Easter 2012 – The biggie – The Hebrides! :)

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!!!

Until next time

L xx

Chasing the Easter Bunny all the way “ooop north” – Easter 2011 – Scotland and back up the East Side *PART 2*

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!

Chasing the Easter Bunny all the way “ooop north” – Easter 2011 – Scotland and back up the East Side *PART 1*

Following on from our Scottish trip in 2010, we could not wait to return, but this time we were determined to avoid the dreaded Midges, cos poor ol’ Keefy got EATEN ALIVE on our last adventure. In true Daisy fashion, we wanted to make sure we saw lots of places before we hit “the main feature” so decided to work our way up the East side of England and then spend a week or so meandering along the Braemar valley.

First stop- Sherwood Forest! A lovely day trip to see Major Oak, and a good stretch of the leggies round the forest, and the dreaded council estate too…

We then worked our way up to Dracula’s old haunt, Whitby. We decided to splash out on a DELUXE pitch at the Whitby Holiday Park, with a promise that we would have the best pitch on the rather large site. And boy did it deliver. When we pulled onto the site, we both looked ahead with trepidation- there was a club house, loads of statics, and all the other things that we would usually not go for and run a mile. We persevered through the lengthly check in procedure and was shown to our pitch.

Pretty awesome, huh?

One of the things we were determined to do this time round, was travel early, pitch then explore. So off we set to Whitby, and enjoyed a mosy round the streets, a couple of beers and the BEST FISH AND CHIPS IN THE WORLD. Hells bells, I can still remember. Yum- tastic! It was precisely after these fish and chips, and during a pint to wash em down (rude not to eh?) that I had a geographic moment of inspiration (these don’t happen very often). I realised we are about as far on the east coast as we could be and, doesn’t the sun come up on the east? As a keen photographer, I decided that I, Lydia P, hater of early mornings, was going to attempt to get up in time to watch the sunrise. Ha, Keith scoffed. YEAH RIGHT. Off we tottered back to Daisy and I eagerly checked sunrise times on my iPhone, set my alarm and fell asleep to Keith going on about how unlikely it was going to be, blah blah blah. What were the chances of a) me waking up, b) me getting up, and c) if I had managed to overcome a and b, what were the chances of being able to see the sunrise- it was early April and you know what British weather is like!

Well, I did, and this is how it was: (I actually took over 200 photos that morning, before 6 am, thats a record for me- these are my favs)

That was one of those moments where you just stand, in humble silence, everyone else on the campsite was fast asleep other than one guy who was snapping away too, and it was just awesome. I even blubbed.. !

Anyway, I was far too pumped to go back to sleep, so sat and went through my photos time and again until it was a reasonable time to eat, and bugger on off, both well chuffed we had splashed out and for once the good old english weather had been kind to us!

Next stop- Holy Island (Lindisfarne). We’d both been here before, but very much enjoyed it this time, driving across the causeway in Daisy with a great view from our high driving position! We were treated to a spectacular sunset that night from our campsite, a perfect end to a perfect day!

Next stop, Edinburgh- time for me to meet Keefy’s cousin Simon- unbeknownst to Keith, Simon and I had shared email conversations earlier that month, as I was in the middle of organising a surprise party for K’s birthday. We had lots of fun trying to be discreet, as we got drunker and drunker and drunker!

Daisy’s First Trip (and our very first motorhome adventure) – August 2010 – The Lake District and as much of Scotland as we could manage in a week!

So if you have got this far, it is likely that you have read how we got to this point.. Madness/Spontaneity mainly…!

We set off on our merry way “oop north” having only owned the van for 6 hours. Bearing in mind that although we had both camped in the past, neither of us had owned a van, camped in a van, driven a van or cared for a van, we quite literally had no idea what we were supposed to do, how we would make the electric work/ gain water, level up, you name it. But we had got advice about what we would need to take with us. So we figured/hoped that between us we would work it all out, and we were so excited we just didn’t really care!

We started on our journey from Norfolk to Newark with tremendous excitement. I took the first shift of driving whilst Keith familiarised himself with all the different knobs/flaps/buttons etc (insert your own joke here…) About half a mile down the road we heard a rather large clatter which made us both white with fright. We thought we had broken Daisy! In actual fact, what had happened was the fridge had swung open throwing all the contents across the floor! It turns out there is this plug type thing which you need to secure the fridge door so it doesn’t open when you turn corners. We didn’t have one, so I rang Dad, and he managed to make us one ready for when we arrived at theirs. The rest of the journey was spent with Keith sitting in front of the fridge door so it didn’t open, until we swapped and he took over the driving and I took over the important job of making sure our beer stayed secured in the fridge! We had a great night on Chris’ Aire, and set off on our way up to the Lakes at around 4am.

Because we had originally organised the trip for a car/tent, we had given ourselves quite a few miles to cover each day (having much more experience now, I’m not entirely sure why we were going to attempt such a mammoth journey, but that’s a different story)

Our POA was as follows:

Day 1: Eskdale

Day 2: Loch Lomond

Day 3: Fort William/Arisaig

Day 4: Isle of Skye up to Clactoll (Mainland)

Day 5: Loch Ness

Day 6: Blair Castle

Day 7: Northumbria

Day 8: Family wedding in Newark

We had an absolute BLAST! We spent a fortune on petrol and campsite fees, and we drove miles and miles each day- we visited every brown sign attraction that we saw on the road and arrived at our new campsite at dusk every night. It wasn’t the way we would do it now, but we wouldn’t change a thing about our first tour in Daisy. By the end of our 7 days, we were HOOKED!

