SCOTLAND has some of the best outdoor locations in the world, and camping is one of the best ways to experience them.
But if a tent and sleeping bag seems an unappealing way to experience it up close, then you could try something more comfortable – glamping.
Glamping, or glamorous camping, combines the isolation of camping with the conveniences of a hostel or hotel. Even though you may find yourself deep in the wilderness, sockets for hair dryers and iPods are close at hand, as well as a proper bed, a TV and a fridge. You can still cook around the campfire, and enjoy relative isolation on the shores of a loch, but at the end of the night, you get to lie down on a comfy bed.
Outdoor diehards may scoff at this level of comfort. Why not just camp?
One avid glamping enthusiast, Callum Vimpany, says it’s because of where is opens up the countryside to those who may not otherwise experience it.
“It’s about what it can offer you. Glamping is all about the location - you can’t really get a hotel on Loch Tay. It’s nice to be outside, detached from technology for a bit.
“It offers the countryside up to those who don’t want to spend a night sleeping on the cold, hard ground in cramped conditions. You can get out into the wild, and still have a comfy place to lay your head at night.”
The types off accommodation can vary, but has been known to include eco lodges, stationary camper vans and even treehouses.
There are three main types of glamping available in Scotland: pods, wigwams or tipis and yurts.
Camping pods are usually for one to two people. They’re compact and light on amenities. They’re usually in convenient locations, such as the West Highland Way.
The so-called Hobbit Houses of BCC Glamping boast light and airy accommodation, with comfortable mattresses, Wi-Fi, mains power, a large BBQ area for central covered cooking, and a modern toilet and shower block.
Tipis or wigwams offer larger group accommodation. Often hand-crafted with natural wooden poles and pegs and cotton canvas covers, the tipi provides environmentally-friendly accommodation with a low environmental impact.
One such place is Burravoe Wigwams on the Shetland Islands. They offer almost complete independence in a remote setting. Equipped with a mini kitchen, table and chairs, and a toilet and shower, there’s no need for a central campsite. it comes with a large double bed and a large double sofa bed, perfect for family trips.
Yurts can accommodate larger groups, or else provide a luxurious private space. The circular structures are based on the traditional dwellings of central Asian nomads and have been in use for at least 3,000 years. Round and portable, traditional yurts are made up of a wooden frame covered in a layer of felt or canvas, making them watertight and sturdy.
The Runach Arainn is a small, intimate glamping site on the south end of the Isle of Arran, where yurts offered are up to 20ft in circumference. They boast log burning stoves, solar powered lighting, and private bathrooms. There is a communal camp area offering a private bathroom and kitchen.
So, is glamping a fad or something that’s here to stay?
VisitScotland seems to think it has some legs. Search engine data suggests that “glamping” is a year-on-year growing term on their website.
Other glamping sites in Scotalnd include a wildflower meadow beneath the legendary Eildon Hills in the Borders, where authentic French Roulottes are on offer. These caravans give sleeping space for two to three people, with ornately decorated interiors. If you’re quick, you might also get your hands on their authentic 1930s Romany Caravan.
On the shores of Loch Tay you can stay in one of several Geo Domes, which come complete with wood burning stoves. By the banks of Loch Ness, you can settle down for the night in an Armadilla, which has featured on Channel 4’s Four In A Bed. It features underfloor heating, so you won’t feel the cold no matter the weather.
In the middle of an ancient pine forest in the Black Isle, glampers can spend the night in a yurt with direct access to a dramatic coastline dotted with caves and secluded sandy beaches. On the Isle of Skye, check out a hut which not only offers some of the most breathtaking views Scotland has to offer, but comes with the added bonus of breakfast in bed.