and a bit of Lake District, Wales, Cotswolds and England.
Monday, May 13th – We left Grabs on the way to Zeebrugge till Givet/F where we had a night stop at the river Meuse in the Ardennes region. Arriving around 4 pm we went for a small village walk, took some picture while enjoying the warm sun after the last snow we had in Vättis.
Tuesday 14th – On the way to the harbour we visited the city of Brügge, a marvellous and charming city (to be visited with more time to enjoy on another B/NL-trip hopefully coming soon). Many details of the buildings and backyard gardens took our attention.
With a short stop on the rail line to harbour we made for the ship at 4:30 pm. The Pride of Burges moved out at 18:30 to the North Sea and we checked our outside cabin on deck four. With a nice buffet ended the day and a smooth ride was provided for the night.
Wednesday 15th – After a quiet night, we landed at Hull/UK and went straight to Elvington for the Yorkshire Air Museum and to the city of York for the railway museum.
In the afternoon we had another stop at Blackhall Rocks, part of Durham Heritage Coast. Until the 90s, the colliery waste was tipped to the beach turning it deadly black. To welcome us on our Scotland trip, a pipe player used the parking lot as training “location”… nice tune for a sunny start of our vacation.
Passing through the little village of Selkirk we had to make a photo stop … ahh and ohh, such a beautiful skyline!
As we went on direction Moffat we were looking for a camping place, which wasn’t easy to find. Finally, we ended up at the wall of the Megget Reservoir (for fresh Scottish water supply) and had a quiet night on our own.
Thursday 16th – Today, after a blue sky wake up, we went on through the Moffat Valley (and came into sheep rush hour and passed many open sports cars from Ferrari to Aston Martin, Porsche, MG and others) to Moffat and then back to the East, where many rape fields gave the country side yellow patches everywhere.
Driving south to Holy Island, we were trying to find a camp site. Just found a huge parking spot with a motorhome line, £5.50 for 24 h, or 48h or 72h but no overnight parking was allowed!! After crossing the Holy Island bay a second time at low tide we went to find a night place further south and soon passing the castle at Bamburgh. Finally we turned back on a siding west of Budle next to a sheep field. There we went with a dramatic red sky in our camper bed.
Friday 17th – A sunny day was waiting for us. So we took the LNER – London North Eastern Railway Intercity train from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Edinburgh. Enjoying the city life for a few hours including a huge and delicious Fish-and-Chip. A brief visit took us to the monuments on the east wall of Greyfriars Kirkyard
Coming back to the Berwick station parking lot, which is a mere £ 4.50 for 24 hours, we proceeded to the nearby small town of Lamperton (still in England). But instead of the town we choose a farmer way down to the Eastern Coast Railway line. Soon the sheep farmer came along so I had a chat with him about farming and weather. Asking about staying overnight he grinned with a smile … that is quite expensive on his land … he asked if the woman is my wife (certainly she is) and if she makes me an afternoon tea (which I confirmed) things were settled and we had overnight parking free of charge close to the railway and the sea rock shore. The sun just came for a last moment and some train pictures saved the day. Soon clouds came lower and lower and some drizzling rain started. First time to try our “indoor” handling to arrange our bed and went later for a sound sleep.
Saturday 18th – Sea fog closed everything around us from view when we went up in the morning. No more picture taking, we went on to the North around Edinburgh over the motorway bridge up to the east coast.
A small fishing village in the 'East Neuk' of Fife which dates from 1228 was our next stop Pittenweem. It has the only working harbour left in the East Neuk, which used to be home to many fleets. The walk in rain kept us from staying too long outside and a nice Café took our attention for a soup & sandwich.
Later on we proceeded in rain to Pitlochry, were everything was in preparation for Etape Caledonia cycling event. Beside of a few nice houses a flower pot had the slogan PITLORCHY IN BLOOM, but no bloom was around, just rain fell down … so we changed the slogan to our feelings.
For the night stop we choose a riverside place some miles west of Pitlochry in between the lakes Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch. Clouds still low and raindrops makes circles in the slow moving river water we ended the day with a healthy salad mixture. One lesson we already learned about the Lowlands in Scotland, wayside overnight parking is not easy to find, either “bus stop” type parking along the road (which doesn’t fits to our intention of camping) or on a good parking ground but then with an “overnight staying not allowed” sign marks the site.
Sunday 19th – After hundreds of cyclist went by we came out of bed around 8 o’clock and couldn’t leave “station” due to closed roads till 9:30. Soon after the “Besenwagen” went by and the street could be used again. Crossing the border into the Highlands several car sidings along the A9 gave a spectacular view into the landscape (and the nearby rail line from Inverness too). After waiting for things to come (which came soon on the Drumochter Summit Highland Main Line) we drove to Dalwhinnie for a food-and-toilet stop.
