Never travel without TRAVEL INSURANCE!  I use, and recommend, SafetyWing

Camping In Galloway Forest Park: Beautiful And Untouched (2023)


Jump To

If you’re looking for a Scottish wilderness adventure, you should go camping in Galloway Forest Park.

Galloway Forest Park covers an area of more than 300 square miles (770 sq. km), spanning the largest forest in the country and much of the Galloway Hills in south-west Scotland.

Despite being relatively easy to reach (only only 1 hour from Glasgow and 2 hours from Edinburgh by car), this beautiful corner of the country feels remote and totally unspoilt.

There are hundreds of miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, including two of the famous “7stanes” mountain bike trail centres.  Climbing fans will find many excellent places for rock climbing and ice climbing in the wintertime.

Galloway Forest Park was designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2009.  It was the first place in the UK (and only the fourth in the world) to receive such recognition.  

The park’s exceptionally dark night skies and lack of light pollution make it a fantastic place for stargazing.  In fact, this is commonly said to be one of the best places in Europe for viewing the night sky.

Be sure to do some stargazing while camping in Galloway Forest Park

And what better way to experience these phenomenal dark skies than by spending a night or two under the stars.  

Camping in Galloway Forest Park is one of the best ways to experience, explore, and immerse yourself in the region’s wild and unspoilt natural beauty.

Whether you prefer tent camping, or sleeping in a campervan/motorhome, there are many fantastic spots within Galloway Forest Park and the surrounding area.  This post describes some of my favourites.

If you’d like to try camping in a campervan, I’d recommend hiring one from Goboony.  They have a great range of options and their customer service is excellent.

Alternatively, why not build your own campervan…!

Looking to see some more of Scotland?  Check out this fantastic post by Laura (AKA the Eternal Expat) on how to spend two days in Edinburgh.

And don’t miss this post on my favourite UK hidden gems.

Map of Galloway Forest Park

If you need to hire a car for your camping trip, I’d recommend first comparing prices on – in my experience, they usually find the best deals available.

You can also use this handy tool:

Campsites In Galloway Forest Park

Glentrool & Loch Trool

One of the best campsites inside Galloway Forest Park is Glentrool Camping and Caravan Site.  It’s located just outside Glentrool village and is easy to reach.

This site offers attractive pitches for tent camping, plus a number of hard-standing pitches with electrical hook-ups and waste disposal facilities for caravans and motorhomes.  

As well as the spotless shower and toilet facilities, there’s also a small shop on site.

Glentrool is rugged and beautiful

Glen Trool itself is a beautiful remote valley nestled in the heart of Galloway Forest Park.  It’s a fantastic place to base yourself when exploring the park, and there are several excellent hiking and mountain biking trails in and around the valley.

The Southern Upland Way – one of Scotland’s iconic Great Trails – passes through Glen Trool.  You can incorporate a section of this into a pleasant (and fairly easy) day walk.  

Alternatively, the Water of Trool Trail and the Loch Trool Loop are both excellent short-ish walks with beautiful scenery.

(Check out this article for the best walks in Galloway Forest Park.)

Mountain bikers:  one of the world-renowned “7Stanes” trails passes through Glen Trool.  See here for more information.

Loch Doon

There are plenty of tranquil spots to pitch a tent on the shores of Loch Doon

Another great place for camping in Galloway Forest Park is the Loch Doon Caravan and Camping Park.

Located on the banks of Loch Doon near Dalmellington, this is a larger campsite.  There are around 50 hard-standing pitches with electric hook-up, plus a separate grassy area for tents.  

The best thing about this site is its location, with stunning views out over Loch Doon and the Carrick Hills beyond.  

Although the site does offer basic facilities – including drinking water and waste disposal – it does not currently have any toilet or shower facilities.  (This is something they are apparently “working towards”).  

Note:  there are toilet facilities at the Roundhouse Café – located half a mile north along the loch shore.  

Loch Doon is one of the most popular places for wild swimming in Dumfries and Galloway.  Just be aware that there are strong under currents in places, so you should be very careful and not swim too far out even if you’re an experienced cold water swimmer.

It’s also a great place if you’d like to do a spot of fishing in Galloway Forest Park, and has some excellent brown trout.

Other activities in and around Loch Doon include kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking in the surrounding woods and hills.  

Near the Roundhouse Café is a nest where ospreys breed.  During the spring and summer months, you can often spot these magnificent birds circling overhead.

Glamping in Galloway Forest Park

Sometimes you just need a bit of comfort…

Whilst technically just outside the boundaries of Galloway Forest Park, Galloway Activity Centre on the shores of Loch Ken offers a wide range of excellent glamping options.

Take your pick from their selection of rustic safari tents (complete with elegant handmade furniture, two bedrooms and a seperate living area), cozy and luxurious glamping domes, or traditional (and awesome) yurts, imported from Mongolia.

