The High Camp
Usually when I tell people about wild-camping high in the mountains, they will look at me with surprise and say something like "Really? Isn't it scary and dangerous?". There will always be an element of danger if you are spending the night in the mountains, far from help. However this danger can be minimized significantly if you prepare and equip yourself properly. If you are as passionate about the outdoors as me then the risks are probably worth taking - I personally believe that there is no better way to spend time in the hills
Too often I found myself climbing a Munro and spending only 10-20 minutes at the summit before starting my descent. I wanted to spend much longer taking in the views and spending the night was the most appealing option to me. As a photographer, I also have the opportunity to watch the light change as the sun sets and rises which gives me the chance to capture incredible images.
It is very important to monitor weather forecasts before heading into the hills - more specifically the mountain forecast from the Met Office will give you a good idea of what to expect at 3000 ft. I only go out if I am confident that the weather is going to be decent.
It is very important to make sure that somebody knows about your plans. Leave as much information as possible - this may include details of the exact route that you are walking, the summit which you intend to camp on and where you are parking your car. All of this information will be useful to mountain rescue teams in the unlikely event that you need rescued.
If you get into difficulty, you should dial 999 from your mobile and ask for the Police who will liaise with the local mountain rescue team.
Below, I have listed the gear which I would take on a trip with fair weather conditions. In the winter, equipment such as crampons, ice axe and additional warm clothing would be included.
Large Rucksack (60L+) - I have a Vango Sherpa
Sleeping Bag (At least 3 seasons rated)
Tent - 1 or 2 man lightweight backpacking tent. My tent is a 2 man Vango Blade (pictured)
Camping stove + Spork - I have a Jetboil Flash
GPS/Paper Map (with knowledge of how to navigate using a map & compass)
Water Bottle x2
Clothing - All seasons
Warm Gloves (windproof)
Walking trousers (durable/windproof/water resistant)
Thermal Base layer
Long Sleeve Layer
Fleece (medium / heavy weight & warm)
Mobile Phone - For emergencies
SD Cards for camera
Dry Bag x2 (to keep valuables safe)
Plastic Bag (for rubbish)
Head Torch + spare batteries
Camping food (sachets - easily pack-able) x2
Bags of sweets
If you make the correct preparations for a high camp then you could find yourself spending the night in some of the most spectacular places in Scotland.
So, what are the best summits to camp on?
Scotland has 282 Munros, 222 Corbetts and 219 Grahams and many more smaller hills. The beauty of a high camp is that there are no rules and no restrictions. You can go wherever you think will make for a good spot to pitch your tent!
I usually do a fair bit of reading and research before choosing a hill. This is because I am a photographer and would like to have good light and subject at both sunset and sunrise.
In my personal experience, the best high camps that I have done have been in the west/northwest highlands and I can attribute this to one simple reason...prominence.
Unlike the west/northwest highlands, the Cairngorm hills (east) usually start from about 400-600m above sea level and have very wide, rounded tops which take away the sense of depth and height. In other words, they have little topographic prominence.
The west/northwest hills are far more prominent (often rising from sea level with steep sides and cliffs which gives a huge sense of height and depth).
It depends on what you are looking for in a night on the hills. If it is dramatic scenery, then the west/northwest will usually fail to disappoint.
I take a huge amount of satisfaction from planning and executing my own adventure. Maybe it's not always best to follow recommendations. Do what you want to do, there is a lot out there to see!