Easter Holidays Pt 4- Isle of Skye

Thursday

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up next to another motorhome down the end of the beach road at Staffin Bay. We are parked up underneath the cliffs, at sea level, next to the beach that is famous for its dinosaur footprints. The weather is clear (hurrah)

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our pitch at Staffin Beach

Today, we drove the road from Broadford to Staffin, that passes through Portree. As soon as we departed Broadford the scenery stepped up from what we’d seen yesterday (granted the weather definitely helped!) As we got towards Portree Keith suggested we try the walk to the Old Man of Storr seeing as the weather was behaving. Our guide book intimated that this was the most popular walk on the island, and given how busy the car park was I’d have to agree.
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the view of The Old Man of Storr as we approached on the road

Thankfully we’ve (I’ve!) been trained well and so before setting off we made a full packed lunch including flasks of soup and tea, sarnies, cake, crisps, choc and a cheeky tinny of Tennants! (It was only 10am!!) We also made sure we had all our hiking gear on, boots, weather trousers, macs, fleece etc, as despite it saying it wasn’t a hard walk in the book, you just can’t be too sure. I’m glad we did- unlike every other person we passed (and there were lots) it never fails to amaze me seeing people rock climbing in converse, and today- heeled boots!!!!

We took (by accident) the more advanced rock climbers scramble to the base of the Old Man – and it was tricky to say the least at the top. I possibly had a minor panic when I realised the path around the base was non existent, but I’m proud to say we persevered and survived(!) and scrambled round, and therefore were rewarded with the most amazing views:
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Having carted my tripod up, I was pleased to be able to give it a whirl, and I was very impressed especially given the wind speed up there! The spikes on the feet are ingenious.

Naturally, once having our picnic sat underneath the old man himself, we noticed the far easier and safer path that we should have taken up, so we had a good chuckle about that and looked forward to our descent.

Once safely back in the van, we drove on 5 miles or so for our second luncheon of the day- this time at Kilt Rock waterfall view point. The waterfall falls over the cliff into the sea and is next to the rock formation entitled Kilt Rock- supposedly it looks like a kilt. I will let you decide!

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Next and final stop, the beach at Staffin to a) see if we could stay overnight there and b) hunt these dinosaur footprints. We’d read the best time to see them is at low ride, which we’d missed by 4 hrs, but nevertheless we happily hunted for an hour or so, aided by the trusty hip flask of homemade sloe gin of course as by then we knew we had found our pitch for the night.

Sadly no such luck with the hunting of footprints, but we will stick around until low tide tomorrow, due at 1137 to see if we have any luck. Keith asked a local who was walking his dog, and apparently he’s lived here years and NEVER seen them. So we will see!

Friday and Saturday

Bluebell the motorhome is parked by a river, in a sheltered valley behind Brit Stop number 822.

We woke up after a quiet and relaxed night to a bit of a murky one in the weather department, but it didn’t affect our plans- we were going to have a late breakfast then go footprint hunting at low tide, then drive the 5 miles or so to the Quaring- a mystical unusual rock formation, including The Needle, The Prison and The Table. Our book told us that whatever the weather it was something to visit.

First things first- the dinosaur footprints. I’m happy to say, after an exciting (and competitive) hunt, Keith found them, we think! This to us looks like the photo displayed at the info board, and we are fairly sure it is it, but without the Staffin museum open and no indication on the beach it’s a bit difficult to be 100% sure. 🙂

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Next we drove up a great pass to take us to the start of the Quaring walk. At first the path seemed a breeze, much easier than yesterday’s Old Man of Stoer, but as we approached the bottom of “the needle” a trickier path presented itself to get us to “the table”. We took the path with some sense of trepidation, but equally were keen to get to the top section to appreciate the full sense of enormity. The path was hard going, but we got there eventually, just in time for the mist to come down! Typical eh? Oh well, we got to the top.

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Once back at Bluebell we were exhausted, cold, wet, hungry and a bit grumpy, so rather than venture out to find a new spot for the night, we decided to head back to the familiarity of the Staffin Beach spot, where we’d spent a pleasant night last night. We weren’t the only ones- our fellow motorhome neighbour had also returned, so we settled in for a chill and more importantly an early night.

All was well until around 6pm when our alarm bells were raised when our neighbours very quickly packed up shop and moved up to the next layby- a higher slip layby, that was right on the edge of a cliff. We couldn’t understand why they had moved in such a rush- the wind was picking up and it seemed odd to us to go to a higher lever on a cliff edge. Ever being the optimists, we decided to punch their spot, as they’d nabbed the best spot earlier and settle in for a panoramic view. About an hour later the wind picked up, and convinced it was just a passing storm, we made light of it, and settled in waiting for the storm to pass. By 10pm it was showing no sign of easing, if anything the winds were getting stronger and stronger, and bluebell was rocking further and further. Keith admitted to me this morning by this stage he’d noticed the windows buckling. We out an hour later, we’d managed to get enough mobile data to load the met office and bbc weather, both of which saying that the winds were south westerly and would increase to 50 mph by 5am. As we were parked our bum was totally the first thing these south westerly winds were grabbing as they bounced off the sea. Excellent- obviously this is why the other motorhome moved!

