Fort William to Edinburgh

Steall Waterfall

From Skye it was back to the mainland and first stop Fort William where we did our bit for the local economy with a couple of trips to outdoor shops! We had thought about going up Ben Nevis but with the forecast saying that winter equipment, ie crampons and ice axes, should be carried we decided against that and instead walked from the campsite along Glen Nevis.

This was another stunning walk to the Steall Waterfall and included on the return, a rather nervous crossing of the river via a cable bridge! Anything to not go back up the valley side again 

We’re being spoilt for choice on places to visit and after a couple of nights on a campsite, it was back to wild camping, well as wild as you can get in a fully kitted out motorhome!

Today’s drive was along Glencoe and Glen Etive, both of which featured heavily in the film Skyfall although the house used as James Bond’s childhood home was actually purpose built in Surrey! After several miles along a single track road you come to the end next to the northern edge of Loch Etive where there’s a small spot where you can park overnight.

View from the park up at the end of Loch Etive

Forestry and Land Scotland has reopened its scheme for self-contained motorhomes and camper vans allowing overnight parking as part of its Stay the Night initiative. Vans are allowed to stay one night in certain locations – some charge, others not (we used Littlemill near Inverness) Hopefully the scheme won’t be abused and more places will open up.


And then came the Cairngorms, a simply stunning area to visit for walking and just submersing yourself in nature. We had a couple of snowy nights in the ski centre car park where we hit the cafe a couple of times and went for a short walk but were defeated by the weather when a snowstorm blew through. We had originally planned to take the funicular railway up Cairn Gorm mountain but it’s currently undergoing refurbishment. We made the suggested parking donation (which they say is optional if you use the cafe or buy something in the shop) but it looks like barriers are going across the car park for proper paid parking.

Sunset over the Cairngorms
Park Up at the Ski Centre in the Cairngorms
The Cairngorms
A cracking walk near Loch Muick

A lot of the southern area of the Cairngorms makes much of its historical royal connections beginning with Queen Victoria. We visited Ballater, Balmoral and Braemar and found some great walks around the River Dee and up into the mountains where there was still plenty of snow on the ground.

Our last two stays in the mountains were at the Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve from where we followed the well marked path to Corrie Ardair, and then in a small car park at Kinloch Rannoch parked right alongside the loch. There are just so many beautiful free sites in Scotland and hopefully campers in every form will respect and preserve them. We made use of the service point in Kingussie – £5 to empty black and grey tanks and top up with fresh water.

Corrie Ardair
Kinloch Rannoch

The time then came for us to start heading south. We stopped overnight at the Kelpies near Falkirk as for some reason we had missed them on our previous trip. The car park was busy (school holidays and bank holiday weekend) when we arrived so we diverted to the Falkirk Wheel where it is also possible to stay overnight for £15 (or £3.50 for day parking). After a while of watching the wheel, a fascinating piece of engineering, the car parks began to clear so we headed back to the Kelpies.

The Kelpies

Our final destination on this trip was Edinburgh for a little sight-seeing and catching up with friends. The campsite is a little out of town but the buses are reliable despite the sheer amount of roadworks currently underway in the city! The city centre was quite busy so we decided to wander up Arthur’s Seat to view it from a distance – we have definitely come to prefer being away from crowds! Lovely though to catch up with old friends over coffee and dinner and meet Felicity and Ben’s gorgeous baby, Milo.

Arthur’s Seat

Sites used:

Glen Nevis Caravan & Camping Park, Fort William: £31 p/n – hard standing pitch with EHU. Large, modern campsite with all expected amenities a short drive out of Fort William close to the Ben Nevis path.

Glen Etive: Free. Small car park next to Loch Etive at the end of a long single track road. No facilities.

Littlemill Forest, near Inverness: Free. Forestry and Land Scotland car park allowing overnight parking for self-contained motorhomes. A couple of short walks from the carpark.

Culloden Moor Caravan and Motorhome Club Campsite: £28.20 p/n – hard standing pitch with EHU. Typical C&MC site with full amenities. Near to historical sites.

Cairngorm Ski Centre car park: Suggested £2 donation for parking but looks like pay barriers are going in. Bumpy uneven car park but spectacular views and walking including the Cairn Gorm mountain. Funicular railway being refurbished at the time of writing (April 2022). Visitor facilities include cafe and 24 hour toilets.

Ballater Caravan Park: £25 p/n – hard standing pitch with EHU. Independent campsite with all facilities. Free wifi! Easy walk into the town centre and several well signposted walks along the River Dee and around the local area.

Loch Muick visitor centre car park: £10 for 24 hours. No facilities (toilets were closed when we visited). Motorhomes is are asked to use the upper car park which is uneven. Great base for walking around the loch or up to Lochnagar.

