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Camping In Galloway Forest Park: Beautiful And Untouched (2024)

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

Despite being relatively simple to reach (only 1 hour from Glasgow and 2 hours from Edinburgh by car), this beautiful corner of the country feels remote and totally unspoilt. I’ve camped here many times and love it.

The 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.

There are hundreds of miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, including two of the famous “7stanes” mountain bike trail centres. Climbers 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. It’s often said to be one of the best places in Europe for viewing the night sky.

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

Whether you prefer tent camping, or sleeping in a campervan/motorhome, there are many fantastic spots within Galloway Forest Park and the surrounding area. Here I’ll share with you some of my favourites.


Campsites In Galloway Forest Park

If you’re looking for a campsite with facilities, here are some good options.

1. 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.


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.

2. 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-ups, 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 undercurrents 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.

Here’s a collection of the best hiking captions for Instagram.

3. 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 separate living area).

They also have cosy and luxurious glamping domes and 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.

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

For the adventurous – and well-prepared – wild camping 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 Trool, Loch Doon, Loch Riecawr, Loch 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.


Wild camping is legal in much of Galloway Forest Park, 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 madornomad.com.

Wild camping on the Raider’s Road

Here are some of my favourite camping quotes.

Suggested Packing List​

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.

Maps of Galloway Forest Park

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. They’re incredibly helpful when planning walks and places to camp.

Especially for wild camping, these maps are a treasure.

There are three main OS maps for the park. The 1:50,000 scale map provides an overview of the entire park.

If you need more detail, the 1:25,000 scale maps are split into two parts, covering the North and South regions, offering in-depth insights for your exploration.

Further Resources

If you’re looking to rent a campervan, I can personally recommend 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 my post on my favourite hidden gems in Scotland. Plus, this fantastic post by Laura (AKA the Eternal Expat) on how to spend two days in Edinburgh.

And don’t miss my posts on my favourite UK hidden gems either!

Other Posts About Visiting Scotland

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!

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  1. Hi
    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)

  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

    • 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!!

    • 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

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


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