TWO SNAILS (plus a dog and a dragon)

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April 1st, Time to go home

[Previously we were dining out in Wales]

Friday, April 1st

We had quite some miles to cover but were by now on far faster roads. The boring ones. At least they were not narrow, not until we were closing in on our night stop, a CL at a pub close to Ingleton. The day started out reasonably fair but by the time that we reached the camp site, it was pouring with rain. Our host appeared somewhat grumpy to see us and said had he known how large we were he would not have accepted us. Mr Snail pointed out that he had been absolutely specific when booking.

The site was full and clearly with "regulars". Due to the grumpiness we did not feel any need to go and have a civilised pint. The site was pricey, considering the basic nature so we did not feel bad about not eating or drinking in the pub. It had been a long day and we just wished to sleep.

No photos, it was far too wet.

Saturday, April 2nd

We had an early start as we were meeting up with the extended Snail family in Ingleton, so that they might admire Hank. We parked in the car park at Country Harvest (which would make a cracking good Britstop) to await the arrival of the Pocklington contingent, who were less than five minutes behind us. A miracle of planning and organisation. A hearty breakfast ensued before they went onward (I think, to the Lakes) and we went homeward.

Our destination was a lay-by at Beattock, back in Scotland at last. This is a place well known to us as we often stopped there to exercise the dogs when travelling between Wanlockhead and Moffat when we lived up in the Southern Uplands. It was still very wet when we parked up and there were large puddles to be avoided.

In the course of the evening we changed our plans, which originally had us going up Glencoe and using a Britstop at Loch Leven, with a good seafood dinner thrown into the mix. We elected instead to dash up North and spend three nights resting up at Glenmore, using the dining out money to pay campsite fees instead.

I did get a photograph in the morning of Hank on location. The rain had all but stopped by then. It did not stay stopped for long.

Hank at BeattockLayby off the B road adjacent to the M74 and railway line

Sunday, April 3rd

Sunday is always a good day to pass through the Central Belt. I admit it, we planned it that way. We wanted to cover a lot of miles. We fuelled up at Abington which was where Teddy chose to travel on the dash instead of hanging around my neck as usual. He hardly moved all of the time that we were travelling.

Our first stop was to be past Perth, at the Perthshire Visitor Centre.

FuelA late breakfast at Taste of Perthshire

We ate a hearty but late breakfast which by this time we were more than ready for.

Then we legged it up the A9 to Glenmore Forest.

I took a series of snapshots of our progress-with-cat.


We had stayed at Glenmore before and knew the pitches to be large enough. We had no worries. However, when we got there not only was the site very full but also some pitches were out of action due to recent heavy rain and flooding. The wardens were very helpful however and found us a gravel pitch where we would not sink into the mire. It meant parking sideways on but it was fortunately very handy for walking out into the wood and onto the beach.

Loch Morlich BeachRight by the campsite. Still some snow on the hills.

Nell was beside herself with joy - she knew exactly where she was! We all of us enjoy Glenmore. Even when it is full of holidaying families. Even in the rain.

We had boots with us and waterproofs. Nothing was going to stop us from enjoying our break from travel.

We walked around out to  Loch Morlich beach as soon as we were settled. 

Loch Morlich BeachStill the Easter holidays so many people about

On Monday we walked around Loch Morlich in some rather soggy weather.

The Far SideWalking around Loch Morlich in the rain - we finally foound a WiFi signal on the far side, but only when the hub was perched on Mr Snail's head

One of the reasons that we wanted to spend a few days at Glenmore was due to the possibility of overwintering there on a seasonal pitch. It was quite cold up there and we were finding Hank nowhere near as snug as Brunhilde had been. Mr Snail volunteered to catch the bus into Aviemore and go shopping for  a little fan heater as that would provide not just warmth but some good practical research into how we might manage living there without  car to zip around in.

He was there and back in no time at all. We were soon warmed up. I made use of the laundry whilst he was gone.

On Tuesday we tried on of the marked walks that we had not used before and took a stroll up to the Green Loch (Loch Uaine), still  in rather damp weather. There was a quantity of mist about but only sufficient to make the views enchanting and not enough to make us feel miserable or in any danger of being lost.

