And back to Base Camp…. 19/5/17


We fell asleep listening to the waves lap at Mika’s wheels – ok, not literally but they weren’t far behind them – waking to the pitter patter of the rain accompanying the soft waves. Although it had been raining on and off most of the night, by the time we were up and breakfasted it had eased off and the sun had started to come out. We walked up the road into Lossiemouth to do some proper ‘local’ shopping, visiting the butchers to buy some Haggis and Black Pudding amongst other things, a local deli for some freshly smoked haddock and another where we finally found some local honey. It isn’t a particularly big or pretty place but it had the necessities (including several pubs and a fish and chippie!!)

As the weather is changing and we are expecting quite a bit of rain over the next week we thought it wise to do some research before we went out to the pub – a little more than a pin in a map which for us is impressive! – and decided that we would head for Loch Lomond for a couple of nights. So, we headed off into the hills, along the edge of the Cairngorms, whose peaks were covered in snow before they disappeared behind the clouds as the weather turned. Miraculously, the rain slowed and the clouds lifted briefly for us to stop in Pitlochry for lunch and a walk around, starting again as we got back on the road again.

As we weren’t in a hurry, we stopped at a farm shop for a coffee and then finally arrived at our little CL (Gartfairn Farm, Balmaha, Drymen, G63 0AQ, £12 inc.) late afternoon, amazed by the stunning views looking out onto Loch Lomond.


The forecast was right thankfully and the sun had come out to make an appearance today, so after a run/exercise and some crepes for breakfast we set off for a lovely walk in a northerly direction along the side of the Loch, part of the West Highland Way, wiggling through the forest where the bluebells were still aplenty, stopping after a couple of hours for lunch before heading back to Mika.


We managed to dodge most of the rain clouds thankfully but there were two points when it looked like we were going to be enveloped in the cloud but it just frisked us lightly before passing us by!


We woke to the pitter patter of rain which was expected, I headed off for a run whilst Keith did his exercises inside Mika for the first time in ages and once sorted we set off on the long drive South.

We decided that as it was going to be a pretty grim day wherever we went that we would get some mileage under our belt, arriving at our little CL in a field (The Village Field, Ossington Road, Norwell, Newark on Trent, NG23 6JW £12 inc.) around 5:30pm, roughly 10 degrees warmer than it had been this morning.

It was a warm but tranquil night and we managed to get ourselves sorted and on the road again before the rain arrived, setting off to Melton Mowbray to stock up on Pork Pie and Stilton!!! …… not to mention the fully stuffed bacon and sausage cob, all in all a pretty satisfying lunch.

With the market closing around us we did a quick food shop and headed North again to an overnight stop to catch up for a nice pub meal with Keith’s mum, Liz who is away for the week with her sister and husband, Pat and Keith. Unfortunately their CL was fully booked but we found one not too far away tucked behind an old Wool Mill which is still used to make some of beautiful wool, Merino Wool and Cashmere clothing. (Splash Farm, Lea Bridge, Matlock, DE4 5AF, £12.50 inc.)

As it is on the edge of the Peak District the hills rolled around us and the views were stunning when the rain clouds lifted enough for us to see, unfortunately better for the naked eye than the camera again.

We woke and felt honoured as the rain held off until about 8:45am which enabled us to get a little bit of only slightly damp air before the skies opened again and remained that way for the rest of the day….if nothing else, the grass was getting a good watering which it desperately needed!

We set off on our short hop back to meet Kevin and Petra in their new home at Mercia Marina on their beautiful narrow boat. Having spent the penultimate couple of days with them before they sold up their motorhome it was lovely to share the first cosy stove session with a bit of a European influence …. Paella, Red wine and Cheese!

Leaving the blue skies and sunshine of Derbyshire yesterday lunchtime we travelled back to ‘Base Camp’ in Holyport to find that we have some new companions who were so young they still had their price tags on!

Three weeks away to do Scotland just isn’t enough to do it justice but it was an excellent taster so we will be back to do some more walking and try and get in more than a couple of distilleries next time!

In search of a Highland Cow…12/5/17


After a beautiful sun set and a peaceful night we were woken by hungry sheep making quite a raucous around us. We welcomed the sunshine and beautiful blue skies yet again….. unfortunately this morning not only did we have the sheep as onlookers but lingering, waiting to attack were the midges….

My sweet blood had lured them in and they found it necessary to help (their words not mine) me out whilst during my morning exercises. Needless to say there are a few less midges in Sheildaig and unfortunately a few unwanted nibbles to my body!

Still smiling – how could you not be up here –  we made our sandwiches with the Scottish wood smoked salmon we bought on the way to the pub last night, left our donation in the box for such a beautiful spot and headed North to find our next spot for the night.

