Homeward Bound and Re-Entry

We woke up on a sunny Tuesday morning on the Lauder C & C club site . We stopped here for one night to break the homeward trip. A quiet site with a burn running through it makes it an ideal camp to be a touring base for the Scottish borders region.

No baps for breakfast this morning, just sliced bread, so bacon sarnies and a cup of tea were devoured under the Fiamma canopy. The first time it’s been wound out this trip. Am I the only one that feels like a shopkeeper setting up store when I wind the canopy out?

Lauder campsite with the Fiamma wound out

Lauder campsite with the Fiamma wound out

Lauder Campsite

Lauder Campsite

Our southbound journey saw us follow the A68 down through Jedburgh and right through the middle of the Northumberland National Park, an area we have never visited before.

We stopped briefly at Carter Bar the highest point hoping for a photo opportunity of Puffin on the Scottish / English border, but a coach load of Japanese tourists pulled up and took over site.

We eventually joined the A1 and stopped for coffee and a sandwich at the Washington service area.

As we past Newcastle, the Angel of the North came into sight. I’m always in awe of this figure for its simple, but stunning design and its engineering prowess.

 

Angel of the north

Angel of the North

Angel of the North

I had thought about heading for Bakewell in Derbyshire for an overnight stop, but as the miles passed on the south bound M1 and home was getting closer we both decided that we should keep driving and head back home.

Apart from an over zealous Eddie Stobart driver who tailgated us through the road works in a 50 mph speed limit, the trip was fairly uneventful motorway driving.

Driving into our hometown and re-entry to our normal lives after a trip away seems strange and a little sad as another adventure comes to an end.

Bring on the next one.

 

Childhood memories

We woke up on a dry Monday morning, our last day at Nairn. We had a long drive in front of us. Ruby went for a quick walk in the forest and after a Bacon bap breakfast we packed everything away, drained the waste water, topped up the fresh water then set off towards Inverness looking for the Morrisons supermarket to buy food & diesel.

Our journey south took on the A9 past Aviemore and the Cairngorns. Eventually bringing us to the Forth road bridge. The traffic is always slow on the bridge, but it allows you time to take on board the views.

Forth Bridge approach

Forth Bridge approach

Forth Rail bridge from the Forth Road bridge

Forth Rail bridge from the Forth Road bridge

 

Once we were across I turned off the main road and headed for Queensferry, a small town situated below the Forth Rail bridge. A short drive along the High street lead us to a car park shadowed by the magnicent bridge.

Forth Rail Bridge

Forth Rail Bridge

I was revisiting my past. This was a sight I remember from my childhood. Back in the 60’s my Father had converted a Ford Thames Trader 15cwt van into a caravanette as they were known then and I remember sitting in it looking up at the road & rail bridges eating Fish & Chips in this exact spot.

South Queensferry carpark

South Queensferry carpark

Although this photo isn’t of Dad’s Thames Caravanette it is virtually identical right down to the colour and the round side window. I remember helping him when I could and I held that window in place as he pulled the string out from around the rubber seal to fit it with the black mastic squeezing out.

Ford Thames 15cwt Caravanette

Ford Thames 15cwt Caravanette

West County Explorers Club

West County Explorers Club

Puffin has been proudly travelling around Scotland displaying a West County Explorers Club sticker/decal kindly supplied by Nik Schulz from Western Sonoma County, California.

We didn’t stop for long, only enough time to take some photos and we were on the move again.

We travelled down towards Edinburgh. We decided not to visit the city as beautiful as it is. We had previously visited and realised that you needed to be dog less to able to appreciated the cafes & attractions of Edinburgh. It will keep for a future visit.

Our old sat nav with it’s out of date maps didn’t recognise the road system that swept around Edinburgh, so we managed to take a wrong turn. A quick U turn and we were on course again and heading for a choice of two camp sites for the night both situated along the A68. Lauder C & C Club site and Jedburgh C & C Club site.

I stopped and phoned the Lauder site and they had a pitch available. It was getting late and we needed to stop, so we reserved it and rolled up a half hour later. The long drive had taken it’s toll and we went to bed early after a light supper.

A lazy day

We woke up on a showery Sunday morning in Nairn. Guess what we had for breakfast? No, you’re wrong, we had toast and cereals.

This is what happens when you get out of bed to make the tea.

This is what happens when you get out of bed to make the tea.

 

Ruby and I went for our morning walk in the forest. We reached my special spot, but there was nothing unusual.

The Forest spot at Nairn

The Forest spot at Nairn

There is something magical about this forest, it exudes a pleasant atmosphere. I thinking of having my ashes scattered there when I finally leave this mortal world.

We visited the town of Nairn, as it was Sunday most shops were shut. The Extreme knitter managed to find a clothes shop that was open for business.

Ruby and I took our positions outside and fended off our admirers.

