Our third night in Scotland was spent up at the top of ‘Mam Ratagan’ a view point high up in the hills overlooking ‘Loch Duich’. We didn’t get there until late in the day and the car park was empty. When free camping, it can be good for at least one other van to be present on arrival, its a sort of unofficial thumbs up that everything’s OK!
With a full fridge and a nice bottle of plonk, we settled in for the night regardless of our solo status. Although, It didn’t last long with another van joining us that evening. We gave them a wave (and the unofficial thumbs up) and tucked in to the Paprika Chicken Sarah had rustled up for dinner. We had been sharing cooking duties more evenly earlier in the trip, but as we seem to be travelling more miles each day, Sarah is now leading the cooking as I’m doing all the driving. I do still keep my hand in with the dishes I may add.
The rain had started to fall hard and with our location as remote as it was, we had little else to do other than chill. After watching and really enjoying the Netflix documentary ‘Making a killer’ someone told us to also watch ‘Evil Genius’ – Once we start with these things we just want to see the lot, but our lack of wifi scuppered that. In the end I read my book ‘Innocent Man’ Which is John Grisham’s only non fiction book about an innocent man accused of murder, whilst Sarah tried to hone her Sodoku skills! By 11pm it was pitch black, no light pollution from anywhere, and only midges for company. Sarah was fast asleep and I was trying quite hard to speed read my book. In the end I gave in and climbed up to the top bunk. I’m not sure if all of these murderous crime films and books is doing me any good. As comfortable as I am parking at the top of a mountain in the depths of Scotland, I can’t help but occasionally think that we might be brutally murdered by some deranged hillbilly. I might have to dig out the only fools and horses box set instead!
Fortunately, we had survived another night, and the next morning we made our way to the Isle of Skye. En route we saw an incredible looking castle which was looking very Scottish with the low lying fog and mist surrounding it. Eilean Donan Castle is apparently the most photographed Castle in Scotland. You can see why! The car parking is free, so we hopped out and took a few pics. Hundreds of people of all nationalities were queuing up to get snaps there.
We then made our way across the ridiculously high road bridge and on to The Isle of Skye. With no preparation on sights or places to stay, we just headed up the North West Coast. At this point the rain was coming in horizontal and visibility of the rolling hills was restricted due to the low level clouds. We resigned ourselves to a lazy day in the van. The previous days hiking aspirations were but a distant memory.
When our phone signal reappeared a few hours later, we saw that a site called the ‘Quairang’ might be worth a visit, we’d also seen on one of our apps that motorhomes camped up there. The long and winding roads, eventually lead us there (to its door) It was as bleak a day as we’ve had so far. Cold rain coming in sideways and a strong wind, although It didn’t prevent us parking up to make lunch. We did venture out for about 10 minutes and deemed it too miserable. Seeing a small group of hikers in kilts made us smile and cringe. They must be bloody bonkers and freezing in equal measures.
With the weeks remaining budget of £14 burning a hole in our pockets, we decided to go and find a country pub. On our way down from the tops, we spotted the kilted lads on the road, around 500 yards in front of us. I knew what was coming next and as we approached, they stuck their thumbs out. After a quick discussion on how wet and muddy they looked, we stopped regardless. They were looking for a lift in to the main town, Portree. We explained that we would drop them at the first pub, which they seemed OK with, so they jumped in to the back. “Shoes off lads” was my only instruction, and they kindly obliged. Although, their socks were probably as wet and muddy as their hiking boots.
It turns out that they were students from Belgium, out here on their holidays. Having hiked 17km, they’ve been advised not to continue along the trail which could be dangerous. Wet, windy and soaked through, we could see why a trip in to town was their next destination. They seemed really nice lads and we talked about their travels and the world Cup. Luckily for them, we didn’t get to a pub until we travelled the 18 miles into Portree itself. After a group selfie, we waved our goodbyes and asked them to remember our faces should we ever need a lift in Belgium.
With our good deed for the day complete, we parked up and found a pub. It didn’t have a roaring log fire as we’d wanted, but we stayed anyway and took advantage of their WiFi. The next two episodes of ‘Evil Genius’ downloaded, we headed back to find our home for the night. Whilst up at ‘Mam Ratagan’ I’d briefly spoken to the other motorhomes, who had just come across from Skye. They told me of a free camping place at ‘Staffin Slipway’
We were there in 20 minutes and what a great spot it turned out to be, parked right at the side of the sea. Three other vans were already there, providing the unofficial ‘OK’ that we like, and we had plenty of room to bed in. Tea was prepared and we again settled down to scare ourselves silly watching murderous American crime stories. This is the life!!