It was cold last night. We put the internal heater on which blows hot air and hums loudly which, in turn, spooked The Dog. She leapt on our bed and refused to move. We decided that hubby would sleep up in the pop-up and me on the downstairs with The Dog, to give her more space which was a good plan except she has decided to be up close and personal and I ended up laying at an awkward angle with dog having the majority of bed. During the night, we both woke up feeling cold and grabbed the extra blankets. Thank goodness we have a loo now and don’t have to make midnight flits to the ablution block down the other end of the site.
The sun rose in a clear crisp sky, lighting the hills with glorious autumnal colours. The grass is dripping in dew, almost verging on a frost. We have a cuppa and a chocolate digestive as we woke up slowly and watched the morning getting better by the minute. Decided to go for a walk into the nearby hills – a two and half hour circular walk. We have to walk up the road to a little car park, the Dun Coillich Community Land Trust with a little notice board and a little “pig pod” shaped public toilet.
There were painted marker posts which we followed up the hill, through deer proof fencing and gates. We finally reached a contouring path marked with red topped posts, through ferns and heather- it was a clearly marked grassy path and easy to follow. We looked down onto our campsite as well as the amazing scenery in the early morning sun. Made you feel good. The hill slowly curved and the Schiehallion Munro hoved into view, a towering eminence basking in the full sunshine. The path continued to curve until we turned a sharp right and up to connect with the green path taking us back parallel, between Dun Coillich and Dun Beag. It was a steady climb with a couple of sharp ascents before we walked over the pass and our valley spread out before us. Our little campervan was a mere speck as we enjoyed the descent through tall grass and rocky outcrops, back through the fences and gates, back to the car park. We were soon back at the site, meeting the owners for a nice chat, before breaking camp and heading to our next destination.
We let the satnav find its way to the A9 and towards Inverness and it took us on a fascinating route of narrow, single lane roads with passing places, through gorgeous ancient woodland and then up high on exposed summits with far reaching views. We discovered where all the pylons went to meet up – at a hydro electric plant in a deep wooded valley. A beautiful stone edifice of a power station, with tall windows and decorative exterior, it was the epicentre of all things electrically transmitted. There were several smaller plants and dams dotted around the area, interspersed with pretty hamlets and houses. All this beauty dominated by iron towers and all its paraphernalia. It seemed an insult and an unwelcome intrusion of the modern world – we could be in timeless wilderness here and it felt violated.
We carried on through another little hamlet nestling in a steep valley and as we drove down a rather bumpy steep little lane, we noticed with somewhat alarm, a policeman in a hi-vis and a speed gun. Instinctively Hubby braked as we both verbally tried to work out why a copper was there of all places and how unfair it would be to get a ticket. But as we passed him in astonishment, we realised he was a full sized cardboard cut out, strapped unceremoniously to the village sign. There was a huge sigh of embarrassed relief, before we chuckled. They must have quite a few fast drivers through the village and had thought up the ultimate deterrent. We had to agree the cardboard copper’s effectiveness certainly worked with us. Though if you’re a speeding local, it’s probably not so effective……….
So onto Inverness and the A9, the main arterial road on the east side of Scotland – a mixture of dual and single carriageway. A lovely 60mph road, but a shame it cuts through such stunning countryside – high hills covered in monotonous conifers and majestic Munro’s and Corbets. The bloody pylons are still following us until they finally lurch down a side valley and finally out of sight. The sun is shining, but dark rain clouds are gathering, releasing short sharp showers. It’s a cool 10 degrees. We started to look for lunch. Our first stop was a large basic cafe offering all things fried and do not allow dogs, so we crossed them off and carried on to the small village of Newtonmore, off the A9. We parked on the pretty little High Street and checked out the three cafes offering sustenance before choosing the Wild Flower, its menu offering a slightly different choice and letting the hound in. Inside it was quirky, cute and cosy with an airy conservatory at the rear. We ordered coffees and dinner. The Dog slumped under the table and barely moved, knackered from the walk this morning and being unable to sleep in the Van. It was a very pleasant stop and we enjoyed a lovely lunch. We jumped back into the Van, we had about another 30 miles to go and rejoined the A9. Soon we were dropping into Inverness and the Firth of Forth – it was weird to see a bustling conurbation again after endless wilderness. Our campsite was some 3 miles west of Inverness, so we drove through the city easily and found Bunchrew Caravan site on the coastal road. Down a pretty avenue of trees, it opened up to a variety of wood cladded static caravans in a variety of colours, all with their own little gardens, all at different angles. It was very rustic and had an intimate feel about it all. I liked it. After checking in, we headed down to the water front, overlooking the Beauly Firth and bagged a perfect spot in the late afternoon sun. It was warm enough for us to get the chairs out to sit and watched fellow motorhomers.
The Dog and I had a wander along the water’s edge and a little straggly stone beach up to the Bunchrew Hotel, before cutting back through the site. The Dog was very happy as there was water for her to get wet in and have a run. She still wasn’t fully charged. By the time we got back, the sun was disappearing behind the trees and a dampness could be felt in the air. We sorted out the Van – we are still tweaking where things go – and started to settle for the evening. By 7:30, it was dusk so we shut doors, put up blinds, opened a bottle of wine and settled down for the evening.
Another excellent day ticked off.