Bluebell the motorhome is all packed, plugged in and ready for the big off tomorrow evening!
It’s been a staged prep, as we’ve had a busy old week or two what with concerts, exams and general end of term ness
Last Friday Keefy had a day of tinkering inside the van, washing curtains, cushions and fixing little bots and bobs here any there.
On Monday we sorted out all out clothes so they were ready to pack in. Then we took Bluebell out to get diesel and do the food shop which we loaded straight into the cupboards (apart from the fridge stuff)
Today (Wednesday) I loaded the clothes into the wardrobes and cupboards, Keith plugged Bluebell in so her fridge gets nice and cold and I loaded the fridge stuff in.
I also got busy in the kitchen making loads of sweet treats for the road 🙂
Everything gadget wise is on charge, so I think we are ready for the off now! Just got teaching this afternoon, a school concert tonight, and a full days teaching tomorrow to get through then we will be on the road and heading for the border crossing at Carter Bar!
In other news, I found out today that one of the places that we are heading- Loch Etive near Glen Coe is where Daniel Craig and Judi Dench filmed Skyfall so that’s very exciting as we will definitely be hunting that one out! >
Bluebell the motorhome is getting excited. She can always tell when preparations are being made for a trip as the humans start pottering in and out, checking cupboards, filling cupboards, and this week she had an extra treat- she got stripped bare and all her cushion covers, curtains, blankets etc got taken into the house and came back out all sparkly and clean. She knows something big is about to happen……
That’s right- next Friday, the 4th April she will be hitting the highway and heading north for our annual pilgrimage to the highlands. Excitement is hitting the household and plans are being formulated.
As ever, we’re going to follow our nose mainly using BritStops and wild camping, but there are a few places we are aiming for. We’re heading for Loch Lomond for day one, to our fave spot on the Bonny Bonny banks of Loch Lomond, where we shall no doubt partake in a few whiskeys at the Inverbeg Inn.
Then onto Glen Coe, for some walking and incredible views
then to Arasaig to see the glorious white beaches where Local Hero was filmed. We’re aiming for a few days on Skye, then back via the East coast, especially popping in the small village of Pennan- where they filmed the town scenes of Local Hero Pennan
(Pics above taken by ourselves on previous trips)
This will be our 5th trip (4th Easter trip) to Scotland and if you are interested in touring Scotland in a motorhome (or otherwise) you may be interested in having a scroll through some of our previous entries: Scotland 2010 – The First Trip
As I’m writing this, we are currently bombing down the A1 towards home. The sun is shining, there still isn’t a cloud in the sky, and this morning we were treated to the most spectacular sunrise at Bamburgh.
Thursday we left early after another very peaceful night at our secret Brit stop location. We were heading to another Brit Stop location in the county of Angus. We’ve never been to Angus before, always in a rush to get north, or in a rush to get to Edinburgh. It’s a beautiful county, with rolling hills and pretty rivers flowing through.
Our stop for the night was a farm shop and craft centre, and we enjoyed some cured venison from their farm shop for lunch. It was so good that we bought a couple more packs to bring home with us (however they’ve already been eaten!)
Just down the road there was a waterfall and gorge that we had been told was worth a visit. We walked down, and were stunned when we got there. It was probably the most impressive waterfall and gorge we’ve seen. It was so steep. The photos we took don’t do the sheer drop justice. It was terrifying but equally amazing to stand at the top and look down.
We had another peaceful and undisturbed nights kip and set off about 9am. We were heading towards Berwick upon Tweed. The sun was still shining, we couldn’t believe that we had done the whole time in Scotland with blue skies! Especially when we left in such dubious conditions!
We arrived at Berwick upon Tweed at lunchtime and had a wander. We’d been looking forward to visiting however unfortunately we had a bit of a disappointing visit. First of all we spent 30mins of our 2 hours parking trying to find the public loo. Without being too graphic we try to avoid doing certain things in our toilet in Bluebell, therefore when we arrived we decided we both could do with using the facilities at Berwick. We followed the signs for the loos round the town with no luck at finding them! We stopped at the tourist information centre and were instructed as to where they were. We still didn’t find them. We ended up doing another circuit of the town and just as the situation was getting more desperate than it was we found them by chance more than anything. We then were charged 20p each to go. Wouldn’t mind this if the toilets were clean, had loo roll, didn’t stink- you get the gist.
