Exploring Scotland on our honeymoon
  • Day16

    Perth - Edinburgh - Bristol

    June 11 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Today was the last day of what has been an amazing honeymoon. We have been so lucky with the weather and there has been barely a midge in sight. Cliff (and our chief driver Simon) has safely navigated us across 1,238 miles of rolling hills, white sandy beaches, woodland, mountains and lochs. Scotland really is a beautiful country and we can't wait to come back.Read more

  • Day15

    Cairngorms to Perth

    June 10 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    Simon had booked us in for a quad bike tour around the Rothiemurchus estate this morning so after breakfast we headed to the meeting point. We got there a bit early as we had to be off the site by 11am so enjoyed a nice coffee at the farm shop while we waited. Our guide for the quad bike tour was a lovely lady called Natalie. She started off my giving us a quick demonstration of how the bikes worked and then it was on with the helmets and we were let loose on the quads. After a couple of test laps we headed off, winding through the forest and across streams. We stopped every now and then and Natalie talked a little about the area and at one point to wait for the heilan coos to move off the path! There was some proper cute calves as well which weren't phased by the noisy bikes at all!

    Our next and final stop of our trip is Perth so after the tour we set off with a quick pit stop for lunch overlooking Loch Insh. When we stopped here we envisaged a tranquil picnic overlooking the loch however it was so ridiculously windy that we lasted half a sandwich before we sought refuge in the van.

    The campsite in Perth was very quiet and there were only a handful of people there. There wasn't much around but as we drop the van back tomorrow we packed up our suitcases and then Simon cooked up our final supper in the van, fishcakes, new potatoes and veg (the exact same meal we had on our very first night) which we enjoyed whilst watching lots of bunnies hop around right next to the van.

    Campsite: Noah's Ark Campsite
    Number of nights: 1
    Price: £24
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    Joanna Blake

    Incredibly cute bunnies!

    6/21/21Reply
     
  • Day14

    Cairngorms

    June 9 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    We had two nights in the Cairngorms so no need to pack up this morning which was nice. There’s lots of watersport fun on the loch we’re staying on but when we walked down to the beach it was super windy!! After watching a couple almost tip a little sailing boat we opted for a walk so headed up to the reception and grabbed a map of the local walks. We chose the Loch Morlich trail, a 3.5 mile circular around the loch. It was mainly flat through flora and fauna with a few bridges over streams and rivers. We ended the walk a the local shop and cafe Pine Martens for some lunch. I went for a chicken club and Blake a goats cheese and grilled peach salad and we shared a nice side of halloumi fries.

    We got back to the van and chilled for a bit (probably played some monopoly cards) before heading to the nearest town of Aviemore for a gander at the shops. There are lots of snow capped mountains in the Cairngorms and the town feels like a typical ski resort with outdoorsy shops, takeaways and souvenir shops all the way down. I bought some scottish tablet to take home which is essentially fudge I believe and then we both grabbed some ice cream before heading back to get ready for dinner.

    We booked a table at a little hotel with good reviews called Rowan Tree Country Hotel where we both tucked into 3 courses of deliciousness. Starting with humous, flat breads and olives to start, mains of fillet of beef and spinach and truffle polenta, washed down with a lemon posset and sticky toffee pud. Aware of the incoming food coma (and the gates shutting at 10pm) we headed straight back to the campsite to change into something with an elasticated waistband and watched some Netflix with a cuppa.
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  • Day13

    Loch Ness to Cairngorms

    June 8 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Blake found us a nice walk to do this morning so we packed up the car and headed to a little carpark in Foyer where the start was. After setting off it wasn’t long before we hit the upper and lower viewpoints of the Falls of Foyer which were pretty spectacular with the water thundering down them. After the falls we along the gorge back towards Loch Ness. The forest here is a popular with red squirrels however unfortunately we didn't spot any. On our way down it also dawned on us that we were walking in the direction of the campsite. True enough this circular loop took us around last nights site, along the shores of Loch Ness and back up to Foyer. We were pretty warm by this point as when we started the walk it was a bit chilly and looked as if it was going to rain so we dressed appropriately. Walking back up the hill to Foyer though out came the sunshine! Next to where we parked the van was a little cafe serving toastie’s so we grabbed a bite to eat before heading off to the Cairngorms National Park.

    The drive took us through lots of rolling green hills, full of cows, horses, pheasants and sheep (always sheep). Just as we were pulling into Aviemore Blake noticed a sign for a gin distillery so we made a U-turn to go check it out. Having sampled some of the Kinrara gins we bought a few miniatures to tide us over until we can order some more online. A couple more miles and there was a visitor centre and farm shop where we stopped for a gander and to get some more info on a quad bike tour we later booked onto for Thursday.