Alternatively, check out these Luxury Glamping Pods.  Located just north of Loch Doon, on the 3000 acre Craigengillan Estate, the pods are extremely comfortable and sleep up to four people.  Each pod has an en-suite bathroom, basic cooking facilities, a dining area, and a little garden, with wonderful views over the loch.

Click here for the latest prices and more details.

Also, check out this excellent article on some of the other amazing glamping spots in Scotland.

You can also use this handy feature to check the availability of a few places in the area:

And if you’d rather stay somewhere even more comfortable, check out my review of the 10 best luxury lodges in Scotland.

Wild Camping In Galloway Forest Park

Can you wild camp in Galloway Forest Park?  


For the adventurous – and well prepared – wild camping in Galloway Forest Park can be a fantastic experience.  This is one of the best ways to really immerse yourself in the wilderness of south-west Scotland.

Some of the best wild camping spots in Galloway Forest Park include the shores of Loch TroolLoch DoonLoch RiecawrLoch DeeLoch Enoch, the Black Loch (Galloway)and the Carrick Forest.  

In each of these places, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful, peaceful countryside and wild nature. There are many amazing spots to pitch your tent, you’re spoilt for choice.

As well as the world-class stargazing, wild camping in Galloway Forest Park is also a great way to get up close and personal with the local wildlife

Keep an eye out for red deer, otters, black grouse, wild mountain goats, red squirrels, kites, nightjars, golden eagles, and ospreys.

Immerse yourself in the wilderness - wild camping in Dumfries and Galloway

Galloway Forest Park wild camping - is it legal?


Wild camping is legal in much of Scotland (unlike the rest of the UK), provided you follow some basic rules.  These are set out in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, although most are common sense.

In short, you must be considerate, responsible, and (most importantly) leave no trace.  

Practically, this means:

  • keep well away from buildings and roads, 
  • don’t camp in fields where there are crops or farm animals, 
  • ideally don’t light a fire (if you must, be very careful and ensure it’s fully extinguished afterwards),
  • take all rubbish out with you, including organic matter (even banana skins take up to 2 years to biodegrade),
  • bury all human waste (hint: bring a trowel).

Unlike in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, you do not require a camping permit to wild camp in Galloway Forest Park.

For more information on wild camping in Scotland, check out this article.  

And here for my pick of the best tents for wild camping.

In short… One of the best tents that money can buy is the MSR Hubba Hubba 2-person tent.

For anybody who’s considering touring Scotland on a motorbike, I’d also recommend reading this excellent article by

Galloway Forest – wild camping on the Raider’s Road

Suggested Packing List For Wild Camping In Galloway Forest Park​

Because wild camping involves carrying everything that you need with you, it’s important to keep weight to a minimum, especially if you’re planning to cover lots of ground on foot.

That said, you need to carry enough equipment and other stuff to keep you warm, dry, happy, and safe while out in nature.

Everybody has their own preferences and thoughts on what amounts to “essential items” when wild camping, and you’ll probably refine your own list after doing it a few times.

The following suggested packing list should be a helpful place to start:​

It sounds like quite a lot of stuff, and it is.  But I’d argue that all of these things are essential.  That’s why you need to pack smart, and invest in high-quality, lightweight gear.


Bothies are found all over the remote, mountainous areas of Scotland, and Galloway Forest Park is no exception.

These basic shelters are typically old abandoned buildings, which provide protection from the elements although usually have very few (if any) facilities.  Bothies are free to use, and can be a great alternative to tent camping, especially in bad weather.

Spot the bothy

Do bear in mind that bothies are very much first-come first-served.  You can’t reserve a place in one, and you might have to share it with others.  Worst case scenario, the bothy might be full, in which case you will need to sleep outside.  

(Top tip:  Although this tends to happen more in bothies in popular hiking areas in the Highlands – e.g. along the West Highland Way, Glencoe, etc. – you should still bring a tent and be prepared to camp, just in case!)

Be sure to follow the rules of wild camping (see above) when staying in bothies.  Leave the place as you would wish to find it, be careful with fires, and take all rubbish out with you.

If you’re interested in giving bothying a go, I can wholeheartedly recommend the excellent Scottish Bothy Bible.


Galloway Forest Park Maps

Before setting out on your Galloway Forest Park camping adventure, I’d strongly recommend picking up an Ordnance Survey map (OS map) of the area.  

These are some of the most detailed topographical maps in the world, and are incredibly helpful when planning walks and places to camp.  They are particularly useful when scouting out good places for wild camping in Galloway Forest Park.

These are the three main OS maps covering Galloway Forest Park.  The 1:50,000 scale map covers the whole park, whereas the (more detailed) 1:25,000 is split into two, each covering the North and South areas respectively.

