Camping Trip September 2010

Friday 24th September

Route – M8, M9, A84, A85, A82

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Top of the Devils Staircase looling southwards through Glen Coe

Left Edinburgh about 9:30 and headed west.  Walked up the Devil’s Staircase on the north side, the path eventually ending up in Kinlochleven. Weather cold but clear.  Up in 38 minutes, down in 29. (Glen Coe = the Glen of Coe / Glencoe – a village at the end of Glen Coe)

Camped at the Red Squirrel Campsite in Glencoe, a 10 minute walk to the Clachaig Inn.  £8.50 a night with a few showers and toilets in old portacabins.  Allows campfires and has access to the river which runs along the side of the campsite.  thankfully no midges due to the cold.

Walked round the Glencoe Signal Rock followed by a pint in the Clachaig Inn.  It was busy, but no real atmosphere.

Saturday 25th September

Route – A82, A9, A96

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Urquhart Castle

Woke to find ice on the tent.  Heard it was minus 3 degrees C overnight, and car temperature outside alert was +3 degrees C at 10am.

Drove up to Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness.  Allow at least 90 minutes to visit.  Has a decent visitors centre with a video presentation of the history of the castle.  Car park can become full during tourist season and this was the third attempt this year to visit the castle.  Citylink busses to Inverness seem to stop at the castle.  Good views up and down Loch Ness.

Then up to Fort George which is on the other side of Inverness.  Allow at least 2.5 hours to visit as it’s quite a large place.  Signs ask visitors to have minimum stuff with them as you are liable to be searched as it’s a live military barracks.

Stayed in the Inverness Tourist Hostel overnight.  Although it’s website says it has a free car park it doesn’t.  £11.50 a night, good city centre location, but above a noisy nightclub.  Cheapest car park in Inverness is next door – £4 for 24 hours,

Spent most of the night in Johnny Foxes.  Live band from 10:30pm which were good but didn’t seem to do requests.

Sunday 26th September

Route – A9, A96, A940, A941, A98

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Elgin Abbey

Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery – shut down in 1983 and passed to Historic Scotland which reopened it as a visitor attraction in 1988.  It no longer produces whisky.  Unlike other distilleries you can take photos throughout.  Free sample of the Roderick Dhu blended whisky which ceased production in 1983.

Elgin Cathedral – allow 30 minutes.  Nothing special

Spynie Palace – allow 45 minutes.

Stayed in the Banff Links Caravan Park – £5 a night and right on the beach.  the park is owned and run by Aberdeen Council and has a couple fairly decent facilities blocks.  Didn’t know where the pub was unfortunately.  Rather noisy at night due to the sea.

Monday 27th September

Route – A98, A97, A920, A941, A95, B970, A9, B8019

Huntly Castle
Huntly Castle

Huntly Castle – Still has amazing engraving on the brick work.  Very clear to see.  Allow 30 minutes

Balvenie Castle – one of the only castles that has the full boundary wall still intact.  Not the easiest to find due to the poor signage through the local village.

Glenfiddich Distillery – free!  Allow 90 minutes.  About 200 yards from Balvenie Castle.  Short video presentation followed by a tour round the brewing and fermenting process.  Photos are allowed for most of the trip unlike other distilleries.  At the end of the tour sample the 12, 15 and 18 year old Glenfiddich whisky.

Cairngorm Funicular Railway – £9.25 for an 8 minute journey up a hill, and 8 minutes back down.  Nothing to see at the top due to the low cloud cover.  Wouldn’t bother again unless the weather was crystal clear.

Evening meal at the Old Mill in Pitlochery.  Nice atmosphere and good food.

Camped at the Loch Tummel Caravan Park.  About 10 meters away from Loch Tummel with a small beach.  Good facilities.