    Having got to our campsite a bit earlier than usual we leisurely set ourselves up and had a few games of monopoly cards. We were slowly using up our van supplies and neither of us could be bothered to cook so for dinner we drove into Aviemore and bought a yummy takeaway curry.

    Campsite: Glenmore
    Number of nights: 2
    Price: £56.15 for 2 nights
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  • Day12

    Dornoch to Loch Ness

    June 7 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    After setting off the fire alarm cooking breakfast and waking up the campsite, we started off the day with a mooch around Dornoch village. It's a quaint little village, reminiscent of the Cotswolds with lots of lovely little shops. The star of the show was definately the general store which had all kinds of amazing food supplies and a very impressive selection of gins.

    Back in the van, we headed back North up the NC500 to Dunrobin Castle as we had run out of time on our way down yesterday. As we purchased our tickets, they advised us there was a falconry display in 10 minutes so we headed out to the gardens to watch. The falconer Andy was great and we got to see and learn about a falcon (the type I have forgotten), harris hawk and perigrine falcon. After the display we mooched around the beautiful gardens before heading to the cafe for some lunch which we ate outside in the glorious sunshine. We then had a look around the inside of the castle, once home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland.

    Today is actually our last day on the NC500 as we make our way slowly back to Edinburgh over the next few days however there were still a few sights to see. The landscape of the east coast is not as impressive as the west and there are fewer single track roads however there are still luscious green fields as far as the eyes can see filled with sheep, lambs, cows, calves and more sheep (there are so many sheep!) The road also hugs the coastline and with this glorious weather you can see where the crystal blue waters meet the horizon.

    Our next couple of stops did involve a slight detour off the NC500 in an attempt to see some salmon leaping up the river, Falls of Shin and Rogie Falls. We stopped at Falls of Shin first and after reading some of the signs we realised that the salmon don't actually travel back up the river until late summer. As we were there though we wandered down to have a look at the waterfall and within a few minutes we saw a huge salmon trying to jump up the rocks. There were also a couple of smaller fish trying to do the same. The water was really fast and I don't think any of them actually made it to the top but we were chuffed we got to see a few failed attempts. Rogie Falls was not as fruitful but the falls were pretty and there was a cool suspension bridge which made up for the lack of salmon sightings.

    After a quick pit stop at a local shop to grab an icecream we said goodbye to the NC500 and headed down to our campsite for the night, on the shores of Loch Ness. We did run out of time to do Inverness which was a shame however with direct flights from Bristol, we can always come back another time.

    Campsite: Loch Ness Shores
    Number of nights: 1
    Price: £34.95
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  • Day11

    Dunnet Head to Dornoch

    June 6 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    With quite a lot of miles to cover today, we were up nice and early however before we headed off, we wandered down to the beach to watch the resident seals chilling on the shore.

    On our way to John O'Groats, we took a quick pit stop at the Castle of Mey, the Queen Mother's old holiday home. It was still early so it wasn't open yet for us to look around so we carried on to John O'Groats.

    John O'Groats itsself isn't much to look at so after getting the obligatory photo of the signpost and grabbing a quick coffee we headed off to Duncansby Head to see the famous stacks, reminiscient of the Great Ocean Road in Australia. Whilst walking to see the stacks there were also great views of the birds nesting on the cliffs.

    We then headed to the Castle Sinclair Girnigoe ruins. As we jumped out of the van and set off towards the castle, for the first time this trip, the heavens opened making it a very wet and windy walk. We really can't complain though as this is the first bit of bad weather we have had and once we had gotten our soggy selves back to the van, the rain actually stopped! After some soup to warm us up we headed off to Whaligoe steps which were unfortunately closed, so we continued on to the Grey Cairns of Camster, a pair of Neolithic tombs built more than 5,000 years ago. These were also closed however when they are open you can crawl through the very small passage into the main chamber which would have been pretty cool. They were still good to see from the outside though.

    It was then time to head to our campsite for the evening in Dornoch so we continued on down the East Coast. The campsite is right on the beach so after dinner we went for a stroll along the beach.

    Campsite: Dornoch Caravan and Camping Site
    Number of nights: 1
    Price: £25
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  • Day10

    Tongue to Dunnet Head

    June 5 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    After our slap up meal last night unfortunately there was no time for a lie in. The facilities were the best we’d had so far so we decided to get up early and get some laundry done as well as filling up on water and emptying the grey water etc. We initially headed to the Strathnaver Museum however it was closed due to covid so continued along the NC500 until we saw signs for Coast Coffee on the side of the road and pulled in for a pit stop. Most of the time we hit a coffee shop it’s just an average flat white however this little converted horse box has it all going on! Blake had a date and pecan scone complete with all the trimmings and a flat white. I went for a dirty chai latte and a cinnamon bun which were both delicious.

