Clapham, North Yorkshire

I needed to take The Dog for a walk, but wanted something different for our usual haunts.

After pouring over some maps, I chose to visit Clapham, a small village on the edge of the Dales and just off the A65 road. The plan was to walk out of the village and up onto the surrounding fells.

I had done my ablutions, eaten breakfast, washed up and prepared myself for the walk, when I noticed The Dog was still curled up in a tight ball on one of the armchairs. Technically, she’s not supposed to do this, but over the years she has taken advantage of the house’s open plan design by stealth. At the beginning, as you got out of bed, you heard a thud as four paws landed on the carpet and by the time you got down, an innocent looking dog lying on her dog bed as if she had been there all night. A still warm cushion gave the game away. Then she got bolder and as we came downstairs, she was in the process of getting off the sofa with a luxurious yawn and extravagant stretch. The next stage was watching you come down the stairs and watching you go into the kitchen with a sleepy eye and the beginnings of rousing. Now it’s a blatant “don’t you disturb me” look as she remains curled up, refusing to move at all and only getting up when she’s ready.

I was ready with her lead before she decided to get up today – I think she would of stayed there longer – and we jumped into the car. We parked up on the road in the centre of the village and headed off. We walked up past the church and started up a steady incline, under two bridges, one quite dark and gloomy. I had a steady pace, The Dog was off lead and the sun shining. Then I noticed The Dog wasn’t running ahead and checking out smells as her usual habit. I turned to find The Dog stopped and looking at me quizzically. I called her and carried on, but she remained unmoved. A couple more encouragements failed to get her bounding up. Like most dog owners, I started firing questions at her as if she would give a full blown answer of her reluctance, but her face spoke “a walk up there? Really?” I started to walk back down and she leapt up delightedly and legged it down the hill……….

Realising I had neglected this Blog for awhile, I decided that I should start posting again, albeit a small one and start at Clapham. We walked to the pretty little church of St James and was delighted to find it open. English churches are often open and unattended, which allows you to wander in and admire the majesty of the building. The tower is Norman but the rest of the building dates from the 19th century. This was lovely with whitewashed walls and ceiling, beautiful stained glass windows and wooden pews. Outside I wandered about the gravestones, reading them and appalled at the devastation families suffered. One large stone, listed at least four children passing away between the ages of 5 and 20 years. How awful is that? But then the parents lived to 75! I just love these stones, with the elaborate font and detailed information – “here lies George, son of John and Gertrude Smith, born 25th September 1850, died 20th January 1857aged 6 years and 4 mos. Also his sister, Mabel, second daughter, born 8th July……….. ” and so it goes on listing all the family deaths, on a huge engraved stone. Today you would get “George Smith, 25.9.1850 – 20.1.1857. RIP” on a little black plaque.

We wandered down towards Clapham Beck that runs through the village, allowing The Dog to have a paddle and a good drink. Then we followed our noses. We found a waterfall further up and then the entrance of the Ingleborough Nature Trail. There’s a small charge of £1 from an ugly car park style machine and a lengthy notice board which allows you to follow the trail up towards Ingleborough Cave where another large chunk of money is extracted to enter the said cave. There’s plenty of other footpaths around, so I declined and carried on our exploration of the village.

Clapham is the home of the Farrer family whose Ingleborough estate was established in the 19th century. One of the family, one Reginald Farrer was a notable botanist and the family has maintained much of the beauty and charm of the village.

The Dog and I wandered down footpaths and ginnels, found the lovely little primary school, noted how close Clapham is to the busy A65, admired the Clapham Cave Rescue headquarters, a jarring modern building which could of been a bit more sympathetic to its surroundings, but nonetheless very important, saving hapless souls off the nearby fells, peaks and caves.

Wandering back to the car, we found a little vintage shop, stuffed full of antiquities and other bric and brac. Surprisingly, she was happy to allow The Dog in considering the amount of china and glass in the vicinity of swishing tails. Luckily The Dog is brilliant in shops and developed a suitable “I’m bored” look as I studied the merchandise. I made a mental note to do either two things – my sister in law loves vintage meccas like this and I had a dilemma. Not to tell her of its existence or bring her here for the day while I go off for a lengthy coffee and iced bun in the cafe next door and pick her up when she’s bought up the whole shop and the owners can go for a round the world cruise for six months. (Actually she would probably run it while they’re away!). Joking apart, it was very well stocked and needed a good rummage through – if I didn’t have The Dog (who had now spotted the resident cat) I would of lingered a lot longer.

The cat gave The Dog one of those sneering looks that cats specialise in – “Bring it on, mutt. You’re on a lead and can’t get me so I’ll just really wind you up by sitting here and licking my bum”. Which it did.

By now, we had exhausted the possibilities that Clapham could offer us. If you want to avoid the masses in other more popular Dales places, this is perfect this time of year. I wandered around the sleepy streets, the tidy little houses and bungalows and the few little shops – the little village store run by community volunteers (just love that), the tiny little cafes, a tiny wool shop and the aforementioned vintage shop. The pretty beck and the whole genteel, very quiet and gentle atmosphere. I think it gets busy in the summer months and the weekends as walkers park up to walk up nearby Ingleborough and the cave systems while the less energetic head up the Ingleborough Nature Trail (there’s a Yorkshire Dales National Park carpark, so Clapham does entertain quite a few visitors who soon disperse into the surrounding countryside for the day, leaving the village to carry on with life).

