A Travellerspoint blog

August 2015

Glamping Scotland with Reggie - Part 5

Heading south

We didn't exactly hurry. We didn't have far to go as we were going to overnight in Selkirk, still in the border region of Scotland. Packing the car and cleaning up a little took a while. We had opted for small bags rather than cases and had loads to cram into the car.

Reggie went in early and was asleep when we eventually returned the key and set off. Once again we had to navigate through Inverness, but the traffic wasn't too bad this time. The A9 was also relatively heavy and we headed southwards past Aviemore stopping at the Ralia Cafe for a break.

Then again southwards towards Edinburgh. Another stop for Reggie to have his breakfast, anther day it had gone uneaten, and us to have lunch at a Subway near Perth.

Another surprise was that the Forth Road Bridge was free.....

IMG_7380.JPG

From Edinburgh we stuck on the A7 all the way arriving in Selkirk just as the weather looked up.... yes it had been raining again.

The County Hotel is dog friendly in the rooms but not in the public area. Luckily the room they gave us was huge with massive bed and a sitting area. By some fluke it was stuck out on a limb and three sides had no adjoining rooms so if Reggie got a bit barky no one would be disturbed.

IMG_7385.JPG

Sekirk is where Sir Walter Scott, author of such epics as "Rob Roy" and "Heart of Midlothian" and where he was the Sheriff, The courtroom was closed when we arrived and so we had a walk around the local (and very hilly) park.

IMG_7384.JPG

We had dinner in the restaurant, and it was good. In fact the whole experience was lovely.

Back to England

We were up early enough and breakfasted and packed to leave about 9.30am and headed off on a TomTom magical mystery tour through the borders and on the A7 south and then into the wilderness of the Kielder Forest and eventually arriving at the Roman Fort at Housesteads.

It was raining.

Once again we had a coffee and then took the wet half mile walk up to the fort, cleverly built on a hilltop by the Romans. This time we had waterproof trousers as well.

The fort is the best preserved site in the country.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort.

It continued to rain as we packed Reggie into the car and headed off for the road south and that's where the wheels came off. The traffic once on the A1 was terrible, too much traffic and associated roadworks. Using the map and TomTom we tried to avoid as much as we could but it was gone 8.45pm before we arrived at the hotel in the midlands.

We had planned to visit Claire's cousin locally for dinner but as time went on we got later and later we almost aborted. Instead we checked in and then went over to them later. They have a new puppy, a black labrador, and Reggie and her got on well until he stole a toy and she tried to get it back.

All photos taken from the car are taken by the passenger and not the driver.

Posted by InvictaMoto 16:47 Archived in Scotland Tagged selkirk hadrians_wall sir_walter_scott housesteads_roman_fort Comments (0)

Glampng Scotland with Reggie - Part 4

Our last full day in the Highlands started off pretty much like many of the other days. Breakfast and then we set off for a day of sightseeing, with no great plans. Just after leaving the glamping we took the left turn on to the A833 heading towards Beauly.

Beauly is a small town to the north of Inverness. I found a parking place in the centre and we took Reggie across to a small cafe - The Corner on the Square. Most of our tourist trips involve starting with a coffee whilst we think of where we are going next. Of course we sat outside in what was a rarity on this trip - the sun.

In Beauly just along the high street is the ruins of an old Priory. We had a walk over there and then down to the river, or as close as we could get to it. It was mostly fenced, so once again no paddling for Reggie.

IMG_7373.JPGIMG_7374.JPG

Once we had exhausted the high spots of the town we set off towards Inverness. Whilst we were here I thought it a good idea to visit my Mum rather than leave it to the next day when we could be going back home. The story of how my Mum came to rest here is in The Ashes Tour blog.

The weather was good and despite not having the TomTom location plumbed in we easily found the Rothiemurchus estate and the car-park where we had left the bikes in 2015.

Reggie was enjoying the woodlands and the special dog exercising area. Sadly we needed the loos but they were out of order and we had to wait for portaloos to be delivered. We went along the lake and found the spot where we had put her ashes. It was quite sad standing there and looking up to the undergrowth and trees. After some minutes of reflection we set off back to the car and headed out.

Loch an Eilean

Loch an Eilean

Loch an Eilean

Loch an Eilean

Loch an Eilean

Loch an Eilean

Loch an Eilean

Loch an Eilean

Loch an Eilean

Loch an Eilean

The plan was to find somewhere to have lunch in Aviemore. In the end we went into Tesco and bought some sandwiches to have a picnic.

As with all unplanned things, sometimes they don't work out and we struggled to find a picnic spot or something similar. In the end we turned off the A9 and stopped at a few picnic tables in Carrbridge.

The remainder of the day was taken up with getting back to the glampsite and another stop at the co-op to buy dinner.

