West coast, Mull, Ardnamurchan, Skye and beyond!

Discussion in 'Scotland' started by KarlB, Jul 11, 2014.

  1. Heading away on Monday for a two week tour... Here's the plan...

    Fife > Oban (1)
    Oban>Mull (2 nights)
    Mull> Ardnamurchan (2)
    Ardnamurchan >Arisaig (1)
    Arisaig > Skye(2)
    Skye>Applecross (2)
    Applecross> Gairloch (2)
    Gairloch > Rothiemurchus (1)
    Rothiemurchus > home.

    3 Ferries :)

    Possibly a few more without the van (Iona etc)

    Really looking forward to Fidden farm on Mull and Ardnamurchan especially.

    Have mixed feelings about tackling Applecross!

    Details to follow soon-ish!
  2. Right....here we go!

    We popped by a couple of familiar sites along the way which I wrote about here... http://thelatebay.com/index.php?threads/west-coast-of-scotland-and-skye.26671/
    but most of these sites were new to us. Our trusty 'Cool Camping' book again helped us choose most of the sites and didn't let us down (well, only once but more of that later).

    The 4 of us covered a total of 800 miles over 2 weeks travelling on 3 ferries and staying on 8 campites. We pre booked the ferries online before leaving with Calmac and the ferry crossings were really easy. We booked using the island hopper but it wasn't really all that cheaper. At Oban we picked up the tickets for all three crossings. If you've never used a ferry before I highly recommend it. It's ace! We had to pre book the times for the Oban>Mull and the Mallaig>Skye crossing but the Ardnamurchan crossing you just turned up on the day.


    Firstly we set off fully laden from Fife to Oban. We met up with some friends who were at the end of their tour here. We stopped one night at the North Ledaig. This is on the outskirts of Oban and is a Camping and caravanning site. We were right on the beach. The site is nice if you like that kind of thing....a bit too regimented for my taste with stacks of caravanners watching telly. Facilities were good but to be honest this was just a one-nighter to get us underway. Shop seemed well stocked and it was handy for Oban. We stayed at a different site last year on our way up the coast. Both were 'OK'.


    The next day we were off into Oban in preparation for our first ferry crossing to Mull. We popped into town for a browse (mainly around charity shops for books for us - this happened a lot and we returned with a library!) If you're into seafood you'll be in your element here! The stall on the harbour near the ferry sells delicious stuff! I had some smoked trout and then went back for Prawns in Garlic Butter :) The Ferry is huge (compared to the next one anyhow!) We spotted our first Bay here (Red late Westy). Somewhat bizarrely there was a purple fire-engine broken down here as well towing a circus tent. It was carrying these guys - http://www.swampcircus.co.uk/. They were very entertaining to watch as we waited for the Ferry! After boarding we were off to Mull...
    physiopro and alanchester like this.
  3. Having spent the last two weeks touring around the West Coast I'd make some suggestions to fellow Bay owners -

    1) Make sure your engine is up to it. Even the flat parts aren't very flat and you'll need to peace of mind of a decent engine. When negotiating the MANY single track roads you really don't want your van stalling every time you stop!

    2)Perhaps more importantly make sure your brakes are up to it! There's a lot of stop-start stuff and you want to make sure you stop!

    3)Cattle grids - There are hundreds of them! Make sure everything is screwed down properly!


    Our campsite on Mull was Fidden Farm...


    You couldn't have gotten more of a contrast to Oban! I'd rang ahead and was told to just turn up. It a fair old drive down those single track roads to get to the farm but boy is it worth it! There were two more bays here. One early tintop from Germany and a late Viking. There is a bit of competition for the spots right at the 'front' (when I way competition I mean that in the most relaxed way!). You park where you like as long as your not annoying your neighbours. There are showers and loos at the farmhouse and flushing toilets in the main 'field' housed in Portaloo type units. We were here for 2 nights..could have stayed longer! It's a place to totally chill out. Real mix a folk and nationalities. Highly recommended! Make sure you have everything you need as it's a long walk or a drive to the shop for supplies.

    Our 'pitch'...

    The beach was REALLY busy ;-) We just managed to squeeze on....



    Met a couple who were on their way down the coast from their own 'tour' in their T25. They were heading back to Yorkshire but didn't want to leave! You can see why!