Balmoral Castle coach park: £10 for 24 hours. No facilities but local visitor centre has toilets and a water tap (albeit not for parking and filling by hoses given its location). Quieter than expected despite being next to the main road. Easy walk to the castle and the wider Balmoral estate.

Braemar Caravan Park: £30.50 p/n – hard standing pitch with EHU. Independent site with great facilities and really friendly staff – the drying room was a great addition. Easy walk into town for cafes and shops.

Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve: Free but donation requested. Short walk to toilets in an information building but no other facilities. Great walking.

Kinloch Rannoch: small loch side car park just out of the village – free. No facilities other than rubbish bins. Wardens came visiting to remind us to be considerate and preserve the beauty of the location. Stunning views along Loch Rannoch.

Helix Park (the Kelpies), Falkirk: £7.50 overnight parking at in the car park near the play area. Toilets available by the Kelpies.

Edinburgh Caravan and Motorhome Club site: £38.80 p/n – hard standing pitch with EHU. Typical C&MC club site with full facilities and located on the River Forth. Easy bus ride into the city centre

SW Scotland to Skye and the Outer Hebrides – 4 to 31 March

We were both very excited to see the Welcome to Scotland sign and as soon as we crossed the border we headed west to follow part of the South West Coastal 300 route. Scotland now has a few established driving routes including the NC500, the SWCoastal 300 and the Heart 200 and there’s plenty of information available online. The country is also better set-up than England and Wales for motorhomers with plenty of stopovers available outside campsites and some have services for which a small charge is asked.

June got to see one of her iconic Coooows
One of the fantastic park ups we found. This one was on the Mull of Galloway 54.639 4.87768

For the first part of this trip we followed the coastline from Dumfries to the Isle of Skye and then took a ferry to the outer Hebrides. Our overnight spots have mostly been car parks, some paid and some not and some with slightly better views than others! There are lots of little three or four van community maintained park ups where you are asked for a donation, usually between £5 and £10, to help with the upkeep. Some have water or toilets or are just in a perfect location and we hope that all campers do donate as suggested. We’ve also found clean water and toilet disposal points at leisure centres, ferry ports and even a local tip, so have never had any worries with filling and emptying the tanks.

June does like a dip in the sea.

We are lucky to be able to visit out of season as a lot of the roads are single track and in the summer are very busy, although travelling at this time of year means that a lot of places have not yet reopened after winter. Not needing to rely on electric hook-up also meant we could camp at remote spots or beachside where we’ve often been the only van.

We had some amazing sunsets to cook by

Transport between the islands is via CalMac ferries. There were a lot of issues in the past couple of years for locals with visitors and motorhomes using the ferries so they have recently updated their pricing and standby policies. Motorhomes are now charged the same as commercial vans of the same length and are no longer able to use standby tickets. We had planned our trip to take advantage of the winter timetable but due to technical followed by weather delays on the Berneray to Leverburgh trip we nudged into the more expensive summer fares. CalMac no longer do hopper tickets so all legs are bought as single trips but this apparently doesn’t affect the total cost and changing bookings was really easy with very friendly staff on the customer service phone line. Our total ferry costs for Skye-North Uist-Harris-North Uist-Skye were just short of £240.

Caerlaverock Castle Corner Campsite

We started this trip by following the SW Coastal 300 route from Dumfries, along the coast of the Solway Firth and Irish Sea to Stranraer, from where we dropped down to the southernmost point of mainland Scotland on the Mull of Galloway. This was mostly following main roads but there was still plenty to see.

Skipness Castle

After a night overlooking the River Clyde at Greenock to the west of Glasgow, we went back to quieter places, parking up on Loch Lomond, Southend overlooking the Mull of Kyntyre and the southern end of Loch Etive. Whilst on Kyntyre we took a diversion to Skipness on a recommendation – found a great smokehouse and came out with salmon, kippers and wild garlic pesto. All very delicious! From there it was out to Skye for our first stop there.

We spent six days exploring Lewis and Harris which are two islands that appear as one on the map and are the most northerly of the Outer Hebrides. Southern Harris is very mountainous whereas north Lewis is flatter open moorland. There was so much to see on these islands: golden eagles on North Harris, ancient history at the Calanais Standing Stones and more recent history at Na Gearrannan, both on western Lewis. June did her most northerly dip in a beautiful little cove near the Butt of Harris.

June’s most northerly dip beach. Sadly Bob was too busy talking to a local about drones to get ‘the’ shot.
Those are June’s hands…. Honest
Seals at Berneray

Uist takes in eight islands from Berneray in the north to Eriskay in the south and all are linked by one main road. We spent most of our time at the northern end of the chain, mostly chilling out parked up next to the most amazing white beaches and marvelling at the sunsets! The circular walk around Berneray is worth doing, taking in beaches, heather clad hillsides, the old harbour and the seals. We did one walk on South Uist from East Kilbride to a hill overlooking Loch Boisdale – it wasn’t too far but exhausting trying to walk through deep heather and peat bogs!