The weather had held up today and we were very lucky. Tomorrow we set off for home.

Posted by InvictaMoto 12:40 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Glamping Scotland with Reggie - Part 3

We had breakfast and then had to decide where to go. Getting down to the loch didn't seem possible as there are few parking places and even fewer places where the road isn't way above the shore. Matching these two requirements is frankly nil.

In the end we decided to go to the Culloden Battlefield to the south-east of Inverness. Inverness itself proved pretty traffic heavy with all the A82 traffic from the west having to go right through the centre. I took the opportunity to fill the tank at an Esso station. Maybe test the theory that branded fuel is better than supermarket fuel. After several fills of both over the last ten thousand miles the jury is out!

Once clear of the city and onto the A9 south it wasn't far before we saw the signs. TomTom had tried to take us on a different route near the airport but the radio reported that there were holdups after an accident. As you approach the site, you can see the flags marking the front lines of the rival armies. Like all of history both sides have their own opinions and tell the story of the whys and wherefores of the Battle.

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield

The original farmhouse of Leanach survived the battle and has been restored several times. The roof is heather thatched, a traditional Highland craft.

We had a coffee but as Reggie wasn't allowed in to the vistor centre we had to have it outside. Something the National Trust for Scotland might like to invest in are some benches for people that want to take in the view outside or maybe the less able that might need a sit down as they get around the battlefield. Or silly sods like us that have a dog!

From Culloden we decided to try a different way back to the glampsite. Along the south/east bank of Loch Ness. Much of the first few miles are narrow road with passing places. It isn't as busy as the A82 on the northern bank.

Along the road we came across the Falls of Foyers. I have never heard of it before and didn't see it on the map. We pulled into a newly surfaced car park and as it was way past lunch time we went into the attached cafe/store.... Everything in one place.

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

It was quite late and we were lucky, the weather had finally looked up. Did I mention that most of the day so day it had alternated between drizzle and miserable feeble sunshine? Sitting outside Reggie was able to have his breakfast that hadn't been eaten. He was a little off his food with all this travelling. I had the baked potato with haggis and cheese.....
Then we went down to see the falls.

Once back up and after a sit down (!) we set off south west again alongside Loch Ness. We came along the road and it opened to a viewpoint looking across the Great Glen.

DSC_1535.JPGDSC_1537.JPG

And then we had the change to stop and dip a toe into it! At last Reggie got to paddle in Loch Ness, no monster though. The moment not captured on camera as it was a brief paddle!

DSC_1539.JPG

And then back in the car for the last leg of this bank of the Loch to Fort Augustus. Here the Caledonian Canal links Lochs Ness and Oich. Some ten or eleven kilometres apart.

There are a series of 5 locks to allow boats to get from Ness level to that of the canal to Oich at Fort Augustus,

IMG_7369.JPGIMG_7371.JPG

From here we had a relatively short drive back to the glamping via the co-op at Drumnadrochit. We would eat in again, but self cooked in the microwave at the site.

Another day over. Tomorrow?

Posted by InvictaMoto 12:28 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Glamping Scotland with Reggie - Part 2

From Glencoe, our next stop was going to be three nights at Loch Ness Glamping. The journey between the two sites was about seventy miles. But with an arrival time of 4pm, we had about 7 hours to do it. Even in Scotland in the pissing rain, we'd be hard pressed to find something to do.

The first stop was in Glencoe Village to take some photos of the River Coe bubbling along, and then for breakfast at a small shop cum coffee house cum cafe - Crafts & Things. Reggie-free again.

DSC_1488.JPGDSC_1491.JPG

Reggie wasn't allowed in but he stayed in the car.

DSC_1490.JPG

We liked the look of some decorated mirrors in the Charles Rennie Mackintosh style and Claire bought a couple. Photo to follow, but mirrors are difficult to photograph without acting like a mirror! So maybe not.

Once away we passed the Corran Ferry, and into Fort William on the A82, right through and on towards Spean Bridge. Neill and I stopped here on the Ashes Tour in 2013, and it was raining. At least today the rain had stopped and we continued on the A82 to the Commando Monument.

And here we stopped. Claire's father Victor Stevenson was a Commando and trained near here under Lord Lovat and was shipped off to Burma for the war against the Japanese. We took a few photos. Reggie wasn't allowed on the monument itself, although in his absence other visitors kept climbing over it and showing a distinct lack of respect.

Commando Monument

Commando Monument

Commando Monument

Commando Monument

Reggie had a little walk away from the monument where there is a path that heads across the mountains towards Spean Bridge village and then across to Fort William.

DSC_1496.JPG

As we sat in the car we decided to make a change to the route and go to the Isle of Skye. It's completely in the opposite direction to the glamping site at Drumnadrochit.