Mist in the treesOn the way to the Green Loch

There were plenty of other walkers about and it was difficult to feel the usual sense of peace when ambling in the forest as families on cycles hurtled past.. 

The Green Loch

It was worth the hike to the loch and we would have liked to go further, at least as far as the bothy but the pace of the last three weeks was getting to us by then. 

FenceAt the loch viewpoint

We saved the walk extension for next time. Glenmore remains our favourite site and we shall return time and again.

It was worth the long drive up to Glenmore in a single day in order to have a 3 night stay and a proper break. We felt all the better for it, though by Wednesday I think we were all pretty happy to be thinking about home. 

Wednesday, 6th April

The run up to Dornoch, and thereafter to the ferry, is by now routine. I had some doubts about whether we would be able to access the usual spot in our stupidly large van but the access proved to be wider than I remembered it to be and we manage to snug in. Hank is honestly a little large for the car park at the beach but with careful parking it is just about doable.

DornochOvernighting at Dornoch

Nell's joy at being in Glenmore was nothing compared to her sheer ecstasy at being back at Dornoch. I think this must be her most favourite place after home.

It was Ceridwen's first time, as well as Hank's.

Ceridwen at DornochOn the way home from Wales, Ceridwen's first time at Dornoch

We had two other vans for overnight company.

Thursday, 7th April and home on Friday

The run up to the ferry was uneventful. We filled up with both petrol and LPG at Skeach Services, realising only later (when we learned that the vehicle is actually taller than we were told when we bought it) that we must have had only centimetres clearance between the AC unit and the canopy.

Hank made light work of Berriedale Braes. It was a breeze compared to the times we have done it in Brunhilde... or the Land Rover.

Teddy on the dashGoing round Berriedale Braes on the way home

We were impressed.

Hank at Sibster Forest

It was a good run and we were at Sibster Forest, just outside Thurso, by lunchtime. Nell had a lovely walk and we had a good lunch and rested until it was time to go for the evening ferry.

At Sibster

Hank does not fit in the lines at the ferry queue and so we were directed to park up with the lorries at the quayside.

Teddy at the Northlink Ferry QueueSoon be back in Orkney, Ted

It was a good crossing and once we were back on Orkney we made our way to Brodgar for the night. We had the place to ourselves.

Brodgar Morning 2

The lines at the North Isles ferry are also too narrow for Hank and so we had to park him out of the way again when we went for the morning ferry home to Sanday. 

Teddy on the dash in the North Isles Ferry QueueSoon be there, Ted

It was quite a tight fit on the boat.

Backing Hank in through the gate and up the track proved to be nowhere near as difficult as either of us had anticipated. He went through at the second time of asking. Here he is, installed at home.

Here's the full album of the week's journey home:

The End... or just the Beginning?

Topic: Scotland, Ted's Progress

Categories: England, Orkney, Scotland, Site, Trips

Tags: beattock, brodgar, dornoch, ingleton, lenmore

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Thursday 17th March/Friday 18th March

Dornoch Beach

We decided to catch the evening boat, leaving the day free for packing the van. This was a really good idea and meant that we left feeling quite fresh, unlike those times when Mr Snail has leaped immediately from his desk to driving seat and I have been worn out from making all the preparations alone.

It was an easy crossing. As usual we spent the night at the Ring 'o Brodgar car park and alone so we disturbed nobody when we rose at 5 am to catch the early ferry from Stromness and were again blessed with an easy crossing.

Breakfast at Sibster Forest, where we walked Nell around the long loop, fuelled us up for the shortish leg to Dornoch. We had debated travelling further but after a 5 am start, 70 miles is probably pushing things far enough. Sure enough, we were ready for bed by 7:30 pm, though not before a nice long stroll on the beach with the dog and my camera.

Dornoch Evening

Next: Dornoch to Blair Drummond

Topic: Dornoch Beach

Categories: 2016a, Scotland, Trips, Wilding

Tags: brunhildes last trip, dornoch

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Highlands 2015

We had a planThe route we had in mind when we set off

There can be few better places to wake to at 5 am than Brodgar. We had crossed from Sanday on the evening boat after work on Wednesday, having only one other vehicle on the car deck to keep Brunhilde company.