Tuesday 28th September

Route – B8019, B8079, A9, M90, A912, A90

Killiecrankie Battlefield
Killiecrankie Battlefield

Killiecrankie Woodland National Trust property.  2 Mile walk, returning vie the main road.  £2 for the car park.  Saw a wild snake for the first time ever on the footpath.  Walk back along the main road using a narrow footpath was rather scary though given the 60mph speed limit.

Pitlochry Hydro Electric Visitors Centre and Fish Ladder.  Free!  Saw a real live Bill Oddie making some tv program in the power station.

Lunch at McKays Hotel, Pitlochry

Elcho Castle – Near Perth.  Building in excellent condition but down a farm track and through a farm.

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Note for future trips – get a sat nav!

Lithuania Away 2010 Photos

normal_pds_1929Photos from the Lithuania V Scotland trip 2010 have been uploaded.

Saturday 28th August – Haymarket bar, flight Edinburgh to Gdansk with Ryainair, bus to centre, Hotel Novotel Gdansk Centrum

Sunday 29th – Day out in Gdansk

Monday 30th – Train Gdansk to Kaliningrad, Russia.  Stayed in Hotel Kaliningrad

Tuesday 31th – visit to Submarine then taken by some Russians to see some Kaliningrad football.

Wednesday 1st September – A day wandering about Kaliningrad

Thursday 2nd – Kaliningrad to Kaunas by train, stayed in the Park Inn Kaunas (formerly Reval Hotel Neris)

Friday 3rd – Lithuania V Scotland football match (0-0)

Saturday 4th – Visit to old town

Sunday 5th – Fly to Tempere in Finland, then back to Edinburgh with Ryanair

Photos from August 2010 Camping Trip

I’ve added photos from my recent camping trip around the north of Scotland – Camping August 2010

Sunday 9th August

normal_PDS_jmg_1684We left about 5pm and headed for Glen Coe.  M9 to Stirling, A811 to Doune (past the 5 mile tailback coming out of the Trossachs and heading to Stirling), A84 to Lochearnhead then A82 to Glen Coe.  About 120 miles took about 2 hours 30.  First night’s camping was at the Red Squirrel Campsite just outside Glencoe Village, not far from the Clachaig Inn.  £8 A night, good location, camp fires allowed, but long walk to basic toilets and showers.

Monday 9th August

normal_PDS_jmg_1686Left about 9am for Fort William on the A82.  Raining quite heavily.  Shopping at Morrison’s in Fort William, then headed north up the Great Glen, again on the A82.

Had intended to visit Urquhart Castle but the queue for the car park was long, so headed in to Drumnadrochit for some lunch in the Courtyard Restaurant.  Rain had stopped by this point so headed back to Urquhart Castle where the queue was even longer.

We then to headed to Eilean Donan Castle near Kyle of Lochalsh.  A82 to Invermoriston, A887 and A87 to Dornie.  The drive down towards Shiel bridge is very spectacular – passing the 5 sisters.   Although the castle looks old it’s only 90 years old.  The castle was a complete ruin from 1719 to 1919 when it was completely rebuilt from the ground up.  To this end I’d call it a fake castle – bits of poorly maid concrete can be seen on the bridge.  Entry to the castle costing £5.50.

The plan was then to head to a campsite in Dornie but after finding it it was no more than a field we headed onwards.  We located another campsite nearby but it looked rather unfriendly – “backpackers tents only” whatever that means.  So we drove on again towards Skye over the newish Skye Bridge.  It doesn’t look like it, but the approach to the bridge is quite steep – I wouldn’t like to cycle it.  Over the bridge we stopped in Corry Tourist information to seek assistance finding a campsite on Skye but it was closed.

We headed onward up the A87, turning off just past Luib.  The quest was to find a flat bit of grass to camp on.  Sadly the ground arround Loch Ailnort was rocky so we eventually made it back on to the A87 near Sconser.  We then found the Sligachan Campsite near by.  A reasonable campsite with views up Loch Sligachan and up to the Black Cuillin the other direction.  Dinner was served in the nearby 180 year old Sligachan Hotel.  The hotel pub was full of like minded campers!