    A bit further on we stopped at Strathy Point to take the short walk to the lighthouse. All the signs mentioned it was a good spot to see more dolphins and whales but unfortunately we didn't spot any today. Next stop was Melvich Beach which we’d heard good things about. We knocked up a packed lunch and headed on our way. It was mostly overcast and a bit windy but like true Brits we braved it out sheltered by some dunes for a fair while (until my phone battery died which was showing the Bristol rugby game).

    After a quick cuppa in the van to warm up we did a drive by of the fishing port of Scrabster, where last nights lemon sole dinner had come from, before heading on to our campsite on Dunnet Head. As we were so close to fishing ports we had read having fish and chips in this area was recommended so after a recommendation from the campsite owner (who also loved a chat) we headed to the Northern Sands Hotel to collect a takeaway breaded haddock and chips. We debated taking it to the Dunnet Head viewpoint however we decided it might get cold so ate it in the van in the carpark. In hindsight we probably could have made it and not looked like weirdos eating takeaway in the restaurant carpark but the food was delicious!

    Before heading back to the campsite we drove to the Dunnet Head viewpoint, the most northerly point of Scotland. The views here were amazing and you could see many of the islands off the North Coast including Orkney. There were also loads of sea birds nesting on the sides of the cliffs. Our campsite this evening is also right on the Dunnet Head cliffs and we were able to watch the seals play in the small harbour from the van.

    Campsite: Windhaven
    Number of nights: 1
    Price: £28
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  • Day9

    Durness to Tongue

    June 4 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    We had had quite a few early starts so we opted for a leisurely breakfast which ultimately became more leisurely when Simon spotted the campsite 'Breakfast Bar' on his way back from his morning shower. We enjoyed our breakfast baps and lattes overlooking the bay.

    Our first stop today was just down the road at Smoo Cave. You could have a look around the first chamber of the cave for free but for £10pp you could hop in a dingy to explore further into the caves which we decided to do and it was totally worth it! The guides were really knowledgeable and it was great to see inside the cave. There is usually a waterfall however as Scotland has been having such amazing weather recently, there wasn't one today. Despite being not far from the sea, the water inside is freshwater which flows down from a nearby loch and is also home to some resident Scottish piranhas, latin name 'brownus troutus'.

    Afterwards we headed to the Balnakaeil Craft Village. Originally constructed in the mid 50's as a MOD Early Warning Station, the buildings intended as barracks etc. were repurposed to create the craft village of today. We had a mooch around the numerous galleries, ceramic and crafty shops before finishing up in Cocoa Mountain, famous for its indulgent hot chocolates. We both decided on a Mocha Mountain Chaser which is a huge chocolately coffee, drizzled with more milk and white melted chocolate, accompanied by a 4 chocolate chaser. It was intense! Especially as we had got very excited in the shop and come out with a salted caramel and white chocolate croissant and a raspberry and white chocolate blondie too!

    Feeling a bit sick we headed off to our next destination Tongue. Tongue isn't far from Durness so we had a little pitstop at Skinnet Beach and Ard (still not sure what an Ard is?!) After getting told off by a grumpy local for parking in her parking spot we went for a stroll, past lots of cute lambies along yet another beautiful beach.

    Our campsite today is on Kyle of Tongue surrounded by gorgeous scenery. It's also an amazing campsite with great facilities and the best showers of the trip! For dinner we had booked a table at the Tongue Hotel which was just under a 30 minute walk away, albeit at the top of a humongous hill! We gave ourselves a little longer because you never can trust how long it is going to take you to get there and we set off at such a pace we ended up power walking it in 20 minutes! It was a bit of a fancy hotel and the dinner was divine. Simon opted for Cullen Skink for starter (a Scottish fish soup speciality) and Scrabster (a local port) lemon sole with crushed new potatoes and roasted veg for main. I decided on the trout tarlet with horseradish for starter and a veggie burger with fries for main. Feeling stuffed, we didn't have any room for dessert so we headed off back down the hill to the campsite to walk off our dinner. Having escaped the midges on out trip so far, they were out in force this evening however that didn't stop us from enjoying the beautiful sunset on the way.

    Campsite: Kyle of Tongue Campsite
    Number of nights: 1
    Price: £27
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    Joanna Blake

    Ard is Gaelic for “high, above the ground”. The beaches look absolutely stunning ....... and deserted! xx

    6/9/21Reply
     
  • Day8

    Achmelvich to Durness

    June 3 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We had a slow morning as we had no real activity planned for the day. After breakfast we headed to the beach which was accessible from the site we were staying on. Achmelvich beach was written everywhere as being one of the best little coves and it didn’t disappoint. We set the blanket down on the white sandy beach against some rocks to shelter from the wind and spent an hour or so just watching waves break onto the beach. A young boy running in and out, struggling to decide on whether he was going to brave the ice cold waters, also provided us with some morning entertainment.