Feeling rather more comfortable now, we set about an explore of the town. Don’t know if we were unlucky or if it were a typical day there, however we encountered several strange folk who stopped us in the street and had rather odd conversations with us- one lady was quite honestly mad! She walked by us, then turned back and made a big fuss about how she wasn’t going to stop us but she couldn’t help herself. She then gave Jazz such a fuss and wanted to know all about it. Then she said he’d get shot if he were on his own?!!
By now, we were starting to wonder what was going on. We enjoyed the town wall walk and soon it was time to go back to the van as our parking had run out. We had spied some cheap diesel on our way in so decided to fill up. A coupe more strange incidents with folk resulted in us leaving with a bit of a bad mood – one of these incidents involved someone nicking our space in the diesel queue- a pet hate of mine!
We decided that we must be tired as were both grouchy and couldn’t wait to get back on the A1. We headed for Bamburgh. We had wanted to wild camp here last year but after reading some motorhome forums got cold feet as it seemed they didn’t like motorhomes overnight parking there.
We found a lovely spot for a cuppa, that was far enough out of the town for us not to be a nuisance. It had the most amazing view of the beach, the sea and the castle. We made the executive decision after a cuppa and a wander down the beach that we would chance it and stay over night. There weren’t any signs whatsoever and so we battoned the hatches down and hoped for the best. By 8pm another couple of vans had joined us. We had a very peaceful night and awoke to the most impressive sunrise we’ve seen. An early morning dog walk down to the castle with sun rising on our our left was a fantastic way to start the day. Granted today is the day we journey back to Norfolk- our ETA is 2:15pm, but our pleasant start to the day really has rounded this amazing holiday off perfectly.
Jazz has been very well behaved, he loves motorhoming, he nests himself at the back and looks out of the windows, however right now he has made a nest on all the dirty washing!
We’re just driving past the Angel of the north now, the road is clear, and we can’t believe how lucky we have been!!
We’ve made it daaaaan saaaaaaaaf a few miles, and are now in the beautiful Dee valley. We’ve been using the Brit Stops this last couple of nights for our overnight stops, and very good they’ve been too! We’ve also done significantly less driving, and today we even managed a stop at Balmoral Castle, but more on that later.
Yesterday we awoke to an overcast sky at John O Groats, but were refreshed after our peaceful night in the car park there. We set off about half 8 and were heading for a Brit Stop (no 821) near Lairg. The Brit Stop was at a famous visitor centre and we’d actually visited it on our first trip. We knew they had an excellent shop and couldn’t wait to get in to buy some local food and drinks for later that evening. We actually ended up visiting the shop twice and spent almost £50 on tasty treats of jams, chutneys, and lots of whiskey tasters! 🙂 so Brit Stops definitely worked well for this particular venue yesterday as we spent loads of money, money that we wouldn’t be able to afford to spend if we were on a £20 site for the night.
We had a very chilled afternoon, walking jazz and snoozing, then catching up with some House on DVD until our leisure battery ran out whilst sampling some of our whiskey treats!
Today we set off south again after some delicious toast and jam – blackberry and sloe gin jam, courtesy of our shopping trip yesterday, yum yum! We were heading towards the Cairngorms with another Brit Stop in mind to stay at tonight.
We made good time, and arrived at the Lecht Ski centre in time for a bacon butty! Not sure what we’d imagined, maybe because we’ve been in this pocket of blue sky and sunshine for a week, we hadn’t anticipated seeing so much snow! There certainly was no snow shortage for Easter skiers that’s for sure and we enjoyed spending some time watching the hundreds out on the slopes, of all ages!! We did however feel slightly out of place- everyone err was understandably dressed head to toe in ski wear- we were in our shorts and crocs!!
