|Inverewe and motorhome scum
||Down from Ullapool on our way to Gairloch.
Stunning scenery yet again.
Stopped at Inverewe Gardens - Liz in gardeners heaven. Aidan and Scooby in the rain.
Came out of the Gardens to find that the hired motorhome in front of us had reversed into our camper van and then driven off. Their cycle rack push in out bonnet. They drove off without leaving details but were spotted. Unfortunately their license number wasn't noted.
So if you were in a Dicksons of Perth coachbuilt motorhome Inverewe Gardens on the the afternoon of the 20th May, we think you are utter scum.
Happily the van was still drive-able so on to the very nice (and very big) Sands Campsite at Gairloch.
|Luskentyre Sands - a new favourite
||Scooby Hound in love with the beach at Luskentyre Sands on Harris.
Miles and miles of pristine sand with views across to Taransay.
|The Golden Road - East Harris
||A visit to Tarbet and then back south along the "golden road". Lots of theories as to why it is called "golden" but most likely is the cost.
The landscape is very "lunar" for much of the route - lots of rocks and some moorland.
An otter spotted us before we made a quick escape.
For about 25 miles of single track road, there seems to be absolutely no part that is either straight or on the flat. Very much a 2nd and 3rd gear road.
Lots of cyclists in the Outer Hebrides but we only saw 2 on this road - daft sods!
The recorded average speed of 19.9 mph includes the "easy" road back up the west side of the island.
||After non stop high winds for the last two weeks, the wind finally abated enough to go paddling. Well - sort of. It dropped to about a Force 4 but it was on on shore wind and in a sheltered bit of ocean.
It did, however, mean that we were side on most of the time to 1 to 2 foot waves.
After shipping a wave over the side big enough to move Scooby from his perch, Liz and Scooby played ball on the beach for the 2nd half of the paddle.
Wind was a bit too much for a journey round the next headland so a short paddle.
Stunning views across the islands and sea from the campsite (which was right by the beach).
Reminder to self - when we return don't book an electric hookup - go for the views.
|Callanish Standing Stones
||Reckoned to be the most impressive set of standing stones in the UK after Stonehenge, the Callanish stones are something special (albeit Avebury might try to claim the 2nd spot).
We were lucky enough to be there when it wasn't too busy. Unlike Stonehenge, you are free (in all senses) to simply walk around these stones.
|Eoropie Beach and Butt of Lewis lighthouse
||Another wonderful beach for Scoby Hound,
This time it was the Eoropie Beach right at the north end of Lewis.
Then on to the Butt of Lewis lighthouse. The most norrth westerly point of somewhere or other. Also in the Guinness Book of Records as being the windiest place in the UK. Which felt about right.
Eoropie has a wonderful kids adventure playground with a sign asking one to "respect the sabbath".
|Cape Wrath (nearly)
||So we made it to the farthest planned point on our Highlands and Islands road trip.
Durness is about 10 miles from Cape Wrath - the most north westerly point of the mainland.
To get to Cape Wrath itself requires a short ferry trip and then a 10 mile mini bus trip on a private road through an MOD range. We didn't fancy the mini van bit.
So we took Scooby Hound down to Sango Sands. My - it was windy. At least a force 8 and probably gusting more. So windy, in fact, we didn't fancy a long yomp today.
|Stornoway to Scourie
||Took the ferry across from Stornoway on Lewis to Ullapool on the mainland.
Then up to Scourie for the night.
Sadly Scooby's run of 18 consecutive days of "beach action" came to an end today. We got to Scourie a little late to do the walk round to the beach. Normal service to be resumed tomorrow.
|Durness to Ullapool
||Outstanding scenery on the road from Durness (near Cape Wrath) down to Ullapool.
Then a walk round Ullapool looking for where to have a pint and fish and chips in the evening.
Found an outdoor place selling a stonking Cullen Skink and bread for a fiver.
|Horgaborst on West Harris
||Ferry from Berneray (top of Uists) to Leverburgh on South Harris.
Wish I'd had the GPS on as the ferry took an amazing number of left and right turns to avoid the various reefs and rocks. Looking at the navigation buoys (and rocks) directly head of the ferry at times, I was amazed by the journey.
Then on to Horgabost campsite with views across to Taransay.
A late camper van arrival parked between Liz and Ben Fogle so she let the van's tyres down.
Beach good but not Scooby's best as we were right at the top of tide. Will be better tomorrow.
|Lazy day at Gairloch
||With two of the three camper van inhabitants not waking up until gone 09:30, we opted for a lazy / veg / reading day today.
