All I can say is that at the Hadrian’s Wall caravan site there appears to be no such thing as the 6 metre rule. We were packed in last night between two caravans at close quarters. How close? Well we were woken first thing by the sound of breakfast TV on our left hand side.

No such problems tonight,

We emptied and filled before setting off, not without problems as the leaky pipe was shedding the patch repair we had done before leaving Kippford. It was a dull grey morning and we were robbed of much of the scenery that I know is there along the wall. It was a short run of about 25 miles to Sweethope.

Vincent on the top pitch of five

Sweethope Loughs is a 5-van Certificated Location sited in the middle of nowhere by the side of a lough, the smaller of a pair. It’s rough and ready with pitches that are approximately level and serviced with water and electricity. It is extremely peaceful, feeling more like wild camping than many “wilding” sites do. It is after all accessed by a private road reached after more than two miles of single track unclassified road off the A68.

The Lower lough

We walked out with the dog soon after our arrival, wanting to make the best of what daylight we had. We set out to walk around the Lower Lough then hoping to circumnavigate the main lough.

Vincent at the Lower Lough

Site rules and the general bogginess of the ground combined to make circumnavigation impossible, so we settled for walking past the fishery and back up to the road. There was plenty to point the camera at so I was not at all unhappy. Better light might have been appreciated!

We love it here and think we shall return time and again. I imagine that it will be midge-ridden in season though.

Tomorrow we leave here and go to Wark, where we have a room and dinner booked. There is a bath with my name on it. I have Badedas. Am hoping for large white fluffy towels.

Days 6 to 8, a little exhausting

We are in Huntly and on a hookup – with lots of lovely power for the lappie.

Now,  if the 23rd of the month was Day 5, today must be… gosh, Day 9? Three nights at Brahan whizzed by PDQ. We did rather more walking than planned and we got a little wet from time to time but it was almost as peaceful and relaxing as we had remembered – only this time with guns.

We parked in the same spot as last time, which was pretty much a year ago to the day I reckon.

The site at Brahan takes up to 5 vans and is ranged along an old  tree-lined drive, the ha-ha supplying an uninterrupted view across the field

The site at Brahan takes up to 5 vans and is ranged along an old tree-lined drive, the ha-ha supplying an uninterrupted view across the field

Our Saturday walk had to be re-planned due to a rough shoot in the area of the estate where we had intended walking. We decided instead to go and see the Red Kite feeding. Due to  a little map disagreement with the track on the ground and the presence of cows (Nell’s scared of them) we took the long route, got wet and missed the birds. A two and a half mile stroll turned into a 4 hour hike but it was not all bad. Nell found a beautiful ball to carry for about six miles and we had some fine views of Loch Ussie. On the down side, I lost the skin off three of my toes and my hips and knees were giving me gyp. Worn out, we hit the hay by 9pm.

On Sunday Mr Snail’s brother and his wife came to visit as they are on holiday in the Heilans just now. We took a stroll with cameras and that map and it served up anther measure of confusion whilst the weather gods served up further rain. We did see salmon leaping and a roe doe grazing quietly at close hand, oh – and a rainbow. So again, not too unhappy with that outcome.

Monday morning saw us leave Brahan early, without breakfast n fact. Mr Snail wanted to deliver Hank to the hands of the exhaust-fixer-man without delay. We were blessed with another fine day and good travelling. Even Inverness failed to ensnare us in its rush our claws and we were swiftly through, despite queues on the Kessock bridge. I took advantage of the delay to look for dolphins but spotted none.

The exhaust-fixer-man’s establishment was on the far side of Elgin and so we drove straight through. I cast a wistful eye over the M&S Food Hall as we passed…

Hank was left with the very nice man at Custom Crafts, who said he would need around an hour. I asked if the nearby snack wagon made a good bacon roll and he said that they were good but that Harry Gow’s were better. No contest! We walked back down to the main road to Harry’s shack and had a sausage and egg roll apiece with a very good coffee. It certainly hit the spot.

Back to two tail pipes at last. The new one is shiny-shiny

Back to two tail pipes at last. The new one is shiny-shiny

Hank needs a whole new exhaust system soon. The exhaust-fixer-man says we are looking at something like £1,200. Eep! But at least we know where we can have one fashioned and fitted and some time in which to save up. That’s better than having the thing drop off and not knowing what to do about it.

I did the decent thing by the way and suggested that it was daft to take Hank back through Elgin just to go to M&S when we did not actually need anything. So, we turned towards Huntly, stopping only to fill up with LPG at a garage just outside town. That was the plan anyway but after two attempts and with a painfully slow delivery, Mr Snail managed to take on just 66 pence worth of fuel. He gave up. We will try again at ASDA in Kircaldy.