We head on, through a spectacular drive- in some places the snow was up the height of our eyes at the sides of the roads ( bearing in mind we are at a high sitting position in bluebell!) it was stunning though, and we had re found the sun for sure! Beautiful
Soon we saw a sign for Balmoral castle, and decided on a detour to visit. On first impressions, we found the entry charge of £10pp to be reasonable. However, in reality we didn’t think we got much for the twenty quid, you couldn’t get inside to see any of the rooms, not even the hall, and although it was nice to see the castle, and to say “We’ve been to Balmoral”, we did come away thinking maybe it was a bit of a rip? Especially as we had to pay £1.50 to park too!
We carried on, and were again treated to some wonderful views, driving along the river Dee. About twenty miles on, and we arrived our stop for the night, Brit Stop no 815, which is a farm activity centre and farm shop! We once again couldn’t wait to get into the farm shop and have a look at the local produce, and came away with some local cheeses, and a homemade/reared Aberdeen Angus pie along with some fresh veg for our tea tonight.
We both are so completely impressed with Brit Stops. For us, it’s the perfect way to structure our tours, see local business’ and more importantly spend some of our hard earned cash on what we love, local food and drink, whilst knowing you are helping a local farm shop or similar.
I can’t believe it, I’m writing this blog from the most north east point in mainland Britain, the famous John O’Groats! And the weather is still sunny!!!
We’ve had a busy couple of days on the road, and therefore have reached our main destination about 3 days earlier than anticipated!! But every second has been exciting and every corner has produced another fantastic view!
We had a lovely peaceful night at Clachtoll on Saturday, and left at a later (for us so far!) time of 9.30. The people on the pitch next to us were lovely, and we’d had several chats with them. During our goodbyes, they recommended a beach to check out just south of Durness, called Oldshoreman. Apparently there was a walk from there leading to Britain’s most secluded beach- as you couldn’t drive there. They also felt it would be suitable to wildcamp there. So off we set, round the stunning headland of Stoer and towards Kylesku bridge, something we’d seen in a travel book and marked as a place to stop. The bridge was a wonderful piece of architecture, and like most places we’d visited so far, we found ourselves alone in wandering up to the viewpoint.
After the bridge of Kylesku the landscape turned very moonscapey, and against the bright blue sky it was beautiful. We soon found the road to Oldshoreman and arrived at the most beautiful beach we’ve seen. Unfortunately we were hit with numerous no overnight parking signs straight away, so we knew we wouldn’t stay there, however we enjoyed a lovely walk along the beach.
We decided to carry on up towards Durness and pull into a viewpoint when we saw one for the night. We found one about 1 mile south of Durness and pulled into a large layby with a fantastic 3 way view overlooking the Kyle of Durness.
We’ve been keeping our eyes out for a glimpse of the northern lights, but nothing yet. Jim, the warden at Clachtoll said the sky is a bit bright at the moment, but he saw them this time last year at Clachtoll so never say never!
Back to today, after a quiet nights sleep in our private viewing area, we decided to go and be tourists in Durness. We saw the lovely Sango Sands campsite which appeared to have a fab view of the ocean. Maybe next time we will stay there. We visited the craft village, and treated ourselves to a devine drink in the Cocoa mountain shop there. I had a wonderful hot chocolate, dubbed “the best”, and I am in no position to argue, it was flipping awesome! Keefy had a real coffee, which he enjoyed as he’s been slumming it whilst on the road drinking instant coffee!!
We also visited Smoo Caves, and took a fascinating boat trip into the inner cave. We both really enjoyed this, Colin the leader was really informative and we found it to be excellent value for money.
We carried on round the coast and passed through Tongue, Bettyhill and Thurso. We were actually hoping to stop near Tongue for the night and then do small journeys to Bettyhill, then Thurso, then John O’G stopping a night at each. I’m not sure how we ended up doing the whole road in one, I think it was a mixture of all the ‘no overnight parking’ signs that were in the majority of the car parks and laybys, plus the fact that we were enjoying the excitement of not knowing where we would end up! Anyway, before we knew it we had arrived in John O Groats! We actually were intending on staying at the campsite here but it’s all shut up, so we are in the car park, which thankfully has no ‘no overnighting signs’ here.