Scooby got 2 walks along the beach.
|Gairloch to Dunvergan on Skye
||A soggy, soggy day.
Miles and miles of driving in rain that only varied between drizzle and full-on pissing down.
Lots of ups and downs and single track roads.
We avoided the trip into Applecross as I was too chicken shit to do the Bealach na Bà pass on the way out. We wouldn't have seen anything as cloud level seemed to be about 25 foot!
Eilean Donan was very pretty in a soggy, not paying for an overpriced ticket, rebuilt in the 20th century, expensive food hall and too many annoying tourists kind of way.
Then across the Skye Bridge (more scary heights) and on to the rather nice Kinloch campsite at the head of Loch Dunvegan.
The Co-Op in Broadfield on Skye sells a stonkingly good Cullen Skink.
|Glennbrittle to Glencoe
||From the amazing Glenbrittle campsite on Skye back via the Armadale to Mallaig ferry.
Then on to Glencoe via Fort William.
Balked at paying £6 for a car park to photograph the "Harry Potter viaduct" at Glenfinnan (or the memorial to some old bloke who didn't speak Gaelic).
Staying at the Invercoe Caravan and Camping Park. Seems nice enough on the edge of Loch Leven.
Went to the Glencoe Inn. Glory of glories - they had Aspalls and Guiness. They also had a shit load of midges - first time we'd encountered them on this trip (although Durness had a couple of hours of cleggs - horse flies). Pints were downed in one and we burped our way back to the campsite (where, just half a mile away, there were no midges).
|We are old people now
||So today we failed to
a) walk the 7 mile round trip to the end of the loch peninsula because of a little stream (Liz has a bad hip and wore the wrong shoes)
b) failed to go out kayaking because there might have been too much rain to allow us to dry the kit before stashing back in the van.
The "old people" realisation may have been brought on my Glenbrittle being the first campsite where we were in the older half of the clientele.
Lots of hale and hearty youngsters climbing the Cuillins.
Makes me sick - don't they know that the young should be dissolute?
And I 'spose that it had been pissing down for days so the stream was slightly a raging torrent. And the weather forecast said rain....
|Glencoe Pass and Lock Etiv
||Spent the morning cooped up reading in the van as it hammered it down.
So a change of plans saw us driving up through the Glencoe Pass in the teeming rain (medium scary) and then down a spectacular single track road to Loch Etiv (super scary with drops and stuff).
Saw a lot of mountains and waterfalls but Scooby Hound unimpressed by the lack of cross country dog walks.
|Glencoe to Portavidie
||Another windy and sometimes rainy day for the drive down from Glencoe to Portavidie (on the mainland opposite Tarbet on Kintyre).
Portavidie is a somewhat weird place - shed loads of money has clearly been spent on the place - primarily on the pretty full marina which would make an ideal base for exploring the western isles. While lots of money has been spent maybe there were big savings from a failed oil rig enterprise from the mid 70s - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portavadie
We initially thought the place felt souless but we take that back because the staff were great and, without exception, friendly and welcoming. And the marine pizza and chips were great.
|Portavidie to Low Stillaig
||A walk from Portavidie to Low Stillaig and on to an "almost island" to watch for the wild life that didn't turn up.
Fell out with Scooby Hound who had the time of his life chewing on stale sheep shit to see which ones still had a soft middle.
I wouldn't mind but we have to share a van with the little sod.
|Back to England - and a rip off
||Left Portavidie and crossed the Argyll peninsula to get a ferry across from Dunoon.
Unfortunately, we didn't read the tiny icons on the CalMac timetable and turned up in a campervan at a ferry for foot passengers only.
After a minor panic, we saw there was a "Western Ferries" car ferry at the other end of town. No sign listing the prices on the way on to the ferry. Turns out the bastards charge everything over 5m at some sort of commercial rate as it cost us over £40 for about a mile of travel. So unlike CalMac who charge reasonable prices for small/medium size campervans (up to 6m), this lot scalp just about every tourist in a van. We won't be back. Bastards.
Then past Port Glasgow, through Glasgow on the M8 and then down to the Lake district on the M74 / M6.
Now trying to get used to the hordes of friendly northeners at our North Lakes campsite (a bit of a culture shock after a month of small sites and few people).
||Up the Kintrye peninsula, past Trabert and on to Oban - ready to catch the ferry to Barra in the Outer Hebrides the next day.
Good campsite with fine views over the Sound of Kerrera.
Saw the offshore lifeboat towing in a large, well crewed yacht - unsure what the problem was.