I won’t recount everything we did, but a few of our highlights were…

1) rather than retracing our 30 odd miles back to Fort William from Arisaig to get to Clachtoll, we decided to trace 10 miles onwards, catch a ferry to Skye, drive 15 miles or so on Skye and return the main land via the Skye Bridge, all before lunchtime

2) having a lovely lunch at Wasdale Head in the Lakes, and then having Dinner on the banks of Loch Lomond, on the same day.

3) Arisaig (where they filmed ‘Local Hero’) – one of my absolute favourite places in the UK so far.

4) Clachtoll Beach Campsite – one of my favourite campsites that we have ever stayed on: http://clachtollbeachcampsite.co.uk/

5) Having a BBQ on the banks of Loch Ness

6) Buying (and then drinking) lots of Sloe Gin from The House Of Bruar http://www.houseofbruar.com/ It was so good, we had to go back in the morning to replenish our stocks. Seriously, if you like Sloe Gin, you need to visit.

Some photos of our trip:

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Hello world!

Hi Everyone!

My name is Lydia, I live in beautiful South Norfolk with my fiance Keith, and we are freelance musicians/teachers. Having spent the majority of my childhood holidays under canvas here in Blighty and France, I suppose I could be classed as a well seasoned camper. We’ve been motorhoming for the last 2 years, we’ve covered about 15,000 miles in 2 vans, Daisy and Bluebelle (retrospectively)

This blog will document not only our travels in Bluebelle (a 2001 plate Autosleeper Ravenna) but also cover our fantastic voyages in Daisy (an F reg Talbot Highwayman) . We’ve traveled to the most north westerly point in the UK (the Butt of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides), as far South as the Med, as far west as the Welsh coast and as far East as Sheringham and Cromer (granted we are nearly there already..!)

Things you will learn about Keith and I if you can bear my waffling…

1) we are pretty spontaneous (you will learn more abut this in a moment)

2) we have lots of holidays (we are both self employed, and our work is mainly based around the school terms – lucky for us..)

3) I am not lost for words very often… in fact I am a bit of a rambler… sorry about that

4) We name everything… and I mean EVERYTHING!

5) I’m rather keen on taking photos and I go wild for Cath Kidston

6)We love motorhoming, and we think the British Isle is flipping gorgeous. But we have a soft spot for Europe too, and don’t mind partaking in a few glasses of French plonk. Or Italian, if we must!

If you see us on our travels, give us a wave! Or even better… mines a pint!

Background

When I moved away from home to go to Uni, my Dad and his partner Jenny decided to buy a 20 odd year old Hymer (Hilda) to replace the 20 odd ye

ar old gap left in the house by meeeee! They had loads of great adventures in ‘Hilda’ over the following six years or so that they owned her, but it wasn’t until they were selling her that my life took an unexpected turn…

The weekend that Dad and Jenny were selling Hilda, Keith and I happened to be visiting. Keith hadn’t seen Hilda before, so naturally, my Dad was very happy to spend some time showing her off in all her glory. I know Dad and Jenny were really quite

gutted to be parting ways with good ol’ Hilda- but they were experiencing more and more electrical problems, so decided the time was right to upgrade. On the way home from our visit, Keith couldn’t stop talking about Hilda and how great she was and wouldn’t it be awesome to have one ourselves, etc.

Within the two and a half hours drive home, we had decided that a) we wanted one, and b) that we could afford one, so therefore we had sourced out all our local second hand dealers, and picked a couple we liked the look of (thanks iPhone!) As soon as we got back, we called the dealer and arranged a meeting for the next morning. The rest is history… we were so very excited to welcome ‘Daisy’ into our family, an F reg Talbot Highwayman (see right)

What I have failed to tell you is that we were due to go away for a two week camping holiday on the Friday of that week. We had booked this holiday with the intention of covering some serious miles in my little sporty convertible ‘Pug’ (Peugeot 206cc) and ‘Tilly’ the tent ( a limited edition Cath Kidston print, Eurohike 4 man SMALL tent!)
It was the Sunday beforehand that Keith met Hilda, the Monday that we test drove Daisy and paid a deposit, and begged Mike the Dealer (AKA Bill Bailey, as he was the spitting image of THE Bill Bailey) to get her ready for collection on the Friday morning. Tuesday we spent the day ringing round all the sites we had booked onto changing them to Motorhome pitches, Wednesday we had a day in Norwich buying bits and pieces for ‘Daisy’, Thursday we were like excited children all day and Friday we picked her up, taxed her, filled her with everything other than the kitchen sink, and hit the road, aiming for first stop- Eskdale, the Lake District. As my Dad lives 5 minutes off the A1, we decided it would be rude to not drop in to show off ‘Daisy’- so we stayed on his drive (AKA Chris’ Aire) for our first night of proper motorhoming. I will do a separate blog post about our very first adventure soon.