John O Groats..
Well we finally made it to JOG.. The most Northerly point on Mainland UK .. Oh no its not !! That title actually belongs to Dunnet Head, a few miles along the coast (which we visit tomorrow)..
JOG is a nice enough place but not much there and a bit touristy.. Looking for Free or Wildcamping spots We were directed to a car park aprox 2 miles away at Duncansby Head Lighthouse..
WHAT A STUNNING LOCATION.. Our view was out over the sea towards Orkney.. It was a view to die for.. we levelled the camper onto the chocks and set off to explore the coastline..
Within minutes we were at a stunning Crevasse teaming with hundreds of sea birds, and in particular Colonies of Puffins.. Again seeing these wild birds so up close in their own habitat was truly humbling.. We walked on further and were greeted by one of the finest sights on our trip.. The Duncansby Stacks.. Sheer rugged beauty and Mother Nature at her finest.. It always makes the experience more enjoyable when you are not expecting something and then you stumble on something Extra Extra special.. The photos don’t really do the stacks justice but it gives you a fair idea of the beauty we stood in awe of..
We returned to the camper with a warmth in our hearts from our beautiful unexpected experience..
We thought this was a fitting time to open one of our leaving presents.. A cheeky bottle of Rose, given to us from Daughter No2 the Gorgeous Jade Scott.. We toasted her as we sat watching the sun drop into the sea over Orkney…
Inverness & The Cromarty Firth
Leaving St Andrews, the first place of note on our route North was Dundee.. It was a drab and dreary day, so i don’t think this helped with our opinion of this particular Scottish City..
However they did have something that we needed ! a B & Q store provided us with an opportunity to purchase some bits and bobs for our tool box.. Afterwards we headed North again towards Inverness..
After scouting around Inverness for a while looking for somewhere to park up, we received a tip off from My Neighbour Gary Hedworth about a site up at Rosemarkie which was up on the Moray Firth, so we headed up the coastline.
We pulled into the car park just down from the site, and marvelled at the views back down towards the road bridge at Inverness.., After a chat and a cuppa with a few other “Freedom Campers” we decided to set up camp there for the night..
Lighthouse Moray Firth..
Looking Back towards Inverness..
Grattans Catalogue pose 😉
It was then we noticed a group of people congregated at the waters edge.. Being the curious types we are we picked up the trusty Nikon and went to investigate..
It was moments like this that make this adventure of ours even more special..
There were 2 Dolphins swimming less than 20 metres away from us.. They were swimming against the fast flowing tide and every 60 seconds or so they would leap out of the water with a Salmon in their mouths, then dive back underwater to enjoy the feast of Scotlands finest..
This was the best of about 250 shots 😦
A marvellous site to witness wildlife in their natural environment.. Again my thoughts turned to my Nature loving Mama, who once again seemed to be with us as we continued our journey 🙂
The following day we set off around The Cromarty Firth and The spectacular Eastern coastline towards to John O Groats…
Refreshed and eager for action we ate a light breakfast and tidied the bedding away and headed for the Forth Bridges..Iconic structures that never fail to draw me in, to stop and wonder at the marvel of Engineering !
After photographs crossing the road bridge and underneath the rail bridge, we considered our route (as we had only basically planned John O Groats as the first real waypoint on our adventure)..
St Andrews jumped off the map at me !! it was coastal and they held the “Open Golf Tournament” there on occasion, so that satisfied 2 of our criteria for places to visit (well thats 2 criteria for me anyhoo) .. St Andrews it is then confirmed the co pilot..
As we drew nearer we started to see the familiar yellow AA signs indicating a large event was along the route somewhere.. Apparently the 2015 golf tournament had been held there this year said I .. As we drew closer it was evident the event had not taken place yet and as we drew even closer it became more apparent that we were actually arriving on the Eve of the start of the competition !! Parking Hell!! was my first thought, but then curiosity got the better of me and we headed into town..
A quaint Scottish Town filled to capacity with hundreds of folk waling around in various “Pringle” outfits.. We parked the van on the main drag and started to explore our surroundings..
