Wild Camping on the Isle of Arran

With its verdant forests, sheltered beaches, dramatic mountain peaks, and ever-changing coastline, the Isle of Arran bears the nickname of “Scotland in miniature” for a good reason. 

Wild camping is the best way to experience all the natural beauty this fabulous island has to offer. Luckily, there’s an abundance of fantastic wild camping locations on Arran. Most of these are accessible along A841 – the main road which rings around the island. 

Best Wild Camping Areas

Silver Sands Beach

Rainbow over Arran
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  • Driving Distance From Brodick: 30 minutes 

Situated on Arran’s southern tip, Silver Sands Beach is considered by many the best beach on the island. As a romantic, tranquil, and incredibly picturesque place, it’s an ideal destination for anyone looking for a seaside wild camping spot.

The beach is about half an hour away from Brodick and can be reached by car or bus. Those wishing to get there by bus should take Stagecoach 323 from Brodick to Kildonan. 

If you’d rather come here by car, follow A841 and leave your vehicle at the parking lot right next to the road leading to Seal Shore Campsite (more on this place later). From there, you can walk down to the beach via long stairs and start searching for a suitable spot. 

You will have two options: pitch your tent in one of the small grassy areas or on the sand. I recommend the former option since these grassy spots are flat and make it easy to set up camp. 

The views are incredible: just across the water is Pladda Island and its 18th-century lighthouse (still operational). While here, visit the ruins of the ancient Kildonan Castle – it will be within walking distance of your camping spot. 

An art gallery and its shop – both just across the road from Kildonan Castle – are also worth visiting. The gallery is full of interesting locally-made crafts and arts. 

The Seal Shore Campsite mentioned above is right next to this lovely beach. In case of harsh weather, you’ll be able to pack up your tent and seek accommodation there. Finally, Silver Sands Beach is close to places of interest such as Eas Mor Waterfall, Glenashdale Waterfalls, Giant’s Graves, and Whiting Bay. 

Sannox North Picnic Spot 

North Sannox Burn
Photo by Val Vannet via geograph.org.uk (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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  • Driving Distance From Brodick: 20 minutes 

Located on the northeastern coast of Arran, Sannox North Picnic Spot has it all. It is the best wild camping area on this island for several good reasons. Not only that, but it’s one of the best wild camping spots in Scotland overall.

First of all, this entire area is covered with grass, and it’s very flat. It is relatively secluded and far enough from A841 to offer peace and quiet to those who seek it. It also provides some shelter from the rain with its tall trees. 

Moreover, Sannox North Picnic Spot is quite spacious and can easily accommodate many tent campers. Those who arrive here by car can leave their vehicle at the large parking lot right next to the grassy area. 

Due to its seaside location, Sannox also has fewer midges than some other places on this list. It offers stunning views of Goat Fell – the island’s highest mountain – and the Firth of Clyde, which stretches east to mainland Scotland. 

The sound of running water coming from the nearby North Sannox Burn significantly contributes to the area’s sense of tranquillity. There are also a few trash bins and benches here, which can always be handy. 

If you’d like to do some hiking while staying at this location, follow North Sannox Burn to the west. You’ll be richly rewarded with stunning views of the dramatic Glen Sannox Ridge. 

To get to Sannox North Picnic Spot, follow A841 north of Brodick. It’s a scenic 20-minute drive along the Firth of Clyde. 

Tinkers Campsite  

Thundergay
Photo by Callum Black via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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  • Driving Distance From Brodick: 35 minutes 

The next Arran wild camping area can be found north of Thundergay, a small settlement on the island’s western coast. There is a roadside pull-off next to A841 just north of the village, where campers can park their vehicles and pitch their tents. 

Popular with folks exploring the island, the roadside layby is locally known as the “Tinkers Campsite”. It is spacious enough for several cars, motorhomes, and a dozen tents. 

This scenic coastal area is of significant geological importance and bears the name of Rubh Arigh Bheirg. While staying here, you’ll have a stunning view of the Kintyre peninsula across the water. 

Unfortunately, however, the Tinkers Campsite has lately become a subject of ecological controversy. The Isle of Arran Distillery plans to construct a massive marine outfall at this exact spot, allowing it to dump liquid waste into the water. 

