Scottish 500 – Day 10

Heading south today.

We’re on a schedule today. We’ve got a ferry to catch.

We googled the ferry times last night and aimed to catch the 9.45am back to the mainland. Of course, we woke ridiculously early. We laid in, then packed up and headed off.

We arrived at Craigurn where you catch the ferry. It’s a little village strung along the Loch edge and in the centre, there’s a large concrete apron and a pier for the ferry. It’s a bit of a bigger operation here as this runs to Oban. They even have a ticket office. A lady perched on a stool ushers us into lane 5 and we nip in to get a ticket. Outstanding prices too. £20 for our motorhome, us and the dog for a 50 minute trip. Bargain.

And boy, isn’t it busy. The ferry is just disgorging it’s load from Oban and there’s coaches, large delivery lorries, cars, motorhomes, bikes and pedestrians pouring off. It’s positively teeming. We’ve rocked up in time for the 8.40 Crossing (so rubbish at timing) which gives us more time travelling.

We head on to the top deck, but there’s a brisk cool wind. The day is again glorious with not a cloud in the sky and the early morning colours are wonderful. The shorts have made a re-appearance, but the jacket is on while we’re on the ferry. The deck is swarming with Americans on a coach tour of Scotland and heading back to the mainland. The Dog happily sits and watches, seemingly unfazed by this new experience. She has been on ferries before, but it’s been a while. She’s a strange dog, as if a cushion falls on her or a door bangs, she freaks out and almost leaps into your arms. A smelly clanking ferry and that’s fine.

The crossing is smooth. We pass a cruise ship anchored out in the Loch, ferrying its own passengers to Oban. We are soon docking too and head back into the bright sunlight and Oban. Oban looks a charming little town, but we don’t linger. To avoid the tortuous winding road from Crianlarich to Tarbet, down the side of Loch Lomond we take a different route, heading to Loch Awe and then turn down towards Inveraray. We’re seeing Scotland at it’s glorious best with the sun glinting off the mountains and just bringing out the colours, especially the vivid yellows of the gorse. Just spectacular.

We stop at Inveraray for elevenses and a walk. It’s a pretty place, but a tourist hotspot. We have a wander and find a little cafe we’ve eaten in before. Hubby asks for beans on toast with an egg, expecting it to arrive on one plate on top of one another, but it’s all served separately – a bowl of beans, toast on a side plate and just the egg looking forlorn on another. Mmm. He’s not impressed having to construct his own breakfast. Then a large well built middle aged man walks in with two American lady acquaintances dressed in a kilt, socks with the little dagger tucked in and a sporran, spoiling the look with a rugby shirt of some description. He’s certainly eye catching. Has he done it to impress the good ladies? I kind of admired him to have the confidence to wander about like that as kilts are usually reserved for weddings, evening wear and other occasions, and not first thing in the morning.

We continue our journey, dropping down to Tarbet on the edge of Loch Lomond, to a proper two lane road, the first one in 10 days. It’s all quite novel. At Dumbarton, traffic queues were forming northbound as a Bank Holiday weekend was looming – glad we weren’t in that. We were now in the suburbs of Glasgow, back in the land of petrol stations, retail parks, housing estates, queues, traffic lights and other 21st century paraphernalia. We managed to miss the turn off for the Erskine Bridge (overgrown trees covering vital road signs – it’s getting more and more common and one of my bugbears when navigating), so a slight detour and a 360 soon sees us back on the M8 and scooting through the centre of Glasgow. Once south of Glasgow, we get off the motorway and follow a little B road, through countryside and little communities. We finally reach Moffat which we had earmarked as a stopover. It’s a delightful little town built in sandstone and has some lovely old buildings. We discover the site is a Caravanning and Camping Club site which has members, but they do let in waif and strays like us. Staff jumped on bikes to escort us to our pitch, which was quite quirky – they make sure that we’re happy and cycle off to find another camper needing guidance. One of the Club’s policies is to ensure that pitches are so many metres apart from each other which is a nice feature – you know you’re not going to get an idiot setting up on top of you and invading your space.

We settle down in our little corner and catch the late afternoons rays. Hubby manages to get invited into another campervan and gets a tour. I track him down and poke my head in. It’s a 2 year old vehicle and it’s all black and white, immaculate, very modern and has its own bed. The owner is very proud of it and we’re very jealous. We don’t invite him to admire our 13 year old hired home, but hey, it’s done us proud yet again and it’s ticked a lot of boxes.

The dog exercising area here might be adequate for Chihuahuas, but totally inadequate for my hound. We head off to find the river, but cannot get to it. So we go for a walk into town and mooch into the little independent shops and admire the town generally. Then we walk to the Co-op for pizzas for tea before heading back to the van to consume them and the last of the wine. It’s a glorious evening to sit outside and we people watch, while munching our food.

How do you explain camping to an alien? People voluntary abandon their nice comfortable homes to spend a fortnight in a box on wheels, have to deal with emptying chemical toilets, share your ablutions with total strangers in a communal shower block which can be a bit to be desired at times and basically live in a field. No wonder aliens take one look at this crazy planet and fly past.

The Caravanning Club do attract a certain breed of camper though and tonight was no exception. The people around us looked like the types who wash and buff their Ford Mondeos in the drive every Saturday morning regardless. They would shop in Marks and Spencer’s and always rock up at the same cashier in the supermarket. People of habit. One of our fellow campers had dragged out a small satellite dish, positioned it outside his caravan and tuned into Highlands TV. Another was washing and buffing his car windows, though it wasn’t Saturday. The man across the way was checking doors, fittings and the general well being of his caravan before erecting a large stripey windbreak outside his door, staking out his little bit of hired Scotland. Two couples had got together and were happily enjoying a bottle of wine, before suddenly and abruptly parting, taking their respective chairs back and heading indoors. It was 8pm. Perhaps their favourite TV soap was on. Another husband and wife were enjoying the outdoors but were inexplicably facing the side of their van. We were thoroughly enjoying watching our fellow humans and their camping habits.

The evening was glorious, very warm and we were content. It was our last night in our little home on wheels, back home tomorrow and we had mixed emotions. We loved this little vehicle and the adventures we had been on, the places we had seen, the gorgeous scenery. Our motorhome has done a grand job pulling us around Scotland, not missed a beat and catered for our every need. We enjoyed every single minute of it and we celebrated. We celebrate a great holiday and the fact that tonight is the very last flipping night of wrestling to put up our bed before we can crash into it!

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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