Fresh back from our Scottish tour we decided to have a break in the lakes. We found a lake neither of us had previously known, it’s a private fishing lake called Esthwaite.
What we liked was that it was very quiet as most people went there to fish and they even had electric boats, but also that we could park the van in the trees and totally relax. The amount of wild animals was amazing too: we saw endless amounts of wild birds, small rodents and even a fox.
Nobody ever bothered us as we made no noise and left no marks of any kind, we were almost invisible. A few Jack Daniel’s in this environment kept us relaxed and immune to everyday life.
Sorry for the repetitive photos, I was trying out my skills lol
Continuing our journey we had read that a nice area in the north was called Assynt. However on the way we had to take a route around a loch called Eriboll. I would almost call it my spiritual home, with the loch, mountains, moorland and ruins. It’s necessary to drive all the way around the loch to get to the other side as there’s no bridge, but that drive is immense.
I had also read about an area called The Parph. This is the north west corner of Scotland, and there was supposedly a ferry across the Kyle of Durness to get to the Parph. There are no roads there the ferry is the only way, and once there a minibus takes you to Cape Wrath.
On the tip of the Parph is Cape Wrath where a lighthouse is situated and I really wanted to visit that, and find the rumoured golden beach that is a short walk from the lighthouse. Sadly once again we were told the ferry was not working that day and would not resume until the following week. That’s bad luck for us but I have no doubt we’ll come back again sometime.
So we continued on to Assynt and enjoyed the spectacular views. As is my habit we often turned off the main road to explore what was down side roads and tracks. On one very narrow lane we reached a downhill slope that was obviously not navigable by our ageing camper, so I decided to turn back. Except the van had other ideas.
It screamed noisily in reverse but was not able to go back up the incline! It took a long while and a lot of sweat to find a place I could do a 3 point turn and finally start driving back up the slope. It was 1st gear all the way with the engine racing but we finally made it back to the main road. Phew!
The rest of the journey was uneventful but amazingly scenic. I had been up here before in my car and tent but I was seeing more of it this time, perhaps because I was sharing it with someone?
We left Talmine and headed for Smoo Cave…we thought it was a joke! Like maybe some kind of children’s place to visit or something but no, it’s fab. It’s basically a cave in the cliff, with a waterfall that goes down through a hole in the ground above, and splashes into a pool below.
When you walk down to the beach to the cave entrance it is enormous, but it peters out at the back so there are many cosy little places to explore. There is a smaller cave off to the right where there’s a natural lake. This is formed by the already mentioned waterfall, and you can even go for a boat ride on it. Sadly we could not as it was not operating that day for some reason.
We barely saw another person all day so although it was May it seemed to be right out of season everywhere we went. Even the small gift shop was shut. It didn’t matter though we spent a half a day here just exploring the cave and the cliff tops.
We found this little town called Talmine after leaving Dunnet head. We’d gone over a long bridge where we’d had a campfire and 2 police came and warmed themselves by it and had a cuppa. The scenery was beautiful so we were simply turning down roads to see where they led. Some were dead ends, but others led to small villages and this is what happened to let us find Talmine.
The water was crystal clear, so clear we went for a swim in it. There’s a little island just off the coast called rabbit island because apparently it’s infested with rabbits. The wreck on the shore makes it for me though, it’s such an idyllic little spot.
There is a tiny campsite here, and we were told to walk up the hill to see the old lady who lived in a cottage. We did so and paid a few Pounds for the night. However we actually spent the night right on the beach, listening to the waves and smelling the fresh air. It was a beautiful night and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The next day we still had not seen anyone at all apart from a few fishermen on the harbour wall. Apparently this is still a working harbour. We’re definitely coming back here again!
We drove for what seemed like a lifetime but the scenery was so immense we just wanted to keep going in this other world and enjoy it. We stopped now and again to take photos and to have a cuppa and to just take in the beauty of where we were.
We didn’t have a plan really but when we saw a sign for John O Groats we decided to head there. We’d always thought it was the most northerly part of the UK but apparently that is Dunnet Head, which we went to later. John O Groats is about as tacky as you’d expect but we did still enjoy it. There was a nice atmosphere about the place but burgers and coffees were not cheap at the cafes so we were please we had everything we needed in the van.
We were running low on water, so I went to the campsite and asked if we could pay a couple of Pounds to fill with water even though we were not staying the night? The lady looked quite shocked but even after a chat and a few more tries she wasn’t having it. Missed opportunity to make a couple of Pounds from someone who is not your customer if you ask me.
Anyway, we continued on and the scenery was mind blowing. The roads were quiet too with hardly anyone around. We arrived at Dunnet Head so at least we can now claim we hvae been as far north as it’s possible to go int he UK.
Further on we spotted an inlet known as the Kyle of Tongue. It was very picturesque here so we pulled into a layby and settled for the night.
Deciding to do this Scottish odyssey was a fab idea, and although I’ve tented up here in the past I am still seeing new places and Jo is loving seeing it all for the first time.