We’ve spent the evening looking at the road map to see what to do with the remainder of our week, seeing as we have reached our destination several days early. We think we are going to head towards the Cairngorms as we’ve seen there are a few Brit stops there. One thing we are sure about though is this is the reason we love motorhoming, the freedom, the flexibility and the ability to go where the road takes us!!!
Today is a combined blog for today and yesterday as yesterday I was too sozzled to write! 😉
Where to start- first of all, the weather…….. Has been AMAZING. I mean proper good, sunshine, blue skies, no clouds, you name it! We have worn our sunglasses permanently since Yorkshire, yesterday we managed to go from two fleeces to one fleece, and today- we managed no fleece, short sleeves and a paddle in the sea!! Tomorrow, we already have our shorts out ready,so if it rains- its our fault!
We have covered a lot of miles since Loch Lomond and passed through the most stunning roads we’ve ever driven on. Even though we have both done Loch Lomond, Glen Coe, Fort William and Ullapool several times before, driving the 400 odd miles we’ve driven in pure blue skies and sunshine and seeing the tops of mountains (including Ben Nevis!) has been simply spectacular.
We had a wonderful drive through Glen Coe yesterday, again a first for us with it not raining!! We restocked in Fort William and carried on up to Applecross. I had read about how wonderful Applecross was, and how spectacular the drive over the pass of the cattle was. I’ve been looking forward to it for ages. Never in a million years would I imagine that we would be lucky enough to do it in fab weather- we saw all the way to Skye. Driving over the pass in Bluebell had been on my mind a little- I knew from what I had read that it was achievable, but I was still nervous. My lack of being a good passenger unfortuantly meant that Keith didn’t get a look in in attempting it. We pulled onto the pass and my stomach had butterflies in. We got about a mile up and we hair pinned round allowing us to view where we had driven already. To our surprise about half a mile behind us was a large beer truck and a couple of other motorhomes. Immediately I relaxed, if they could do it then I could. If we got stuck, then at least we had the beer truck for company!! Needless to say half an hour later we were tucked into “a room with a view” space outside the renowned Applecross Inn. We were keen to eat there having read rave reviews and we were lucky that they allowed to pitch in their car park in return for us eating and drinking there later.
A quick doggy walk and a beer in the beer garden overlooking the bay followed and later that evening we wandered down for dinner. The meal was every bit as delicious as we’d anticipated, we both had mussels from Skye for starter and I had scallops and bacon on rice for main, whilst Keith had freshly caught haddock. It was Devine! We washed our meal down with several drams of whiskey and subsequently awoke feeling a bit delicate this morning.
We still managed to hit the road for 8 am today and within 15 mins on the coast road round from
Applecross, we had seen 4 magnificent stags stood by the road and also a herd of angus cattle blocking the road. The scenery on today’s journey was unsurpassable, we have seen stunning coastal views, mountains, lochs and moonscape. It’s been absolutely stunning. We were heading for Clachtoll beach campsite, an old haunt that we visited on our very first motorhome trip in Daisy in 2010. We weren’t sure if we would travel as far as Clachtoll today, but we did, we couldn’t help but see what the next view would be!
So here we are, we are pitched right by the sea on Clachtoll beach campsite. We’ve cooked our Aberdeen Angus (not ones from earlier!!) steaks outside tonight and walked the beach, paddled in the sea, recharged our batteries, had loooooong hot showers and drunk some gin and wine.
We are having the most fantastic time in the world. Tomorrow, we will head north towards Durness. Once we’ve passed Stoer, we will officially be the most north on mainland that we’ve ever been. We saw a sign for John O’G today- 170 miles on the scenic route. We have 6 days to travel this, so shouldn’t have any more long drives! Apparently the weather is set to stay too!
We’ve arrived at the stunning Loch Lomond. Man, I really adore this place! This is the third year running we’ve stopped off here, we can’t get enough. Every time we get past Glasgow and cross the magnificent bridge we both start getting excited! Today was no exception!