I’m getting worried. If Puffin was loaded to the maximum when we started this trip, where were all these extra purchases going to be stored?

Back to Puffin and we drove down to the beach car park. I find it a novelty that we haven’t had to pay at many car parks in Scotland, but they do charge to use the toilets. I don’t mind because once we are parked we can use our onboard facilities and save paying the 20p to pee.

We spent some time on the beach at Nairn, which is beautiful, and only a short walk from the car park, which is surrounded by pristine parkland that was popular with families having fun and games with the children and dogs.

Nairn Beach

Nairn Beach

Nairn park

Nairn park

Ruby wasn't expecting that

Ruby wasn’t expecting that

Ruby isn’t a water lover at the best of times, but she was caught out when a wave came in and drenched her, she hadn’t been in waves before and soon learned to avoid them.

We had a bite to eat and a cup of tea in Puffin.

After a leisurely drive around the surrounding area we returned to the campsite and called it an end to a lazy day.

Phantom Huskies

We woke up on a Grey, drizzly Saturday morning at the C & C club site at Nairn. After a breakfast of Bacon Baps and cereals we set off for a walk in the forest following the way pointed route. Maps of the walk are freely available in the camp office, but hey, why bother, it was just a simple circular route and we would return back to the site. No problems

I blamed the extreme knitter and she blamed me. We were a little shocked to emerge from the forest on to the A96 main Aberdeen main road some distance from the site. Should we back track into the forest or walk along the road. It was decided that if we re-entered the forest we might never see civilisation again, so we trudged back along the busy road that we knew would pass the campsite entrance eventually.

This wasn’t the first time our combined sense of direction has failed us, but we never mention those times.

Shattered after our extended hike we all collapsed into Puffin and put the kettle on for a cuppa.

We needed to do some clothes washing or we would start to smell and the facilities at this site are excellent with washing machines, tumble driers and ironing available.

Once the washing was done we set off towards Inverness. Ruby hasn’t been happy when travelling along, never knowing where to sit and constantly wanting to move around. We had previously spotted a Pets at Home store in a retail park on the outskirts of Inverness when we were driving past, so we called in to look for a harness to clip her on to a seat belt on the rear seat. They were very helpful in store and tried on various ones and adjusting for her size.

There was a Tesco store on the retail site and as we had money off vouchers, in we went. We only bought a small amount of food. A decent cheese was top of the list as all we’ve been finding in the Coop was labelled as “coloured cheese”. What does that mean? What’s it coloured with? Do they give each block of cheese to primary school children and let them loose with the crayola?

The Bacardi was on special offer and combined with our money saving vouchers it became very tempting.

The Extreme Knitter picked up a bottle and said she would treat me.

No! No! I exclaimed! Don’t waste your hard earned pennies on me, but she threatened me with violence, so I had to reluctantly accept. I have a hard life.

 

The time passes so quickly and we were back at the campsite. I took Ruby for her evening walk in the forest. The evenings stay lighter up here and the forest takes on glow.

Ruby was running about off her lead, when I saw a pack of about five Huskies coming down the path towards us. They were straining on their leads and being held back by a figure that I couldn’t quite see.

I bent down to clip ruby on to her lead and when I looked up they had gone. They were no were to be seen. I walked up to the place I saw them and ruby started getting agitated, sniffing the ground and whimpering. She obviously sensed something, but we were alone.

I realised that this was the area in the forest that I always feel something magical. I had sensed it on our previous visits. I have taken photos at this place to try to capture what I’m seeing, but the photos never do it justice and just turn out bland.

Magical spot

Magical spot

Nairn Forest area

Nairn Forest area

Nairn Forest Path

Nairn Forest Path

 

 

There is no were else in the forest is like this.

 

Time to stop and reflect

We woke up on a sunny Friday morning beside the Moray Firth at the Rosemarkie Camping & Caravan Club site

The view from our pitch at Roasemarkie

The view from our pitch at Roasemarkie

We took Ruby down on to the beach and watched for Dolphins, but nothing appeared.

Back to Puffin for a bacon sandwich (must buy more baps). No rush today as we weren’t travelling to far today.

We left the site and travelled all of quarter of a mile around to Chanonry Point, It was very busy, but we managed to find a parking spot.

With the wind whistling around the camper it was a fight to open the door.

A small group of people were on the beach with cameras and binoculars at the ready.

Chandry Point

Chanonry Point

Chandry Point Lighthouse

Chanonry Point Lighthouse

Scotish safari 125

Dolphin sightings on our last Scottish trip in 2010

 

Our dolphins sightings from 2010

Our Dolphins sightings from 2010

We made a cup of tea and the extreme knitter knitted socks while I kept watch for the elusive dolphins. They didn’t appear for us this time, so we continued on towards our next campsite at the C & C club site at Nairn, which is directly opposite the Rosemarkie site on the other side of the Moray Firth.

