Road Trip – Scotland

My best friend Caroline and I go on holiday together every year and have done for last five years. We live far from one another and don’t get to spend much time together so we decided that we would meet in a different location every Summer for a holiday.  Over the years we have been to Switzerland, China, Italy and Croatia and this year we went on a road trip round part of Scotland. Neither of us have spent much time visiting places in Scotland, the country we live in so we decided to borrow all my parents camping gear and go on a road trip for a week. We contemplated doing the North Coast 500 which is the most popular road trip in Scotland, but we decided to create our own route and visit places which would genuinely interest us. Caroline wanted to go over to Harris and Lewis which is an island on the West Coast of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides. I wanted to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct which features in Harry Potter and walk up Ben Nevis which is the highest mountain in Britain. We sat down together and planned a route which allowed both of us to do the activities we wanted and we made a list of all the camping equipment we would need to pack.

Road Trip Essentials: 

Tent
Camping Stove
Cutlery/Plates/Bowls/Cups etc...
Sleeping Bags
Thermarests
Backpacks (more practical than suitcases) 
Rucksacks 
Waterproof Jackets/ Trousers
Midge Spray 
Suncream
Picnic Blanket 
Towels 
Walking Boots/ Comfy Casual Shoes/ Sliders  
Walking Clothes/ Casual clothes/ 1 x Evening Outfit
Swimming Costumes
Plenty Car Snacks

Road Trip Day 1: 

We set off on our road trip on Saturday the 7th of July from Aberdeen, a city in the North of Scotland, with Caroline’s car full of camping equipment. Our first stop was Glenfinnan Viaduct which is  a railway viaduct 20 minutes West of Fort William, situated at the head of Loch Shield. If you are a Harry Potter fan or are interested in visiting some of Scotland’s beautiful countryside, go to Glenfinnan Viaduct! It is an easy 10 minute, uphill walk to the viaduct viewpoint from the visitor centre and you will not be disappointed by the view because it is truly amazing.

After taking plenty pics of the Viaduct, we drove into Fort William and did a huge food shop for the week before heading to Glen Nevis Campsite. The campsite was large with good facilities but the food truck they had on site was overpriced and campers had to pay for WiFi which was extremely annoying for two girls who spend a lot of time on social media.

We set up the tent, showered and cooked pesto pasta on the camping stove.

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Top Tip: Make sure you know how to use your camping stove before you start using it! Caroline and I were unable to put out the flame when we were finished with the stove and our dinner was cold by the time we had managed to put it out! 
Road Trip Day 2:

We woke up early on Sunday the 8th so we would have plenty time to walk up Ben Nevis. Unfortunately the weather was pretty rubbish that day, it was cloudy and spitting with rain but we decided to walk up the mountain nonetheless and we managed to reach the summit in 2 hours 50 mins. The further we walked up the mountain the wetter it became because we were walking into clouds. It was a good job we had packed waterproof jackets and trousers otherwise we would have been completely soaked at the top of the mountain and it would have been a very cold and miserable decent.

Caroline and I both had a sense of achievement as we were walking down the mountain. We usually do relaxing activities on our holidays, like lounging about sunbathing so it felt good to do something completely different to what we normally would do.

Once we reached the bottom of the mountain we showered, warmed up, cooked dinner on our stove and then spent a second night at the Glen Nevis Campsite.

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Top Tip: If you are planning on walking up Ben Nevis, make sure you pack plenty of warm clothes, waterproof’s, food and water. You have no idea what the weather will be like at the top of the mountain and it is always good to be prepared!
Road Trip Day 3:

Monday the 9th was a long day. We had to get from Fort William over the Skye Bridge, across Skye to Uig for a 14:00PM ferry to Tarbert on Harris and then to our campsite. I drove this day because Caroline had driven us from Aberdeen to Fort William on our first day. I was extremely nervous about driving because it was the first time I had driven since passing my test in January. The journey went smoothly apart from one incident when I tried to overtake a car and horse trailer at the wrong time (everyone survived, thank god).

The journey from Fort William to Uig was beautiful, we were able to stop and see Eilean Donan Castle and we saw a lot of Skye because we drove across the island. I don’t remember much of the ferry from Uig to Tarbert because I slept for almost all of the journey. However, I do remember wanting to buy a hot chocolate onboard but Caroline and I left our purses in the car and once the ferry had set off we were not able to access the car.

We arrived in Tarbert, Harris at 15:50 and then drove 20 minutes to Lickisto Blackhouse Campsite. As we were driving to the campsite we couldn’t believe how beautiful Harris is and how different it is compared to any where we have been before. The island is very hilly and rocky and covered  in astonishingly picturesque white sandy beaches. We couldn’t wait to arrive at the campsite, put the tent up and explore the island.

