Just near the northern tip of Scotland lies a small archipelago of islands called Orkney. Rarely you will hear anything about the island’s natural and cultural wonders. We believe this is unfair, since they have so much to offer, and that’s why we set together this list of the best places for camping in Orkney.
The Orkney islands offer wild camping, caravan sites, and secluded beaches. Most of them are on rugged cliffs or just a short walk away from the local pub, perfect for seal watching or enjoying spectacular views of the beautiful beaches. In this article, we prepared a list of the best places to visit in Orkney, how to camp there, what to bring and what to look out for.
Is it Legal to Camp in Orkney?
Wild camping in Scotland is allowed. If you want to enjoy your peace and go off the beaten trail, you should know that Orkney is heaven for camping. Here, wild camping, just like in the rest of Scotland, is allowed. Therefore, Orkney is an excellent option for wild caping enthusiasts.
With that being said, you need to know that some rules need to be followed. Except for the leave no trace philosophy, you also need to follow the rules and regulations stated in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
If you’re wondering what the Scottish Outdoor Access Code is all about, here is a short explanation: “You can explore most of Scotland’s outdoor land thanks to the Outdoor Access Code, as long as you behave responsibly. This is known as access rights and is unique to Scotland.
This counts for hills, moors, forests, beaches, woods, rivers and some farmland, and gives you rights to walk, cycle, climb, swim, watch wildlife and more.
It works on three key principles:
- Respecting others
- Caring for the environment
- Taking responsibility for your actions.” – Vist Scotland
If you want to know how this affects tourists, you can learn more about these regulations here.
Weather in Orkney
We have a weather guide if you plan to visit the Orkney islands but don’t know what weather to expect. Considering the location of Orkney, the position lies in the North Sea, so the weather is humid and windy. The area sometimes experiences a harsher climate, storms, and heavy winds.
Summer in Orkney is humid, windy, but sunny. The average daily temperature ranges between 12 and 15°C, or 53 and 59°F. While the weather is hot, there is a chance of unpredictable rainfall. But the weather itself and the temperature make this the best option for visiting Orkney.
In winter and the mid-seasons, harsh winds and storms blow on these islands. One can even expect snowfall on the shore, with a winter temperature between 2 and 8°C, or 35 and 46°F.
When to Visit Orkney
While the temperatures are high, the Orkney islands are relatively quiet. Therefore, visit the Orkneys if you’re looking for a vacation away from the bustle. The best time to do so is late spring to early autumn. Summer on the islands is quiet and mild.
Here are the must-see locations Orkney islands have to offer:
- Scara Brae – Prehistoric village that will take you back in time to enjoy the fantastic scenery and way of life
- Old Man of Hoy – A lone sea stack near the cliffs that might collapse back into the sea at any time.
- West Coast Walk – Orkney mainland offers a walking trail on the west coast, passing through Kirkwall.
When visiting, don’t forget these pieces of camping gear:
- Hiking boots
- Sturdy tent
- Rain and wind jacket
- Rain pants
- Extra insulation layers
Where to Camp in Orkney?
Orkney campsites have many beautiful landscapes to offer, perfect for the whole family or solo camping. Whether you want a rural location, touring pitches, or popular searches, Orkney has it all. That’s why we recommend choosing one of our Orkney camping site choices for your next trip:
- Wheems Organic Farm and Campsite – A great campsite in the North Isles, located close to South Ronaldsay Orkney, is this small organic farm. It has shower facilities, washing amenities, and places for small camper vans. Here, you can enjoy the great outdoors since everything is within walking distance.
- Point Ness Camp – One of the best campsites in Orkney is Point Ness. It’s one of the quiet coves, with washing facilities and a disabled toilet. It’s close to the local shop, perfect for peaceful walks and enjoying the bay.
- Stonehigh Campsite – Only a mile away from the beach, this Orkney campsite is fit for caravans too. You have access to chemicals, water, and electricity, in addition to the site being quiet.
Wild Camping Tips and Gear
If you’re looking for some tips on wild camping, we have everything you need. Regardless if it’s camping in Orkney, somewhere in Scotland, or anywhere else in the world, make sure to follow these rules on wild camping:
- Wild camping in Orkney is not forbidden if you follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code rules. Always protect the land you are camping on and leave no trace. Regardless, while wild camping is allowed, you cannot do whatever you want.
- Lighting campfires in Orkney island is not allowed.
- Wildlife found on Orkney islands includes mostly sea life like seals, dolphins, and birds. On the mainland, you can discover hares, otters, and stoats.
- Leave early, arrive as late as possible, or pitch your tent late. This way, you will be out of sight. If you want to maximize this, stay away from paths and other inhabited locations.
- Never wild camp longer than one night and stay away from occupied buildings, fences, and farmlands. Never outstay your welcome!
Remember to bring your rain gear with you and enjoy the dramatic views, regardless of whether you’re visiting the north or south islands. Enjoy the beaches, as well as the hills.
We hope our article helped you choose the right place to go camping in Orkney and gave you some tips on wild camping.