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Camping in Scotland

We spent the evening beside the Moray Firth listening to the ocean behind our tent. The Scottish skies had cleared and a glazed moon lit the distant hills. In the tent site beside ours, a couple from Spain unrolled their sleeping bags while my three children played with the caravan park's one permanent resident, the fattest cat any of us had ever seen.

Thus began our final night in one of the many caravan and camping parks of Scotland. Drawn here by history and heritage, my husband and I along with our three children, ages 12, 10, and 9, found that for those who don't mind roughing it a bit, camping is an economical way to explore this magical country.

Scotland is dotted with camping and caravan parks. Some are "holiday parks" complete with game rooms, shops, bars, and miles of trailer and tent sites; others offer simple facilities, with tent sites set amid green hills and ancient woodland glens. All are affordable, costing between $10-$15 per site per night. And all offer the tourist a close-up view of Scotland.

Our camping journey began in Edinburgh, with a rental car packed with luggage, sleeping bags, and the family tent. From there we traveled south, sketching a course ending in the western Highlands, where a warm, dry, self-catering cottage awaited us.

When it rained and mists covered the cottage, we reminisced about the people we'd met and congratulated ourselves on discovering a delightful and economical way to explore Scotland.

For those interested in tent camping and the use of caravan and camping parks in Scotland or other parts of Great Britain, contact the Scottish Tourist Board at P.O. Box 744, Radio City Station, New York, NY 10101 or visit www.visitscotland.com. You may also call the British Tourist Authority at 800-462-2748.

Then simply pack your sleeping bag and tent and camp in whichever camping and caravan park you find. Discovering Scotland from the heart of a camping park will save you money and increase your appreciation for all things Scottish.