Overnight short stay parking for motorhomes in designated Highland Council carparks to be piloted

Overnight parking

Overnight short stay parking by motorhome users is being piloted in twelve designated regulated Highland Council car parks for the summer/autumn season 2022. Designated car parks in Inverness, Nairn, Caithness, Wick, Sutherland and Wester Ross are included in the trial scheme which aims to charge users for a self-contained overnight stay in their vehicle in allocated parking bays.

The Council’s Tourism Committee Members agreed to take a pragmatic approach to additional parking provision for motorhome visitors across the Highlands. The goal is to allow motorhomes to occupy a designated bay in specific council car parks for a maximum stay period of 24 hours for a modest fee.

Executive Chief Officer for Infrastructure, Environment and Economy, Malcolm MacLeod said: “The Council recognises that ownership and rental of motorhomes/campervans has grown exponentially in the last three years and is an increasing trend as people look to enjoy ‘staycations’ and the freedom to explore the great outdoors.

“From the data captured by the Seasonal Access Rangers and Traffic Officers throughout the summer of 2021, it is evident that in certain ‘honeypot’ destinations in peak summer that demand for formal campsites can be outweighed by availability, also that there are many people that don’t choose to stay in a formal facility.

“The use of laybys for overnight parking, although not illegal, restricts access for more safety related use. It is hoped that by introducing legal use of designated Council car parks for overnight stays that it could relieve some issues on the public road network.

“To mitigate some of the problems encountered with inconsiderate parking, waste and capacity problems in key locations, the Council has considered all our coastal car parks and identified locations suitable to pilot a self-contained overnight stay, where people can park and stay overnight in the vehicle. The aim is to provide for a single night stay only as a transit type stopover. It is anticipated that as tourism infrastructure improvements continue across the country, people will learn what to expect when travelling in Scotland and the limitations for vehicle based holidays/travel, particularly in rural and popular tourist destinations.”

The overnight parking will be limited for up to 24hrs only, all activities must be contained within the vehicle i.e. no awnings, tables, chairs, cooking etc outside the vehicle at any time. Users should take care not to impact on the local environment and leave no trace.

Locations identified for the pilot this summer are:

Car Park


Torvean Car Park


Nairn Harbour -CG


Dunnet Head Car Park


Dunnet Seadrift Car Park


Noss Head Car Park


Reiss Beach Car Park


Riverside Car Park


Durness Village – Tourist Info Car Park


Golspie Shore Street Car Park


Ullapool Latheron Car Park

Wester Ross

Gairloch Harbour Car Park 

Wester Ross

Little Gruinard Beach Car Park

Wester Ross


Motorhome/Campervan Tariff for an overnight short stopover (inc hours between 22:00 to 08:00) in designated car parks are:

  • £10.00 charge per night max stay 24 Hours, No return within 72 Hours.
  • Overnight parking is classed as between 22:00 & 08:00 hrs.
  • All activities must be contained within the vehicle.
  • Overnight stopovers stay only valid with a ticket and only in allocated bays when provided.

The Highland Council’s website has a dedicated section on tourism (external link), where there are useful guides and links for visiting the Highlands, including public amenities, walks, journey planners, welcome to the Highlands - motorhome and campervan guidance.

To find out more information about the Scottish Outdoor Access Code click here  (external link).

The pilot will be closely monitored, and a report taken back to a future Tourism Committee.

30 May 2022