Guys. It hasn’t rained. Every day I’m waiting to hear the pitter patter on this van roof, but nothing. I can’t believe it. We’ve been in Scotland getting on for 2 weeks and we’ve had not a drop! I’m certain that even in the rain this place is beautiful, but my goodness, with the sun bouncing off the lochs, the mountains so vibrant and green, and the cool waters of the streams to dip into when you need to – Scotland truly is stunning!
The ONLY downside we have been experiencing due to the gorgeous weather has been the lack of a shower in the van … but oh well, that’s what air fresheners are for, right? Kidding, kidding …
So, picking up from where we left off last week, we were halfway up Cairn Gorm mountain, which of course, gives its name to the whole national park. In my lack of expertise, I presumed this was because it was the biggest that the range had to offer, but actually, this park has a little secret called Ben Macdui. It’s only home to Scotland’s second highest mountain – why aren’t we talking about that?!
After climbing Ben Nevis last year, on the phone to his parents, my husband said ‘’Get yourself a beer, order a kebab, and Google pictures of the view from Ben Nevis.’’ He didn’t have the greatest time, since I had told him there was a café at the top (I thought there was, I swear!), and instead we got a blizzard … so I was treading lightly with getting him to climb this one. But the sun was shining, the bags were full of great snacks, and we set off in good spirits. And so it stayed. I mean, the snacks didn’t last long, but we had a beautiful and very enjoyable day climbing Ben Macdui. I can’t compare the summit with the views of either Ben Nevis or Snowdon, as I’ve never been lucky with the weather before, but honestly these views were beautiful. At the top, you are literally 360 degrees surrounded by mountains, valleys and hidden lochs, and we realised just how much time we could happily spend here, and that we’ll need to come back in the future!
The great thing about the ‘Gram is that it keeps you in touch with people that otherwise you wouldn’t have a clue where they were! As it turned out, some friends of ours who had been in London a couple of years ago were now living in Inverness, with their little girl we hadn’t met yet, and we were able to meet up with them for a lovely day at Loch Morlich.
And before you know it, van life or no van life, the weekend is over and it’s Monday again – but this one was a bank holiday! And how did we spend ours? In Wetherspoons for a few hours, waiting for an emergency appointment for my husband to have his wisdom tooth out. And then in a car park (me), and in a dentist’s chair (him). A big clap to NHS 111 and the service he got though. Luckily soft foods like soup and porridge are pretty simple to make on a camping stove …!
At this point, we start our journey further north, and across, to the West coast. After extensive research (asking some people, a few of whom were actually Scottish), we had decided not to spend time on the East coast, but instead to head straight across to the West. The coastline is more rugged, there are tonnes of islands to spot even from the shore, and the possibility of some great wildlife sightings too, so we hear. The drive across really was just lovely the whole way. You literally drive through valley after valley, pass loch after loch, nearly hit the occasional sheep that has no fear of vehicles … And everything is perfect. Until about 7pm. Then come the midgies. And they are not the kind of wildlife you want to encounter! We had heard people talking about ‘the midgies’ before our trip, but honestly I was expecting a few mosquitoes, and that wouldn’t bother me. I was wrong. Midgies will get you on any square millimetre of exposed skin, and call 1000 of their friends to join them there too! Very quickly, we realised we needed to invest in some ‘Smidge’, which does do the job for the most part, but sadly it’s just not pleasant to be outside when they’re around. They get in your food, they get in your drink, and you’re constantly swatting. So, it’s early nights in on the West coast of Scotland, that’s for sure! They’re around in the morning too, from sun up to about 10/10:30ish, when it gets too warm for them. So I’ve been setting my alarm early and getting a good few hours of work in each morning before I even dare to venture out to heat some water for a coffee, watching the horrible little things trying to get in through the crack in my window instead but getting stuck on the fly paper. It’s the little things…
Midgies can’t be about in the wind though. And so this seemed like a perfect reason to head over to the coast. We have been to a few
beautiful beaches along the way, but the definite favourite has to be Red Point. We pulled up in time to see an amazing sunset, and enjoyed a lovely couple of hours with the doors open that evening because no midgies. Bliss.
The last big thing for this week was the famous road at Applecross. You may have seen it featured on The Grand Tour – Lochdown, or other programs, magazines etc. Bealach na Ba is famous for being a winding, one track road through the peninsula, with some hairpin bends thrown in for fun. I thought it was scary enough driving it in a small van, but some of these people in the big motorhomes really do have some guts that’s for sure! A tip though; not on purpose, but we drove the route starting at Applecross village, and ending at Loch Kishom. This way, the scary bends and really steep bits are on the downhill way back, and I think, the views work out better that way too.
That brought us to where we are now, our final destination for this week, Kyle of Lochaish, before we cross the bridge over to the Isle of Skye. And honestly, this is pretty much the only place all week where I’ve had trouble with the internet. But even then, it was no biggie. We just drove up and down the road a bit, counting signal bars until we found the best spot.
And that’s it for this week I guess. I really did think this blog would be much more about the difficulties in working whilst traveling, and the crazy lack of internet in Scotland, but it really isn’t like that! We’ll see if the good luck with both the internet and the weather can continue for next week on Skye!