We set the bed out deciding once again (like Glencoe on Sunday) it was now far too dark and dangerous to drive and that we would be brave and hold tight. Once the bed was out we lasted approximately 5 mins before I decided enough was enough and that we were moving. My justification was that the exit road followed the south westerly wind so the wind would be pushing us up the hill rather than crossing us and making us wobble.

We got the 500 odd yards up to where the other motorhome had retreated to, and to our surprise there was no sign whatsoever of the winds in that spot, so we joined them and hit the sack. All was well, apart from the battling rain, I can’t remember ever hearing such heavy rain until 5am when the wind swiftly changed direction to the west, which meant we were now entirely swaying, the bike rack was clattering, the TV Ariel was squeeking- you name it. Keith this time made the call to move- this time back up to the main road and along maybe 10 miles to a sheltered pull in where we got an extra hours kip.

So when we woke up at 8am, it’s safe to say the mood was fractious- we were both drained and in addition to our lack of sleep the bed had broken, one of the lights had fallen off and the fridge door had broken! We spent the next half an hour fixing Bluebell, but we were both thrilled that other than these minor unrelated problems, there were no signs of leaks, or outer damage. Hurray, we’d survived.

We decided a chill was in order, so drive round the coast road to Uig, to stop at the Isle of Skye Brewery to stock up, then onto the Fairy Glen- a magical mystical small valley just outside of Uig where it’s really unnaturally green, and the hills and lakes are all in miniature! This is a natural phenomena caused by glacial meltwater ten thousand years ago, but I can see why the myth is that fairies live here as the hills look tiny and perfect and have ridges round them- you honestly can imagine the fairies living here!!

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our visit to The Isle of Skye Brewery, in Uig

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The Fairy Glen

We headed towards Dunvegan and are now happily nestled behind a sheltered Brit Stop- an old hunting lodge that is now a bar/restaurant and inn and so, seeing as it’s Saturday night we are going to have a few drinks and a chill in there tonight. Sounds perfect, and just what the doctor ordered after last nights adventures!

Sunday
We had a great relax at our Brit Stop last night, and got mildly tipsy on the inn’s special ale- brewed specially for them by the Isle of Skye Brewery. It was delicious and we happily chatted to the landlord and landlady for a couple of hours.

After a great nights sleep, we hit the road in the rain, and managed to full with water at Dunvegan. We had a bacon butty looking out towards the castle, and then followed the road to Carbost, home to the Tallsiker distillery. Sadly the distillery is closed today, however there is a fantastic smell of whiskey lingering in the air, and the pub here, The Old Ship, is a fantasticly warm and cosy place to spend an hour or so, before heading back towards Portree for our final night on Skye.

Perfect!

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Dunvegan Castle

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Portree

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storm brewing over Cuillin Hills

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pleasant way to spend our last night on Skye

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our pitch over looking the Cuillin Hills, and half a mile stagger from the Sligachan Hotel bar!

Easter Holidays 2014: Pt 3 Glen Coe to Skye

Tuesday:
Bluebell the motorhome is parked up right next to the gorgeous white sands of Arisaig, just off the road from Fort William entitled “The Road to the Isles” – the A380 to Mallaig.

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Today we left Loch Leven fairly early, as we wanted to get some supplies from the Morrisons at Fort William. After a quick scoot round, a few mins online, a diesel fill and a calor gas exchange, we were back on the road, heading towards Mallaig. We had a brief stop at the Glenfinnan Viaduct and monument. The viaduct was used for filming some Harry Potter scenes (we’ve actually not seen HP so this was lost on us!) However, it’s a nice location with a visitors centre and of course the Bonny Prince Charlie monument too.

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Our intention for the rest of the day was to get to a campsite that we’d booked onto, allegedly on the beach that Local Hero was filmed at (Camusdarach Campsite). I say allegedly, as either we totally misinterpreted their website when booking, or someone was slightly exaggerating their position on the coast- either way on the road down to this particular campsite, we passed some stunning beaches and beautifully located campsites right on the sea front, so our hopes were getting higher and higher as we anticipated our arrival. When we arrived, we were surprised that the campsite was half a mile or so back off the coast, there were limited limited sea views, and the actual beach used in the film was over a mile away! Keith went in to check, and decided once he was told there were no sea/beach view pitches etc (despite pics on the website showing sand dunes and seaside) that we would not take our pitch and we would look for a different site. I was pleased in a way when he returned to the van to tell me, as I’d spent 10 mins sat in the van feeling disappointed the site wasn’t as we’d expected it to be.

