Another starry night, this time here in Glenshiel. Another good night’s sleep, though it was cool this morning in the Van so we put the heater on. It makes quite a hum and blows out hot air which spooks The Dog. She’s trapped in the Pit of Doom under the front seat, unwilling to have a waft of heat up her tail. Wuss.
We sorted ourselves out. The sun peered over the mountains and the little campsite lit up, surrounded by tall hills. It was quite lovely, almost like a hidden enclave. We were going to shower today, but the showers here are not appealing. Fingers crossed for nicer ones tonight.
While The Dog took herself over by the wall and soaked up the early morning sun, we decided what to do. Stay here or move on? We decided on the latter and jumped in the Van, heading to Gairlochy and the Caledonian Canal for a walk. It was a lovely drive through Munro Central – there’s quite a number to be bagged around here. The mountains were covered in green grass that looked like a velvet coat. It’s very autumnal too, the trees definitely turning colour. The sun is battling the clouds now and is struggling to break through. It might win. We passed a place with fuel pumps that were advertising diesel at £1.70 when the average is £1.40 – that was blatant ripping off people. Only if I was on fumes, I’d only top up to the minimum and drive to the next garage (hoping they weren’t stupidly expensive). Makes us so cross.
We dropped down into Invergarry and picked up the main road to Fort William, stopping at the Commando Memorial perched on a viewpoint. A fantastic statue of soldiers lost in warfare overlooks the valley. It’s a bit of a tourist attraction with a large car park with a couple of coaches burping out tourists who waddled over and took lots of photos before re-boarding. We read the inscription and then headed off to another corner where there was a stone semi circle with lots of personally inscribed plaques, messages, photos and flowers. It covered all the wars and conflicts of the past 100 years – many were casualties of Afghanistan and it struck a chord. Many of the fallen were the same age as our own kids which really brought you up. A terrible waste of life especially as we’ve now all withdrawn. There were a lot of people silently looking and reading the words, quietly commenting to their companion. It was all very quiet and respectful, but you just felt that there should of been only one or two of you there. We still came away in deep thought of how futile wars are and how many lives were lost.
Driving through the valley, we noticed a lot more cute stone cottages which reaffirmed our theory of wealth and climate dictating the housing stock in different areas. Just up from Fort William, there is a lot of money here, being the heart of the tourism industry. Obviously before tourism, there were other factors – Fort William is a major conurbation in this area. Also the climate, they’re up a sheltered valley away from the more serious wind and rain. It’s been quite enlightening working it all out. But I still can’t forgive that school in Ardroil………
We drove down a narrow lane to the Caledonian Canal and parked up. The Dog is so eager for a good long walk after yesterday. The canal path is a wide track and we let The Dog off lead which she rejoices – free at last. There are other walkers and a fair share of cyclists too. We caught up with a husband and wife and their two Jack Russell terriers eating their sandwiches. Turns out that she’s walking the canal to raise money for the Scottish RSPCA. We have a lovely long chat with them and want to donate, but we’ve left our wallets in the car. Only afterwards do we realise we could of asked her for her GoFundMe page. Doh!
The sun has won its battle with the clouds, though there are mackerel shaped clouds which signify bad weather. It’s now lovely and warm – a beautiful day. The canal is like a millpond – totally still and with perfect reflections of the nearby mountains and trees. Wonderful. We walked 2.5 miles exactly (I know, anal isn’t it?) and turned around and retraced our steps. The lock at the beginning of the walk was broken and boats can’t get through. How frustrating and what a bummer if you’re on a boating holiday trying to get up to either Inverness or Fort William, especially if it’s your last day and you need to get the boat back.
We get back to the car – we haven’t had any lunch and it’s gone 2pm. So we drove back along the lane and found the little parking area we spotted on the way in. Thankfully it was empty, apart from a lorry driver opposite. After some manoeuvring, we had the side door facing a favourable sunny aspect and put the kettle on. It was a lovely view to the mountains in the distance, if you ignored the long line of glinting pylons slap bang in the middle, heading off into the distance. We had a cuppa and a couple of Scottish shortbread biscuits, The Dog lying on her mat by the fence, sunbathing. When it was time to go, she was very reluctant to vacate, despite our enthusiastic encouragement, so we just grabbed all four corners of her bed and hoisted her into the Van. Let’s say she wasn’t very impressed with the indignity of it all.
We had googled “caravan sites near Spean Bridge” earlier and one Bunroy Caravan Park took our fancy, in the village of Roy Bridge, just east of Spean Bridge. After a quick stock up of essential items at the local Spar shop, we headed down to Roy Bridge to check it out. We are also toying with staying two nights and the idea of a train trip to Tyndrum tomorrow – a day without the Van. We turned right down this tiny lane, full of potholes and speed bumps, leading to private houses. At the end, it opened up into the campsite. To our delight, it’s a Caravan and Camping certified site and we are members! This will be a nice place to stay. So we checked in and spent many minutes choosing the best spot in the sun before setting up. The only downside is that the proposed pub meal we had promised ourselves tonight is thwarted as they don’t allow dogs. Pah! We need a rethink.
The first priority was to have a shower and Hubby goes first. The sun disappeared behind mounting clouds and it cooled off considerably. I stopped being an ablution block snob and actually enjoyed a lovely hot shower. I did a little laundry too and when I got back, Hubby was getting tea together – pasta and vegetables in a sauce. The wine bottle is opened which is a good sign too, though it was our last bottle and we’ve still got 4 nights to go. Afterwards I retrieved the laundry from the dryer and washed up the pots. The light was starting to go, but The Dog was getting a bit grumpy. She’s still got energy after the 5 mile walk. So we headed down to the river and along a wooded path in the gloom – it starts to rain. We walked as far as we could go and then turned around. It was now seriously raining. We headed back to the Van and settled down. It’s 7pm and it’s dark. Autumn is definitely here – in three weeks the clocks change. It is very October.
So we curl up in the Van, listening to the rain pattering on the roof. It is the first period of rain we have had on this trip – we have been very lucky and to be honest, it was only a matter of time before it caught up with us. And now it has.