Just a lovely little gem worth a couple of hours for a bit of downtime.

Scottish 500 – the final day.

Homeward bound.

Our last morning of tea and biscuits in bed, before getting up and starting to get organised. We need to pack our stuff that we’ve spread all over the motorhome, back into bags, do a quick clean of the inside and do the final chemical toilet, fill up with water and getting it ready to take back.

The sun is shining and it’s glorious as we set off and say goodbye to Moffat. We pick up the A6, preferring that to the motorway. We trundle down back into England, taking it easy. Clouds are gathering and the sun disappears behind them. We follow the A6 to Kendal and then back to Skipton. It starts to spit with rain and by the time we return the little motorhome to its home, it’s pouring.

We empty our stuff, pat our faithful mobile home on the bonnet and bid it farewell -for the time being. Then it’s off into the drizzle to unpack, sort out 10 days worth of dirty laundry and back to reality.

Welcome back.

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.

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!

Scottish 500 – Day 8

A change of plans.

Again it’s overcast and cloudy, but it’s not raining!!!

After the usual tea and biscuits, we decamp and drive to Portmahomack, a pretty little harbour village out on the peninsula beyond Tain. It’s lovely with views back to the high fells and traditional cottages curving around the bay. After yesterday, we’re eager to relieve the cabin fever and waddle along the beach. It’s a good bracing walk, but the wind is cold still and layers and hats are the de rigeur.

We had planned to go to Tain Ness, but it’s even further and in the wrong direction. Means that we would have to drive all the way back. The guide book says it’s got a lighthouse and you might see dolphins, but it’s a long way just for that. So we ditch that idea and decide to check out the Black Isle as someone has told us that a bakery in Cromarty does stonking rock cakes. So we drive back to the A9, catching glimpses of the oil and gas rigs moored outside Invergordon. I felt like dropping down to see them, but thought there would be better views from the other side. Despite the name, Black Isle is still part of the mainland and not detached at all. Why it’s called that, I’m not too sure. So we trundle on, briefly visiting a town called Alness, which has won Britain in Bloom and I was hoping to see a street festooned in flowers and brilliant colours. But it was bare and was an ordinary little town – decent enough, but not enough for us to stop and one of many we had already seen. I did expect some floral display too.

Disappointed, we rejoined the A9 and make a decision. According to the guide book, the Black Isle has nothing particularly intriguing for us to make a huge detour and we are getting a little bored with the gentle undulating scenery. It’s pretty and lovely, but we prefer the raw, breath taking mountains on the west. So after a cuppa and croissants in a lay-by, we map out our route. We set off towards Dingwall, a lovely little town and back towards the Ord of Muir and Beauly, where we stopped last week at the beginning of our trip. We had sort of done the Scottish 500 – technically you’re suppose to go back to Inverness, but hey ho. Beauly was still lovely and we resisted revisiting the little deli – bad timing as we had just munched through croissants and other pastries. We take a back road towards a place called Crannich as we had seen signposts for the Bog Cotton cafe. We seem to drive for miles, and we were back onto the old single track/passing place sort of road. The signs for the cafe had stopped and we were fearing the worse! We didn’t have much food on board and it could be a bit of a funny lunch. But with a huge cheer, the signs re-appeared and we were soon sitting down and ordering. It’s still overcast and moody. The Bog Cotton cafe is next door to quite a nice looking campsite, nestling in the woods, but it also looks like it could be Midge Central.

We had stocked up with more insect repellent than someone traveling in the depths of a Borneo jungle and had rattled around like a sub branch of Boots the Chemist, but we had timed this trip right, and seemed to be ahead of the midge season. This campsite looked like it could be a night mare in the summer. Anyway, it was a bit early for us to be booking in, so with hubby wanting to take me up Glen Affric, we bounced our way up the valley. It’s quite a way to a spot he knows and along the way, we pass huge hydro electricity stations, some quite elaborate and decorative. But between the trees, power lines scathe their way through and my heart sinks. All the way along this road, there are warning signs for construction traffic and there’s obviously major work being carried out for some reason (probably for the hydro electricity). Ugly access roads scar the surrounding beauty of this stunning valley. It’s quite atmospheric with the low cloud seeping it’s way through the trees and hanging on the peaks. The cottages and villages are pretty here too. This is the type of landscape we love and we enjoy a good hours walk through the woods. What would it look like on a sunny day, if we’re wowing about it in this dank weather. Apparently it’s even more stunning further up the valley where it’s gets really remote. One to return to, I think.