Last night we had a great night courtesy of Brit Stops. We loved the location, the chilled out ness, the lady was friendly, it was perfect. Jazz however struggled to relax, mainly due to our neighbours (in the cow shed). The sounds and smells coming from the shed confused him massively and as a result between the hours of about 0230 and 0400 he was huffing and gruffing (thankfully not loud enough to stop our sleep too much) and fidgeting and generally being a pain in the bum. Eventually he decided whatever it was out there wasn’t trying to get in and even it it were he were too tired to care, so settled, and that was that until the loud cockerels awoke us with their glorious song around 8am.
We went to investigate the ice cream parlour and to say thank you, but unfortunately we were unable to get in to buy some ice cream until 11am, and we were keen to move on as we knew we had a long journey ahead of us. We will however definitely return there, and are already discussing maybe a cheeky week round the Ripon area at the start if the summer hols!
We managed to hit the road for half 8 and had a very pretty journey through the Dales heading towards Asgarth and Hawdraw. Keith was keen to visit Hawdraw falls, apparently the highest waterfall in England, and also one of the places they filmed Kevin Costner dancing around in water for Robin Hood back in the day. It was a nice waterfall, but I wouldn’t say it was one of the finest I’ve seen. There was a nice gauge with some impressive icicles hanging down, and there was a fair amount of snow on the ground, but for me it didn’t have the same energy or charm as some of the others we visited on our travels.
We hit the road towards Sedburgh, it’s such a pretty route though the Dales towards Cumbria. We always stop for a piccie near Gosforth, and today the hill tops were covered in icing sugar and glinting in the sunshine. We soon joined the M6 northwards and before we knew it we were passing Glasgow. We arrived at Loch Lomond at around half 3, tonight we are wild camping in one of Loch Lomond’s deep laybys right on the waters edge. We stayed here last year too- and it was packed! This year, we are the only van here. We have seen a few drive past on the the A82 but they don’t seem to be stopping here.
We walked up to the Inverbeg Hotel, where we had a whiskey sesh last year. I have been looking forward to sampling a Loch Lomond malt here since then, as I loved it. Unfortunately this year they didn’t have any on stock, and after about 15 mins and 3 different bar men dealing with me, I returned to Keith with a local ish malt that I’ve forgotten the name of and a dram of Glen Keith (which I’m not ashamed to admit I picked because of the name!) I was a bit disappointed with the service at this self titled whiskey bar today, I’ve got to be honest. The three bar men who dealt with me obviously had no idea about whiskey, and I’m by no means an expert. There didn’t seem to be as large a choice as last year, and the detailed whiskey menu we got last year had been replaced by a very confusing whiskey bible, half of which they didn’t stock! When I got back to our table (outside as they wouldn’t let Jazz in) I said to Keith I feel like I’ve been trying to have a conversation with 3 blokes about tampons! However, I must say my random choices of whiskey were actually very nice and we made our way merrily back to Bluebell and sat on our private beach with a G+T watching the sun go down.
The weather has been glorious and according to both our phone weather apps this big round yellow thing is due for the next few days, so we’ve crossed Jazz’s paws and will see what Mother Nature has in store for us tomorrow!
We’re finally away! After two horrible weeks of the lurgy hitting our household, and one cancelled long weekend, we spent the last few days preparing Bluebell and wavering between whether or not we should even set off! The weather in Britain has been abysmal to say the least, with headlines of snow across the country, with severe weather warnings not just for snow but also flooding. Looking at the weather map there literally wasn’t a county that looked to be ok as we pondered where we could go if we postponed our planned jaunt up to the top of Scotland. So in a fit of tiredness after our end of term concerts and commitments, we decided “sod it- we need a change of scenery, we’re going to attempt to do our planned tour”. Our main motto in life is “fortune favours the brave” and this tour is hopefully going to prove that- either that or we will return, or get stuck somewhere and return to Norfolk with our tails between our legs!
