"THE LAND OF LOCHS AND MUNROES"
Ask any traveller and they always have a place that calls to them and for us that place is Scotland. The fresh air and mist against your face, the vast Lochs and endless Munroes (mountains) always keeps us coming back for more. We love how we can drive 20 minutes to our local airport jump on a 55 minute flight and be on our way to the highlands within 30 minutes of landing in Glasgow. It is the perfect escape for us and we’ve often questioned why we just don’t pack up and move to Scotland.
We have been to Scotland in the Spring and summer and this time we travelled to Scotland in the Autumn and it felt like the perfect time to travel to the Highlands. The weather was still very good and there were no midges at this time of year. On our recent trip we had 1 wet day out of 5, I would take those odds anywhere in the world. The autumn colours and moody skies created a colourful and dramatic backdrop. It really is a unique and wonderful place to explore. The Harry potter filming locations are fun to find and visit and if you have the time to visit Edinburgh it’s a city that has so much to offer.
We wanted to be more mobile than some of our previous visits to Scotland. After our recent trip to Iceland where we had a campervan we decided that getting a camper for Scotland would also be the best option. We got in contact with Rockin Vans and they were willing to let us use their Midsize Motorhome (Fiat Ducato Swift). Their service was excellent and made the whole rental process a breeze.
The Midsize motorhome was the perfect choice for us being spacious but easy to drive. When we landed in Glasgow we were met by a member of the Rockin Vans team who dropped the van off to us. We then found a 24 hour Asda to stock up on food supplies and a quiet park nearby to pull in and sleep for the night. When we stopped it was super easy to set up for the night. We pulled all the blinds closed, set the bed up and we were all set.
We woke up to a little wind and rain but as we were leaving Dumbarton, heading through Loch Lomond National Park on our way to Glen Coe it soon cleared up. Glen Coe is one of our favourite places on the entire planet. Nothing welcomes you to the Highlands of Scotland like Glen Coe does. We could spend months hiking and exploring this area as it is vast and feels endless once you get off of the main road. Down a single track we found a heard of deer. One of the Doe’s let me feed her grass while the others watched, the big Stag kept bellowing out a rutting call to another Stag that we could hear just down in the valley.
We drove further down the road until we couldn’t go any further around the loch. Hannah took a nap for a while and I watched an adventure group finishing off a canoeing trip. Night was approaching and we didn’t really want to spend the night in our current spot. We didn’t really want to be driving our van on the mountain road after dark so we left to find a camp spot with a good view of Glen Coe for the morning.
We loved how easy everything was and after finding a great spot we soon had our dinner cooking on the stove.
We had some wind and rain through the night and woke up to mist and low clouds over the mountains, it looked very moody and beautiful. We drove further into Glen Coe and hiked around where the 3 rivers meet. Once we hiked down from the road we were pretty much the only ones there. People stop off at the view points but don’t really go much further than than.
Later that afternoon we drove and found the location where Hagrid’s hut in Harry Potter was filmed. It was a beautiful little spot over looking a loch. We managed to get back to the van just before a shower hit. We had beautiful weather for most of the day and didn’t mind the odd little bit of rain. Our van was warning us that our fresh water was low and so our mission became somewhere we could fill up the water tank.
We found a small petrol station but the man said that their water was going to be turned off till Tuesday. He asked where we were going and we said Fort William. The man said the Morrisons petrol station in Fort William had water. The rain was now coming down pretty hard and then sun had set. We had a pretty fun drive to Fort William and when we arrived at Morrisons the staff at the petrol station were kind and moved their van to allow us to fill up with water. It was a slow process as we had to fill up a 10 liter jug with a small spout and slowly pour it into the storage tank. This would obviously be much quicker and easier with a hose. I decided to cut a hole in the top of the jug to stop gluggling and also the water wasn’t flowing due to suction. The hole made a big difference (sorry morrisons your jug now has a hole!)
We found a little spot just outside of Fort William to stop for the night. We’ve never ate so well on a camping trip. In Iceland we had a tiny single burner and the food there is so expensive that we took a lot of dried things to cook with us from the UK. On this trip we had cooked pies, fajitas, Chilli and other good stuff. It was just so easy in our Rockin Van.
