Wild Camping Near Edinburgh

a woman with braided hair sits in the foreground on a beach looking out at a sunset of orange and blue

Hello happy campers! This article will share with you the best spots near Edinburgh for wild camping. Wild camping is a great option for any adventurous spirit who lives in Edinburgh and doesn’t have access to a car. Edinburgh has great transport links, but it can be tough to find places off the beaten path. One August, in the midst of Edinburgh’s Fringe, I went on a winding public transport trip to Callander just to feel like I’d escaped a bit. Luckily, there are places a lot closer to home that don’t require as long on the bus to get to. Here are the best places to go wild camping near Edinburgh – and how to get there.

Please remember…

when wild camping, leave no trace behind. Take everything you brought back with you – including any trash. Stay well away from roads, golf courses, homes and anywhere you might be a nuisance. Before setting up camp, make sure you’re not in the way of any feeding spots or rabbit holes. Most importantly, pay attention to nature reserves and their policies on wild camping.

The John Muir Way

The John Muir Way runs through Edinburgh, east toward Milngavie or south through East Lothian towards Dunbar. You cannot camp along the entire route, so make sure you check before you go. If you head south towards Dunbar, you’re in generally camping friendly areas. However, the path is mostly on main roads, so you’ll spend a lot of time hearing cars whoosh past you while you stare at the pavement ahead.

If you want to wild camp along the way, head to at least Longniddry or further, because there aren’t many good options along the path before then. Once you get past Aberlady there are coastal paths that veer off the John Muir Way, they’re generally better for finding appropriate wild camping spots. Find more info on the John Muir Way website.

How to get there

The best part of the John Muir Way is that it runs parallel to the regular train and bus lines down to North Berwick. If you’re new to the walking and wild camping thing, this is a good place to start. Easy to bail out if you decide it’s not for you! Plus, you can really focus on the parts of the trail that are good for camping by taking the train out and starting from the station.

sail boats in a bay with the sun shining

Fife Coastal Path

Much like the John Muir Way, the Fife Coastal Path has beautiful vistas … and less endearing views. As a general rule, the further you get from Edinburgh, the better you’ll be. For example, between North Queensferry and Kirkcaldy, you’re mostly looking at old industrial sites. Have a look through the path on their website and pick a spot that’s more appropriate for camping. Equally, watch out for tough spots like Elie. It may be beautiful, but you might not want to carry all your gear up a the side of a cliff.

How to get there

The Fife Coastal Path is easily accessible by train or bus. It’s not quite as close to Edinburgh, train lines or bus stops as the John Muir Way, but it’s still a very accessible spot. Walk Highlands is a great resource to give detailed info on the step by step route of the path. Here’s one forum of someone who walked the whole path and camped along the way.

The Pentland Hills

If you’re not fussed about a beach, the Pentlands are for you! There’s no shortage of places to wild camp in the Pentlands, that’s what makes it the best place for wild camping near Edinburgh. A common favourite is near the Harlow Reservoir, where families come to camp and fish. Personally, I’d head a bit further out and find a flat dip in the hills to set up camp.

How to get there

The Pentlands are easily accessed by the Lothian Bus #4 to Hillend or #44 to Balerno. Take the #4 to the end of the line and you’ll find the Midlothian Snowsport Centre (ski hill), and a bunch of hikes up the hills. The top of these hills have gorgeous views of Edinburgh, but you’ll want to be behind them for wild camping. So, take the Balerno bus to the end of the line and it’s a 15 minute walk over to the Harlow Reservoir. The reservoir is safely tucked behind the hills so it’s easy to head into the smaller hills behind and find a good spot for just you.

Do you know any other great spots for wild camping near Edinburgh? Leave them in the comments below!

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