Some people come to Scotland to delve deep into the country’s rich and brutal history; others to traverse and climb its spectacular mountains – many of which are some of Europe’s finest – while still more come just to enjoy a wee dram in the place where whisky began. If you fall into any of these categories, or ideally all three, the Red Squirrel campsite is the place for you. It’s a cosy place, dwarfed by a phalanx of towering highland peaks in a glen draped in bloody history and home to one of Scotland’s most famous pubs, where whisky-drinking is practically obligatory.
The Red Squirrel lies in Glencoe, many Scots’ favourite glen, which is praise indeed in a country that overflows with epic scenery. From the moment you begin the descent from the barren wastelands of Rannoch Moor, it’s clear you’re approaching somewhere special, as the road dips to acknowledge huge glacial massifs on either flank. If you’re not an experienced walker, then this is foreboding stuff. The visitor centre in the glen organises walks for those not keen on heading out on their own; but if you have the right gear, knowledge and experience, check the weather forecast and you can just set off on one of the myriad hikes and climbs that break off in every direction.
The campsite is also perfect for those who enjoy mountains from a purely sedentary position. On a sunny day you can just laze around this grassy site, which spreads across 20 acres of meadow and woodland with a couple of burns snaking through it. The Red Squirrel describes itself as a ‘casual farm site’ and casual it is indeed, with no official pitches. Push through to the end of the camp and follow the overgrown trail (you’ll think you have gone the wrong way) and you can pitch on an isolated island with great views. Elsewhere, a freshwater pool sits invitingly, awaiting any camper brave enough to take the plunge and enjoy an envigorating swim. Another plus is that in specific spots the Red Squirrel allows open fires, though not after 11pm, when a silence rule descends on the camp.
After a hard day walking in the hills, or a sombre one visiting the massacre memorial and the visitor centre that illuminates the glen’s history, most campers seek refuge in the welcoming arms of the legendary Clachaig Inn. A sign at the door bans ‘Hawkers and Campbells’ and this is deadly serious – history in this part of the world is strictly of the living variety. All other visitors, though, are welcomed through the door and into the bar like long-lost cousins and are soon enveloped in a world of tall stories, live music and more than one or two wee drams.
FacilitiesClean new facilities blocks, water taps dotted around the site and a small information booth. Free Wi-Fi. Further toilets are scattered around the site, but you need to ask for them to be opened. There’s a designated family area so kid campers can get to know one another and head off for adventures among the trees.
Food & Drink
The legendary Clachaig Inn (01855 811252) is staggering distance up the road back towards Glencoe. The Boots Bar is the place to be if you’ve just come off the hills covered head to foot in mud. The main lounge bar is a more comfortable spot with views out of the large windows; both serve hearty walker-friendly food like wild boar burgers, with regular music on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer.
Opening TimesAll year (except December & January).
Scottish Citylink (08705 505050) services (either bus no. 914 or 915, depending on when you’re travelling) from Glasgow stop at the Glencoe Visitor Centre.
ReviewsAdd Your Review
Rated ★★★★★ over 6 reviews
Fabulous location - you could easily spend days here exploring the area. I liked that there was a Quiet Zone to choose to pitch my tent in as I wanted to be away from the other campers, and I had a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains from my tent. Staff were friendly and the young guy who worked there took me to the local pub one evening, which was kind. There was free wifi available at the front hut. Showers and washing up area were clean and comfortable. Highly recommend.
Great Pub up the road!
We stayed here for a few days last year during a two-week break in Scotland. Whilst the weather was gloomy it made for a fantastic scenery in the gigantic hills either side of the campsite. The owners are friendly enough and facilities are fine. A working water tap in a tree makes for a nice touch. The pitches are scattered in little pockets around the site but it was quite hard to find a pitch without a large stone or two underneath the tent. Loads of leaflets of local attractions and walks in the info hut near the entrance. Was too cold for a dip in the river but during the summer months this would make the ideal morning bathe. Highly recommended is the fantastic pub along the road (turn right out of the campsite). They had a few days of live music and was a pub where you are forced to mingle with each other on large trestle tables so plenty of chance to meet fellow campers and walkers in the area.
This is definitely up there as one of my favourite campsites. Awesome walks and hill climbs all around you and within stumbling distance of the Clachaig Inn. If you want views of the mountains you can camp on one side, or you can camp under the trees by the stream which is really sheltered.. it just has a certain bit of magic. Facilities have been improved a lot since I was there last summer, although they can get busy during the summer, this last weekend May 17th to 19th it was relatively quiet on the site. No midges due to unusually cold spring a bonus! Also allow campfires and have piles of wood for use around the campsite for free.
Camping as it used to be!
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