My lovely Kiwi friend Georgia has decked out her house on wheels and at the start of May we took Gordita for a spin up in the Scottish Highlands. We had a rough plan of a few things we wanted to see (Skye being the main destination) but other than that, we were winging it.
Georgia had already headed up with her mate Lindsay, so my housemate Ciaran agreed to an afternoon walk/push up in Callander in the Trossachs before dropping me off at Bridge of Orchy in the evening. Lindsay and I did a switching places and Georgia and I started heading north in Gordita. We stopped in at the Co-op in Caol to stock up on food supplies before heading over to Glenfinnan.
Gordita is a converted transit van with all the bells and whistles – Georgia’s even managed to fit a pop up shower and an emergency toilet in her! Besides a roadside nap in my car back home in Australia, I’ve not done any car sleeping. The first night we found a quiet parking lot across from the Glenfinnan visitors centre by the church. I couldn’t really notice but apparently we were on a bit of a slope, so Georgia said she did have trouble having a good nights sleep as she was constantly trying not to roll downhill into me. Although we’ve got the emergency loo, Georgia has also taught me the practical way of taking a wee outside (helps if your car has a towbar to hang off!) My first midnight wee I did get a bit of a fright – I went out without a torch and could hear a rustling noise over to my right. Then remembered it’s Scotland, so no doubt it would be a deer. It had stopped moving and I felt it staring at me, I was wondering if it was going to come over and headbutt me with my pants down! Thankfully, I heard it clop down the road away from me. Phew! No death by deer for me!
Our first full day we headed over to see the Jacobite steam train make its way over the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The train leaves Fort William at 1015 so comes through Glenfinnan around 30-35 minutes after that. We were able to get a good spot for our photos and we got lucky with the weather with just a few drops of rain.
After seeing the train we walked over to the Monument, went for a short walk around Loch Shiel and then headed up to Fort Augustus to meet up with Georgia’s Welsh friend Luke to do a bit of electric mountain biking. I decided to opt out as the weather got a lot worse and just took myself for a wander around Fort Augustus and up along the canal.
I got in a decent walk around the town before the winds started right up, making my way around the abbey and through a wild garlic field and stopped in at the chippy to see if they had any gluten free options – yes! The chips were good, as was the gravy and vinegar. We headed to The Bothy House for dinner and a few adult beverages before cosying up back in the van.
Our second day, Georgia had some work to do so we hung about Fort Augustus for the day until heading north west to the Clashmore Peninsula in the evening. There may have been another round of chips for me. We of course had to get a photo at the Loch Ness monster’s viewpoint.
We stayed that night at Lochan Sgeireach. There was a wee parking area that we shared with 2-3 others, but we did have to shifty the van a few times to get a bit of an even keel as the parking area was quite sloped.
The weather the next morning was a bit tempermental. We made our way around the coast, stopping at Achmelvich Beach, the Stoer Lighthouse and B&B Philosophy for a hot chocolate.
We made it to Scourie Beach mid afternoon – just in time for an afternoon nap as we pulled in when it had just started raining! An hour later and the blue skies were back!
We started heading back south, and across the Kylesku Bridge. There’s a lovely parking area just north of the bridge that has a wonderful view of the bridge of Loch a’ Chàirn Bhàin.
I had found a few blogs that mentioned the Wailing Widow Falls, however the time came to find where they were and google let me down! Georgia and I drove up and down the same 10km stretch of the A894 three or four times before we found the correct carpark. It’s not signposted but is just beside a wee bridge. You could park on the side of the road further down if you wanted to view the falls (and do a massive walk/hike) from the top and walk around Loch na Gainmhich, but we opted for the less strenuous option.
The ten minute walk to the falls saw us walk in snow, hail, rain and sunshine.
A few people had told us to not miss Applecross so we made our way southwards and up the Bealach na Bà road. Halfway up we decided that the road is the tourist attraction, so we stopped at the top at the viewpoint and settled in for the night. We went to sleep with this view….
And we woke up to this….
Georgia did a great job parking the van the right way so we didn’t spend all night getting buffeted about by the strong winds.
We left Bealach na Bà without going on to Applecross as we wanted to get over to Skye for our last couple of days. We stopped at The Croft Cafe in Duirinish for a quick bite to eat for lunch – and managed to pick up a couple of bottles of Thistly Cross cider! This is my all time favourite Scottish cider so of course had to get some for the bonfire BBQ we had planned for later that evening.
We picked our camping spot at the free parking area just up the road from the Fairy Glens. Unfortunately, we did forget to top up the gas as we went through Broadford, but a return trip had us kitted out with food, gas and wood for the fire. We had homemade beef burgers, chorizo sausages, grilled eggplant and capsicum and potato salad. A veritable feast!
Friday saw us heading early down to the Fairy Pools. This is a rocky path split by streams and ‘rock stairs’ so unfortunately wouldn’t be accessible for any of my 4 wheeler friends.
I’d seen some amazing photos of the Fairy Pools online, so followed the path to the end thinking ‘ don’t want to turn back now, what if it’s just ahead?’
Disclaimer: while the Fairy Pools ARE lovely don’t get sucked in by the online photos because they are definitely hyped up.
There’s a paid carpark at the head of the trail, with different prices depending on your vehicle and a brand new amenities block. The toilets are only open from 9-5pm and the disabled toilet is NOT accessible by radar key (from looking at the door).
Georgia decided it was a good idea to get IN the Fairy Pools. Mind you it was about 3 degrees and had just started snowing a wee bit, and we didn’t bring towels.
We decided to continue on the track of the fairies and headed to the Fairy Glen up near Uig.
The Fairy Glen is quite an unusual landscape which has a bit of an otherworldly feel to it.
We booked in to the Uig hotel for a pre-dinner pint and I treated myself to the only gluten free main on the menu – lucky it was the one I actually wanted! The venison with dauphinoise potatoes and veg was absolutely amazing!
To be honest, after traversing up the West Coast and the amazing scenery we encountered, Skye – although beautiful in it’s own right – wasn’t as impressive.
Saturday was a bit of a chill driving day back down through Gencoe, the Trossachs and back to Glasgow.
For a bit more info on what we ate – and how I survived eating gluten free in the Highlands have a look at this blog post.
Between the two of us costs came to £430 – so £215 each, including all food and drink, diesel and gas for the heater. Not too bad for a 7 night trip.