Monday, 23 October 2017

North Coast 500 honeymoon roadtrip - Loch Lomond & Glen Coe

After a beautiful but tiring wedding day Martyn and I only had one night at home to relax, read all the lovely wedding cards we received and head off on our honeymoon road trip. There's nothing quite like the freedom of the long open road and this is why we chose to embark on a Scottish highland adventure - taking in Scotland's finest coastal scenery on the epic North Coast 500. The NC500 is Scotland's answer to Route 66 and starts in Inverness, weaves its way along the coast taking in Ullapool, Caithness and John o' Groats before heading south again through Dingwall and finally back to Inverness. 

A road trip to remote and peaceful locations seemed like the ideal antidote to modern life and suited us perfectly as we meant we could take our dog Coco with us on the honeymoon - we wouldn't want him to miss out and we would have missed him if he was at home with our family.

View of Loch Lomond from Milarrochy Bay loch lomond campsite

I highly recommend doing some research before you had off to the NC500 and download a free GPS map that you can use offline or with no signal as you will be visiting some remote and rural locations.  Visit the official site at www.northcoast500.com for everything you need including suggested itineraries.

The route is perfect for campers, motorhomes, a motorbike tour or a cycling tour and takes in some of Scotland's must see sights and destinations. We managed to visit the following destinations (I'll break the trip down into 3 posts):
  • Beautiful beaches at Big Sand and Clachtoll
  • Loch Lomond and picturesque fishing town of Ullapool 
  • Smoo Cave and Eilean Donan Castle

Our North Coast 500 route - you can find all of our stops and campsites here. 

As we started our journey in South Wales we had to break up the journey before we could actually start on the NC500 route. Unless you are flying into Scotland and hiring a car I definitely recommend a night in the Lake District or Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park before you head into the Highlands  - it gave us the opportunity to get used to the van and stock up on supplies. 

We used the Campervan overnight parking facebook group and Scottish Motorhome Wildcampers to find a spot to park overnight in Kendall on the way up and for recommendations for the best campsites and spots to wild camp. 

We hired the camper van from Morning VW Camperhire in Newport and it was equipped with everything we needed for the trip - we just had to pack our clothes and food. The first night in the van was a complete disaster! Martyn and I now refer to it as #Poogate as we woke up to the most awful stench as Coco had been sick and had an upset stomach all over the bed. GRIM. A long journey and unfamiliar surroundings must have taken its toll on poor Coco and we bundled everything into a bin bag and drive straight to Scotland and to our first proper campsite to get everything in the washing machine. 

This is a picture of a vw campervan

Our first stop in Scotland was at the Milarrochy Bay campsite on the shore of Loch Lomond. The excitement of the wedding and long journey to Scotland had exhausted both of us and we spent the day looking out over the lake, reading and getting used to setting up the campervan and using all of its facilities. 

The site was very well maintained and had all the facilities you could possibly need but we did pay a premium for a loch side view and if you're backpacking or looking to keep costs down you might want to consider wild camping in this area.  Wild camping is permitted in Scotland but there are some restrictions in very popular areas to protect the local environment - full details can be found here. It's hard to believe that a spot so tranquil is only an hour away from Glasgow. 


This is a photo of my shih tzu lookng out of the campervan window

Our second evening was spent in Oban at the Oban Caravan & Camping Park - another site with spectacular views but the facilities were a little more basic. We had torrential rain all day and had to take cover in the van but we did have a little break in the weather to pop out for a fish supper and take Coco for a stroll on the beach. Oban is an ideal place to stop before heading over to the Isle of Mull and is known at the Seafood Capital of Scotland so a great foodie destination. 

Our third day in Scotland included some pretty epic scenery and drives past Loch Linnhe and Loch Creran on the way to our next base - Fort William. Before finding our campsite for the night we drove through Glen Coe. 

This is a pictre of glen etive near glen coe

Glen Coe really is one of the most beautiful places in Scotland and you may recognise it from films such as Skyfall and a number of Harry Potter movies as well as Braveheart and Highlander. The dramatic landscape matches the locations history and was the site of the Glencoe massacre in February 1692. Chieftain Joseph Campbell and some of his clansmen, accepted the MacDonalds' hospitality and then, under cover of darkness, murdered 35 men. Many fled as their homes were burned and perished in the cold. The attack caused outrage as it violated clan hospitality. 


This is a picture of the three steep ridges in glen coe

I don't think my photography skills capture the scale and grandeur of Glen Coe, it really is stunning. I would have loved to have had more time to explore this area but we only had 11 days to cover a lot of ground and head to the north coast of Scotland so had to push on with our whistle-stop tour.


I thought the views during the first few days of our honeymoon were impressive but the best were yet to come... Next time I'll be sharing my snaps from our time in the Nevis Range area and the grand Glenfinnan viaduct. 

Gemma
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11 comments:

  1. What an utterly wonderful trip! (apart from #poogate...) I look forward to the next installment x

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    1. Poor Coco :( Big Sands and more of the coast coming up next!

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  2. I love Scotland and this sounds like a brilliant honeymoon. Love the idea of the campervan too - although I think it would be a bit squashed with two kids and a husband.

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  3. First of all - congrats on your wedding! I love a good road trip and this one looks really special, the views are so beautiful.

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  4. This looks awesome! Raj and I still haven't had a honeymoon yet and we are toying between going abroad or doing a UK roadtrip. I've always wanted to explore Scotland more and this looks stunning!

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    1. You won't regret a trip to Scotland, it really was a trip of a lifetime. I think April would be good time - no midges and out of school holidays. Could have a fancy weekend break abroad too as it is easy to do Scotland on a budget.

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  5. This looks like such a beautiful trip, can't wait to read the next posts. Would love to do this route one day.

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  6. My boyfriend I drove from Bristol to Gairloch (between Inverness and Ullapool) in one sitting- seriously wish we had thought to book a night in the lakes to break it up!

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    1. Oh my gosh, we don't really make long journeys in the car and Coco is still quite young so glad we broke it up a bit but the Highlands are the best bit so good to get up there as quickly as you can. We stayed at Big Sands just outside Gairloch and I'll have some photos in my next post :)

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  7. Wow, this sounds just amazing. My head went a tad dizzy looking at your map, but what a incredible way to explore the UK x

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  8. Wow, what a truly lovely trip to take as your honeymoon. I can only imagine waking in the morning to some of the amazing views you'd have had. I've never explored the Highlands and I'd really like to. Mich x

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