Lickisto Blackhouse Campsite is located on the East Coast of Harris and is incredible!  We were welcomed and shown around the campsite by the owner who was a very lovely and friendly guy. The campsite was like a maze, with loads of hidden spots for campers to put up their tents and there were two Blackhouses which had been converted into very clean facilities for the campers. The Blackhouse closest to our tent had a bathroom with a shower, kitchen area, large dining room table and a living room. The second Blackhouse had two showers and a bathroom.  The campsite was also very easy to find as it was signposted in Tarbert.

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Top Tip: Make sure you have your purse or wallet on you when you are on a ferry and don’t leave them in the car!
Road Trip Day 4:

When we woke up on Tuesday the 10th it was raining which was disappointing because we had planned to spend the day on Luskentyre Beach which is on the West Coast of Harris, 10 minutes from our campsite. However, despite it being wet and cloudy, we decided to go to the beach anyway because it was the only opportunity we had. Being on Luskentyre Beach was like being in Thailand, the sand was white and the sea clear blue. We walked along the beach for about an hour before deciding to shock everyone on the beach by going swimming. We changed into our bikinis and ran into the freezing cold Atlantic Ocean. We were in the sea for about three minutes before running back to the car.

We showered back at the campsite and warmed up before heading into Tarbert for the afternoon to look around the shops and the Harris Distillery.

We then spent a second night at Lickisto Blackhouse Campsite.

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Top Tip: If you visit Harris, go into the Harris Tweed shop in Tarbert and buy some of the chocolate brownies they have for sale next to the till, they are INCREDIBLE!!
Road Trip Day 5: 

We woke up at around 6:30AM on Wednesday the 10th because we wanted to buy some more chocolate brownies in Tarbert and drive to the Calanais Standing Stones on Lewis before taking the ferry from Stornoway back to the Scottish Mainland. It was horrible taking the tent down that morning because it had been raining  overnight so the tent was all wet and the campsite was covered in very hungry midges. Eventually we packed everything into the car and drove for roughly 1 hour to the Calanais Stones on Lewis. We were amazed by the sheer size of the stones and it was really interesting to learn about the history of the Calanais Stones. If you are planning on visiting the Calanais Stones I would recommend visiting them in the morning while it’s quiet because it is a very popular tourist attraction and can become extremely busy and overcrowded.

After visiting the stones we drove to Stornoway which is the largest town on Lewis and Harris on the East Coast of the island. We walked around the shops before catching the ferry to Ullapool. The ferry was very large and had a restaurant with a variety of delicious food options, cafes and lot’s of different seating areas. We ate lunch onboard the ferry and then slept for the remainder of the journey. The ferry took approximately 2 hours 30 mins and we arrived in Ullapool at 16:30.

That night we stayed at Broomfield Holiday Park which was a pretty nasty campsite. It was very accessible because it is located right next to the ferry port in Ullapool but the facilities were really dirty and disgusting. We walked into Ullapool that evening to look around the town and then had fish and chips for dinner.

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Top Tip: If you are going on a road trip round Scotland, make sure you pack a lot of midge spray otherwise they will eat you alive!
Road Trip Day 6:

Day 6 was our final day and we decided we would spend it at Loch Ness. We booked a lovely campsite called Loch Ness Bay Camping, located in Drumnadrochit which is the town that contains the Loch Ness attractions. When we arrived in Loch Ness we ate some lunch in Drumnadrochit, set up our tent and then walked to Urquhart castle which was 15 minutes from our campsite. We didn’t go inside the castle because the entry cost was something like £10 per person and you could get a pretty good view of the castle from the car park.

Loch Ness Bay Campsite was lovely, the facilities were extremely clean and the campsite itself was very large and spacious and there was free WiFi over the whole campsite.

In the evening we drove to the local newsagent and bought some drinks and snacks for dinner. It was a lovely warm evening so we sat on the picnic mat outside the tent and had a picnic dinner.

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Top Tip: If you are planning on going on a road trip, make sure you book all your accommodation and transport etc in advance, otherwise you might not be able to stay where you want too! We booked all our campsites and ferry tickets roughly a month in advance so we were able to do everything we had planned to do. 
Campsites + My Rating 

Glen Nevis Campsite -          7/10
Lickisto Blackhouse Campsite - 9/10
Broomfield Holiday Park -      4/10 
Loch Ness Bay Camping -        9/10 

It was incredible to discover parts of Scotland that neither Caroline or I have seen before and it made us feel very lucky and blessed to live in such a special and beautiful country. If you have free time or want to go on holiday and don’t know where to go, why not explore your home country with your best friend? It will be an experience of a lifetime. 

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