So at Invergarry we made a left turn off the A82 onto the A87 alongside Loch Garry and then Loch Cluanie. The next stop would be Eilean Donan castle. A very popular tourist spot and I am sure the castle was used in a movie or two (or more),

With the Insignia using fuel at about 49mpg, we had plenty of fuel to get us around 600 miles on a tank. The last fuel stop had been in Carlisle. We did pull into a small fuel station with a shop to get some snacks and a drink.

I had an idea that to get to Skye we could take the Glenelg Ferry. After the stop we took the left turn and were rewarded with a sign saying the ferry was 9 miles ahead and £15. Brake! The bridge at the Kyle of Lochalsh is free. So the ferry idea was knocked on the head.

A few miles on and we arrived at the castle. The car park was pretty full and we found a space after a tour around the lot. What I did like was a roped off area for motorcycles; just in case I ever get there on two wheels.

DSC_1497.JPGIMG_7355.JPG

We had a drink and Reggie had a paddle in the loch, and then with it raining again (!) we headed off to the Kyle of Lochalsh and the bridge to Skye via the co-op supermarket to get some sandwiches for lunch.

It briefly dried up as we headed over the bridge and onto the Isle of Skye, where it started to rain again. We aborted the mission at Broadford overlooking the sea, We didn't take many photographs as it was dull and wet.

20150810_145808.jpg

From Skye we retraced our steps back along the A87 and then left onto the A887 rejoinong the A82 at Invermoriston on the banks of Loch Ness, And hurrah. It stopped raining.

The traffic was pretty heavy as we headed the last twenty miles or so to the glampsite. I had the site in the TomTom and it was easier than we expected as we could see the armadillos on the hillside to the right. We checked in and went to the armadillo. Time for one pic.

IMG_7357.JPG

Once settled in we headed back down to Drumnadrochit to the Co-op to buy some essentials and to get fish and chips from the attached chip shop.

The first night took a bit of getting used to. The armadillos are a little cramped.

Tomorrow would be another day and we would have to decide where to go.

Posted by InvictaMoto 16:14 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Glamping Scotland with Reggie - Part 1

To pod or not to pod?

The idea was originally to set off Friday morning and drive up to the Carlisle area for an overnight stop. Given the hassles and massive tailbacks that are associated with the Dartford Crossing, I added another overnight on Thursday to get part way along the road so that we would have a pretty easy day on Friday.

I chose a Days Inn near Baldock in Hertfordshire as it was cheap and dog friendly. We packed the car and when Claire came home there were a few bits to do and we set off. Luckily later in the evening the traffic wasn't too bad through the toll tunnel at Dartford. We made good time and were soon checking into the motel on the A1 service area at Baldock. Reggie was okay in the car and despite a bit of noise he wasn't too bad overnight. The odd bark and growl when people made noise in the hallways.

Friday we set off on the A1 route up to Scotch Corner where we would take the allegedly scenic and "biker friendly" A66 across from the east to west coasts of England. It is quite a narrow part of the country.

The run wasn't too bad until around Barnard Castle on the A66 where the road became two lanes of jammed cars. After 45 minutes inching along we checked the map and I set the TomTom for a country route via Barnard Castle and Middleton in Teesdale. Once we were free of the jams we purred along. At least we were moving and did see some nice scenery and villages.

Finally arriving at the next stop at Stobart's Motel. Stobart's are one of the biggest UK truck companies and the motel is on the northern side of Carlisle. It is dog friendly, in fact the staff made a fuss of Reggie, has a cafe and bar onsite.

19898337503_7061a090b0.jpg

Once checked in we had a run into Carlisle to have a look about and take Reggie for a walk. We found our way to a free car-park near the castle. On the map it shows a park behind the castle that goes across to the river.

blogger-image-414648782.jpgblogger-image-1060558351.jpg

The park had lots of these sculptures that were actually musical instruments. A kind of tubular bells.

blogger-image-856506433.jpg

Saturday morning and we were packed and on the road again. The plan was to head north past Gretna to Glasgow and pick up the A82 and stay with it alongside Loch Lomond to Glencoe. We had crossed the border into Scotland and with more stops required for Reggie to stretch his legs and ablute, we pulled into a services on the M74. Had we seen the overhead signs and then heard the radio, we would have been able to plan a detour. Why? There was an accident on the A82 about halfway up the left side of Loch Lomond that had blocked the road.

I pulled off the motorway and looked for a right side of the Loch route. In this area there aren't too many roads! In the end we had it sussed and let TomTom lead us around Glasgow onto the A81 and A84, and we stopped in the touristy town of Callander for lunch, and my first haggis of the trip. It wouldn't be the last.

