So what is a camping barn? A camping barn offers simple accommodation in a rural location. There is a platform to lay down your sleeping mat and bag, a table and benches and a safe area for you to use your camping stove. Some camping barns have a wood burning stove to gather around in the evenings. Encoraged by the Youth Hostel Association, these weere created from remote barns and designed to provided overnight shelter for walkers. Now they are most oftern used by small groups and families as rural escpaes. Ideal for familie adventures away from it all. Owned and run by local farms and no longer supported by the YHA, these barns continue to provide simple accommodation as part of the Independent Hostels network.
What is a bothy? Bothies provide similar accommdation to a camping barn in the mountains and wild areas of Scotland. Created as simple overnight accommdation for shepards they are now maintained by a chairty called the Mountain Bothies Association. There is oftern no charge to stay in a bothy and no system for booking. You can turn up to find a simple stone shell or a bothy full of steaming walkers.
Some simple private accommdation in Scotland uses the word Bothy in the accommdation name. So you will find some bothies in the Independent Hostel Guide, these are not to be confused with the accommodation maintained by Mountain Bothies Association.
Camping Barns and Scottish Bothies
What is a Camping barn?
A camping barn provides basic rural accommodation, converted from traditional stone barns once used to store hay and house livestock. They are sometimes called stone tents. There is no bedding and sometimes only a sleeping shelf to lay your camping mat and sleeping bag on. There is usually water and a toilet, a table and benches, and a safe area for you to use your camping stove. Some barns have mattresses to sleep on. While others just have a sleeping shelf for you to lay your own camping mat on. Some have a wood-burning stove to gather around in the evening.
What is a Bothy in Scotland?
Bothies are remote barns in the mountains and wild areas of Scotland. Built as a basic overnight shelter for shepherds or fishermen many have been adopted by the Mountain Bothies Association. There is often no charge to stay in a bothy and no system for booking. You can turn up to find a simple stone shell or a bothy full of steaming walkers.
Some simple private accommodation in Scotland uses the word Bothy in the accommodation name. So you will find some bothies available to rent in the Independent Hostel Guide. These are not to be confused with the accommodation maintained by Mountain Bothies Association.
What is it like to stay in a Camping Barn?
Camping Barns offer a memorable way of staying within some stunning scenery. They are a great alternative to camping with a roof over your head if it rains.
The most developed camping barns have mattresses or bunks, showers, and cooking facilities, but many do not. They are very rural and sometimes so remote they have no electricity. Aimed at the walker who might walk from barn to barn, you can also book a camping barn for the sole use of your group. They are cheap to hire and great for family adventures and away from traffic with no decor to worry about.
What do I need to bring when I stay in a Camping Barn or Bothy?
Don’t forget if you plan to stay in a camping barn or bothy that you will definitely need to bring your own sleeping bag (sometimes a sleeping mat) and usually your own cooking equipment including a camp stove, cutlery, and plates. Some barns and bothies don’t have running water so you may need a water container too. You will always need warm clothes, walking boots and a torch.
The camping barns and bothies on this page are in the most amazing, remote spots. They are a fantastic opportunity to stay in some of the UK’s most beautiful areas often under dark skies and far from the hustle and bustle of modern life!
This history of Camping Barns in England and Wales
Camping Barns were inspired by the Youth Hostel Association, although they have always been owned and run independently by local farmers. They were created to provide shelter for walkers and cyclists and often filled the gaps left when a rural YHA hostel was closed. In the early 2000s, the YHA started removing some camping barns from their network. In 2017 they stopped supporting all the barns, except for the two properties they owned themselves. This was part of a wider closure of rural YHA accommodation.
The good news is that many of these privately owned barns and hostels remain open and are still welcoming guests as independent establishments.
A full list of the camping barns open and in the Independent Hostels network can be seen on this page.
If you enjoy using simple rural accommodation and would like to see these barns flourish please spread the news that they remain open. If you post on outdoor sites or have a website of your own, please add a link to this page to help others find these camping barns.
Lakeland Camping Barns
A group of YHA camping barns in the Lake District joined together to form a local marketing group in the early 2000s, Lakeland Camping Barns. Lakeland Barns produce their own marketing and have worked with the Independent Hostels network for many years.