A stop-off for lunch at Fort William and a quick lap of the town grabbing some shopping and supplies. We now have a Haggis on board so some of our nerves have calmed down. We got to see Ben Nevis at about 2km away. Sadly the weather is not ideal for us to make an attempt today! Then it’s onward to Fort Augustus, where our campsite awaits.
The campsite is just a few hundred meters from the town, but as we have had a full day, it’s pretty much dinner, beer, qualifying highlights, movie, beer, brandy, snore, bed. The campsite is interesting, it’s a big oval with hard standing pitches around the edge and grass pitches in the middle. Plenty of manoeuvring space, which is a luxury so far in Scotland! Nice one, Loch Ness Highland Resort! An expensive site, but we save a few Scottish pounds by not having electric.
In the morning, we have time for a quick view of the lock staircase and then it’s onwards.
The campsite is about 5km outside Oban alongside the Sound of Kerrera. As we travelled towards the site from Oban town we were apprehensive because the road got narrower and narrower, but it was all fine, there were passing spaces every couple of hundred meters and there is nothing down the road except for the campsite and a few waterside businesses and private dwellings. The campsite is set in terraces up the side of the valley. There are hardstanding pitches, grass pitches and large fields for groups. We helped Richard and Lorraine set up their awning and set up the bongo, then relaxed with quite a few beers.
The next day and it was a brief taxi ride into Oban, and, obviously, a distillery tour. Kyle was our guide and for the next hour was a brilliant orator, telling us not only the Oban distillery history, but fitting in a lot of Scottish history and language too! Our best distillery tour – and there have been a few. The distillery is pretty much as old as the town itself and has been in the Diageo group since the day the company was formed. We found it interesting that they fit in the mammoth plants like the Caol Ila distillery and still keep the small distilleries like Oban alive.
Our spiritual base for the day was the Oban Inn overlooking the harbour and ferry terminal. We managed a wander around the town and a walk up the steep hill to McCaigs Tower overlooking the town.
Toby visited the ferry terminal for some pictures of ferries and we also insisted on a quality check of the Wetherspoons. Our ‘tea’ was cod and chips in the local ‘fashy’ and a taxi ride back to the campsite
Next day we said goodbye to Richard and Lorraine, who have gone back South because of commitments, whatever that means 😉 We have a reminder of them – they bought us a (very expensive) bottle of Oban Distillers Edition and we also have some of the running club camping gear to deliver back to them in a few days! It seems they took the weather back with them, the fine weather has ended now and we have rain, rain and more rain.
We repositioned the van to try and get some Internet and then spent the rest of the day looking at the loch and the rain through the windows and getting some planning done for the next part of our brief Scottish adventure. A fantastic three days at Oban Caravan and Camping Park.
As we prepared to pack up (which for the mothership just means to remove the electric cable!) and type up this post, Facebook reminded us that one year ago we set off across the channel for the big trip *sniffle*
Richard and Lorraine’s Bongo is faster and lighter than we are so, we took a look at the map and agreed to meet up on the shores of Loch Lomond rather than Richard and Lorraine be stuck behind us for a hundred km. Our arbitrary pin on the donkey was great – Duck Bay permits overnight stopping and we were literally on the edge of the loch, but nicely away from the road. Our evening meal was at the Duck Bay Hotel and Restaurant and was an amazing meal. Great food and great company! Next day and we had time to get the kayak out for a brief paddle around and Richard even went for a swim. Brrrr. Then it’s off up the loch towards Oban.
Early start and onto the A68 for the slog to Kelso in the Scottish Borders. We stopped off at the border to have a look around and see how the Scottish might build a barrier to keep the English out once they join the EU….
The running club event was in the Agricultural Showgrounds on the edge of Kelso town. We arrived to meet Lorraine and found out the club had arranged for the Monday night to be campable to allow stragglers to sort themselves out. So we blagged a night at Kelso. A walk around the town with a beer and pasty for lunch down by the river. We didn’t get to see the famous Floors Castle this trip – maybe on the way back South. An evening meal with R&L in the Queens Head Hotel. Chicken breast stuffed with haggis for T and a haggis in a burger for S. What can we say. Scrummy.
From Redcar, it is back on A1M and onward and upwards with a stop-off at the Angel of the North and then Hadrian’s wall. We had problems finding a paying site, so it was a quiet lay-by near Bellingham on the banks of the North Tyne. Richard organised a 4km hike along the river and up a steepish hill overlooking the area for a great sunset photo. Pasta in the van chased with beer and whisky.
No stop-over here, but a day at the railway museum and exploring the town. York with the Mothership is great – they have special areas for motorhome parking – check out Foss Islands Road, which is right outside the city walls. No overnight stopping permitted, but perfect for our flying visit. Last time we were here was five years ago in a rental campervan – pre MS1. Exploration of the museum and a walk back to the mothership via the city wall and then off to Redcar another 69 km North for a £7 over night stop. Quick Pub trip with Richard and a lovely van meal. Rugby club stopover is great – rustic but has fresh water, toilet dropoff and you can use the rugby club showers and toilets. Great value and cheap beer too!
We grabbed Richard from Bookham and set off North. Our first night away after a nightmare M1. We had a few stopovers planned depending on how the roads were and this one was the furthest south of the possible options. Our stopover was similar to an aire – a flat area in a garden centre & golf club complex for the fine sum of £6.
Into the village with Richard and a minor pub crawl. It’s probably lucky that there were only two pubs. Hollybush Inn followed by The Three Horseshoes and a great meal. Early-ish start the next day and back on the M1!
OK, so we didn’t quite get back into home life. Lorraine was in Kelso, Scotland for a running event (drinking event) and it seemed like a great opportunity to take her hubby Richard up to meet her and enjoy Scotland some more. Mothership one visited briefly a few years ago, but MS2 has not been North of the border. Plus we can start tracking down our Munro heritage and making sure that we can move North once the Scots get their next independence vote sorted and then apply to (re)join the EU! Och Aye for Scotland! Plan A is to tour with Richard and Lorraine for a week and then for us to have a solo week. Let’s see how we go!
So we have been home for a few weeks and it’s been tricky dealing with the extra space that being in a house provides, no longer in the same room all day and there is also much more ‘stuff’ around. It took us about a week to get ourselves back into normal life. First thing on the list was to get the Mothership empty for the hab inspection and to effect a few repairs for various bits that we have broken or worn out over the year we have been away.. So it was a couple of weeks with with the living room chock full of Stuff!
After that, mothership went home to the storage compound for a week or two and then we had Cropredy weekend. A few more weeks still and then it’s time for a brief Scottish adventure.