So back to today, poor Keith had to go to school teaching this morning so I stayed put and made all our preparations so that we could set off as soon as he got home. Preparation for these sort of tours is paramount- we needed to make sure we had enough food and drink and gas for the heater in case we did get stuck. We also needed to pack LOADS of woollies! And plenty of booze as we had read that the rural areas of Scotland shut all their shops over the Easter weekend and we didn’t want to run out of the wet stuff! Other things include charging camera, phones and iPad, make a picnic for the journey, sort clothes, decide on what shoes to take (Lydia!) and general bits like that. I also found time to make 2 dozen chocolate cornflake cakes, like you do!! ( well it is Easter, and you never know, they may prove vital if we get stuck…!) Unusually for us, on this tour we haven’t booked a single site (other than let James at Clachtoll know that we are intending on getting there at the weekend) so we have the Mapbook, the Brit Stop guide and the POI on our sat nag for the wild camping spots across Britain.
We set off in the glorious sunshine at 2:30pm with a mixture of excitement and adventure. We have a vague idea of where we want to be and where but we aren’t tied down at all. As long as we are back in 10 days then that’s groovy!
We drove for 4 hours solid- So, where did we end up? Well, I can’t tell you exactly (unless you are in the “club”- number 715!) , because we are staying at a Brit Stop tonight. Brit Stop is a scheme for motorhomes where local businesses, farms, tea shops, pubs etc register to be included in the guide. They basically offer their land and sometimes a facility such as water, or maybe electric, but generally it’s a car park. Motorhomes such as us then register on the scheme for a single payment of£25, receive a guide book with all the locations in and a lovely sticker for our window and are allowed to visit these car parks to stay for free overnight. Motorhomers are asked to say hello and show some interest in the product, but there is no obligation to buy.
What I will tell you is that we drove through the beautiful Ripon, making a mental note to come back and visit one day, and are parked outside a shed of cows and geese with a fabulous view over the dales and the product here is ice cream!! 🙂
So tonight we can see some snow laying on the sides of roads, but it hasn’t interfered yet- tomorrow we are aiming for Loch Lomond, so we will see how that goes. We’ve had tea, I’ve had a couple of gin and tonics, and frankly the world is looking like a rather great place right now!
It’s been on our both our bucket lists, and before we had even picked up Bluebell, we had already booked our Island Hopper ferry ticket for the Easter Holidays!
We literally COULD NOT WAIT! Finally the day came when we could set off, and we set on our very excited merry way. We had booked a small certified site in the lowlands to spend a first night at. In actual fact, we probably should have wild camped, as after our long drive we were fully charged and carrying water. Never mind, you live and learn. The site was nothing special, although we had it all to ourselves and bought some of the farmers homemade honey. My goodness me, it was yum diddly dum!
The next day we set off to our first proper stop – Glencoe for 2 nights. However as we passed Loch Lomond we passed a number of wild campers parked up, the sun was shining, the Loch looked stunning and so we thought “sod it, lets park up here for the night”. This was one of the advantages of Wild Camping, we didn’t have to worry about letting down a campsite, we were free to roam! We had the most perfect day chilling on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond, the weather was stunning. We walked to the pub and had a lot of fun sampling some of the Scottish Whiskeys off of the Whiskey menu. It was one of those perfect days, and reinforced to us why we were enjoying this wild camping business.
We were settled in our van watching some TV that night and there was a knock on the door… “Uh oh” we both thought, but it turned out to be a random guy who was towing a speedboat back home after a days fishing somewhere. His trailer wheel buckled and he lived in Glasgow and needed to go and get some tools. He asked if we could keep an eye on his boat overnight and he’d be back first thing in the morning to fix it. We were a bit dubious and suspicious, but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and kept an eye on it. The next morning we woke up as the sun rose and went down to have our cuppa on the banks. We saw the guy arrive and set about fixing his trailer. The reflections on the Loch we just spectacular and despite the ungodly hour I was having lots of fun playing with my camera and tripod! I was trying to get a good pic of Keefy and I with the loch behind us and the next thing I knew this boat guy was tapping me on my shoulder and asking for my camera. It turned out he was a professional photographer and to say thanks for looking after his boat he wanted to take some pics of us both on my camera. Cue him starting to boss us around, ” you stand here, you stand there” etc but give him his due, the photos were AMAZING a perfect reminder of our perfect night spend wilding on the banks of Loch Lomond.