The pitches are set in woodland and we booked in for two nights. A quick check of the larder revealed a shortage of goodies to munch, so a shopping trip at the Coop in Nairn was called for. The Coop provided us with the much-needed baps.

We returned to the site and cleaned out Puffins interior, after many visits to the beach the sand gets everywhere and I replaced a blown brake light bulb.

Nairn camp site

Nairn camp site

On our previous visits to this site we have always found it to be relaxing and a calming place. We have been on such a whistle stop tour of Scotland so far that we decided to spend some time here and recharge our inner batteries, so I popped into the camp office and booked an extra night. We settled down for the night after a hearty campers stew for supper (with baps).

Inconvenience

We woke up on a windy Thursday morning still in Edinbane on the Isle of Skye.

I took Ruby for a walk along the Loch side this morning. We met and chatted with several dog owners along the way. Ruby has no concept of her size and thinks she’s the same as other dogs. It can be quite comical when she rushes up to an Irish wolfhound or a Rottweiler, they just don’t know what to do. They know she smells like a dog, but can’t work out why she’s down there.

Our camping pitches to date have proved to be unusual to say the least. I realised that our pitch last night was actually part of a Dog graveyard complete with doggy statue monument.

P1080145 (1098 x 852)

The Dog Graveyard

Dog Memorial

Dog Memorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So to recap we’ve slept in a lay-by, roughed it by the rubbish bins and now been laid to rest in a graveyard.

Bring on tonights stopover.

We were leaving Skye today and heading back to main land Scotland, in fact straight across Scotland to Inverness-shire on the East coast.

I’m not sure what I think about Skye. Over the years I’ve built up this expectation that it would be a magical place oozing with character and fantasy. I was a little disappointed.

One very noticeable thing was the lack of Scottish accents; the majority of people we came into contact with were English. I was talking to a painter & decorator from Chester who had lived on Skye for 12 years. He said that one area of Skye was known as Little England.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the scenery was stunning, but something was lacking and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

However I’m glad we finally got the opportunity to visit and experience the Isle of Skye.

Toast & marmalade for breakfast because we had eaten all the baps. We packed away at a leisurely pace. I emptied the wastewater tank and chemical toilet. This seems to have become my job for some reason, what happened to equality?

I spotted an original VW T2 camper drive off with the pop-top still up. I noticed it too late to warn the elderly couple that owned it. They had either forgotten to take it down or they couldn’t take it down or perhaps they liked it that way and never took it down. Who am I to pick fault? I live in fear of driving off with the mains electric cable still attached.

We left the site and headed towards Broadford. The pace was leisurely and it was nearly lunchtime when we reached Broadford. I had read in a travel guide that the Waterfront chip shop on the main road (A87) served the best fish & chips on Skye according to the BBC Country File Magazine. It would be wrong to pass by and not sample the fayre. A convenient car park appeared opposite the shop, so we pulled in. There was a bit of a wait, as the shop had only just opened for lunch, but it’s always worth the wait because you know the food will be freshly cook and hot. The shop also sold cakes and a piece of Flapjack was calling to me while I waited in the queue. I left the Chip shop with a one portion of Fish & chips to share between us, two flapjacks and a latte coffee. Eating in the comfort of your campervan is such a treat.

We pulled out of the car park stuffed to the gills. The fish & chips were superb.

We were leaving Skye via the road bridge at Kyleakin and following the more scenic route via the A890 passing Loch Carron.

Skye Bridge

Skye Bridge in the distance

Road around Loch Carron

Road around Loch Carron

We had the choice of three campsites as our destination today. Rosemarkie C & C Club site, Dingwall C & C Club site and Nairn C & C Club site. We’ve mainly used the Camping & Caravan Club sites as we get an age concession. This can save about £10 a night compared to commercially owned campsites and could be a saving of £100 over the whole trip. The facilities at the club sites are always excellent.

My preference was the site at Rosemarkie as I had this on my must visit list.

My ethos for this trip was to just roll up to a site and see if we could camp there, as we got nearer to Inverness I chickened out and phoned ahead to see if a pitch was available. One pitch left!! Put our name down on it and headed that way.

The Rosemarkie Camping & Caravan Club site is situated on the side of the Moray Firth.

We were here because last time we visited the area in 2010 we visited Chanonry Point and were mesmerised by the school of dolphins feeding in the Moray Firth a matter of yards from the shoreline. The campsite was literally a 100 yards away from the point and all the pitches looked out over the Firth. What more could you ask for? Well Dolphins actually. They weren’t there.

In keeping with our panache for weird and odd camping pitches, tonights pitch was right in front of the toilets. Very convenient.

P1080181 (1045 x 796)

I had to borrow a 25m long mains lead from the site manager as my 15m was to short to reach the power point.