Exploring Scotland on our honeymoon
  • Day6

    Applecross to Gairloch

    June 1, 2021 in Scotland ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    We woke up early, still feeling the effects of Ben Nevis and after a quick shower and some brekkie we were back on the road again. The Applecross pensiula is absolutely spectacular and we had regular stop offs to enjoy the views and pick up some smoked trout and salmon pate from the Applecross Smokehouse (which was set up in in a chaps back garden).

    For lunch, we stopped off at the Torridon Countryside Centre for a lovely walk (the centre was shut) alongside Loch Torridon and said hello to the friendly red deer. We then had a sandwich and a cuppa back at the van before heading back on the road again towards Gairloch. Just outside Gairloch we made a quick detour off the NC500 to visit Redpoint and its gorgeous sandy beaches. The guide book boasted an 'exquisite' beach and we definitely visited the wrong one but it was still nice all the same.

    Our campsite for the evening was just outside Gairloch right on the beach. It's enormous in comparison to the sites we have stayed on so far and whilst it was tricky to find a spot (you get given a map where the electric points are and its just a free for all) we ended up a stones throw from the beach. The campsite has a cafe so feeling lazy we got a burger and some pizza for dinner.

    Campsite: Sands Caravan Park
    Number of nights: 1
    Price: £24
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    Tricia Little

    Amazing

    6/4/21Reply
     
  • Day5

    Fort William to Applecross

    May 31, 2021 in Scotland ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    We set the alarm for 8am this morning however we were a bit slow getting up. This wasn’t like the morning after Machu Picchu in your 20’s this was Ben Nevis in your 30’s and limbs were sore!! After a nice scrambled egg and salmon brekkie we were on our way to Glenfinnan viaduct for this mornings entertainment.

    The Glenfinnan viaduct is the one that’s featured in Harry Potter when you see the Hogwarts Express on its way from Platform 9 3/4 to the school of magic itself. We opted not to ride the train as it would have wiped out a whole day but instead head to the viewpoint to watch the real life Hogwarts Express pass over. We arrived in good time and found a nice spot to watch it pass by tooting his horn.

    Back on the road we had a 2 and a bit hour drive to our next destination which was Applecross. Applecross is our first stop actually on the NC500 and is one which is sometimes missed due to its single track winding roads to get here. After reading a few blogs on whether we would make it in a camper we decided to give it a crack and we were so glad we did. Apart from the odd reverse along a shear drop single track to let a car past who clearly wasn’t going to give way we witnessed some incredible views including one we stopped at to enjoy a very windy cuppa!

    After finally making it to Applecross we set up camp, showered and headed out to the Applecross Inn for a nice pub dinner. Blake opted for cod and squat lobster (serious food envy when it came out) and I went for posh fish and chips which was just chunks of battered monkfish instead of cod. We also tried some local tipples with a local Applecross IPA and Blake sampled some of Skye’s finest gins.
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    Tricia Little

    Love it🤗

    6/4/21Reply
     
  • Day4

    Ben Nevis

    May 30, 2021 in Scotland ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Today we tackled the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis! We got up early, had a good hearty breakfast of porridge for energy and headed off to the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre to make sure we got a parking spot as we did not have a plan B prepared. It was already pretty full when we arrived just after 8am so we definitely made the right choice getting their early. After rustling up some sandwiches, snacks and purchasing the ever important compass, we started the ascent just after 9am.

    The first half of the trek is not actually that bad. Whilst it's steep, the path is pretty good so you can just slowly make your way up. Around the half way mark however, the path gets steeper and the luscious views of greenery and lochs turn into rock. But again, totally managable and we kept plodding onwards, zig zagging our way up. As we got closer to the top, you could feel the temperature drop and we started to pass patches of snow. We weren't expecting however for the final stretch to the summit, to be trudging through thick cloud and snow a foot deep in places. During this final push, we really did debate whether it was worth pushing on to the top however when we made it to the top and the clouds lifted, we were surrounded by amazing panormaic views. After the obligatory photo at the top, we tucked into our sandwiches before making our way back down.

    Now if you thought treking up through deep snow is tough, getting back down again came with its own challenges. There were a number of techniques being adopted by fellow hikers from running to sliding down on bums. We decided to dig our heels in and hope for the best although I definitely fell over on my bum at one point whilst wondering why I didn't pack a spare pair of socks! Once we were out of the snow, it did get easier however the rock is quite slippery so you really had to take your time to avoid rolling an ankle. As we made our descent, it just kept getting warmer! We honestly couldn't have picked a better day to do it! I had visions of getting to the top, not being able to see a thing and having to find our way back down relying solely on my compass skills but instead we were met with breathtaking views for miles!

    They say the average time to climb Ben Nevis is around 4 hours up and 3 down. We got to the top in just over 3 hours and it probably took us around 3 hours to get back down. We'll take that!

    It was then back to the campsite for a much needed shower and some salmon, new potatoes and veg courtesy of our in van chef, Mr Thatcher before climbing into bed before most of the children on the campsite. We are going to sleep well tonight!