Tuesday 10th August

normal_PDS_jmg_1717Over to the Talikser Distillery on the other side of Skye via the A863 and B8009.  The Talisker Distillery isn;t actually in Talisker its self but in Carbost about 5 miles away.  A tour costs about £5 which includes a wee dram of 12 year old Talisker.  Then up to Portree via the B8009, A863 and A87.  Lunch in Portree in The Isles Inn.

Up the A855 passing “The Storr” and “The Kilted Rock” – the comment was “is that it?”…  Up the A855 to the tip of Skye at Kilmaluag.  As it was raining we didn’t visit the castle at Kilmluag as it was pouring with rain.

Down the A855 to Uig where we camped in the Uig Bay campsite.  When we turned up it was pouring with rain.  Quite a few folk were waiting in theor cars untill the rain stopped.  The rain dies down enough for us to fling out pop up tents down and had fully put up the tents in a few minutes.  We then headed to the pub!  Evening Dinner was severed in the Pier Restaurant which unfortunately I can’t recommend.  Took ages to order, ages to arrive, and was cold when the wrong food arrived.  One French family had been waiting 90 minutes for their food to then be told they’d run out of beef burgers.

Wednesday 11th August

normal_PDS_jmg_1725Aim was to head for Applecross campsite.  A87 from Uig through Portree, Sligachan, Over the Skye bridge, Kyle of Lochalsh, then on to the A890 through Stomeferry (no ferry), to Acintee.  Then on to the A896 to Applecross.

Lunch was had in the LochCarron Hotel.  Good food for not much money, with cracking views over Loch Carron.

On to Applecross via the Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle) – the highest road in the UK which rises to 626 meters.  Unfortunatly I was driving and concentrating on the road, and the fog was down to about 10 meters visibility.  Supposedly you can get excellent views from the top.  We arrived about 3pm in Applecross and kept driving.  Unfortunatly it was very wet and there didn;t seem to be much to do.  We stopped at the other side of the bay to take some photos – and were severly bitten by the midges even though it was pouring with rain.

We kept driving up the road to Shieldaig, then on to the campsite at Torridon.  The campsite was no more than a very rough field so we kept driving along the A890.  Unfortunalty there didn’t seem to be very many campsites so we actually ended up in the Caravan Club campsite in Dingwall!  The trip was about 200 miles – Uig, Kyle of Lochalsh, Applecross, Torridon, Kinlochewe, Garve, Dingwall.

The Caravan Club campsite in Dingwall was very prim and proper.  Each pitch was measured out, and we had to be so far away from the nearest caravan, so far from the nearest wall, and so far from the nearest tent.  The campsite was however flat and well drained, and close to the town.

As it was Wednesday, the day of the Sweden V Scotland football game we headed to The Mallard pub at Dingwall Station.  Sweden 1, Scotland nill.  Time for some food from Tesco’s (at midnight!).  My first experience of very late night shopping.

Thursday 12th August

normal_PDS_jmg_1738Down the A835 to Inverness, then the A9 south.  We popped in to the Dalwhinnie Distillery for another tour.  £6 to be told basically the same thing as Talisker.  Then down to Pitlochry for some lunch at the Old Mill Inn.

Visited the Pitlochry Fish Ladder which is an amazing feat of engineering.  Onwards down the A9 to Perth, then off to St Andrews along the A912 to Cupar, then the A91 to St Andrews.  Down the A915 to Windygates, A911 to Glenrothes, A92 to Halbeath, then the M90 and A90 back to Edinburgh.

Deagio Whiskys – all basically the same

Grain from the Black Isles, Malted at Glen Ord using local peat, shipped to the actual distillery, fermented using local pure spring water, distilled, shipped to Leven to be casked, some casks shipped back to original distiller for ageing, then shipped back to Leven for Bottling.  70% of production goes in to blended malts.