We drove down the 16 mile long minor road that wound through Glen Etive, finishing in a small carpark on the banks of Loch Etive. The drive was stunning and followed a picture perfect river all the way through the Glen. I would certainly recommend heading off the A82 down this road, signposted Glen Etive, as it was stunning and well off the beaten track. About 4 miles down, we stopped at the point where Daniel Craig posed as James Bond in Skyfall and reinacted the moment with my own James Bond, aka Keefy 😉 Once at the bottom, we parked up on the shores of the Loch. Despite it being a very small cut off road we weren’t the only ones down there- there were some very hard core wild campers in tents sharing the spot with us. We went to say hi and got the distinct impression they weren’t impressed with us being there! Oh well we thought, and retreated back to Bluebell for lunch- eggy bread and baked beans- a new firm favourite of ours thanks to the VW Camper Cookbook I got last year off Sam (thanks)! As the weather was rainy we had another day of chilling, apart from a short stroll along the banks in a window of dryness after lunch.
Around 7pm, and after several dodgy things happening over at the tents which we are fairly sure involved drugs, we decided that neither of us were comfortable being that isolated with some randoms that were starting to give us the eeby jeebies. So we decided to pack up and head back towards the main road. About half way back along the road we encountered two further strange folk that looked like they were up to no good, so we stepped on the gas and departed a beautiful area, sharpish! I’m sure it was all innocent, and it’s more than likely that we over reacted based on watching too many films and getting wrong ideas, but we both felt uncomfortable and our golden rule is always to move on if we feel like that. One advantage to moving on was that we saw loads of red deer and half a dozen or so stags grazing in the dusk. Gorgeous.
So we arrived at the main viewpoint in the middle of Glen Coe at 8pm and were relieved that the no overnight signs that we saw on a previous trip had been removed. Unfortunately it was blowing a GALE, so much so that I was scared we would topple over – the gas kept being blown out on the fridge and the heating – but equally I didn’t fancy hitting the road anymore as it was definitely unsafe. It was nerve racking to say the least, and I may or may or have had a minor meltdown (il leave it up to you to decide that one!) but we battened down and sat it out with the help of Criminal Minds series 2 on Sky Go (no wonder we get the eebie jeebies!) and after 6 hours of spectacular Scottish storm with two eye of the storms passing through, all went calm and we could finally go to sleep without panicking!
All was calm when we awoke in Glen Coe, and I was relieved to see no damage to the van. The views were spectacular so it more than made up for the stress of the night before. We planned a chilled day of visiting the Glen Coe visitors centre, the village, then Loch Leven, which is where we were staying, at the Brit Stop number 820. It was nice to revisit the visitors centre at Glen Coe, last time we came in Aug 2010 it was peeing down and we couldn’t see past the end of our noses- today was overcast but dry, and definitely we could see the mountains. We did a little mile walk from the visitors centre to take in where the Glen Coe Massacre happened in 1692. 38 people were murdered here in cold blood by troops carrying out government orders (again, no wonder we get scared!) After the walk we then nipped into the village for supplies.
We took the road around Loch Leven towards Kinlochleven, at the head of the Loch. It was another pretty journey, and I’m fairly sure I saw a Golden Eagle too! We did a little walk to look at the Grey Mares Waterfall, which we saw signposted off the main road through Kinlochleven. It was a great waterfall, with some really cool boards to walk on to get close. A really nice treat, we always like to take in a waterfall!
After our walk, we stopped at a gorgeous layby overlooking the loch for lunch (more eggy bread!!) and took in the views. We then made our final 6 mile journey to our pitch for the night, and we are now once again parked overlooking the Loch, with the restaurant behind us, where we are to eat tonight! We’ve just been in to reserve our table (a window seat- hurrah) and are now about to have a nap, then a cuppa and get our glad rags on for dinner!
Tomorrow is Fort William for supplies, then on to Glenfinnan Viaduct and Arasaig, taking in two more movie locations, Harry Potter and Local Hero.
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!
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!!!