We carried on up to Glen Coe that day and did a mammoth walk to the hidden valley. As usual, the Glen was simply stunning and we had a fab time. We were just chilling with a cuppa back in Bluebell when “one of those moments” happened. This guy pulled up in the car next to us, got his bagpipes out and just started playing, with the backdrop of Glen Coe. It was lovely!! About 2 mins later 3 big bus loads of tourists came, got off, took pics, tipped him and drove off. 2 mins later he was off. We were so happy to have him to ourselves for a couple of minutes, it was just lovely. So atmospheric!
We stayed at Red Squirel campsite that night. What a mistake. Now we were getting into this wilding business we found Red Squirel massively overpriced and rather annoying. Never mind, we slept well and were up bright and early the next day ready to head towards Inverness.
We stopped for a visit to the Battle of Culloden site as I’d promised Keefy that we would. It was a very moving visit and I found myself really becoming overwhelmed by the history of it all. We then drove round the coast looking for a place to park up with a view of the sea so I could try and spot some dolphins..! We tried about 5 places, with no luck and ended up settling for the night in a small carpark on the road to Fortrose. About 6pm the heavens opened, and to our surprise we were welcomed to the north by a very very heavy snow “shower” – I say shower, it lasted for 12 hours! About 2 hours in, our carpark looked like a ski slope – we had a slight incline to get out, and so we started to worry that if we stayed overnight we may in fact not get out! So we packed our things up and left in the hope we would find somewhere nearer the A9 so that we were less likely to get stuck. We ended up parking right underneath the Inverness A9 bridge. It was pretty cool actually! We woke up to loads of snow the next morning but managed to get on our way. Next stop Ullapool! The roads gradually got worse and worse but we carried on, hoping for the best. it was on this road below that we saw the most amazing sight. A stag stood proudly by the side of the road. Amazing. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the camera in time to get it. But this pic shows the level of snow on the roads we traveled on!Before too long we arrived at the gorgeous Ullapool. Excitement was definitely brewing, we had had an amazing time and we hadn’t even left mainland yet!
We spent the night wilding on the carpark looking down over Ullapool and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon stocking up on supplies to take across to the Hebrides, namely beer, as we had read there weren’t an awful lot of pubs or offies..! We also had a nice pub crawl round Ullapool. We were really enjoying spending some money in the local towns, we made sure we spent at least the amount we would usually spend on a campsite, and usually more.
The next morning the day had arrived. We were off to the Hebrides! Woo! We boarded the ferry like two excited children and set on our way across to Lewis. We were aiming for The Butt of Lewis for our first night- the more north westerly point of the UK. It did not disappoint. We were able to park right under the lighthouse, and it really really felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. We did have a few cars roll up throughout the night which was surprising, but nothing that bother me – I’d got my 6 foot 4 bodyguard there to protect me.. 🙂
Next day, seeing as we were the most north westerly in the UK, we did the only option and, drove south! We headed through Lewis taking in all the sights and before we knew it we had reached Harris! We were staggered at the change in landscape between the two islands, and as soon as we set our wheels onto Harris, we fell in LOVE! A fantastic combination of mountains and the most fabulous beaches I’ve ever seen. We spent a two days exploring and loved every second. We stayed on the car park overlooking Hushinish bag. Wowee, this place is STUNNING. You must go! We had a very chilled out night there drinking gin and tonics and watching the view. For us, this was what it all is about.
Next morning we begrudgingly hit the road, we honestly could have stayed there for a week! But alas, the rest of the trip was calling. We set off south and went round the coast of Harris thoroughly loving every single corner we drove around as it gave us a new view. We couldn’t get enough! We were heading to Leverburgh that night and were intending on stay on the car park of the ferry port ready for our early morning ferry. We did, and following recommendations from fellow members of wildcamping.co.uk we ate that night at the restaurant on the car park- The Anchorage. It was every bit as good as the reviews we read, and some more! The view, the atmosphere, the food – all second to none.