    Oh, everyone asks about Midges.....it was really breezy here so no bother really.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
    Colin, physiopro, carlot25 and 5 others like this.
  4. The roads around Mull are mainly single track with passing places. There were leaflets on the ferry telling visitors how to drive them! I took one as a joke but some folk actually needed them....failing to understand that you pulled over to the left! Perfect roads for a camper mind you!

    After a lovely couple of days we were off to Tobermory. This is a nice place to visit and have a wander. I noted you could purchase both Camping Gaz and Calor Gas at the garage. Spotted another couple of Bays here...


    A yellow cross over with a high top and a white Westy Continental.

    After a delicious lunch we made our way to the ferry port. This one was significantly smaller than the last one! We popped into the ferry office and were told we could park up and come back 10 minutes before the sailing. There were lots of foot passengers using this ferry who came across from Ardnamurchan for their shopping!


    At this point we were starting to get hints of the weather to come....

    A 20 minute crossing and we were on the awesome Ardnamurchan peninsula....
  6. Compared to the long and windy drive to Tobermory it was a quick 10 minute jaunt to our next site...


    This is a lovely, lovely site. The owner (Trevor) is great and upon arrival he told us we could pick a spot other than a corner of a field where 22 Sea Kayakers were due to camp the next day (from various European destinations). We are aiming to return to Ardnamurchan soon, it has a lovely vibe and loads going on. If your into wildlife it's ace. I'm no twitcher but you can't help but be a little impressed when Sea Eagles and Golden eagles fly over your campsite!

    The site was just the right side of rambling to make me happy :)

    Showers were brilliant (in a whitewashed shed) and there was free Wifi so we could contact the world for the first time in a while if need be!


    Upon chatting to our tent neighbours it turned out they live 3 miles from my house! Small world!

    We visited the lighthouse and the gorgeous Sanna Bay....


    It was getting hotter by the day!


    Having this beach on our doorstep and seeing all the sea Kayaks has made me even more determined to get into Sea Kayaking!

    Oh, we'd used 'honesty boxes' before for stuff at the side of the road but this was something else!


    We also met another Bay here. A hired watercooled one with a couple from Edinburgh. they were paying £100 a day.

    Must get my other Bay finished off!

    Oh, the Ferry port shop near to the campsite has everything you might need and lots of other stuff you might! This includes gas (both calor and gaz). There is also a petrol 'station' here. Again, it isn't really a 'station' ;-)
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
  7. After two lovely days at Ardamurchan it was time to head to Arisaig. We've been here several times and true to form it rained!

    The site at Camusdarach.


    It appeared to have changed hands since our last visit but still nice! I think we'll try a different site in the areas next time though. Perhaps Invercaimbe?

    We had one night here before heading to Mallaig to leave for Skye. There's not loads to see in Mallaig (but there is a huge second hand bookshop!) and we'd popped in the day before so we headed straightish to the ferry. The radio reception is rubbish here so I picked up some bargain 50p CD's much to my wifes amusement. A 70's disco mix and 90's dance music. My musical taste is stick firmly in the early 90's so this suited me well! This became our soundtrack for the rest of the trip....especially my girl's favourite tune on the CD 'Boombastic' by Shaggy. Not strictly appropriate for a 6 and 9 year old!
    physiopro likes this.
  8. Off we headed to Skye and on to Glenbrittle which I camped at last year. If your after food or fuel there is a huge Co-op in Broadford which is on your way when driving on or off Skye either by ferry or bridge. The fuel is 24 hour I noted. No need to stock up in the small Co-op in Mallaig.

    The site at Glenbrittle is lovely as ever and the staff in the shop are great. The showers are now 20p for 8 minutes (but they say it's a token but this is to discourage freeloaders).

    There are more 'pitches' (I use the term loosely) so I can't imagine it would ever be unable to accommodate you.


    There are a few hookups but they are in a 'compound' near the loos :)

    It was here we first me up with @The Bobdogs in his T25 westy and 'The Germans' in their borrowed late Westy 2ltr.

    While we were in Skye we visited the Fairy pools (and witnessed some blokey bravado as teenagers jumped off rocks into shallow rocky pools), re-visited the Seals at Dunvegan and had a lovely tour of the island. I think we'll stay longer next time as there was more to see than we had time for.