Our initial plan was to do this epic adventure not so much on a budget, but being careful with our cash, as who knows where or how long it would last ? That was blown on the 2nd day as i wondered down a curious cobbled archway and poked my head around the door of “Forgans” Restaurant.. Quaint and old worldly (which ticked 2 of our boxes for places to eat) so I reserved a table for 2 at 7pm.. Back to the van and a quick change and a freshen up (as who knows, its a posh joint so we could be rubbing shoulders with the worlds “Elite” Golfers !!)… We Plumped for “Smart Casual” (who knew my black jacket would have seen service so early on) and found ourselves back at the restaurant, sharing our dinning experience with a hoard of “Pringle” wearing golf enthusiasts ha ha..
A delicious meal ensued, washed down with a nice bottle of the vino and 90mins later we left, my wallet £££s lighter (so much for the budget-Blown on the second night 😉
We returned to the van and slipped into something more comfortable, and had a wander around the old town and part of the 18th Hole….
Tired and contented, we bedded down for the night, and slept well with our stomachs still bloated from the feast 🙂
Its Sunday the 12th July 2015 and were in the Pavillion Pub, having a few drinks and saying goodbye to some of our dearest friends, family and neighbours….
Today we start our “Campervan Adventure” !!
3 years since the thought “Hatched” in my brain, that Hey ! maybe there is an alternative out there to working yourself so hard that by the time you reach “Retirement age” yourr to knackered and infirm to actually enjoy it !?
Some said “Its Madness” – “He’s having a mid life crisis, “It will never work , but here we are nearly 3 months into our adventure, and we are parked in a small picnic area, next to a beautiful waterfall, 750 metres up at the west end of the Lyse fjord in Norway .. A childhood dream (one of several) either already “Ticked off” or about to be accomplished …. To be fair nearly every one before we left and everyone we have met so far on our travels, has said “Good on you” “Go For It” “Its Amazing what you are doing” “Your actually living the dream” !! Support has been fantastic and we appreciate every single comment…
Our House rented, our careers on hold (or finished ?) and 6,500 miles and 10 countries travelled… Here’s our journey so far…..
After our Tearful farewell at the Pavillion, we fuelled up our faithful Campervan, and headed North up the A1 towards “Bonny Scotland” (or Bony Scotland as Ange posted on Facebook lol)..
We felt we couldn’t explore the further reaches of Europe without first visiting the parts of our own shores, which we had yet to see..
It was bright and sunny as we headed up the Northumberland coast, windows down, sunglasses on, and the radio playing some chilled out tunes.. Excitement written all over our faces at what might lay ahead for us.. Two and a half hours to Edinburgh, which was our first planned stop, on our route.. That should get us there for about 8.30pm I thought.. We finally arrived in Edinburgh at 10.30pm having taken a short detour to explore North Berwick & Dunbar ! This was to prove the way forward on the adventure. With no particular timescales to work to, plans and routes can be changed at the sight of a place name on a map, or a picture on Google of somewhere along the way..
I had been to Dunbar as a young boy and had very vague but fond memories of the trip, so indicating right, we took our first of many diversions..
A small but pretty little town, with a quaint harbour.. We pulled the van up next to the RNLI station and got out and stood peering across the harbour, with the evening sun warming our faces.. A small grey seal popped his head up out of the water, and seemed to be welcoming us at our first port of call.. What made this seem more poignant was only a few days earlier, my Brothers and I had scattered our beloved Mums ashes into the North Sea from the rocks at St Mary’s Lighthouse, and 2 Grey seals had swam up within 20 metres of us.. It seemed very fitting to us as Mam was an avid animal lover, and it was as if they had come to welcome her into the cold but fond North Sea waters .. Mams wishes were to be scattered somewhere with a nice view and with her “Furry Friends” as she called them.. So with the seals watching on, we set our Mam and the ashes from every cat & dog she had ever cared for, off into the view we had sat at so many times on a Sunday afternoon, enjoying a 99 ice cream.. We said goodbye to her, happy that she was finally at rest..
Seeing the seal was if Mam was with us on the first leg of our journey…
We arrived in Edinburgh and settled into our first “Wild Camping spot”, a canny little cobbled street, North of George Street, one we had used for Hogmanay earlier in the year..