At long last, it’s August. We don’t want to wish our lives away but we have a long holiday this month, and big plans for a tour of Scotland. It’s my first visit to Scotland, and I have to be honest, in my mind’s eye Scotland is a grey and dreary place. My expectation of Scotland is probably tainted by reading too many Irvine Welsh books, so I’m keen to find out what it’s really like.
Stuart has planned the first couple of stops. Apart from that we have tickets to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo one night and as it’s August, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is on. We’d also like to visit Loch Ness to find Nessie, and we want to go to the West Coast to see some of these amazing beaches we’ve heard about. For months we’ve been saving notes from Facebook groups such as Motorhome Madness with tips of places to visit. The result is a list of places that don’t really form a logical route at all, so we decide to make it up as we go along.
We managed to see so much, and everywhere we went, it seemed to be even more stunning and impressive than the last place.
We enjoyed Clan history in the borders region as well as by Loch Lomond. We had a brilliant time at the Fringe Festival. We we’re moved by the Military Tattoo. We were humbled by the mountains on the Isle of Skye, amazed by the beaches at Arisaig. We enjoyed paddle boarding in the most awe-inspiring scenery. We loved the stunning views at Glencoe. We endured some amazing storms whilst being parked up on coastal clifftops at the Point of Stoer. We loved the deserted places with so few people, but the people we did meet were fantastic and left a lasting impression!
Here’s a summary of our stops and what we did at each:
Night 1 – Edale, Peak District. First stop, and boy it’s WET! We go for a brief walk in the hills. After plenty of rain, the next morning we’re stuck on the field. Luckily a friendly farmer tows us off. We visit Castleton and Speedwell Cavern for an underground boattrip. We enjoyed coming down the Winnats Pass.
Night 2 – Ladybower Inn, Bamford by Ladybower lake. After getting stuck, we decide not to go back to the campsite with the wet field. We visit Derwent Dam and watch a Lancaster Bomber fly over. We end up staying at this britstop which was a really great spot!
Night 3 – Ullswater, Lake District. After a stop at Penrith, we make our way to Ullswater. We enjoyed a boat trip on the lake and visited Pooley Bridge and Glenridding. We watched a stunning sunset over the lake.
Night 4 – Lauder C&CC club site, Borders region Scotland. We have no more plans, so we check out Hawick Aire, which looks fine, but we travel on to visit Jedburgh. It’s a lovely little town, where we visited the Castle Jail and the house that Mary Queen of Scots visited. There is also a beautiful abbey ruins. As Hawick was now in the wrong direction, we travelled on to Lauder C&CC.
Night 5, 6 and 7 – Edinburgh DA Temporary Site Danderhall. Finally, it’s nearly time for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo! It’s my first visit to Edinburgh, and I’m very excited about seeing the city, experiencing the Fringe Festival, and seeing the Military Tattoo. While here, we take in several shows of the Fringe, in venues that allow Luna to come in. We thoroughly enjoy the Military Tattoo, while our kind neighbours at the Danderhall DA site volunteer to look after Luna. We also visit the Edinburgh Underground Vaults, and we climb up Arthur’s seat. An absolutely brilliant few days had, and I can’t wait to visit again.
Night 8 – The Benleva Hotel, Drumnadrochit. From Edinburgh we decide on a long drive. We visit Fort Augustus (of The Loch fame) and Invermoriston where there is some dramatic scenery. We drive along the lake, but to be honest, this is possibly my least favourite stage. Fort Augustus is deserted, and whilst the lake it beautiful, the fact that there is no one around is a bit of a shame. The pub we stay at is very friendly and welcoming.
Night 9 – Overnight at the Point of Stoer after an awesome journey. We were awed by the scenery along the A835, which is the bottom road of the NC500. We briefly stopped at Ullapool before carrying on to the Assynts. We visited Clashnessie beach with the seal, shopped in the tiniest supermarket ever in Clachtoll and weathered the storm on top of the cliff by the lighthouse. Stuart caught a fish at the Point for dinner. This was our most northern stop, tomorrow we head south again.
Night 10 – Gairloch. We stayed in the Marina carpark which was OK as it was quiet. We tried to go on a whale watching trip but they were booked up so we missed out. We watched the seals playing in the harbour and fished off the pier. We walked up to the Flowerdale Falls and to the Big Sand, Gairloch’s huge golden beach. It was a really lovely stop.
Night 11 – Mallaig, the carpark by the ferry from. Armadale. We visited the Isle of Skye today, and were humbled by the mountains. We spend most of the day on the Isle, driving and taking in the scenery. We took the ferry to Mallaig after arguing with Gloria that we could surely drive there… (Gloria is always right…!). It was a long day so we got to Mallaig quite late and manage to squeeze into the last space in the carpark.
Night 12 – Silversands Arisaig. One of the absolute highlights of the trip! Beautiful, Stunning! We went paddleboarding, had a roast dinner in the van, survived a ‘yellow weather warning’ storm which caused flooding and roads to collapse nearby. We experienced the most spectacular thunder that made the ground shake!
Night 13 – Glencoe for the night, on the bank of Loch Leven after a stop at Glenfinnan Viaduct. Walked around Glencoe and enjoyed the mountains around us. The campsite has a space for us on the bank, so we have great views. We walk around and learn about the murdered MacDonalds Clan and seeing the memorials. It was strange to get to places where lots of people are again, especially driving through Fort William. It made us want to go back north.
Night 14 – Luss C&CC at Loch Lomond. Explored Luss, which was lovely and quaint. Met some lovely C&CC HSA’s who happened to be from our neck of the woods. Went paddle boarding on Loch Lomond which was just awesome; a crash course in how to feel very small!
Night 15 – Kendal Cricket Club. We visited Hadrian’s wall on the way there, at Birdoswald Fort. We explored Kendal, and we learnt that there is an easy connection to Windermere. So I think we’ll visit the Cricket club again to take the train to Windermere.
Night 16 – The Wharf at Bridge 190, Aynho. Brilliant canal boat yard Britstop. Visited Banbury for a Dutch lunch at Little Amsterdam and spent the afternoon in the Great Western Arms next to the boat yard. We met a lovely couple, whose property we’d driven past in the Assynts… What are the chances? I’d even seen the man, Russ, walk his dogs up there. Well, it isn’t exactly crowded in the Assynts so people do stand out.
Finally, it’s time to go home, but we have had the most amazing trip, with experiences that have really inspired us. It’s time to set the wheels in motion to make our dreams come true! No time like the present!