Is it possible to be a militant wild camper? If it is, I am one. Unlike the rest of the UK, where camping is currently legally restricted, in Scotland you can camp anywhere you like, as long as you are sensible, responsible, and follow the terms of the Outdoor Access Code. The Land Reform Act of 2003 was a great piece of Scottish Parliament legislation. This act ended what was effectively a system of Feudal Law, granted crofting communities the right to own the land they had lived and worked for generations, and enabled public access to one of the best things about Scotland — its amazing landscape.
I love camping, and wild camping best of all. It is not that I don’t appreciate camp site amenities. But for me the silence and the isolation of a wild pitch offers a luxury beyond that of any shower block. Anyone who has been kept awake by insane laughter and someone shrieking ‘come on Kenny, give us another blowback’ (Glencoe) or striking up the banjo a la Deliverance in the early hours (County Antrim) will know exactly what I mean.
Come on, how can you argue with that?
We go to Islay every year, and usually pitch right here. It is a wonderful spot. It faces West, on the shores of a beautiful loch. Behind the pitch is a rocky cliffside and verdant grassland. Water, cliffside, meadow: these environments support an amazing range of flora and fauna which, in your tent, you can quietly live among. It is a wild and lovely place. But in less than half an hour you can walk to a pub and other useful amenities. To be explicit: one can enjoy everything one likes about the great Islay outdoors without ever having to take a shit in it.
This is a place where it is good just to be. To take in the colours . . .
. . . and the textures of the shoreline.
I like the shore’s detritus too. . .
(I suppose these rubbery hand-ghosts are a routine phenomenon anywhere where there is lots of fishing, but I am spotting large numbers of them this year).
So just stick me in a tent on the shores of Loch Indaal, with Mr B for good laughs, camera and bins for the wildlife, and a few tasty wee drams and I’m a very happy camper.
(note, I’m wearing Kaari. Still going strong).
More from Islay and Jura tomorrow.