Our view from one of the overnight stops on Berneray
Three miles of white sand on Berneray
A tide bell near to Bosta Beach.

We had two separate stays on Skye on our way to and from the Outer Hebrides. For our first stay we used Uig Campsite as we had washing to do and from there we explored some of the north west of the island in the van. We did some of the walk along The Quiraing, where a landslide has left a series of sheer cliffs and rock features. We noticed that since our last visit here, there is now a large carpark and a parking fee of £3 or £6 depending on length of stay (no overnight parking).

The dramatic Quiraing

On our return we visited Gill and Ian, old colleagues of Bob’s and now more known for their art. We ended up spending three nights in their “Hide” overlooking Loch Snizort – the views were amazing both day and night when the clear skies showed the stars and the Milky Way.

The view from our window while staying with Gill and Ian. Thank you both so much for your hospitality.

We had a couple of nights of faint auroras which were nothing more than a glow on the horizon to the naked eye but captured by Gill on camera in all their glory (check out Gill Williams Photography on Facebook and Instagram for more awesome images). Ian paints and sculpts and prior to going to Skye we had both seen on Instagram (Ian.williams83) one of his Iceland inspired bowls and were glad to see them in his gallery, so purchased an early wedding anniversary gift to ourselves!

One of Ian’s amazing ceramics. Inspired by geology and his visit to Iceland. We both fell in love with it the minute we saw it on his Instagram feed

We had a day walking with Gill and she took us out to the headland at Loch Brittle when there is evidence of Viking dry docks and we found an ancient chambered cairn.

Stunning scenery around Loch Brittle

Whilst having a quick lunch we spotted a sea otter, which we swiftly named Colman due to the pork pie and mustard conversation happening at the time, on its lunch break. We are gradually ticking off the wildlife list! The weather was a bit crazy this day and whilst we walked in glorious sunshine, snow came in on the north of the island. It was hard to leave the following day after being totally spoilt for a few days, but armed with details of new places to explore it was back to the mainland to continue touring this beautiful country.

Coleman the otter

Sites used:

Castle Corner, Caerlaverock Castle near Dumfries: £10 online donation. Parking is a clearing in the forest on a nature reserve. No EHU but drinking water tap and black disposal

Kirkcudbright Swimming Pool Aire: £10 donation for EHU (or £4 just for services) clean water, grey and black disposal. Easy walk to town centre.

Mull of Galloway: remote beachside parking down steep uneven access road. £5 to park. No services.

Battery Park, Greenock: Free. Leisure centre car park no services. Riverside.

Tarbet Pier, Loch Lomond: Free car park overlooking the loch but £5 donation requested for use of motorhome service point. Local cafe.

Southend, Mull of Kyntyre: Free car park, across road from beach. No facilities.

Glasdrum Wood National Nature Reserve, Appin: Free, no services. Overlooking Loch Etive and access to woodland walks.

Uig Campsite, Skye: £21 p/n. Hard standing pitches with EHU (grass and tent pitches also available). All services available plus laundry. Great for access to ferry.

Balnarald Bay, near Houghharry, North Uist: £10 donation. Grass beachside pitches. Water available at nearby house.

Kilbride Campsite, South Uist: £22 p/n. Hard standing pitches with EHU (grass and tent pitches available plus on-site hostel). Full services available including laundry and kitchen. Across road from beach and cafe on-site.

Clachan Sands Camping, North Uist: £10 donation. Parking on grass, beachside. Water tap available.

East Beach, Berneray: grass parking in the dunes. The area is divided but hard to see where! One side charges £10 and the other is free. No facilities.

Luskentyre North Beach Carpark, Harris: £7 donation. Small beachside carpark (but no real view). Clean water and toilets available.

Huisinis, North Harris: £10 to park overnight plus £3 to use black water disposal point. Hard standing car park next to a building with toilets and showers and a large room containing local information. Beachside and access to walking paths. Access is via a long single track road but worth it!

Bosta Beach, Breaclete, Lewis: £5 donation. Hard standing car park with toilets, behind dunes.

Port Stoth, Butt of Lewis: Free. Two concrete pitches overlooking small cove a short walk from the lighthouse. No facilities but we stopped at nearby Lional Sports Centre where for £4 you can fill up with clean water and dump black.

Rhenigidale, North Harris: Free. Hillside car park overlooking a sea loch. Picnic seating. No facilities.

Finsbay, Harris: Free. Hard standing car park with small picnic area. No facilities ( black water disposal available at Tarbert tip for £3). Overlook the village and loch – good for watching seals.

Baleshare Beach: Free. Hard standing and grass beachside parking. No facilities but amazing sunsets!