Those interested in exploring the area while staying at the Tinkers Campsite should check out Coire Fhionn Lochan. Hiking up to this crystal clear loch can be tricky, though – it’s a deceptively long and challenging climb but undoubtedly a worthwhile one. 

To get to Thundergay, follow B880 west of Brodick until you reach the island’s western coast. Once there, turn right on A841 and drive north for about eight miles. You’ll see the layby on your left-hand side immediately after passing the settlement. 

Dougarie 

Dougarie
Photo by Trevor Littlewood via geograph.org.uk (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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  • Driving Distance From Brodick: 25 minutes 

Another excellent wild camping spot on the western coast of Arran is situated just south of Dougarie. It is similar to the location described above – a small pull-off next to A841. 

Once you park your vehicle there, you can set up camp on the nearby grass or sand areas. While it’s true that you’ll be camping relatively close to the road, a simple look at Google Maps street view images will tell you that others have already done the same – it’s nothing uncommon. 

But still, it is worth noting that this wild camping location is quite open and exposed. If you don’t want to get woken up by the night traffic, make sure to wear earplugs every time you go to sleep. 

On the bright side, those planning to camp here can expect some pretty spectacular views. You’ll have the rolling hills of Arran to the east and the beautiful blue water of Kilbrannan Sound to the west. 

The places worth visiting while camping at Dougarie include the King’s Cave and the Machrie Moor Standing Stones. The walks to both of these natural wonders start just down the road. 

You can get to Dougarie by following B880 west of Brodick and turning right on A841. The layby is located just before the bridge that crosses the Iorsa River. 

The Sailor’s Grave 

Lochranza
Photo by grumpylumixuser via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)
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  • Driving Distance From Brodick: 35 minutes 

Those interested in wild camping on the northern coast of Arran can do so at the Sailor’s Grave. This simple memorial to a dead seaman is located on a short road parallel to A841, about a mile east of the Lochranza Castle. 

The sailor in question was John McLean, who fell ill with cholera and was put ashore by his fellow crewmen. He was refused entry to the local villages and passed away by the road. The locals later buried the sailor beneath a mound of cobbles, still standing there after almost 170 years. 

Despite the sad backstory, the Sailor’s Grave is an excellent wild camping location. It is separated from the main road by a section of grass/bush and, therefore, quite secluded. It’s a relatively popular spot for motorhomes and campervans. 

The view is fantastic: you’ll be able to see the Kintyre peninsula across the Kilbrannan Sound. If you don’t mind the cold water, you can also go for a dip – there is a pebble beach right in front of the Sailor’s Grave. 

The small village of Lochranza and its castle will be within walking distance. The castle was built in the 13th century and is very photogenic, especially at sunset. You won’t be able to get close, though – the building is under safety review and surrounded by fencing. 

It takes 35 minutes to reach the Sailor’s Grave by car from Brodick via A841. If you’d rather take a bus, look for the Stagecoach 324 (Brodick Manse Road – Lochranza Pier). 

Catacol Bay 

Catacol Bay
Photo by Martin via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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  • Driving Distance From Brodick: 40 minutes 

The next Arran wild camping location on my list is just over a mile west of the Sailor’s Grave described above. There are a few houses here, but you shouldn’t have any trouble camping as long as you follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code

Catacol Bay is the place where the Glen Catacol river flows into the Kilbrannan Sound. It’s a pretty spacious seaside area with many flat, grassy spots where you can pitch your tent. 

Those wishing to camp here can park their vehicles right beside the road. It takes about 40 minutes to reach this place by car from Brodick (follow A841 north of the town). 

The view you will have here will be very similar to the one at the Sailor’s Grave. The Catacol Bay looks north to the Kintyre Peninsula, with Arran’s tranquil glens and rolling hills behind your back. 

If you follow the Glen Catacol river south, you will reach the largest mountain lake on the Isle of Arran – Loch Tanna. It’s a surprisingly wild and rough route – and one that’s quite boggy in places – so make sure to wear sturdy footwear. 

If you don’t want to drive to this place and would rather take a bus, you will need Stagecoach 324. Get on the bus at Brodick’s Manse Road station, get off at The Row station in Catacol, and then reach the bay by foot (it’s a 10-minute walk). 

