From the outset this trip is not going to give Scotland any justice at all. From our initial ideas, events have dictated this is a short 3 week trip maximum and rather than exploring Scotland to the full it is going to end up as more of an activity holiday. The joys of Scotland, the mountains and lochs etc will have to wait till a return visit.
Instead this trip is more of a sociable and hectic holiday!
Starting off, we headed to a small quiet CL near Tamworth outside Birmingham – the spiritual home of our van! The first day was spend snowboarding in the Snowdome trying to hone our techniques! We both improved since our last boarding trip, so we retired back to our quiet spot and spend some time in the sun flying the radio controlled helicopter. Soon after with Mel catching some more sun, I was left rebuilding it and super gluing bits back on!
The Sunday we went to the factory that made our van for their open day to see the launch of a couple of new models – the Ikon Sport and a Cavarno XL which is a longer version of ours. It is annoying to see some of the improvements in the new vans that we’d like but you can’t have everything. The open day was quite busy and we seemed to be quite famous from this site! So hello everyone After some pork rolls we just chilled for a swim.
By the Monday Mel was starting to chill a bit having only finished her temporary job on Friday! We spent another few hours snowboarding followed by a Spa. Unfortunately Mel had a big spill and bruised her knees at the end of the snowboarding session.
On a light gray Tuesday morning we headed up towards York to meet Adam & Sophie – another young couple who have had a load of campervan adventures! Their blog was really quite funny as we seemed to be following similar routes and we had the same photos with different people in! Adam recommended a possible wild-camping spot (see sites) which was absolutely fine and very quiet as well as being in a great location next to the river. Around 5 vans overnighted there from Italy, Germany and UK. Adam and Sophie are soon off again on their travels so we look forward to picking their brains again…
After York we headed to our Edinburgh site where stayed for 5 days to enable us to spend time at the festival. Edinburgh is a very unique and beautiful city. Its small enough to walk round, and the castle is stunning on its hill appearing at every turn. The Royal Mile was full and bustling with fringe ticket sellers.
After a long and windy run we went into the city to watch the BTCC cars driving near the castle. Bit of a let down as health & safety seemed to stop them playing around too much. Mel got a load of autographs sorted. We also met up with Dan (who used to work for me) and Rosie his wife who were also up for the festivities. After a pricy lunch we saw a rather good and funny musician as part of the £5 fringe.
The Saturday started with a little rain which fortunately cleared. We drove into the city and were able to park on Regents Road which meant we didn’t have to worry about the bus. With my parents we went to see Col & Mel Moony show (or similar!) which was supposed to be a comedy. The guy, Col, wasn’t that hot sadly, but Mel was rather funny! The show was a bit of a gamble which came our evens. Just. After a pizza we went to the castle to watch the late showing of the Military Tattoo.
The tattoo as a whole was quite impressive and is a must-see if you can make it. It got chilly but fortunately the rain didn’t return. The Swiss drummers were the most impressive aspect – really quite skilled, entertaining, and it seemed like they were having a lot of fun showing off! The other bands were also impressive – the whole setup live is much better than the TV show.
After a late night, we had an early start heading to Knockhill for the British Touring Car Championship races (BTCC). Someone who I know only from an Internet forum (who will remain anonymous just in case!) very kindly gave me two tickets so we could get in for free. Many thanks – much appreciated – IoU1! The racing was fast and furious as ever, and we had a good view of the action at Scottsmans corner. The track complex from Seat around looks really quite impressive with the track undulations really throwing the balance of the cars off making it look really quite tricky. Wish I did a track day here now! Apart from some light drizzle Knockhill didn’t provide the expected and standard rain! Thanks to the marshals we were parked on a flat area near the entrance which made for a simple and quick getaway…
Straight after the race we went back to the city for the Frank Skinner “Credit Crunch Cabaret” which we thought was absolutely superb. He hosted the show and he brought on a couple of other comics who were quite different to him but were really very funny. The difference between them and “Col” earlier was massive! After aching from laughing it was time to return to camp.
The Monday we left our site and headed towards Aberfoyle to undertake “Go Ape” with my Dad and Mel. Both of whom were under orders not to take any “chicken” runs! With enough wind up my mother was worried the old man may not be able to do it. The course is challenging with a few zip wires with one being over 400m long, and neither of them bottled the extreme tarzan swing into the cargo netting.
After a tiring day we parted from the parents to head our separate ways, and Mel & I headed further into the forest and managed a very naughty wild camp in the forest. OK we ignored the no overnight parking sign, but the view was far too impressive to miss out on and as no one else was around didn’t think anyone would really mind…. From around 8pm it was just silent! No noise, no wind, and just spectacular scenery. Beautiful night. Mel even kept me up all night! Unfortunately that was due to Mel having a bit of a cough so she probably kept the wildlife awake most of the night too….
The following morning was Mels birthday (21 again!) so she opened some cards and pressies – some of which were chocolate biscuits which were coincidentally my favourite – and after a nice breakfast we headed around the loch for a lovely walk and some nice pictures before heading south via Falkirk to see the canal wheel. Quite am impressive technical feat, but apart from the tourist trap boats nothing else went through – which begged the question was it build solely to attract tourists…!? Continuing south we headed to New Lanark to wander round the world heritage site village and walk along the nature walk along the river which was surrounded by beautiful countryside and views. By the time we got back everything was closed so we decided to hide and wild camp in a quiet corner we spotted… We weren’t alone – about 4 other van joined us there for the evening – so looks like wild camping is becoming more common.
From New Lanark Mel started feeling a little worse, and se we ventured to Mossburn animal farm where we arranged to do some volunteer work. Unsurprisingly, I planned to sort out their IT systems and Mel was going to help with the animals. The first two days though Mel stayed in curled up whilst I sorted their computers out. (That said – they were in pretty good order, I just made their life a bit easier). On the third day Mel was out and about feeding the animals again.
After a lovely day working with Mossburns animals we ventured for a 2 mile walk to the pub. 6 miles later with the sun setting, we vowed (again) never to leave the GPS at home! When will we learn?
Mossburn animal centre are a superbly well run animal rescue place. We expected chaos and expected to be joining a chaotic and messy place. The truth was the place is very very well run and managed; the staff and volunteers make a great team; and the animals are very well fed and cared for. Mel was working with some pigs, goats, ostriches, rabbits, ferrets, sheep, chickens to name but a few. All with excellent homes and care.
Sadly Mels cough/sickness was still present, so when the weather turned wet and indeed the forecast was even more rain, we decided we’d be better off heading home and recovering ready for our next trip to France. A big shame as we would have liked to have helped more, though we left safe in the knowledge the animals will all be okay! We hope to return again soon.
We also hope to revisit Scotland as we really didn’t get chance to get to the highlands etc – though there is always next time….!