We spent the evenings editing photos and watching season 2 of Making a Murderer (He’s gotta be innocent right?)
As soon as we closed the blinds in the van we forgot that we were in a camper and the world outside disappeared. We were nice and warm with our heating and slept well.
Our plan for the day after waking up and having breakfast was to see Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Viaduct where they filmed several scenes in the Harry Potter films. The views across Loch Shiel were breathtaking. We love this area of Scotland and the Glenfinnan Viaduct is one of our top rated places to visit.
The sides of the mountains around the viaduct at this time of year are a burnt orange colour and look incredibly beautiful. Despite the good weather there wasn’t many people there which was great for finding clean back grounds in our photos. From walking around in the wet grass Hannah picked up a tick. This is the second time she has had one in Scotland. They are pretty easy to remove but its always worth checking yourself after walking through wet grass especially the longer grass.
We had been in contact with Robbie from Portavadie resort and spa set on the shore of Loch Fyne. He had invited us to come and experience the facilities that they had. We were very excited as the remote setting looked like the perfect place to relax for a day.
We drove down from the Glenfinnan area during the night and found a mountain side spot to camp not far from Portavadie. The next morning we woke with beautiful views over the Lochs and after we had finished breakfast and packed up we headed to the spa.
We met Robbie and his team who showed us around before leaving us to relax and enjoy the beautiful setting and facilities. The downstairs section of the spa is open free of charge to the local residents which is a really cool idea. There is a large outdoor infinity pool overlooking the Loch and a couple of outdoor jacuzzis. There is also and indoor steam room and pool.
We were told by Robbie that it would be fine to take some photos for this blog and Instagram. We are always very subtle and careful when taking our photos especially in this setting. As we were there early there was only one group of girls in one of the jacuzzis. We were able to quickly get some photos in the Infinity pool without disturbing anyone. There is a no photo policy at the spa which was not a problem as we had special permission. However, the girls saw us taking a couple of photos and for the next 30 mins they were jumping into the pool and taking photos of each other. They were disturbing a lot of the other guest (who had arrived by this point) and eventually someone complained. Just as we were taking a couple of photos in the jacuzzi one of the managers came and told us off. We tried to explain that we wernt’t causing the disturbance and that we had special permission from Robbie. At that point one of the guests said that “social media was just and excuse to be a peadophile” We were pretty shocked by this and quickly left the down stairs part of the spa for the limited access upper section of the spa (we are sure the guest didn’t understand the word he used as we were taking photos of each other as a married couple).
The upstair section was beautiful with a steam and sauna room and a hydrotherapy pool. The views overlooking Loch Fyne were beautiful and the perfect place to sit and relax. We also had the entire place all to ourselves all day.
We had a massage in the afternoon which was perfect. The heated massage table made us both fall asleep and we felt super relaxed after. It was one of the best massages we have ever had.
We were invited for dinner at the marine restaurant over looking the harbour. The choices of meals on the menu had our mouths watering and we both ended up choosing the steak. The food was cooked to perfection and the staff were very friendly and made the whole experience enjoyable. We were both so full afterwards we had to be rolled out. We had had the perfect day at Portavadie. We loved our time there and both felt extremely relaxed and ready for our final day in Scotland.
We woke the next morning to rain and lots of it. We had been very lucky so far that there had only been a couple of light showers over the previous few days. We had to drive back to Glasgow to catch our flight home. We stopped off a couple of times on the way to walk and get some photos. Our boots that Merrell UK had provided us had done very well with the conditions but eventually after one deep boggy puddle too many I felt my right sock starting to get wet. This was Scotland at its best. We stopped on the shore of Loch Lomond for lunch before heading back to the airport at our agreed drop off time.
We had a few hours to kill before boarding our flight and grabbed some food from the Tesco in the airport. We love Scotland, it is so beautifully rugged and it feels so vast. You really feel like you can escape when you head up into the highlands. Combining those feelings with the freedom of our Rockin camper van we truly could get lost and be a part of nature.