Took the hound for a walk out the back of the campsite. Nearly as much vertical as horizontal. Unfortunately, we didn't get that far as the hound insisted on trying to eat every single piece of sheep shit he came across - and there was lots.
||Wigtown - self described as Scotland's capital of bookshops.
Would probably have been very nice it it hadn't been raining and there wasn't a pandemic on.
Went for a walk down to the harbour - a little way outside of town. Strange place as it looks as though it has been repaired / renovated in the last twenty or so years but I can't see that it would have much commercial traffic.
The peace a quiet was shattered by a bunch of lassies (I believe that's what they are called round here) being driven round town in the back of a cattle trailer. Clearly quite tight already, I was impressed how when they stopped outside the local co-op the checkout lady interrupted her work to bring out another 4 cans of purple cider.
|Mull Of Galloway
||Scotland's most southerly point apparently.
Misty - very misty.
The Mull of Galloway is a long pointy bit sticking out into the Irish Sea. Unsurprisingly, there was an impressive tidal race of the end of it. More surprisingly, it didn't seem to extend more than a mile out to sea. So close to the coast - way more fearsome than (say) Start Point on Devon. Offshore - not so much.
Quiet day today which suited Scooby Hound fine as our campsite - New England Bay - is right above the beach. So a walk of about 20 yards before Scooby gets to start the next game of "ball".
The only real problem with staying here in Galloway is that I find myself unable to say the word without the vision of George Galloway being Rula Lenska's cat entering uninvited. Not this county's (or Rula's) fault I suppose.
Also went to Port Logan - a pretty little village with a breakwater / pier and that's about it.
||Friends had recommended a visit to Port Patrick. And very pretty it was too. Just a little short on open coffee shops.
We almost went paddling from here!
A bit later we then almost went paddling near Stanraer (Loch Ryan).
||A top drive up from Stranraer to Culzean along the A77.
Then a very pleasant little walk down through the grounds of Culzean castle, along the shore and back through the woods.
Having 1:25000 ordnance survey mapping on the GPS device helped in deciding where to go.
Looked a little like a "Scottish Deliverance" as we yomped through the woods.
Scooby Hound happy to continue his run of at least one beach walk every day so far on the holiday.
|Seal Shore Arran
||A walk along the foreshore from Seal Shore campsite on Arran. Spotted seals, dolphin and a big diving bird with a yellow head (a boobie?).
Almost went paddling from here,
|Carradale on Kintyre
||On to Kintyre and Carradale.
The harbour is, ahem, a bit of a pit with one of the locals presumably being a compulsive hoarder of trash.
Carradale Bay beach is good - Scooby liked it and so do the locals seals.
A lot of Scottish mizzle.
Mulligan's Tyre, oh miss strolling into the sea I desire....
|Mull Of Kintyre
||Well - sort of. Just round the corner at Carskey Bay.
We didn't see another person on the beach until just as we got back to the campervan. Liz didn't find her three pieces of plastic rubbish until we were nearly back at the van.
And Scooby loved it. Because he's an old boy, we didn't give him his ball to play with on the way back. So he barked at us the whole way back but there was no-one else to hear so we let him!
Also had a look round Campbeltown. Looks better in the sun than the rain so we decided it shouldn't meet the same fate as the eponymous destroyer in WW2.
|Meathop and Grange-over-Sands
||An 06:45 start and 350 miles got us to the south of the Lake District by about 2 p.m.
In time for a short yomp to Grange-over-Sands. A very pretty village on the north of Morcombe Bay. But where the hell where the pubs? Found one eventually.
Back along the edge of the bay where Scooby hound danced with joy for being off the lead.
Then back to Meathop Fell camp site where, as it was my night to cook, I treated us to two Fungi pizzas from the mobile pizzeria.
C&M campsite very nice - spotlessly clean - not too Stepford Wives.
|Oban to Castlebay
||Into Oban to catch the ferry across to Castlebay on Barra (bottom of the Outer Hebrides).
The trip across was ok - with 5 hours across F4ish seas, it was a result that neither Liz or the dog barfed.
Unfortunately, most of the outside seats were cordoned off for some sort of maintenance which meant that we had to stay in the pet lounge with half a dozen (no doubt covid infected) pet nutters. Which was mostly OK except that it meant all of our photos taken along the beautiful Sound Of Mull to Tobermory were taken through a rather dirty window. A few uploaded for memory's sake anyway.
Then on to the outstanding Borve campsite on Barra.