Two's CompanyThe boat was pretty well empty

The weather at home was distinctly grungy but as we sailed across to Kirkwall we could see that we were headed into fairer weather.

Crossing to MainlandFair weather ahoy

Indeed we woke to a near clear sky. I had no time for morning photographs. We forwent our shower or any refreshment, just warmed up the windscreen and drove off into the dark towards Stromness, where we needed to check in for the ferry between 5:30 and 6:30. We made mugs of coffee and fried egg rolls to eat while we queued.

On board the Hamnavoe we sought out one of the cushy sofas and snuggled down for a snooze.

The sun rose behind Hoy and was under heavy cloud so we were almost in Scotland before we saw her. My little camera did not cope well with the lighting conditions (User Error - I forgot that it has a Sunrise/Sunset setting!) and this photo is little like the scene that I saw when I wanted to capture those rays.

Sun over Dunnet HeadI love that I caught the lighthouse twinking

Thurso was wreathed in a light mist and had evidently suffered a ground frost. When we pulled up at the new forest at Sibster, we found everything bedecked in twinkling cobwebs. It was quite magical. I took many photographs of sparkling webs but few of them were in full focus.

We lingered and walked Nell around the trail, stopping to brew coffee afterwards. Even Teddy came out to play while we sat at the picnic table and supped.

Teddy at SibsterHe had a fine time, stalking around in the grass

We were aiming to arrive in Golspie in time to try out the Fish and Chips from The Trawler for our lunch but actually parked there a little before twelve, so Nell had another run, this time along the beach.

Chip SupperEven at midday, it's a "supper"

The sun was going full tilt by the time that we ate and I was grateful to be back in the shade of the van when we left Golspie for Dornoch, although I liked Golspie very much and would have liked to explore further than we did. It was a remarkably floral place and even at this time of year most houses had flower tubs and baskets out. It was all very colourful.

Golspie ColourPots and bedding everywhere, all very pretty

Dornoch was a delight but very hot indeed. The cool calm of the Cathedral was most welcome, as were the ice cream sundaes in Harry Gow's. The early morning start was beginning to show around Mr Snail's edges and so we left for the beach car park where we planned to stay for the night.

It was full to overflowing! The beach was full too. There was swimming and paddling and sunbathing and dogs frolicking. On the 1st October. In Scotland!

Full upOver capacity in the Indian Summer Sun

It was well in to the evening before we could move Brunhilde into the car park and settle ourselves down for a night that was not quite as early as anticipated.


Tide times dictated our departure from Dornoch; we wanted to try some Dolphin-spotting at Chanonry Point and  had been advised that the best time to go is an hour or two after low tide. That meant being there by around 10:30 am and we wanted to call at The Storehouse of Foulis on our way.

Another glorious sunny morning turned chill and overcast by the time that we had parked at Chanonry. We gave it a couple of hours, seeing three or four pods pass through but not gaining any really good photographs.

Ideally we would have parked up here for the night but those unfriendly orange signs from the highlands and Highlands council made us feel most unwelcome. We knew that the same fate awaited us in Cromarty but we wanted to explore the town anyway and in particular wished to try the wood-fired pizza at The Sutor Creek and to visit the East Kirk.


A visit to Munlochy Clootie Well rounded off our day on the Black Isle and then we were off to stay the night on a club site at Culloden Moor.

Another early start set us on our way to Broomhill, at the unfashionable end of the Strathspey Railway. Broomhill does however offer a car park large and empty enough in which to leave Brunhilde while we rode the train to Aviemore and back again.

There followed an unnecessary amount of camera work and general nerdiness.

Our stop for the night was at Glen Banchor, in a small rural car park about a mile out of Newtonmore. A location of stunning and unexpected beauty and affording mile after mile of walking.


This holiday continues...

Topic: Highlands 2015, Dornoch, Black Isle, Strathspey Railway, Glen Banchor, Dornoch Beach

Categories: 2015, Scotland, Trips

Tags: black isle, chanonry, clootie well, cromarty, culloden, dornoch, golspie, munlochy, sibster

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