Scottish 500 – Day 9

What’s this bright light and glowing orb………

Bright light is pouring into the motorhome when we wake up and pulling back the curtains reveals blue sky. At long last.

We get organised, noting that The Dog isn’t exactly enthusiastic about getting up as we are. She’s not one for leaping up as soon as we move and usually watches us with one sleepy eye from under the dashboard. Would of thought she would of wanted to get out ASAP, and have some space, but evidently not.

Stepping out into the sunshine, the failure of acquiring accommodation in Fort Augustus last night is actually a blessing in disguise. This place is a stunningly beautiful location, set in the woodland clearing, with purple mountains surrounding us, little pockets of snow refusing to melt on their sides. With the mist gone, it’s showing it’s true beauty with all the colours bright with the sunshine. We could stay here longer.

We pore over the map, wandering what to do with today. We don’t want to be heading south to England just yet. We decide to head to the Isle of Mull and Tobermory. We follow the A82 to Fort William. We have two choices – catch the ferry at Corran, south of Fort William and short hop or drive the long way round. It’s such a glorious day, we do the long version.

We drive towards Mallaig, past Neptune’s Staircase (a series of locks on the Caledonian canal), and Corpach before turning left at Kinlocheil and doubling back on ourselves. We’re facing Ben Nevis now, but it has thick cloud on its summit and the position of the sun makes it difficult to appreciate its profile. We’re on a little single track road which is beautifully tarmacked and the best road yet. Great views across the water to Fort William, though I sigh heavily when I spot two ugly square blocks (either flats or offices) built high up the hill and dominating the view and completely out of keeping with the rest of the town. How do town planners get away with plonking such obnoxious buildings in prime areas?

The road we’re following is treelined on one side and Loch Linnhe on the other. I’m on otter watch yet again. You never know! It’s so gorgeous. We meander along the road, passing cyclists and again wondering how isolated the houses are. Finally we drop spectacularly towards Loch Sunart and into the little village of Strontian, a very pretty village, probably the best we’ve seen. We stop as it’s nearly lunch and find a scruffy little cafe with fantastic food. I had haggis with jacket potato and it was delicious. We have a wander for provisions, cash and a couple of little gifts from the tiny little gift shop with a grumpy Spaniel. There’s a great sense of community and listening to conversations, there’s pride in the area. I could live here, I thought. It’s just a lovely place with trees on the green, a river (though we couldn’t find a way down there for The Dog to paddle her feet – not impressed). In the dappled sunshine, it was clean, tidy and quiet. Then I thought, in the pouring rain in the middle of winter, it’s a completely different story.

Charmed by Strontian, we headed up high over the pass with fantastic views of Loch Sunart. It’s a gem of a place, scenery wise. We drop down to Lochaline to catch the ferry across to Mull. Basically you pull up on the dock, wait, get ushered on and then go and pay for your ticket. It’s like catching a bus but you’ve got a vehicle. No big terminals or offices. Just a small concrete area and that’s it. Brilliant. We went on the top deck and admired the scenery. It is definitely a fabulous day.

We roll off the ferry with the other half dozen or so vehicles at Fishnish (what a great name) and follow the Loch towards Tobermory. We spot a sea eagle – we stop to await its return, but it didn’t obliged. It’s a great little drive. We find our campsite high above Tobermory – it’s not a patch on last night’s little treasure, but it will do. We celebrate with a cuppa. It’s got really hot now and there’s not a cloud in the sky, such a difference from yesterday when we were in 4 layers of clothing. We walk down back to Tobermory, a 20 minute stroll on the road where we nose around the harbour and have a drink at the pub overlooking the Loch. Then we stroll along the front with all the brightly coloured houses. Many years ago, the kids used to watch a children’s TV programme called “Balamory” and this place was the fictional town featured because of its different coloured buildings. Sadly, the pink castle of one of the characters was filmed elsewhere in England, so can’t be seen. The song and characters are seared into our brains after many hours of watching it with the kids and we find ourselves sadly humming the theme tune and expecting to bump into Edie McCreadie.

Hubby treats me to scallop and chips, bought from a quayside kiosk and we sit on the base of a memorial with other like minded people and watch the world go by. It’s simple things like this that make holidays so memorable. We wander around a bit more, then get an ice cream each and look over to the Loch. It’s really quite charming.

Gathering our strength, we start the long haul back up the steep hill back to the site – a steady march upwards. The poor dog is truly worn out – she’s not getting her daytime beauty sleep as the rattling van keeps her awake and it’s taking its toll on her. So when we get back, she crashes out on her mat, soaking up the evening sun rays and we do the same, but in chairs.

We have a fellow motorhomer, who is rather noisy and with windows open, we can hear every word. We hope that they quieten down, but they are quite fascinating to watch as we sip our wine at 8pm. We’ve pulled down our midge screens, but open our windows. The motorhome is quite warm inside. Thankfully, we’ve not come across any midges at all this holiday, but we play it safe. Finally, with sleep beckoning, we set up our little bed and fall gently to sleep.

We’ve devised a little scoring chart for our campsites we’ve stayed at – location, facilities and general ambience. The Dunbeath one was winning with its little site, fantastic little shower block and it’s pleasant surroundings. But Invergarry is now a clear leader, but we have one more campsite after tonight, so things could change.

Tomorrow, we have no choice, but to move closer back to England and reality. I hate the end of great holidays, but there’s still a day and a half to go.

Author: apathtosomewhere

Come with me and my dog on my meanderings around northern England and further afield, encountering all walks of life and everything in between!

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