Scooby continuing his run of getting a beach walk every day of the holiday so far - but today wasn't top of his list as it was just the town beach in Oban.
GPS track recorded on Navionics on the phone - seemed to stop recording when out of phone range - which is very odd for a boating app!
|Barra in the rain
||Woke up to 45 mph winds and teeming rain. Somehow 45 mph winds seem stronger here (where there is nothing between us and Newfoundland) than down in Devon. And the van has sprung a mini leak. Either that or one of us didn't quite close a window properly.
So with the wind and torrential rain, it was into the van for a circumnavigation of Barra. Hard to get lost as there is really only one single track A road around the whole island.
Went out past the only airport in the world to have its runway on a beach - unfortunately the tide was a bit far in for any landings.
It stopped raining long enough for Scooby to get his first walk on a Hebridean beach (across the causeway to Traigh a Bhaigh on Vatersay). Scooby happy! My - was the road on Vatersay narrow. Barely wider than a small camper van!
As we sit in the van at the campsite staring out to sea, I haven't mentioned to Liz or Scooby what a day's 45 mph winds will do for the sea swell for tomorrow's ferry trip to Eriksay...
The eagle eyed will notice I forgot to turn the GPS on at the start!
||A shorter ferry trip today from Ardmhor at the north of Barra to the ferry jetty on Erisksay.
The winds hadn't really abated that much and 24 hours of winds to build the swell meant I feared for the worst with Scooby and Liz. However, they both took the 40 minute ferry crossing in their stride. Yay!
When we landed the rain had stopped for a bit so we thought we'd find Scooby's next beach. And my did he love the beach near Gearraidh na Monadh! Liz still searching hard to find her three pieces of plastic to pick up from the beach.
Went in to South Lochboisdale to buy some 2nd hand books to replace the wholly inappropriate ones Liz had brought for me in the van "library". Very friendly shop keeper in the "bit of everything" store and very slightly stroppy teenager in Liz's card shop.
Then back to Kilbride Campsite in West Kilbride before the wind gusts upped a force and two and the horizontal rain brought the visibility right down. Very glad I'm too old and creaky for tent camping - nice and dry and warm in the camper van.
|South Uist and Benbecula
||A bit of a road trip around South Uist and Benbecula.
The first "panoramic" photo is the view from the Co-op car park on Benbecula.
Top lunch at the "Marine Supplies and Seafood Cafe" in Kallin. £3.50 for an excellent salmon sea food chowder and roll.
|Balranald - North Uist
||A short yomp around along Balranald beach to keep Scooby Hound happy and then continuing on round the headland that is Balranald nature reserve.
Avoided most of the rain and the bogs and only got slightly lost once (which is hard to do on a headland and with a GPS with 1:25000 OS maps on it)!
Liz has joined the "stone bothering" sorority - can you spot her effort in the photos?
|Berneray beach walk
||Up to the top of Berneray for a beach walk dodging the rain.
The wind was blowing a hoolie but we dodged the rain.
The colours of the sand and the sea could make you think you were in the Caribbean (apart from the aforementioned wind and rain).
Scooby now on the 14th consecutive days of beach walks. I suspect he's beginning to expect them every day now.
Watched the Berneray / Leverburgh ferry from the beach and wondered at its erratic journey. Having been on board the next day we understand better as it has to make upmpteen turns to avoid all the rocks and reefs between Berneray and Leverburgh.
|North Uist and Stone Cairns
||Another rainy day with 40 mph winds so we set off in the van to do a circumnavigation of North Uist with a gtrip up to Berneray in the north.
The drive round North Uist is maybe 30 miles on very good single track roads with the usual (for the Hebrides) very well marked passing places every few hundred yards. Makes for a lovely, slow, unstressful drive.
At the top of North Uist we took the causeway across to Berneray to give the hound his daily beack walk.
Noth Uist is approximately 50% moorland and 50% water. Masses of inland lochs and also convoluted sea lochs. If the damn wind had dropped a little, there were some ideal spots to go kayaking.
On the way back round, we stopped on a 5000 year old cairn. The tourist guide books talk about it being one of the earliest stone "buildings" in northwestern Europe. It then goes on to make comparisons to the Pyramids. I'll leave you to judge but "pile of stones" I say! Especially, as after 5000 years of just sitting there there had apparently been a dangerous collapse meaning we couldn't go into the burial chamber for a nose around.
We did stop at a stone circle shortly after but they'd neglected to build it next to a parking spot and as it was pissing down (yet again) we headed back to the campsite.
Still - top day out.