So off we drove, this time slightly back on ourself maybe 2 miles. The first site we passed was called Silver Sands so we pulled in to check it out. As we drove down the entrance road, we were thrilled to see pitches with a sea view that seemed vacant (tick), with hook up (another tick) We drove up to the reception and was greeted happily with a sign saying if you can find a pitch, it’s yours- we will be round in the morning to collect money (£16 pn with electric): perfect. We bagged a stunner of a pitch, which was hard standing (unlike the grassy boggy pitches of Camusdarach Campsite- another cross by their name). It was £9 a night cheaper, the sun was shining, and so naturally we plugged in, cracked a beer and went for a chill on the beach. Chill is an accurate word actually, as the driving wind was freeeeeeeezing, but the sunny skies and beach/sea combi more than made up for that!!

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So a lovely relaxing evening was had by us all, Jazz enjoyed an hour or so tearing around on the beach, I was happy playing with my camera and tripod and Keefy spent an hour umming and aa ahhing about whether or not to bbq! Decided against it in the end due to rain clouds looming, so we settled on the Aberdeen Angus steak each anyway but cooked inside (still fab view though!)

We had a wonderful night at Siversands , and would whole heartidly recommend. Just to warn you though, you can’t book, so it’s luck of the draw I guess if travelling during peak season.

Wednesday:
Bluebell the motorhome is parked up overlooking the mainland (well, if we could see it that is- visibility not good today) We went to visit the beach filmed on for Local Hero this morning with the help of this handy site
it turned out that you could access it 1/2 mile further on up the B8008 past the Camusdarach campsite (not what we’d been led to believe) The beach is a hidden gem, that has huge sand dunes protecting it from the road, and is a good half a mile wide of pure white sand. You can see where they built “Bens Shack” for the movie, and also the church, which isn’t actually a church in real life, they dressed it up to look like one. This is also he stretch where Burt Lancaster arrived in his helicopter at the end of the film. It was great to finally visit the official one- over the last 5 yrs we’ve stopped at a number incorrectly!!!

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We then carried on up to Mallaig to board the Calmac ferry to Skye- a 30 minute crossing which we’ve done before but I doubt will do again!!!! Well- it’s taken us both til now (6hrs) to vaguely recover. I never get sea sick, until today that is. Bleughhh. To be fair, it is a wee bit murky out there, and we probably should have not bothered with the sausage baguette each beforehand.

We drove off the ferry and travelled 1/2 mile somehow to the visitors centre where we emergency pulled in (you don’t need to know the rest!) An hour or so later, we felt better enough to check out the wild camping spot at the south of the Island. It was nice and had a cracking sea view- but it’s elevated position and today’s windy weather meant that we felt like we were still on the boat. Down we came, and trundled about the roads between Armadale and Broadford for an hour or so, feeling uninspired, tired, hazy, spinny and nauseous still. We are now parked on the sea front at Broadford, within walking distance of a chippy and a pub. I suspect this combination of establishments will aid our recovery, and so we can set off tomorrow feeling normal again

Until next time

Lx

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Easter Holidays 2014 Pt2: Loch Lomond- GlenCoe

Saturday
Bluebell the Motorhome is parked up in a large viewpoint car park on the side of the A82- on the map it’s called Black Mount. The views are stunning:

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Sunday
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.

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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!

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Monday
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.

Until next time
Lx

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1 day to go :-)

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)

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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.

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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! >

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One week til we’re off…..

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.

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Then onto Glen Coe, for some walking and incredible views

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20140327-202703.jpg 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

Scotland 2011part 1

Scotland 2011- Part 2

Scotland 2012 – The Hebrides and beyond

Scotland 2013- part 1

Scotland 2013- Part 2

Scotland 2013- Part 3

Scotland 2013- Part 4

Scotland 2013- Part 5

Scotland 2013 – Part 6

So my question to you is, where is your favourite place to visit in Scotland?

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Easter Holidays days 9 and 10- Lairg to Angus to Bamburgh to home

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!!

Fab xxx until next time xx

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Easter Holidays day 7 and 8 John O Groats to Lairg to Banchory

Hi all

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.

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Easter Holidays days 5 and 6 – Clachtoll to Durness to John O’Groats

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!!!

Until next time xx

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Easter Holidays, days 3 and 4- Loch Lomond to Applecross to Clachtoll

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!

Happy Easter everyone!!

🙂

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Easter Holidays day 2, Loch Lomond

Hi all

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!

Until then

Lx

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