We retrace our steps back to Crannich, despairing of man’s ugly footprint and thankfully we haven’t met anything large like a construction vehicle. We drop down to Loch Ness and head to Fort Augustus for the night. Once there, we find the proposed campsite closed and under new management. Our hearts drop. We need a rest, so we wander Fort Augustus with its stunning lock system in the centre of the village and stroll down to Loch Ness itself. It’s a bit of a honeypot for tourists, so it’s full of the usual shops which are now closed for the day. After our stretch, we quickly google for another site. There’s one at Invergarry, further down towards Fort William. The Dog sighs heavily as we lock her in and share our sympathy with her. 10 miles later, we pull off onto a side road and climb up a little track. Where is this going? It twists and turns, and we seem to be heading up the side of the mountain. But then, it flattens out, we turn right and we find the most delightful, quirky campsite. Nestling in a clearing, it’s high in the forest, with individual camping areas, a good fifty foot plus from the next people. Each one has a picnic table too. Our initial reservations soon melt away, though we are concerned that we are quite close to a pond and fear midges may be lurking. We do the van ablutions – the chemical toilet is housed in little shed reminiscent of the little loo Grandpa Potts uses in the film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It makes me love this place more.

We have been a big fail on the food front and have to scrape the bottom of the proverbial barrel or in this case, fridge. It’s cheese, mayo, and very limp leaf sandwich accompanied by wine and peanuts for pudding. To make it worse, we have no biscuits for the morning as we munched the final two in an earlier trauma today. We have been pretty hopeless with our food planning and not very organised.

We decide to take The Dog on a forest walk which she thoroughly deserves today as the light starts to fade. Cloud still envelopes the mountain tops and not much can be seen. A couple with their dog have the same idea and accompany us on our walk. We follow the path until a large gate and see deer wandering across the field beyond. It’s getting darker now and we turn heels and head back. It’s 10.30 by the time we reach our little pitch, but not quite dark. We sit outside in the gloom and finish of the bottle of wine, feeling quite content with ourselves.

Sorry for the lack of photos today. It just wasn’t a photographic day, weather wise. In tomorrow’s blog, you’ll probably get an overload………

Scottish 500 – Day 7

Onwards and upwards

Oh dear.

There’s raindrops sliding down our windows.

It’s cold, damp and misty. You can’t see across the fields.

Breakfast is taken at the Laidhay Croft Museum just up the road. We treat ourselves to a Scottish breakfast. Outside is a restored crofters cottage, fully furnished and with a story behind it. It’s just wonderful and thought how many have been lost. It’s quite sad.

http://laidhay.co.uk/

In a light drizzle, we follow the A99. The countryside is now rolling hills and full of trees. The road gradually climbs up to the edge of moorland. There are pretty houses and villages, stone cottages and buildings replacing the pebbledash. We pass Berriedale, snug in a little ravine and tumbling towards the sea. With the rain becoming more persistent, we miss out Helmsdale and continue to Brora. We need to stretch our legs and the rain has eased off, so we make the most of it. We park in the golf course car park, and drop down on a long gentle beach. Low mist hangs in the hills. We walk so far and turn around. We clamber up to the edge of the links golf course and are amaze to spot cows grazing on it as golfers play their rounds. You don’t see that at the Ryder Cup. Small electric fences surround the greens to protect them. It’s all quite surreal.

Yes, there are cows in the background!

It starts to mizzle again, so we retreat into the van. With the low mist, scenery is obscured. We turn off and go inland, following the scenic route along Strath Fleet towards Lairg. It’s cold and drizzly, not inviting at all. We have a quick look at Lairg, grab a drink and a chocolate bar, and carry on. We stop at the Falls of Shin, where a brand new visitors centre and parking area has been constructed. It’s quite large and seems a bit out of place in the woodland. We have a quick wander down to the small viewing platform to the waterfall. It’s pretty, but it’s not in full spate and not dramatic. We hope to see a leaping salmon, but the best time is in the autumn. We wander the visitor centre which is impressive, but seems over the top for the actual Falls.

Getting rather wet, we carry on, stopping briefly, but with the mist down, any views are limited. We travel through Bonar Bridge, Spinningdale and to the coast. We head to Durnoch, a pretty little town, reminding us of the Cotswolds with the sandstone buildings. We find the campsite by the beach, but it’s more a caravan park with static caravans and rather large. We’re not keen and head back into town. We stop and have a wander around, spotting the other branch of the Cocoa Mountain from Durness.

But the miserable conditions are not helping and we seek another campsite, this time in a town called Tain. Another pretty town, but we realise the campsite is back on the A9 and we have to retrace our steps. Tired, we book in. It’s a pleasant, neat campsite sandwiched between a road and a railway line (to the delight of The Dog who can bark and try and chase the passing trains). The weather has closed in and it’s raining steadily. I take The Dog for walk, but don’t get very far as it’s a bit restricted where you can go. And we’re getting wet. Poor old thing – she hasn’t had any good walks today and cooped up in the motorhome. We return, curl up and listen to the rain pattering on the roof. This is when motorhoming isn’t so great – when the weather is inclement and you’re stuck inside. Hey ho, lets hope it’s better tomorrow – we’ve been so lucky so far with the Scottish weather, so we can’t complain.

Tomorrow, we near the completion of the Scottish 500 but have another little adventure!