Take the high road - summer in Scotland
August is Scotland month! We’re getting excited about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe starting this weekend and going right through until 27 August with hundreds of acts including 111 for children. The ‘official’ Edinburgh International Festival starts on 10 August and takes culture vultures up until 2 September, and August in Scotland also sees the famous Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo and the I-want-to-go-to-this-now Edinburgh Book Festival.
Want to go to something outside Edinburgh? Try the Aberdeen International Youth Festival from 1-11 August, the Orkney Agricultural Shows from 3-11 August, the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow on 11 August, or Beerfest in Stirling at the end of the month. And naturally, you can always go dramping on the malt whisky trail at any time of the year.
So, as we’re in celebratory Scotland mode now that August has arrived, here are ten of our top Scottish campsites, caravan parks and holiday parks, for whatever type of break you want to have.
Balgair Castle Holiday Park, Stirlingshire: There’s walking and cycling galore in them there hills, but the kids might not want to get off site here with the new outdoor pool and play area, while parents should be happy with the fishing on site, bistro and evening entertainment. The park is just 12 miles from Stirling with Stirling Castle, and the Glengoyne whisky distillery is also nearby. Pitches for tents, tourers or motorhomes are £24 per night for two adults and two children.
Deeside Holiday Park, Aberdeenshire: Just six miles from Aberdeen but set in peaceful surroundings, Deeside is open all year round and the spot for fishing, golfing and canoeing or kayaking on the River Dee. Non-electric tent pitches are £20 a night for two adults and two children, with electric pitches for tourers, motorhomes and trailer tents at £23.
Glenluce Holiday Park, Dumfries and Galloway: Set in what was once the grounds of a mansion on the former Balkail estate, this secluded site is right next to the village of Glenluce and has a heated indoor pool, children’s playground and access to free trout fishing a mile away. This is the place to go star-gazing, as the Galloway Forest has been named the UK’s first Dark Sky Park, with the lack of pollution meaning that over 7000 stars can be seen on a clear night. Electric grass pitches for tents, tourers and motorhome are £20 per night for two adults and two children.
Wild camping is legal anywhere in Scotland, although of course play nice by asking landowners’ permission if need be and not leaving any trace of your camping trip. If you prefer to go to a wild camping site rather than pitching up alone in the middle of nowhere, the Ledgowan Lodge Bunkhouse and Campsite in the Highlands should give you all the solitude and scenery you need, with tent pitches available in the grounds of a three-star country house and with a bar and restaurant on site. It’s open all year round, allows dogs and student groups are welcome. Pitches for two adults are a cheap as chips £10 per night.
Also suitable for solitude is Lickisto Blackhouse on the Isle of Harris in the Hebrides, which is based on an old croft on the east of the island and which has been the number one site in Cool Camping Scotland for the last three years. Pitches on this sheltered site are roomy and you can chill in the 200 year old blackhouse with its fire, hot water, bathroom and comfy sofas. Pitch your tent or park your motorhome here from £20-24 per night for two adults.
There are tents, and there are wooden tents. The Kocoons at Harvieston Huts in Edinburgh are snugly insulated against the best of Scottish weather and are set in the grounds of Kirkhill mansion. Best of all, there’s a hot tub on site for after your day tramping around the nearby Gore Glen Woodland Park, geeking around Borthwick Castle, going underground at the National Mining Museum or taking in the Edinburgh sights and festivals. The Sun Inn, which won Scottish Gastropub of the Year 2011, is only five minutes away from your pod. Harvieston is open all year round and a pod can be had for two adults for just £20-30 a night.
Fishing on site
You don’t have to move far to cast off at the freshwater lake at Thurston Manor at Dunbar in Lothian, where you can also relax afterwards in the on-site heated pool, sauna and steam room (or build up a sweat in the fitness centre if you’re feeling particularly energetic). Thurston Manor also has a lounge bar and restaurant on site, and if you want to see how the professionals catch fish, the Scottish Seabird Centre is nearby where you can use the live interactive cameras to zoom in on puffins and gannets. Serviced pitches for tents, tourers and motorhomes start from £25.50 a night in August for two adults.
Fishing and golfing are the two most accessible outdoorsy pursuits at Scottish sites, but if you want to get your wind and wave on, try Balinoe Campsite Tiree set among some of the only trees on the Isle of Tiree in Argyll. You can pitch up in your tent, tourer or campervan to try this well-known watersports spot for windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing and sand-yachting. No worries if it’s well windy – the staff can advise you on what’s best to do, or you can check the latest weather forecast using the free wifi. Pitches at Ballinoe are £20 a night for two adults, with optional free electric hookup.
Southerness Holiday Village at Dumfries and Galloway has a champion golf course on the doorstep, the 18 hole links Southerness Golf Club – and crazy golf on site as well as an indoor pool complex with toddlers’ pool, kids’ clubs and family entertainment. There are several other top golf courses in Dumfries and Galloway, following three main trails: the Tiger Trail including Southerness; the Challenge Trail with a range of courses to suit most golfers, and the Little Gems trail mostly covering the county’s nine-hole courses. Pitches are available at Southerness from £50 for two nights for two adults (minimum stay two nights).
History and sightseeing
Like most of the country, you only have to lob a pebble in Scotland to hit something historical worth gawking at, but Sundrum Castle Holiday Park in Ayrshire gets a special mention. There are a colossal 30 castles in the surrounding area – one for each day for a month’s holiday, in fact. Culzean Castle is just south of Ayr, while families should find something even for the kids to get excited about at Kelburn Castle with a crocodile swamp and petting zoo. And as it’s the sport of kings, we’re claiming that a trip to Ayr Racecourse should be squeezed into a historical break too. There’s a minimum two-night stay at Sundrum, where pitches for tents, tourers and motorhomes start from £30 for two nights in August.
We have plenty more Scottish campsites, which you can filter according to our 80+ features, or search by county, camping type or availability. But we think we'll probably see you on the malt whisky trail...