The journey was beautiful and after an initial part of single track through the national park the road widened and remained somewhere between an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ road for most of the journey to Ullapool. We parked up about a mile before the town to eat lunch and have a think about where we were going to stay, leaving the motorhome outside town to walk in and have a look around.


Despite being a ferry port it is an incredibly picturesque setting but also a very pretty little town. We found a nicely equipped outdoors shop but unfortunately for them / fortunately for us they didn’t have anything that tempted us enough to part with our money, although as a compromise we did buy some Ullapool smoked salmon (obviously just so we can do a taste test!) and some local bacon, sausages and black pudding for breakfast later in the week.

Although we went to look at two different campsites we decided to stay where we were in our little parking place. It was fairly quiet and a young German couple had come and parked next to us, so we settled in for the night making some bread and dinner as the sun started to go down.

We were prepared for the worst but woke to low cloud and a slight dampness in the air although no rain or wind. So I set off on a quick run whilst Keith amused passers by with his headstands before we packed up and set off just as the rain started to dribble a little…. I say that, as despite the forecast which was set to be pretty heavy rain, that is pretty much all it did all day… dribble a little! ….. just to be clear, I am happy about a bit of dribble even when it is accompanied with wind.

The dribble just made the tones of the lochs and surrounding mountains look more enhanced and beautiful in my eyes, especially when covered partially by the low cloud.


We found a local market which was being held in a community hall in one of the villages we past through so we thought we would stop to see if they had any interesting wares. Amongst the second hand books, hand painted silk scarves and cards there was a Charcuterie stall with home smoked items….although as most of you know, I don’t believe you can never have enough Smoked Salmon, we do still have one and a half packs, so we decided to buy some Smoked Cheddar which is delicious.


We continued our route, briefly stopping at the Smoo caves for a walk, arriving at our little CL (94 Laid, Loch Eriboll, Lairg, IV27 4UN £14 a night) just after lunch.

The CL is right on Loch Eriboll, looking out onto Ben Hope (a mountain just in case you wanted to know) and has lots of walks… we settled for a quick (2.5hrs there and back) around the wheelhouse which takes you up to the peak enabling you to look out over the Loch and out to sea.  Unfortunately the photos in the mist didn’t do it justice but it was a pretty good view.

It was a beautifully tranquil night  – although my midge bites gave me hell… but apparently all par of the course in Scotland so I shouldn’t complain,  although there were a few waiting for me in the morning to do their morning exercise routine ☹️ … all I can say is ‘never knock the wind’…. it keeps those midges away!

Exercise quickly completed, Keith set up the Bar B Q for a cooked breakfast.   It wasn’t particularly warm but it is always nice to cook outside if possible especially when it comes to sausages, black pudding, bacon, tomatoes and egg. The bacon and black pudding were definite winners, but the sausages had room for improvement…. we are becoming experts now!

Pulling out of the drive we joined three beautiful old VW campers, a fourth mark IV and another motorhome to traverse the loch slowly, stopping at almost every passing point for a car, truck or strayed lamb! A slow but pretty journey initially which then switched onto a normal ‘A’ road for the last twenty miles with views onto the nuclear power station…. not quite as pretty as we have become accustomed to over the last few days!

Just before we arrived at our little overnight spot we passed through Dunnet Bay and Keith spotted a little distillery…. Gin – yay! So, after  parking up and being made to feel very welcome by Yvonne and her Chickens, Ducks and cows (Kittawake Cottage, Skarfskerry, Thurso, KV14 8XN – £6) we set off in search of the distillery! – a small place set up by a husband and wife three years ago. Not only are they making good gin but also investing time and money to ensure sustainability and protection of local wildlife habitats. What more can you ask for, a nice walk (3hr round trip), a bit of knowledge gained and a bottle of gin heavier!

The little CL was facing out onto the Orkney Islands … which we could just about make out through the mist and cloud last night although they were completely gone by this morning as although there was definitely more sun trying creep through, it was foggy out to sea.

We both battled the wind which was pretty special (gotta look on the bright side, at least their were no midges!) and went for a run, said goodbye to our feathered friends and set off to see John O Groats.


Mika (and Keith and I) have now visited both John O Groats and Lands End…. a well travelled lass at a mere three and a half years old (and that’s not to mention Italy, France, Spain, Portugal….)

Despite the views not being too spectacular on the last part of our journey yesterday, as we started to head south from John O’Groats I would say the coast line was equally as stunning as the West – just different.  The East coast has far more trees and textures, whereas the West is a little more rugged and wild. Unfortunately it was very hazy but you could still make out the pancake rocks as the hills lined with the yellow gorse rolled along next to us at the side of the road.