Planning a trip but not sure where to start?  It can be overwhelming, I know.  But there is another way…

Try out my personal travel planning service, and let me take the stress out of travelling!

Like This Post? Pin it!

IMPORTANT: Never travel without travel insurance!

Here are three companies that I’ve used, and thoroughly recommend:

  • HeyMondo – the best value travel insurance provider on the market. They cover virtually every country in the world, they have an easy-to-use app, and their policies are straightforward and upfront, with minimal (often no) deductibles and excesses.
  • SafetyWing – if you’re a digital nomad like me, it’s essential that you have suitable insurance. It’s super flexible and affordable, you can sign up for as little or as long as you want, and can activate and deactivate it whenever you need to.
  • World Nomads – for adventurous travellers, covers 200+ activities that many other insurers won’t, such as skydiving, heli-skiing, rock climbing, rafting, scuba diving, cliff jumping, and kiteboarding (not available for residents of every country – check here).

Want to start your own blog?

I believe in transparency: Please note that some links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something through them, I might earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. (For example, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through some of these links.) However, I only link to products and companies that I trust and honestly recommend. The income goes towards keeping this site up and running. Thanks for your support.


  1. Janie Dunne

    We are planning to wild camping in Galloway forest and your post has been great. But where di we leave the car? Are there designated car parks do you know ?

  2. Love the post, looking to take my boys wild camping in galloway. Know anywhere that is near water with forest (I am in a hammock) but also somewhere I can have my pickup close by (I Couldnt carry everything and walk in)

    • Alex Tiffany

      Loch Trool is your best bet – there are several car parks close to the waterside, with loads of trees to sling your hammock 🙂

  3. Wow, thanks so much Alex. Been looking for an expert for this park… My 12-year old son’s dream is to go wild camping in Scotland, off-the-beaten paths, so my husband and I are planning a one week hiking trip through Galloway Forest Park for mid-October. Got 5 nights/6 days in the wilderness (walking for about 15 kilometers per day) and would love not to do a round trip, but park the car at the destination and somehow get back to a good starting point. Is that possible or would you rather recommend a round trip? Cheers, Susann

    • Alex Tiffany

      Hi Susann, that sounds like an amazing trip – I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

      Public transport is very sparse in this part of the country unfortunately. I’ve had a look for you but haven’t been able to figure out a sensible place to leave your car where you can get public transport one-way and hike back. I’ve only ever done circular hikes in this area, for this exact reason.

      One possible way that you might be able to make it work would be to arrange something with a local taxi company in advance. For example, you could arrange for a ride from somewhere like Glentrool or Clatteringshaws (were you could park your car) to somewhere like Craigmalloch, and then plan a route that takes you back to your car. This would be fairly pricey though. I’m also not 100% sure on the situation re parking your car for that long in one place. You might be able to reach out to a local business owner and ask if you could pay to leave it on their premises, but I don’t have a personal recommendation to give you in this regard.

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful on this!

  4. Hi, thanks for your amazing article! I’m looking to go cycle camping to see the stars! We are based in Glasgow with no access to a car, and our bikes are tourers and hybrids rather than mountain bikes, so might struggle with anything seriously off road.

    Do you have any recommendations for where we might try if we have to travel by train and bike? I was considering doing a mixture of glamping on the edge of the park, and then cycling to somewhere more remote for a couple of nights of wild camping. Really hope you can help!!

    • Alex Tiffany

      I’d recommend taking the train to Maybole, then cycling down to Craigmalloch (on the southern end of Loch Doon). From here, you can cycle along the forest drive to Loch Riecawr (loads of great wild camping spots around this area). It’s a dirt track but is (just about) okay for a regular small car, so should be fine for your bikes.

      Alternatively (or in addition), you could enter the park from the other side. There’s a road running all the way to Loch Trool, and then a few footpaths and trails running around the edge of it. They should be okay for your bikes too. As far as I’m aware, there aren’t any trails that run all the way through the park from one side to the other that would be suitable for bikes though.

      Hope that’s helpful. Have fun and enjoy! 🙂

  5. Hello Alex. Thanks so much for your help. Most of the places seem to be indeed only meant for day visitors within the park so we got a new plan. I booked the House o’ Hill Hotel for the first and the last night in Scotland and just hope they will let us leave the car there for the 5 nights inbetween. Now we can start to think of a great route seeing all the highlights that you mentioned.
    We cannot wait. Take care and safe travels on your adventures. Love, Susann

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Who Am I?


  • I’m Alex Tiffany.  Former corporate city robot; lifelong travel addict.


  • I’m on a mission to make adventurous travel accessible to all.


  • I created this site to inspire, encourage and enable as many people to get outside and explore as much of our beautiful world as possible.