We looked at the map and decided that the direct road to Applecross, over the top of a mountain, would be too much for our van and so decided to take the indirect route around the coastal road.
With our journey planned, we made our first stop at Neptune’s Staircase to marvel at the engineering. It’s pretty impressive.
We stocked up on supplies and fuel and headed off to enjoy the road to Applecross. It’s an interesting drive, mostly on single track lanes around tight corners, up and down steep hills. With very few settled areas along the way and no phone signal, it’s not the sort of place you’d want to break down. The views from the road were stunning.
Applecross itself is a pretty little village with a single pub, a shop, a community run petrol station and a campsite. There’s a few houses and not much else. If there is a heaven, I hope it is a lot like Applecross.
We parked up at the campsite and wandered down to the pub for a drink and to take in the views. Feeling lazy we’d decided to eat out, but the pub looked pretty busy so we chose instead the campsite’s own restaurant. It was very nice and a lovely environment to eat in.
We only had one night planned here, it would have been nice to stay another one or two nights as there was plenty of walking in the area. So we quizzed the lady in the shop about where was best and followed her directions to Coral beach to try and spot some otters. Sadly none were to be found, but the Coral beach was stunning and we spotted a seal colony on the way back.
Applecross has been made famous by Monty Hall’s Great Escape programme on the television (For a couple who don’t own a TV, we do seem to end up lots of places related to TV programmes…) We went to vista the croft that he’d used for the show and it is sad to see that it has fallen back into disuse and disrepair.
The main reason for stopping in this part of Scotland was to climb Ben Nevis, if we got the weather. We weren’t expecting the heatwave that we were experiencing! The weather forecast said that rain was a possibility, so we had to take some waterproofs. Given the heat, we decided against taking the stove and soup, only took one small flask of tea and loaded up with water.
We started at Glen Nevis at the main car park. We parked next to another California, a German one, which was nice. We’d considered the various routes up and given the heat decided to take the tourist route up. It’s a spectacular walk up, we had a snow ball fight when we found the first snow.
The sky was clear with no sign of the forecast rain, and it didn’t feel much cooler as we headed up. Four hours after leaving the car park, we reached the snow capped summit. What a view, worth every step.
We carefully made our way back down on tired legs and went in search of a fish and chip shop!
We spent the first day in Glencoe just relaxing in the sunshine and having a little look around the local area. We visited the visitor centre, which looked interesting, but it was just too hot inside. So we had a walk around the forrest and into the village where we stocked up on supplies at the village store.
After breakfast in the sun, watching people come and go at the services, we continued north. We had a campsite booked in Glencoe, but decided to head there via Loch Ness.
We stopped for lunch at a picnic area just before Inverness and were surprised to see the outside temperature gauge reading 33c! Scotland was experiencing a heatwave while England was being drenched with rain.
The Loch Ness visitor centre was interesting enough, with lots of information about the monster stories. We spent a little time by the Loch looking for Nessie ourselves, but no joy.
Finally we bid farewell to Loch Ness and headed for our first campsite of the trip, the Camping and Caravaning Club site at Glen Coe.
The campsite is in a lovely location and very clean. We settled in for a BBQ and a relax after our longest drives in the bus to date, she was running really sweet, but the lack of air con made for noisy, window open, driving.
To make use of the June bank holidays, we decided to take a trip around the west coast of Scotland and try and take in some of the Inner Hebrides as well.
After agreeing to leave work around half past four to start our long journey north, we finally got away an hour after that, straight into Friday night rush hour hell. Despite taking almost an hour on the first few miles of the M1, we made good time and got as far as the Westmoorland services at Tebay, the nicest of the service stations sometime between 11 and midnight, so stayed there overnight. As service stations go, it’s definitely the best one, with a great shop. The other Service stations around the country could learn a lot from these guys.