We never really have plans, but even less so at the moment, so having seen an interesting looking pub on Scottish Wildcampers facebook a while back we decided to drop them a line and head over to it.  Arriving at Inverness we headed East and then up onto the coast to park up at ‘The Beach Bar’ in Lossiemouth, Once we had said hello and booked ourselves a table for later we then headed out for a little walk along the 3 mile beach / sand dunes.


I was a little sceptical as we walked through the woods as I could see the midges lining up to attack but all was good and we made it out and back to the motorhome in one piece!

The Beach Bar is a buzzing place with a complete mix of clientele from young to old, a great selection of beer from the local brewery and the food was excellent …. we would definately recommend the Haggis Bon bons!

Needless to say I have still not managed to find a highland cow within a reasonable distance to take a photo.  We have seen many grazing in the fields as we have passed, including the little’uns, but I am still currently lacking a photo….

To Skye and beyond…… 8/5/17

After a hilly run (me) and lots of strange looks (Keith, whilst doing his exercises) we set off on our way further into sunny Scotland. I don’t like to be critical,  but it was a bit of a ‘caravan’ site and you could almost see the neighbours looking on and complaining about us doing press ups….. obviously too noisily!! – just didn’t quite have that ‘lovely’ feeling that so many of the other places we have stopped in have had.

Not having booked or planned much for this trip, we did a last minute bit of calling ahead and found that the beautiful campsite that we had earmarked for a couple of nights and a mass laundry session was full …. 120 places at the beginning of May???? not by midges, but possibly worse…. a six day motorcross event, so with only a couple of pairs of knickers (being a boy, Keith had plenty of boxers!) left we set off towards Fort William in search of a launderette.


En-route we stopped briefly at the top end of Loch Lomand for lunch and whilst I was playing chicken with artic trucks, Keith found another campsite which looked fairly interesting a little further north so we pushed on.  Despite some of the roads being a little on the narrow side, the journey was beautiful going from almost lunar landscape potted with small lochs, to a yellow/green water colour valley glancing up at snow capped mountains and then finally thick pine forest … not bad at all.

We finally arrived at the Faichemard Farm campsite (Faichemard Farm, Invergarry, Inverness-shire, PH35 4HG £16 +£2.50 if you want Electricity)  by following a windy road up into an opening in the forest – a stunningly tranquil location for us to hang out our washing and have our first Bar B Q of the year!!

The following morning the sun was shining and there were bright blue skies so we managed to get two large loads of washing done and do two very different but lovely walks, one through the moon-like landscape finally arriving at a loch, the other with a fierce, fast running river through a dense forest.


On Friday morning we woke with bright blue skies again (although a chill in the air) and we both set off in different directions for a run. I think Keith thought that his was going to be slightly less hilly than mine but it turned out that he got the short straw….. trail, shuttles due to gates AND more ascent/descent …. at least mine was mostly on tarmac and slightly less wearing!

Showered and breakfasted and ready to take on the day, we set off to Skye, working our way round several Lochs before we parked up at Sligachan Camping (£15 for two people + £5 if you want Electricity which we didn’t), which is just at the bottom of Spurr nan Gillean. (A nice sized peak in case your were wondering!). It is a basic site with fantastic showers and friendly wardens owned by the hotel/brewery/pub/restaurant just across the road.

As the field around started to get covered in tents, we set off for a little stroll towards the fairy pools. We didn’t quite make it as we realised that it was further than we thought but had a lovely 3hr walk and certainly had all the cobwebs blown away!


With dinner prepped and rolls on their second prove we popped over to the pub to sample some local produce …. gin and beer! …..Thank you James – great suggestion!!

The following morning, after a wind swept set of exercises amongst fellow campers looking on like we had actually gone mad we set off up Spurr nan Gillean for a little stroll.


The first part was pretty easy but unfortunately the last 25% was more bouldering than walking and the last 5% of which was a scramble on steep scree …. not much fun when you are quite a long way up. Needless to say halfway up this last part of scree we gave up, ate our sandwiches with a beautiful view and started the slow descent back down to enjoy the rest of the evening watching the sun go down and the light changing on the hills around us.

We woke to a slightly different picture on Sunday, unable to view the top half of the Spurr nan Gillean as it was covered in cloud. The skies were blue but the winds were high and we felt quite glad we did the walk the day before rather than Sunday.

After breakfast we set off on a road trip round Skye, passing through Dunvegan to take a quick peak at the Clan Macleod castle before passing round the northern coastal road to arrive at Staffin where we would stop for the night (Staffin Camping, Staffin, IV51 9JX £16 without Electricity).

