I have some sympathy for those who get out of bed at ungodly hours to remove vast quantities of McDonalds refuse from our streets before we get up. No idea what these guys get paid, but probably not enough! Maybe a few of the fat, fast food eaters on the Council should try a shift or two and look at what they earn for pushing paper clips around! Sadly, Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival was drowned in filth whilst the Unions celebrated in the chaos they created! Fuckwits! Thought that Maggie dealt with these imbeciles decades ago!
So, we managed to avoid the Maccas/KFC etc swill and have a poke around!
Haggis, Neets and Tatties! Don’t mind if we do. Thoroughly enjoyed a handsome lunch before deciding on the afternoon’s entertainment. Jackie’s long lost Cousin and ex 2RTR Officer, Ed, lives here. He offered us a typical regimental rock up time of 7pm so we decided to smash out a couple of afternoon shows. General playing card, magic and Rubix cube nerdy stuff ensued, then an hour with an Aussie lezza bemoaning the difficulties of getting pregnant. Maybe birds and bees no longer on the modern sylabus!
Scampered off for a respectable 5 mins late to Ed’s rather posh Scottish Pile and a delightful hour or so of not getting a word in edgeways 😀.
Our visitation slot closed and off we went. Found a Bar and a ticket office to see what scraps of entertainment were left!
Personally, never been ashamed of my feminine side or donning a tutu. Jackie’s patience with make-up and body hair is legendary! Wasn’t planning on an hour or so of this!
1am return to our hotel slightly irresponsible when the alarm is set for 3 bells! Bugger it, fun had. Holiday with the troops next ➡️
Taking the piss again with free parking! This time right on the shore.
10 minutes walk into town and a quick visit to the local ale establishment. Then got invited in by a couple of locals to assist them with their beer and wine collection. Cheers John and Dee for a wonderful evening and the castle recommendations.
Another castle with a dodgy name. This one, Slain. Apparently some modern bloke’s inspiration for Dracula! In reality, a sad reflection of how the landed gentry can allow the demise of irreplaceable history! No sign of the bloke with oversized teeth whilst we were there, so had a mooch about, whacked the drone up and buggered off.
We were under the impression that Highland Cattle were only wheeled out for tourists or apprentice barbers. Rare sightings of a few wandering around in the mist being pestered by people with clippers! Finally found a few in the middle of nowhere!
Onwards and downwards! Another awesome overnight parking spot. Then off to Dunottar Castle for a pre-crowd peek. Didn’t fancy coughing up 10 quid each to look at a few rocks so whacked the drone up for a couple of pics before moving on.
Avoided Loch Ness on the way North, so took a minor detour down the quieter Eastern side on our way South.
Have seen plenty of fatties wallowing around in the shallows but held out hope of spotting the fabled beast herself whilst here. Most large creatures near the shore here either get rolled back into the water or slaughtered. Either of these methods would save the NHS millions or help to feed the hungry!
Had a good look around and just like millions before us, saw absolutely no Nessie.
Settled instead for a slab of salmon on the BBQ and an overnight stop on the Loch Ness shore
Contrary to opinion, Dunrobin is not a home for retired thieves! The Earl of Sutherland, however, has clearly amassed a fair wad of cash over the years. Continuing to supplement his considerable expenses by collecting fees from the hoi poloi to have a look around his very impressive hoose! Yes, Hoose! He also has a collection of angry birds with sharp beaks and claws that do their best to keep young children inside vehicles!
No chance of parking our 20 year old wagon here without risk of a night in the dungeon or a beheading so pottered off a bit further. Our ‘park wherever you fancy’ app came up trumps again. This time on the banks of the Moray Firth to watch the seals have bit of a play. Unbelievable! Quick stop in a campsite at Hopetown on the way through
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Turns out that John’s Goaty bits are just the furthest point from Lands End in Cornwall. Furthest point North on mainland UK is Dunnett Head. Diary note for future quiz comps! Weather Gods said no to anything other than mist, Cheers to the maps app for location!
So after the Highland Games hillarity, time to head North again. Not a heap of North left before we get to the big blue thing now. The weather again continued to impress as the roads got steadily tighter. Even found a cheeky beach to break out our deck chairs and the drone. One more night of free camping before we need to park up, plug stuff in and do the water in/out routine.
Stopped off at a place called something like Kyle’s Tongue! Didn’t get licked but had a wander around another castle.
Found a quiet spot overlooking the ocean for the night. Quiet that is before a couple of grubby Campervans full of Frogs decided to extract some sort of revenge for Agincourt or Brexit by gobbing off and discussing Appellation d’origine contrôlée way past our bedtime! Not unlike Brexit or Agincourt, the Frogs were gone early in the morning and we wandered down to the beach for a walk with the sheep. The well publicised midges joined us, so we headed back to the van for brekky.