That’s the restaurant on the left……
Next morning – onwards to Berneray and North and South Uists. We were very impressed with the island hopper ferry ticket by the way. As we weren’t in peak time we didn’t need to book, although we did- and it gave us an excuse to stop at the lovely red phone boxes dotted around to pre book. Neither of us had phone signal and the number you ring is freephone so win win.
We did the Uists in one day. We had been lucky with the weather so far, but unfortunately our time on the Uists was a bit more traditional in the weather sense… as in bleak and rainy. We just didn’t enjoy The Uists as much as Harris. We picked a lovely place to park overnight though- overlooking Baleshare Beach.
Next day we head off towards Eriskay and enjoyed a night overlooking the beach there. The islands were now getting smaller and the beaches were stunning. We stayed a night before getting the ferry to Barra. We were the only ones on the ferry! When we arrived we spent an hour driving round the whole island, so that we could pick our place to stay. There is only one road around Barra and we soon found a lovely spot. We then drove to the town to get water and provisions. We asked at the tourist info place where the best place to watch the plane land was and she told us about this hill to climb where you can see it well. We parked up where she told us and hiked up to the top. We were just in time. We managed to get a great view of the small Flybe plane landing on the beach of Barra. 20 mins later, refuelled and loaded with new passengers off it went again. Fascinating to watch!
The next day we drove across the causeway to Vatersay, which was an absolutely lovely small island, but unfortunately for us, very motorhome unfriendly. We instantly got told off for parking in 2 separate locations. We weren’t planning on staying we just wanted to do the walk around the Island. Needless to say we did our walk then drove back to our spot on Barra. Beautiful Island though.
Before we knew it, our last day on the Islands had come round, so we spent our final day climbing the hill on the island and were rewarded with some spectacular views. We then chilled until our ferry came to take us back to mainland, Oban.
We arrived late in Oban and found a carpark to grab a few hours kip in. We had had such an amazing time, The Hebrides had been everything that we had hoped for and more. Our favourite Island by far was Harris, and we will definitely return.
We managed our whole time on the Islands wild camping.
We found water daily with no problem at all.
Not once did we go into a pub whilst on the Islands – not because we were being tight, but because we didn’t see a single one!!! So make sure you take plenty of booze if you are into that, which we are!
We did however have a fantastic meal at the Anchorage restaurant, Leverburgh and if you are ever passing there you should definitely go!!!
Apologies for having to do this in two stages- I managed to loose the latter half of my blog rather annoyingly. I’ve had a good day though so I refuse to get moody about this now!
Whilst in Edinburgh we spent some time doing the normal touristy things like the castle and the mile etc. I have to say I really like Edinburgh, it’s got such a great atmosphere. I was lucky enough to have a month there playing at the fringe in 2007, so it was good to be back and in true muso style, visiting some of my old haunts!
After a couple of days in Edinburgh (and an ALMIGHTY hangover on the middle day- by the way, we climbed Arthur’s Seat, accidently taking the proper hardcore route and not the mamby pamby route up that we discovered once at the top!- not the best activity when you are rough as a badgers bum bum but a flipping fab view at the top!) we headed for a few days around Braemar. We visited the Falkirk Wheel which we both found interesting- I first became interested in this after seeing a programme on the mechanics of it whilst at Uni- I surprise myself sometimes…! We also visited Scone Abbey, which was great! I sat on the throne.. oops, I mean the stone of Scone, otherwise known as the stone of destiny. It was used by Scottish Monarchs on their coronations. I’ve just wiki-ed it, and found out that the one at the Abby that we saw is actually a replica- I hadn’t realised that- never mind, I still enjoyed my time on the throne.
At Braemar itself, we did another really awesome walk up a large mountain, and were once again really lucky that when we got to the top we had clear views and my goodness, what views they were. We stayed on a camping and caravan club site for a few days, and to be honest we were ready to move on when we did. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, but it just wasn’t our cup of tea- wardens too-ing and fro-ing constantly and a hi-de-hi feel to it.
We headed south via The Trossachs, Hadrian’s Wall, Goathland and then York. We loved every minute. We walked for miles, we had fantastic weather, we even ran out of shorts and summer tops, so had to do an emergency charity shop run in York.
Below are a snap shot of some of the photos we gathered!