If you didn’t know it, you could mistake Staffin for a little Cornish bay as it is very similar with beautiful crashing waves on a rocky coastline. We set off for a walk from the campsite over the cliff and down onto the seafront which was hard work to say the least as the gusts of wind must have been 40+mph but worth the views despite being a little too misty to take any decent photos.

As the evening went on the winds got stronger…… we were going to be in for a long one.

This morning thankfully most of the winds had died down leaving it pretty tranquil by 10:30 when we were ready for the off. So, with blue skies and rolling rocky hills/mountains water coloured into the backdrop we weaved our way along the road to make our way back to the mainland, smiling briefly as we passed a local farmer in search of any mischievous sheep escapees to put in the back of his track and return to the field.

We passed through Portree which is a beautifully picturesque town in a bay and promised that we would be back again to explore Skye further, next time armed with OS maps so we can do some more walking!

Back on the mainland we started the trip around the coast along what is now called the NC500….supposedly now one of the most beautiful drives in the world. We wiggled our way up the coast through the narrow roads to arrive at Shieldaig our little wild camping spot (GPS +57,525209 -5,648208) for the night looking out over a beautiful bay.


Oh, and just in case….. I have been updating the map in case you were wondering where we were.  Just go and have a look at the map

Scotland here we come….. 2/5/17


After spending 16 nights in Holyport and having our lovely cute cows traded in for some rather large bullocks we have moved on and are winding our way Northwards.

Our first stop was just outside Burton upon Trent (Cross Farm CL, Rolleston-onDove, Burton upon Trent – £12 per night) to meet Kevin, Petra and Molly (the dog) for a couple of nights and a catch up. To celebrate the event I even made the ‘posh’ brownies for the first time with the whole Valrhona suite ….Valrhona Chocolate, Valrhona Cocao powder and Valrhona choc chips….. which helped bring out the memories of this time last year when we were in Tain D’hermitage eating lots of Valrhona chocolate whilst fruit picking!!

On Friday morning after a nice run and a cuppa with Kevin and Petra, we finally set off for Chester just before mid-day. Although we have had Mika out of storage for over three weeks this was my first time back in the saddle as Keith had done all the driving until now. He gave me a nice easy run though … 100 miles on dual carriageway with only a few trees to weave in between to park up on our new field – or perhaps better described as an apple orchard – for the next four nights (Heathfield CL, Guilden Sutton, £6 per night). Oddly, despite it being a bank holiday weekend we were the only ones at the farm …. unless you count the rabbits as they were plentiful.

The farm was roughly 3 miles outside Chester close to a Greenway cycle path, so we ventured in for a wander on Saturday, walking the city wall which is roughly 2 miles in circumference, admiring the beautiful Tudor buildings and double layered shops and generally taking in the atmosphere – a pleasant market town.

After a pretty breezy night as the winds had started to get up, we walked back in to Chester on Sunday and took the train over to Liverpool.


I had been really looking forward to Liverpool but was a little disappointed as although they have done a lot with the docks and shopping area and they are pretty impressive, it didn’t really promote ‘culture’ to me and was a little lacking in Architecture and historical buildings…..I am just getting picky in my old age, it’s all a personal preference though and I would have no hesitation about recommending it for shopping or a night out on the town as I am sure it would hit the mark! We headed back to Chester early in the afternoon as we didn’t fancy doing any shopping and snuck into a local pub to sit quietly whilst watching Everton play Chelsea….. I did have to tell Keith to punch the air more quietly when the goals were scored!

Not wanting to get caught up in the Bank holiday traffic, after American pancakes for breakfast, we decided to jump on the bikes and go visit a farm shop that Keith had found not too far off the greenway. So, 12 miles, a sore bum, a bit of rain and a couple of hills later we arrived, locked up the bikes and found the coffee shop. Salivating at the full welsh breakfast – yes, we had crossed the border – that was being served up around us, we decided to drink up and get a move on round the farm shop before we started to trade in our lovely home made sandwiches!!

Rather cunningly they had cooked up sausages by the butchers counter to tempt us, so having tried all four of them at least twice we settled on buying some for a bar b q, (well, the weather forecast looks hopeful, despite us heading for Scotland) as well as some other bits and bobs for dinner later this week. Finally, forty five minutes later and with heavy ruck sacks, we made it back out into the garden where the sun was shining to eat our sandwiches along with a lovely black pudding scotch egg which we found looking a bit lonely on the deli counter.

We said goodbye to the farmer and his bunnies and ventured further North today, crossing over the border into Scotland to find a CL with a dairy which makes ice-cream (Cathrine House, Maucheline, West Templeton £11). The sun shone all the way for us but the cafe was just closing up when we got here and oddly neither of us were tempted by the ice-cream …. which must say something.

The forecast is still good for the next few days, so lets hope it stays that way as we head further North to Oban tomorrow……