No mobile reception in this part of the world, searching for campsites somewhat tricky. Rocked up to a suitable looking place as the owner checked for bookings. Apparently, the single motorhome on site didn’t mean they were full! Handy on-site pub too!
Running out of North Coast now, off to see some bloke called grumpy goat tomorrow!
Had no idea that we could make it this far North. Loose goal now is to complete a clockwise loop around the very top of Scotland before a scamper back down the East Coast to Edinburgh. The weather is being distinctly unscottish! Beautiful days and incredible landscapes. Pinched this from the lonely planet! Scotland’s vast and melancholy soul is here: an epic land with a stark beauty that indelibly imprints the hearts of those who journey through the mist and mountains, rock and heather. Nuff said!
Stopped off in Ullapool for a food stop and ablutions in Tesco. Tesco membership card providing a handy discount for one of these purposes whilst avoiding the wrath of Jackie by using the flushable facilities! Also snagged some smoked trout from a local smokehouse. Looking forward to that. Noticed a banner on the way out of town advertising Highland Games in Lochinver. Map says only about 60km away, so off we trot. Early in the trip we found an app that listed handy, (And free!), spots to park the bus overnight. First come, first served arrangement that has been awesome so far. Looks like Lochinver has a wee spot just on the Harbour. Giddy up and off we go..
The harbour parking spot not only has just enough room for us to squeeze into but is right opposite the pub and about 100m from the games field. Don’t mind if we do!
Morning arrives with the not so gentle hoot of bagpipes warming up and a steady stream of traffic arriving for the games. Much pomp and ceremony as the Chieftain arrives to open the day’s excitement.
Turns out that Highland Games isn’t just about a bunch of large blokes lobbing heavy stuff around. Highland dancing involving mainly brightly dressed lasses of assorted ages leaping amongst swords. A fly casting event involving mainly posh looking blokes wearing tweed jackets and kilts waving their rods around in public. Various track and field events from egg and spoon racing. High jump with some very suspect looking landing mats. Long jump with a handy horse box just after the landing area in the sand! Looked like the 400m track had been prepped by a small herd of hungry herbivores. Many of the athletes in these events took part in whatever attire they chose before brekky! Kilts, skirts, barefoot or workboots! Seb Coe style laptimes unlikely here!
The large blokes took part in a series of lobbing heavy things around events! Cannon balls used as shot put and seemingly stuck onto sticks. Weights that looked more suited for securing boats in the harbour rather than lobbing about were used for distance and height events. Utter madness but awesome to watch. Finale was the lads chucking a telegraph pole up in the air and trying to flip it over. Again super impressive and watched with great enthusiasm, particularly by the ever noisier cohorts in the beer tent!
Much fun had! Looks like a second night in our harbour digs tonight!
We had no real plans on this trip except, relax and enjoy! Van working perfectly, suitable supermarkets generally available, so deciding where to go is the hardest decision of the day. North was the obvious choice from the beginning but sticky out bits on the left side of the map kept looking interesting. Places like Harris and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides are only a ferry ride away, but peak season availability and British Rail style reliability raises the very real possibility of being stuck there.
Took the drive from Port William to Mallaig to have a closer look. Sadly the weather meant the close look wasn’t much further than the bonnet of the truck! Zero places to park overnight in Mallaig and ferries mostly cancelled so turned around. Finding parking spots for a 6m motorhome is always entertaining when there is barely enough room for 2 pushbikes to pass. Found this place with a shitty view and got some dinner on!
Awoke the next morning to a new day, bright sunshine and new plans.
The Isle of Skye has a handy bridge avoiding the annoying ferries and any risk of post meal review sessions, so off we go again. 100 mile detours are generally annoying but not whilst we weave gently through mountains and valleys of pure beauty. Avoided the crowds at Loch Ness searching for a floating log and turned left at Inveraray. Places to stop along these routes are limitless, including this handy harbour for a gentle amble and a bite to eat.
Soon enough we were over the bridge, further North and further West than either of us had ventured in the UK. Predictably, the island was summer holiday busy, B&Bs and restaurants booked out weeks ago. Headed half way up the coast and set up our travelling restaurant for the night at Portee. Didn’t fancy the look of the boat tour on offer so settled on a pre dinner walk about town before putting the chef back to work in the kitchen.
Headed North again in the morning to a place called Staffin. Assumed it was retirement home for poorly educated recruitment and HR types! Further North around Uig and the top of Skye then a gentle sheep avoiding game back to the Bridge.
Fluid levels in our travelling hotel starting to look dicey. Drinking water levels now outweighed by the other variety. Hot shower and mains plug in high on the agenda. Campsite, Sands at Gairloch filled the brief.