Van life: the first taste

Van life: the first taste

Scotland: what a country! I have no doubts about its right to be voted as the most beautiful country in the world. It’s a place that just draws me in – I want to explore it more and more. It’s probably the mountains – big and beastly but so beautiful. But then there’s the coast, too. And the Scotch… So, last July we set out on a road trip adventure to go and explore the country a bit more, but also to test out whether we could survive together in a van for a prolonged period of time.*

Catching the train from Peterborough, we had a straight run up to Edinburgh, where we had a saunter down the Royal Mile before heading to the hotel to get ready for the next (and super exciting) day.

I can almost hear you thinking ‘what’s so special about the next day?’

The answer lies in the fact we were going to be picking up a camper van before heading into the deep dark depths of the Scottish highlands in our Wicked Camper. I don’t think I stopped bouncing up and down for the whole morning, partly from utter excitement, but also because I was slightly terrified of the type of van that we would end up having. Now, I can feel the confusion exuding from you at that statement but let me explain – if you’ve not heard of Wicked Campers I’d go and take a look. They’re cheap and cheerful and mostly have horrifying comments painted on the side, and – well – I didn’t want to be driving around the country with ‘drink till she’s pretty’ or something similar sprawled across our vehicle. I didn’t need to worry though, as I actually fell a little bit in love with our van. I named her Cynthia.

zebra print van in Scotland

Meet our van for the week, Cynthia

Scotland: day 1 & 2

Setting out for our first day was nothing short of brilliant. The feeling of being able to go wherever the hell we wanted to, stop when we wanted to and explore whenever we wanted to was gripping. We already had a rough schedule of what we were going to do so set out for our first destination – Torridon. The day was a bit grey but that didn’t matter so much, as it was mostly taken up with driving. Torridon is a fair way away. We finally stopped for a breather at Eileen Donan Castle, a famous view. Sat on the edge of the sea loch, Loch Duich, there was moody views out to see and over to the Isle of Skye.

Tom in front of Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

 

The plan was to stop at Torridon for the night – or as near to it as possible – and then do a walk the following day. The mountains of Torridon are pretty spectacular with scarily steep sides and rounded tops. We had the gear, we had our maps but we didn’t have the weather. Disappointment filled me as I peered out of the curtains and saw the peaks we were aiming for, which had been clear the previous night, shrouded in cloud.

Weighing up the options we decided that the mountains would still be there when we next came back and decided to push on to try and find the better weather – and find it we did. Driving along the coast the skies turned blue, the sun came out to play and we decided there was nothing for it but to go to the beach. Following signs for Red Point, we were met with a beautiful sandy beach with – you guessed it – a distinct red tinge to it.

 

On Red Point beach, Scotland

On Red Point beach, Scotland

Van life Scotland

After stopping for a quick drink and chips at a lovely little pub in Badachro (Badacharo Inn), we set off for a small far-flung village called Achiltibuie. We had booked to go sea-kayaking the following morning and wanted to camp out close by to be ready in the morning. It really was in the back and beyond but oh my, the roads are B.E.A.U.T.I.FULL. If you’ve not travelled in Scotland you will find the roads are a pleasure to drive. Even I, who is not the keenest on driving, had the best time. We had worried that we would be spending a lot of our precious holiday time on the road, which seemed like a bit of a waste of time, but in all honesty it was spectacular. With fantastic views, wide passing spaces and fun winding roads we could take our time and enjoy the journey.

Beautiful they were but there were no pull over spots on our way to Achiltbuie and we really struggled to find somewhere suitable to pull in for the night. It went against our ambition to spend as little as possible but we decided to spend the night in the campsite just up the road in Altandhu (I was secretly really excited as it meant shower!). It was a super smart campsite, with great facilities (even wifi) and the bar/restaurant, Port a Bhaigh, just over the road served up some insanely delicious seafood. It was a good night with a lovely view out over the sea and the Summer Isles. We went to bed very happy people.

 

Day 3, 4 &5 coming soon.

*Just for the record – I never had any doubts.

Pin for later!