Back on A9 we went off at Aviemore for Cairngorm National Park and found the large, beautiful and well equipped Glenmore Caravan & Camping Site for £ 24 next to Loch Morlich in the Glenmore Forest Park. It has 206 pitches. So we decided to stay overnight here, choosed a forest place, recharge all battery equipment, prepared our first part travel blog and had a shower refreshment. The forest, the lake beach, the Scotish reindeers and the nearby sled dog offer ... all reminds of Finnish Lapland. A chicken with India rice on a Peperoni Schnitzel sauce was our dinner of the day. With rain drops on the roof still at work we closed the books at 9 pm for a forest sleep.
Monday 20th – The second week started in low clouds and drizzling rain, temperature around 10 degrees. Using the superb camping facilities our Marco Polo was topped up and ready for the way to the north-east. Rounding Aberdeen by Huntly we reached Pitmedden Garden. The display revealed the story about this beautiful and properly made garden: Sir Alexander Seton built his private pleasure garden, maybe the ultimate 17th-century status symbol.
After this relaxing experience we came to Port Errol Harbour at the Cruden Bay. In old days, the Great North of Scotland Railway Company delivered Salmon from the harbours fishery and seagull eggs from the cliffs to elite dining tables and expensive London stores. Today the harbour survives by volunteers only and is desperately looking for sponsors.
On the coast of Cruden Bay lie the remains of Slains Castle. The original castle has been reconstructed may times since its construction in 1597 by the Earl of Erroll. Sir John Ellerman bought the castle in 1919 and the roof was removed to avoid paying taxes. It made many background stories for Susanna Kearsley books. The time elapsing stories switched between centuries and famous people, which went in and out of the castle. For us it was just switching from one room to the next, from one broken wall to a sea looking window.
Driving on along the coast we found a nature park in the sand dunes of Inverallochy (mainly for dog cleaning) just before Fraserburgh and in between two golf courses, which seems to be almost on every third farmer field in this reagion.
Tuesday 21st – A day from rain to sunshine … crossing along the beautiful northern coast of Aberdeen to Inverness. We came along serveral small fisher towns and sea outlooks, always worth a short stop.
Turning in at the village of Whitehills we drove down to the harbour. In The Gallay Whitehills we choose some excellent fish and prawn dishes for lunch along fully booked tables. Sunshine came through and the small fisher boats presented themselves in best colours.
After an expresso and paying the bill at the counter we went on towards Inverness and headed in front of the city to the North taking many wonderful landscape pictures while driving.
Dunrobin Castle is a stately home in Sutherland, in the Highland area of Scotland, and the family seat of the Earl of Sutherland and the Clan Sutherland. The Earldom of Sutherland was created around 1235. They were the biggest landowners in Europe in their time. There are 189 rooms within the castle, making it the largest in the northern Highlands.
After a brief castle visit we choosed for the night a farmland camping (sheep ground) and parked just overlooking the beach with many different birds. Soon a deep sleep followed and at 11 pm a nock on the window (!!) … 15 pounds please … the farmers wife collecting the camper overnight charge and we became fully awake. Also the weather turned into bad and a heavy storm came up rattling in the car … no more sleep. Finally when early light came up the sound sleep continued.
Wednesday 22nd – Starting from the "farm camping" near Brora, were we came up late, we continued direction North. At Helmsdale we left the coast to Kinbrace. During driving along the valley a heavy and cold rain didn’t made happy faces nor wasn’t much comfort to wait for the delayed trains. We ended up in Thurso (no nice coffee house to be found but Kebab, Turkish shop and Burger, all what we don’t enjoy). Our intention was to continue to the most nort-eastern point of Scotland, to Duncaspy Head.
But, as the rain became heavier, clouds coming down and sight became less. So we decided to turn directly into West. We ended up in the cosy Halladale Inn at Melvich. Here the rain and wind became stronger and we gave up to drive and settled in at the camp site of the Inn and feeded our hungry stomaches inside, choosing different toasts with salad and chips. Using the well working wifi, the first part of our journey went online on our Scotland travel blog. Coming back from a good night beer and a peppermint tea a strange sound from the back of the car was noticed. After removing in heavy rain all pillows and equipment finally we reached the box and could pull out the fuse of the water pump, which worked all the time but didn’t stopped by itself. That was already the second fuse to pull out, two days ago the back windswiper didn’t stop when turned off. With one left lamp out of order (just replaced at the garage before leaving home) we have now three items not working, that is enough ! … but we are still going strong on four wheels and four feet.
Thursday 23rd – Still raining and “sitting” in a low pressure zone we had to decide for the direct way south or to go as planned along the west coast. Even
looking out of rain into the landscape with low hanging clouds we couldn’t resist to keep further West. A promising Highland landscape to miss wouldn't be a good decision in our opinion.
We never regreted our decision to continue along the coast. A wonderful landscape opened up. The bigger getting mountains in shades only and many bays with a grey sea. Taking pictures all along the way … black and white format represents a better choice of what we have seen. To drive through the North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark was a great experience anyway.
Oldshoremore Beach parking became our next overnight stop. Rain became less, temperature still low but with heating our inside system it was quite comfortable at the parking lot next to a small river and near a wonderful sandy beach.