Callander

Callander

Another purchase was the Avon body spray that gets good write-ups as a midge deterrent. I have tried all kinds of mosquito/midge repellents and only Johnson's "Off!" bought in Finland years ago has ever worked,

From Callander there was heavy traffic in the opposite direction as people unable to get south on the A82 had to travel along the A84 and the way we had come up. The traffic for us wasn't too bad.

There's always a bit of frustration when you have had to make a quite long detour, and as we arrived at Crianlarich to rejoin the A82 and the original route, the road to the south was still closed. Adding to the frustration was the column we had joined had a guy that looks at a 60mph speed limit and does 45! Just before we entered Glencoe itself the guy turned into a hotel and we were let loose.

The scenery is superb despite the rain! Yes. It rains in Scotland. Frequently. In Callander it had been warm and sunny. There had been rain at some stage though as the "Fishery" car park was pretty well flooded in parts. TomTom took us through the glen and then right onto the small road with passing places across the River Coe to the Glencoe Youth Hostel. There are two on this road, the Independent, and ours, the Scottish Youth Hostel Association hostel. We checked in.

IMG_7340.JPG

Although they are testing the water with dog friendly hostels, dogs aren't allowed in the cafe/restaurant or the lounge. So basically they can go in the entrance hall and into the bedroom. Personally, this is a little restrictive and as long as the animals aren't where food is prepared then they could be allowed into the breakfast room or the lounge where it is comfortable to sit and maybe chat with other guests.

Once checked in we had a run to look for the visitor centre. We found it but it closed at 5pm. We did have a little walk in the rain and then back to the Hostel. We decided to eat at the Clachaig Inn that we had passed on the road after we turned off the main A82.

In contrast to the YH it had no restriction on the dog - obviously guests don't go in the kitchens! Oh. It was still raining! Hard. There is a no reservations policy at the Inn and no organisation for getting a table. It becomes a free for all!

Just hang about and dash when one becomes free. Not good. The food was okay, but the "who runs faster" system was shit. We found a table that was in the hallway on its own and Claire and Reggie took residence whilst I queued at the bar to order drinks and food. It took fifteen minutes to get an order in and once seated it took a few minutes to be delivered. I guess at the pace they take orders that the kitchen is waiting for it to arrive and can concentrate on one at a time. Certainly not worth the Tripadvisor rating at all. In fact I rated the organisation as pretty poor.

IMG_7337.JPGIMG_7338.JPGIMG_7339.JPG

As we were staying only two nights at the YH, we had breakfast booked only for the first morning, and so once the group occupying most of the beds in the hostel had had theirs we went, we had ours, leaving Reggie to his own devices in the twin room we had. We had another trip to the visitor centre (where dogs aren't allowed in) and went on the longer run through the glen. Unfortunately, it was raining most of the time, and forestry work meant that most of the walk was of scrub and severed off tree trunks. But we all got a walk! Not a tourist attention grabber!

IMG_7329.JPGGlencoe

Glencoe

Glencoe

Glencoe

IMG_7331.JPGIMG_7333.JPG

From the visitor centre we headed towards Fort William and decided to take the Corran Ferry across Loch Linhe. It's not cheap for such a short and fast crossing at £8. But it is always nice to be on a river ferry! Scenic but not as long as the ferries we have experienced in other countries, and especially the Rhine.

Corran Ferry

Corran Ferry

Corran Ferry

Corran Ferry

On the other side we followed the A861 along the loch's edge to where it meets the A830 main road from Fort William to Mallaig. Traffic was pretty light as it was Sunday, but I guess as Mallaig is a port on weekdays there might be a lot more heavy stuff on the road.

Glenfinnan, where Charles Edward Stewart aka Bonnie Prince Charlie, arrived in Scotland and raised his banner. He left again from nearby after being beaten at battle at Culloden on 16th April 1746.

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

From Glenfinnan we set off along the main road for Fort William in the hope of getting some food. Although we found a dog friendly pub, food didn't happen, unless you count a packet of crisps and a pint....

Sadly, there was football (soccer American chums) and it featured my club, Arsenal losing 2-0 to London rivals West Ham United. The locals in the pub seemed to be honorary Arsenal fans judging by the colourful language. From here we got back in the car and headed back to the visitor centre for a coffee before it closed and then to the YH. Checking the dog friendly places, we chose the Glencoe Inn for dinner. We should have gone there the night before. Not too crowded, Reggie very welcome in the bar and they had food! What could be better? The staff were very friendly and to be honest it knocked the Clachaig Inn into a cocked hat. The next morning we would be packing up and heading about 75 miles to Drumnadrochit and the glamping site.

Posted by InvictaMoto 05:43 Archived in Scotland Tagged glencoe glenfinnan callander Comments (0)