Corrie 

Corrie
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  • Driving Distance From Brodick: 10 minutes 

The best option for those who want to wild camp as soon as they get off the ferry can be found south of the village of Corrie. This settlement is less than five miles north of Brodick. 

The wild camping spot is located just before the village on the island’s eastern coast. Like the Sannox North Picnic Spot, it looks towards the Firth of Clyde and mainland Scotland on the other side. 

Although close to the main road, this place is relatively peaceful and can easily accommodate a few cars/motorhomes at once. In front of the paved parking lot is a grassy area with a bench and three picnic tables. 

Visitors can pitch their tents on a small meadow right beside the parking lot and the picnic area. You’ll be camping next to the sea – who doesn’t like waking up to that refreshing sea air? 

The village of Corrie is definitely worth a visit. Check out the small waterfall behind the Village Hall, have lunch at Mara Fish Bar and Deli, and pay a visit to the small workshop of the local wood sculptor Marvin Elliott. 

It takes 10 minutes to arrive here by car from Brodick. On the other hand, the bus ride lasts about half an hour. Look for the Stagecoach 324 at Brodick’s Manse Road station. 

Best Developed Campsites

Glen Rosa Campsite 

Glen Rosa
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  • One-Person Pitch Price: £10

This campsite is ideal for campers in pursuit of unforgettable hikes on the Isle of Arran. It is situated in Glen Rosa, a marvellous valley snuggled between Goatfell and Brodick. 

Although it provides access to many excellent strolls, the campground itself is pretty basic. Expect only rudimentary toilets and cold running water. 

An important thing to point out here is that you’re better off staying somewhere else in case of heavy rains. This region of Arran is susceptible to heavy flooding – your tent might end up in a big pool of muddy water. 

Lochranza Campsite and Golf

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  • One-Person Pitch Price: £10

Charming, cosy, and welcoming, the Lochranza Campsite is considered by many the best out of all developed campgrounds on Arran. 

This place has it all – ridiculously friendly staff, plenty of space for tents and motorhomes, excellent glamping pods, gas, electricity, hot water, toilets, and showers. 

On top of that, there is also an 11-hole golf course and a herd of beautiful red deer roaming north of the campground. 

Bridgend Campsite 

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  • One-Person Pitch Price: £7

The Bridgend Campsite is one of Arran’s most rural and remote campsites. It’s an excellent option for campers looking to avoid crowds. 

Despite this place being off the beaten track, it is equipped with modern facilities typically found at much more popular campsites. These include toilets, a dishwashing area, freezers, and fridges. 

Besides the remote location, the only disadvantage of the Bridgend Campsite is that it’s full of midges in the summer. Make sure to pack a quality bug spray. 

Seal Shore Campsite 

Isle of Arran in UK
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  • One-Person Pitch Price: £10

As mentioned above, this campsite is located very close to the Silver Sands Beach wild camping area. If you’d love to see seagulls and otters during your stay on Arran, this is the place to go. 

Seal Shore Campsite is also an excellent option for those who want to avoid midges at all costs. The sea breeze at this campground keeps the pesky little critters at bay. 

In terms of amenities, expect electricity, gas, hot water, toilets, and showers. There is also a BBQ area and a TV room.

Runach Arainn Campsite 

Arainn
Photo by Tom Pullman via geograph.org.uk (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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  • One-Person Pitch Price: £110 to £180

Unlike the places described above, this is a glamping site. As such, it is much more luxurious and pricey. 

Here, you can expect privacy, comfort, warmth, and all the facilities you can imagine. Each yurt has a firepit, a wood-burning stove, a double bed, and some sofas. 

Moreover, Runach Arainn is very peaceful thanks to its remote location. It is situated in a small orchard on the island’s southern side. 

Balmichael Glamping

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  • One-Person Pitch Price: £70

Here we have yet another of Arran’s excellent glamping sites. Balmichael Glamping has safari tents, barrel pods, and all the facilities one expects at £70 per night. 

Some of these include a well-stocked honesty shop, an on-site farm, a children’s play area, a wood-fired pizza oven, and a hot tub. 

One fascinating thing about this glamping site is that it’s home to a herd of alpacas. Visitors are allowed to feed them and hike with them. 