    After having to clean up a slight overflow whilst filling up with water (Blake edit: slight overflow = water pouring out from under the fridge and the side of the van) we were on our way to our first stop, the village of Lochinver. Here we looked in a few gift shops and bought a tartan clad heilan’ coo Christmas decoration which has become a bit of travelling tradition, along with fridge magnets. Our next stop was Loch Assynt to visit the so say haunted castle ruins of Ardveck. Luckily no poltergeists were seen today. Lunch today overlooked Kylesku bridge which sweeps over the mouth of lochs Glencoul and Glendhu.

    Having had a lazy morning we decided the next stop would be Blairmore to pick up the four mile walking path to Sandwood Bay. I won’t lie, my enthusiasm for walking had all but gone but with the promise of a beautiful beach and half a wispa gold at the end we plodded on around many a loch, over many a hill and past many a lamb. Well the guidebooks weren’t wrong, Sandwood Bay was incredible and we almost had the place to ourselves! Having set down the blanket and eaten the wispa it was time for one thing, a power nap!!

    We were taking a bit of a gamble with the next campsite as you couldn’t book in advance and the pitches open from 11am so getting there at 6:30pm was going to be pushing it. Luckily we managed to get a spot due to being a smaller van as the next motorhome didn’t. For dinner we were having the smoked sea trout from the Applecross smoke house with buttered new potatoes and it didn’t disappoint!!

    Campsite: Sango Sands
    Number of nights: 1
    Price: £23.50
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  • Day7

    Gairloch to Achmelvich

    June 2 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    Simon managed to snag us a last minute spot on a whale watching tour with Hebridian Whale Cruises this morning so we packed up and grabbed some breakfast on the way to Gairloch Harbour. The tour was on a rib so we were kitted out in thick waterproof dungarees and jackets to keep us warm and dry and then taken out to the rib. Before we got on, Simon and I were given a safety briefing which involved a very quick whistle stop overview of how to drive the boat and signal for help if our tour guide got thrown off the boat (not sure how we ended up with this responsibility).

    It was a 2.5 hour tour however for the first 1.5 hours all we saw was a lot of sea birds, ganets, razorbills, guillemots and the occasional puffin (which were pretty cute) but no sign of any actual whales. There had been a minke whale sighting the past few days in a particular spot however with still no luck, we headed off to another spot which due to the structure of the sea floor was apparently a popular feeding spot. Here the rib stopped and we were told to keep our eyes peeled and give the signal if anyone spotted anything. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a small spray of water and gave the signal. Everyone had a look but we couldn't see anything at first however after a couple of minutes a small group of dolphins appeared! They were quite far away at first but then came closer to the boat so we could see them up close which was absolutely amazing! After watching the dolphins for a bit it was time to head back and we even managed to sneak in a cheeky minke whale and porpoises sighting just at the end! The minke whale was quite far away but it was a sighting all the same. We could then head back to the harbour happy and fortunately our driver managed to stay on board for the entire trip so we didn't have to invoke the emergency protocol.

    Back on dry land, we grabbed coffee and a juice from a very cute cafe Coast Coffee in the harbour and had a mooch around their very lovely shop. I could have bought lots of bits I definitely don't need, but refrained and then we hit the road again.

    There is endless beautiful scenery to look at when driving here, it's hard to believe we are in Scotland. The views keep getting better around every corner you turn so its hard not to keep pulling over to take a photo and soak in the view. There are now lots of beautiful beaches as well so we stopped at Gruinard Bay and dipped our feet in the ice cold sea (a reminder that you are actually in Scotland and not the Mediterranean). Our next stop was Corrieshalloch Gorge where a short walk took us across the gorge via a suspension bridge to see the 160ft Falls of Measach.

    It had been quite a long afternoon of driving so when we reached Ullapool we filled up on petrol and parked up in search of a pub. We stumbled across a locals pub just off the main street and after being complimented on my trousers "I like your flares love", we ordered a G&T and a ginger beer for drives. After a quick stock up on snacks in Tesco we headed on to our final destination near Lochinver. Instead of taking the NC500 via Inchnadamph we decided to take a slight detour along the coastal route via Inverkirkaig. It was another single track road but not as windy as Bealach Na Bah and yet again we were rewarded with stunning landscapes. We finally arrived at our campsite just before 8pm where we enjoyed a classic pasta and sauce supper in the van.

    Campsite: Shore Caravan Site
    Number of nights: 1
    Price: £15
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