Explore the Wild West of Scotland in a Spaceship!
Posted on 30/09/2014 by John I Guest Blogger
With ten days holiday to use up in March, I took to the open road with my wife, Emma, and our trusty Spaceships Camper Car named “Sputnik” and headed off to explore the wild west of Scotland.
Hiring the VW camper from the Edinburgh depot, our trip started around 11am and by 1pm we were settling into our campsite on the shores of Loch Lomond, just north of Glasgow. The loch here is the largest inland body of water in the UK. The town on Balloch on the southern shore has some great amenities with boat trips available on the loch. We chose to take a walk through Balloch Country Park to Balloch Castle and take in the views of the loch from the top of the hill.
Back in the campervan we travelled up the west side of Loch Lomond towards Glencoe. From here the scenery becomes truly spectacular with huge granite mountains towering all around. Amazingly, the railway line follows the road for quite a long time before veering off into the wilderness across Rannoch Moor towards Fort William.
As we approached the start of Glencoe (glen is another word for valley) we were treated to some amazing views. It was getting late so we found a campsite in the village of Glencoe and vowed to head back for a walk in the glen the next day. The campsite in Glencoe was perfectly situated on the shores of Loch Leven with the mountains behind. After dinner we ventured out to the Loch Leven Inn to sample some local beers by a roaring log fire.
Up early the next morning, we opened up our walking book and chose the Hidden Valley walk in Glencoe. Unsurprisingly, the walk takes you up into a high valley which can’t be seen from Glencoe. The varied walk took us from bog land, across the River Coe, through gorges with thundering waterfalls and then up to the high valley floor where there was still snow on the ground.
By midday the weather had really warmed up so once back at the campervan we set up our camp stove and enjoyed al fresco spaghetti bolognaise in one of Scotland’s most beautiful glens. A relative had told us about a their favourite drive in Scotland which was near Invergarry. The road up to Invergarry passed the wonderfully named Loch Lochy and the tourist town of Fort William. The road we’d been told about took us through Glen Garry on a road that wouldn’t have been suitable for a campervan bigger than ours. We came across a herd of wild deer, although they seemed quite tame and wouldn’t get out of our way when we drove up to them!
Into the Wild West of Scotland!
As the sun started to set we made it to the Skye Bridge which takes you onto the Isle of Skye. Skye is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Scotland with towering black granite mountains and stunning lochs. It was getting late so we decided to stay in a bed & breakfast that night. One of the great things about hiring a Spaceships Campervan is that because it’s cheap you don’t feel like you are losing out if you chose not to stay in the camper every night. The friendly B&B owner, Chris, told us about a must-do walk further north on the island which we decided to do the next day.
The Fairy Pools walk follows a series of cascading waterfalls up the early slopes of the Black Cullen mountain range. It’s a hard place to describe so I suggest you just go and visit! After our walk we drove around the island. By this time we had been in Scotland a few days, but we were still in awe of the new vista around each bend in the road.
After a quick coffee and cake stop in the little town of Portree we headed back across the Skye Bridge to the mainland and then across the third highest road in Scotland, climbing – very steeply – up to 626 metres from seal level and then back down into the village of Applecross.
Room with a view
Applecross has a campsite, a pub and a view to die for. Our campervan pitch looked out across the waters of Inner Sound to the island of Raasay and the black granite peaks of Skye. The following day we walked the old mountain road to a place called Sand. Unsurprisingly it had a beach. Slightly more surprisingly it had a 9,500 year-old rock shelter which was home to the oldest known human inhabitants in Scotland. We ate our picnic lunch in the rock shelter. We could have stayed for a couple of weeks in Applecross exploring all the walks and deserted beaches.
With only a couple of days remaining we turned back south towards the Isle of Mull. The western side of Scotland is made up of peninsulas and islands. Of course, the ferry network is vital for getting out to the islands, but it can save you a lot of time on the mainland too. With so many lochs and inlets, a quick 10 minute ferry journey can save you a 2 hour drive, although the drive will inevitably be worth doing if you have time. We took two ferries to get onto Mull and stopped in the idyllic town of Tobermory.
What's the story in Tobermory?
Tobermory is known for its colourful waterfront buildings and being home to children’s TV programme Balamory. The island is one of the best places for spotting birds of prey and sure enough after a short walk we came across a pair of nesting Golden Eagles. They are huge and quite intimidating close up.
Our final day of our Scotland campervan adventure took us back onto the mainland and around Loch Fyne and back to Edinburgh. Looking back we covered so much in such a short time. Hiring a campervan to travel through Scotland was the only real option with the time we had available. We also visited places that lager Motorhomes couldn’t reach and certainly aren’t on the itineraries of any coach tours! The quality of the campsites is great and there are always options for free camping. We’ll be back again in a Spaceship!
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