Middletons Camping

Firth of Clyde, Arran
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  • One-Person Pitch Price: £3

Located in one of the island’s prettiest spots, Middletons Camping provides visitors with stunning views of the Holy Isle, Firth of Clyde, and beyond. It’s an excellent choice for folks looking to tackle some of Arran’s coastal walks. 

In addition, it’s the best option on the list for those on a budget. The price for a one-person pitch stands at just £3 per night. 

This, however, doesn’t mean that the Middletons Camping isn’t well-equipped in terms of amenities. Expect cleaning facilities, electricity, toilets, hot water, and more. 

Arran Coastal Way

Arran Coast in UK

The Arran Coastal Way is a circular walk that stretches over 60 miles and incorporates fabulous scenery, amazing wildlife, and pretty villages. It’s the perfect option for all those who want to make the most of their wild camping adventure on this island. 

The route passes through many places described in this guide, such as Catacol Bay, Thundergay, and Dougarie. Although waymarked in both directions, it is recommended to walk this route anti-clockwise, starting from Brodick. 

It takes between 6 and 8 days for an average hiker to complete the Arran Coastal Way. Although the route is quite tricky in some sections, its appeal is precisely in its challenge and variety. You’ll walk down coastal paths, scrambling over tidal boulder fields and strolling through ancient forests. 

Walkers can set up camp almost anywhere on the route. When pitching a tent, ensure you’re far enough from enclosed fields, buildings, roads, and historic structures. 

Arran Wild Camping Must Know 

Castle on the Isle of Arran

Litter 

Holy Isle

The Isle of Arran is home to basking sharks, seals, otters, red squirrels, and red deer, not to mention hundreds of different species of birds such as golden eagles. 

For that matter, wild campers on Arran must always pack their rubbish away. Besides being unsightly, litter can harm the animals mentioned above if consumed. Leave every wild camping spot in the same state you found it. 

Fortunately, there are numerous trash bins everywhere on the island. There is also a waste recycling centre in the town of Brodick (Market Road). 

Lighting Fires 

On Arran, fires should never be lit in maintained or urban areas. When camping in the wild, keeping the campfire as small as possible and well-supervised is essential. To fuel it, use only dead trees and vegetation. 

Avoid lighting a fire if there has been a prolonged dry period – it could quickly get out of control. 

Answering the “Call of Nature” 

Whenever possible, use public toilets for human waste disposal. 

When you have no choice but to “do it” in the wild, dig a hole, do your business, and then bury it. Do this as far away from open water, burns, footpaths, and public areas as possible. 

Motorhome Wild Camping

If you’d rather camp in a motorhome than a tent, keep in mind the following courtesies: 

  • Avoid parking as a group in Arran’s villages. 
  • Don’t obstruct anyone else’s view with your vehicle.
  • When parking within a village, erecting awnings and lighting fires is not advisable.  
  • Avoid parking your motorhome where it could cause congestion to pedestrians or traffic. 

Wild Camping Essentials 

Lavander on Isle of Arran

Here’s a list of essential wild camping items you’ll want to pack for your wild camping adventure on the Isle of Arran: 

  • Large backpack for all of your wild camping equipment
  • Lightweight but sturdy and easy-to-pitch tent  
  • Sleeping system (sleeping bag and sleeping pad) 
  • Camping stove, small pot, gas cartridge, pocket knife, cutlery, and a cup 
  • Water system (water bottle, bladder, and filter)
  • Hiking shoes or boots, camp shoes, and socks  
  • Waterproof layer (trousers and jacket) 
  • Quick-drying clothes (not cotton)
  • Lighter, matches, and headlamp 
  • Some waterproof pouches 
  • Reusable litter bag 
  • Hand sanitising gel 
  • Biodegradable toiletries 
  • Sturdy walking poles
  • Midge spray and net 
  • Map of the island 
  • Power bank 
  • First aid kit  
  • Trowel 

The Takeaway 

Besides being surrounded by beautiful seaside scenery, the wild camping areas described above are all on the public transport bus route – accessing them is as easy as it gets. In addition, they don’t have as many midges as their inland counterparts. 

It’s up to you to choose a wild camping spot whose location matches your interests and needs. Remember that you can also visit all of them in one week by walking the Arran Coastal Way. Have a great time on the island! 

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