    Campsite: Ben Nevis Holiday Park
    Number of nights: 2
    Price: £30 per night
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    Tricia Little

    Love this adventure, well done!!. Now for some well earned 😴😴😴😴

    6/4/21Reply
     
  • Day3

    Loch Lomond to Fort William

    May 29, 2021 in Scotland ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    We were staying in a little village called Luss on the edge of Loch Lomand and we read there was a nice heritage trail walk so we packed up the van and headed off to find the start. The heritage trail combines 3 shorter walks starting with the faerie trail where there were cute little faerie houses dotted around in the trees and woodland area. We then passed along a quarry trail which took us along a stream back up to the main road and finally a river path which ended at a little cafe and tat shop on the loch. It was about time for a coffee and a cake and what a cake it was. Combining my two favourites biscoff and cheesecake!!

    We jumped back in the van and headed off towards Fort William where we would be staying for two nights so we could tackle Ben Nevis. On the way to Fort William we stopped off at a very picturesque spot for lunch and a brew and a visitor centre in Glencoe where I found a cracking postcard featuring a “heilan’ coo”. Before heading to the campsite we decided to do a reccy of the Ben Nevis start point which sets off from the visitor centre. We bought ourselves a little map and asked how long it would roughly take to complete which was 4 up, 3 down.

    We finally made it to the campsite where we set up for the night with a great view of Ben Nevis himself just incase we weren’t sure what we were letting ourselves in for. We rustled up a nice big pasta and gnocchi dinner to carb load before tomorrow’s hike!
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  • Day2

    Edinburgh to Loch Lomond

    May 28, 2021 in Scotland ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    After a very lovely few nights in our 4 star hotel, today we pick up our campervan which will be our home for the next 14 nights. We couldn't pick the van up until the afternoon, and not wanting to miss out on the sun that had finally made an appearance, we headed up to Calton Hill to catch some final panoramic views of Edinburgh and get up close and personal with the National Monument, which commemorates the Scottish serviceman who died in the Napoleonic Wars. We then headed back to the hotel to grab our suitcases and jumped into an uber to McRent to collect the van. It was quite a distance from the city however the chattiest uber driver kept us entertained for the entire 45 minute journey.

    After a quick tour of the van, a brand new Fiat Ducato called Cliff with only 400 miles on the clock, and the necessary paperwork signed, we headed off to Aldi to stock up on a few supplies before making our way to our first destination Loch Lomond. When arriving at Aldi however, it dawned on me that they McRent had forgotten to give us all of our bedding so we had to make a quick detour back to the depot to pick it up. A couple of hours later we were pulling into an idyllic campsite, right on the edge of Loch Lomond itself. After making ourselves at home in the van, we did what all good campers do and cracked open a beer and the monopoly cards.

    Campsite: Luss Caravan Park
    Number of nights: 1
    Price: £32
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    Joanna Blake

    Have a fantastic trip! The weather’s looking perfect for you. xx

    5/31/21Reply
    Pensioners On Tour

    Nice van 👍

    5/31/21Reply
     
  • Day1

    Edinburgh

    May 27, 2021 in Scotland ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Before we picked up the van we had 3 nights in Edinburgh to explore the city. We stayed at the Kimpton Hotel in Charlotte Square and whilst we didn't get a free upgrade after dropping some subtle honeymoon hints, the room was still lush. We arrived at the hotel just in time for the 'social hour' which involves zero socialising and lots of free wine - my kind of social hour! The hotel is huge and has a couple of restaurants so for dinner on the first night we ate at BABA which does amazing middle eastern small plates which were delicious along with a couple of tasty cocktails.

    For our first day in the city we joined a free walking tour, our favourite way to get to know a new place. Our tour guide Kenny was great and knew so much about the history of the city. He was a little rusty due to it being his first tour in a long time due to covid but that just added to the experience waiting for him to remember what he was going to talk about next. The tour took us along the Royal Mile, St Giles Church, Greyfriars Churchyard (or Kirkyard as the Scots like to call them) to see the famous Greyfriars Bobby's grave and Edinburgh Castle.

    After the tour we headed back to one of the streets we passed full of lots of independent shops and cafes which was apparently JK Rowling's inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books for a mooch around and in search of some lunch. We then spent the afternoon exploring Edinburgh Castle (which came with a bonus sighting of DS Arnott himself - Mother of God!)

    Our second day in Edinburgh started with a walk up to Arthur's Seat via the Royal Mile where we stopped at St Giles Church which we had passed on the walking tour the day before to have a look inside. The church had the most beautiful stained glass windows I have ever seen so it was definitely worth a stop. As we continued along Royal Mile, we also passed the Queen's residence where she stays when she is in Edinburgh, Holyrood Castle. Turns out we Will and Kate had stayed there only a couple of days earlier! At the top of Arthur's Seat we were rewarded with 360 degree views of Edinburgh which are pretty amazing.

    It was then time for lunch so we headed back to the Royal Mile in search of something to eat and stumbled across a very pink cafe called Laila with some free seats outside where we could soak up the sunshine. Alongside some very bizarre drinks worthy of such a pink cafe such as unicorn coffee (which was blue in colour and covered in sprinkles, needless to say we skipped that), they also did some delicous pittas. For the rest of the afternoon, we slowly made our way back to the hotel via the Scott Monument and a seat in Princes Street Gardens for a spot of people watching. For dinner we headed to Bodega in Leith for tacos and frozen margaritas which were amazing!
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    Joanna Blake

    The unicorn is Scotland’s national animal! xx

    6/9/21Reply
    Simon and Blake

    Now you mention this, this does make a lot of sense!

    6/9/21Reply