Friday 24th – Weather still improving little by little we drove down the coast line Rhiconich – Unapool – Ledmore to Ullapool to fill up our store. With the fridge full we left the harbour city and turned to Inverewe Gardens to had a dry and wonderful walk in between flowers and plants.
At a lake before the village of Talladale we found a nice parking lot for the night, overlooking the water into the highland mountains.
Weather forecast for the weekend ...
Saturday 25th – For the first time during last days, some small blue spots emerged between the tinged grey clouds. But soon the first drops drizzled on the car roof again … but now some cosy feelings settled in – we are adapting Scottish weather! After Kinlochewe we turned right into a large valley in between high Bens (would be a stunning view in sunny conditions). To our right side the 3300 ft high Beinn Eighe Mountains came into view, tops unfortunately still in clouds. Passing Shieldaig we turned south again into another wild nature region with many smaller Bens. Then the valley opened up and the bay Loch Carron came into view. Next were a stop at a rest place for a tea and a hot chocolate just before Kyle of Lochaish. Another 8 miles and our todays overnight “Camping Skye Broadford” at Broadford came into view. Opened a year ago, it is a first class place out in the nature with all flat pitches and clean facilities. The extra paying of £5 for an accompanying wife was the only “negative” point. But as the owner explained, to get rid of a woman will be much more expensive … so we took the place for 20+5 £ and settled in. With weather forecast for a rainy Saturday and more on Sunday doesn’t make sense to drive on for endless hours. As the sailors do, weathering out was the best option in such conditions.
Sunday 26th - A brief trip around the Isle of Rain (Skye) was almost drowned in water. As it was Sunday, many hotels and restaurants were fully booked and after several attempts we found a location in Portree with a free table for lunch. The planned visit of the distillery of Talisker Whisky and the Castle of Dunvegan we let pass, as huge queues blocked the entry in plain rain of those points of interest. At one corner the sun broke out and over the mountains a rain shower came in, a brief moment to stop for the one and only photo of today. In early afternoon we settled in our camping pitch at Broadford and red our books, Scottish rain fell continuously on the cars roof ... drop on the windows of our car.
A start in Sunshine !
Monday 27th – With blue spots on sky and sunny spells between clouds we repeated our Isle of Skye – trip and went to the far northern point of the Isle. Some impression of Isle of Skye during the roundtrip:
Just short of the village (houses) of Kilmaluag at the most northern part of the island we found a night place looking into the wilderness mountains of Skye. Already early in the afternoon there, we enjoyed the warmth of the day with the sun heating the car and relaxing moments. Later in the evening the low sun made wonderful landscape and sky shots from our wayside camping spot.
Happy about the day we decided to drive back up north on next day to enjoy the Western Highlands, this time with clear views of the wonderful Bens of Beinn Eighe region.
Tuesday 28th – After a windy night the sun waked us up at eight. As planned we drove south on Skye Isle and made a short visit of Castle Eilean Dohan. Outside a wonderful look (when sun comes out what it didn’t made at the moment we were there), inside not too impressing beside of long stories about the castle history.
Taking our chances, we headed north again and rounded Loch Carron. After lunch in the Bealach Café and Gallery at Tornapress crossing we approached the steep Applecross mountain road (smaller than many pass roads at home) from 0 to 600 meters over sea-level. Top of the road, a wonderful view over the sea to Skye opened up. With the breath taking view we decided to make it our next overnight place.
Wednesday 28th - As it went steep uphill yesterday we drove steep down today towards the fisher village Applecross in clear view and full sunshine. What a day! The high-pressure situation over France extended up north with a strong southern wind and cleaned out all dust, which made photos always a bit fading. We enjoyed the day to full extend and never regretted to turn back up north. At the end of the day we parked for the night just outside Armadale for the ferry to Mallaig next day.
Thursday/Friday 29th/30st - Rain settled in for another two days and nothing special can be reported ... beside of rain :-(
After a brief visit at the city of Oban we headed for Ardchonnell along a rather small road along the lakeshore of Loch Awe and found a sleeping place. On Friday we continued towards Glasgow (where heavy Friday afternoon traffic jams took more than one hour stop-and-go) and further south to Eriff with a view over Loch Doon to keep the night rest.
Saturday 31th - This day we came along the Threave Castle. Built in the 1370s by Archibald the Grim, it was a stronghold of the "Black Douglases", Earls of Douglas and Lords of Galloway, until their fall in 1455. Today the Threave Estate, which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland, is operated as a nature reserve that is home to bats and ospreys.
Finally we ended up in the Borrowdale Gates Hotel near Keswick, Lake District, to celebrate our "half time" moment of our rewarding journey. There, we enjoyed a delicious dinner with a fig salad, a duck as main dish and rhubarb and lemon sorbet to close the day. A stay at this 4-star country house hotel was a nice change after almost 3 weeks as camper travellers.
Sunday June 1st - After a brief visit to Keswick and its shops we drove along small and smallest mountain roads, up and down grades of 14 to 25 % through the beautiful countryside of Lake District, if only sun would shining instead of low hanging and very wet clouds ...