the crossing, you will have to return the same way, unless you fancy a swim!  

Crossing the wire bridge at Steall Falls
Crossing Steall Falls wire bridge with daredevil abandon!

I’m recommending this trip as a must do on your Scottish campervan trip because it’s a relatively short hike, and there are plenty of points to simply sit and chill out and take in the views.  However, beware the midges that flock in abundance near the water, so make sure you go prepared with some Smidge!  (Other brands of midge repellent are available!)

Old Man of Storr

View of the Old Mann of Storr in Skye
Looking out onto the Old Mann of Storr on this epic Scottish road trip

The Old Man of Storr is a natural phenomenon of rock formation that’s worth the breathy slog up to it.  There are a good few steps that take you up the winding path to the top.  The views from the summit are worth it, I promise.  You can freely roam about the hillside, take a pew on a soft tuft of grass and soak up the views.  Or, you can put in a little bit more effort and clamber up to the base of The Old Man itself.

A word of advice – do not attempt the scree slope that leads up to it! You may think it looks like the most direct route, but it can be dangerous and slippery.  Take a few more steps around to the back where you will find a much kinder route up to the top.

It can get super busy, so it’s a good idea to make sure you beat the crowds and get a decent car parking spot first thing.  You can stay overnight in one of a couple of laybys’ which are set back from the road just down from the Old Man.  Waking up in your campervan in the morning to a view like this is something so many people would pay mega bucks for, and for you it’s free! 

campervan in a layby in Scotland with the Old Man of Storr in the distance
Parked up in Wanda by the Old Mann

Skye Fairy Pools

The Fairy Pools in Skye are located at foot of the Black Cuillins near Glenbrittle. These pools are a series of waterfalls and deep pools of staggeringly crystal clear blue water. Or so I’m told….as the day we went here the infamous Scottish weather decided to show us what it’s capable of. Water. It’s capable of water!

When it has been raining heavily, getting to the Fairy Pools involves a leap of faith across a very flowing river with a muddy bog either side. It did not end well! If you’re brave enough, you can crack out your Speedo for some wild swimming. If you’re like me, you can scramble down to the edges of these pools for a chance to take some pretty epic pictures.

Close up of the water in the Fairy Pools in Skye
The magical water of the Fairy Pools in Skye

Why Visit Scotland in a Campervan?

A Scottish road trip was one of the most awesome things I have ever done. Even with two weeks, we barely touched the surface of places to go and things to see but it was a good amount of time to get a lot of things done and not feel like we were constantly driving from one place to the next.  Though, there are worse places that you could spend time on the road than in Scotland!

Photo Credit Ben Wykeham