    After a couple of days we were heading for the Skye Bridge and Applecross...
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
    physiopro, fugly76, carlot25 and 4 others like this.
  9. Stunning ,fantastic pictures,next year deffo :thumbsup:
    KarlB likes this.
  10. Cheers @Lord Congi

    More stuff to come...tomorrow :)
  11. I need a decent camera ,is it an SLR?
  12. Some DSLR (Nikon D3100) some IPhone 4s.
    Lord Congi likes this.
  13. Now, I've been wanting to tackle the road to Applecross for years (Bealach na ba). Folk I'd spoken to about it had raised their eye brows and sucked air whilst looking at my van. The sadist in me still wanted to tick it off. I'd made some alterations to the van (carbs and exhaust) before setting out but the Westy is a heavy beast and the van was packed up with gear for 4 people and 2 weeks. I emptied the water tank and set off!


    I recorded the journey for prosperity... well I stuck an ipod touch in the window with my phone cradle and it turned out rather well. I'll upload it to YouTube soon and post a link.

    The road? Not as bad as folk made out. There were lots of other classics doing the road (some kind of 'Tour of Scotland), tons of motorbikes and a few hardcore cyclists! @The Bobdogs and 'The Germans' were also making the trip. You can see them on the downward leg of the pass. The day was topped off by seeing a gorgeous Karmann Ghia cabriolet heading up the hill.

    Here we are at the top stopping for lunch...there is an information thing telling you how far away things are and what all the islands are called.


    I hadn't really thought about the downhill bit! in either direction is gonna be a bit steep! My brakes had to work very hard!!!! Right at the bottom of the road we found our next site....Applecross and what a treat it was!

    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
  14. Great pics...spurring me on to get my bus finished...
    KarlB likes this.
  15. Truly a Karl worthy of note!
    KarlB likes this.
  16. Looks like you had a great trip.I think we passed you when you where on your way to Ariaig.We where coming back the other way towards fort william.We had been out around the Ardamuchan for the day going across on the corran ferry through Strontian and back out via Lochailort.We where in a Baige westy.
    KarlB likes this.
  17. Enjoyed this post and great pictures KarlB, thats the sort of thing we hope to do in ours, we go to Scotland twice a year but its 500 miles for us just to the Pitlochry area! stayed in Torridon in June and went to Apple Cross, what a great road, hope to go in the van next year.
    KarlB likes this.
  18. A great post. Glad you saw some bays as i went to Mull in May and I was the only bay in the village. I'll be going back to Scotland next year (fingers crossed) & will check out some locations you have mentioned
  19. Excellent! Now you mention it we remember you! We were pleased to see so many Bays being used for their intended purpose :) They must have been hibernating in May @paulcalf !

    There were stacks of Wedges, loads of T4's and everywhere we looked there were T5's lurking. Has a nosey around a T5 California at Applecross. Really nice but I have to say, for that money I'd get a coachbuilt.

    @kenward we're lucky that we're 40 miles from Pitlochry. I think I take that for granted sometimes. I'm not a Fifer originally, I'm hail from Leicestershire. Having grown up in the midlands I'm never happier than when I'm on a beach somewhere (like today when I was at two, one for lunch and another for dinner) :)

    If you could guarantee the weather your would never have to leave!

    Thanks for all the positive comments...I've some more to cover yet!
    paulcalf and kenward like this.
  20. I'm currently sorting the video of the Applecross road in case anyone fancies a nosey at what it entails before tackling it. I certainly wouldn't contemplate it towing a trailer like I was yesterday (moving a rabbit hutch!). You'd also need to make sure you can get all your gears and your clutch is in good order. Just sensible stuff really. I say this as over the years I've been asked to work on vans that have been destined for these kind of trips and when they arrive I certainly wouldn't have contemplated using them! At the very least make sure you can change down from 3rd to 2nd gear as I spent a lot of time doing it (and sometimes 1st). It goes without saying that your cooling should be up to scratch. The weather was really warm and if your engine is going to cook anywhere this is where it'll do it!


    After setting up we went for a wander. We'd done without a hookup for most of the way (no need for it) but when I planned the trip I had no idea what to expect weather wise so I booked hookup for these two days in case we needed to dry stuff out. I couldn't have been more wrong as it was scorching! Our hookup meant we were near the reception, toilets and the 'flower tunnel' ( A poly-tunnel with grapes growing inside that did lovely breakfasts if your feeling lazy - Bacon, pancakes and maple syrup come highly recommended by my girls! )

    @The Bobdogs headed round into the next field with arguably better views. We had a wander down the hill, through the gate and we were 2 minutes from the Applecross Inn...


    Utterly fantastic place with lovely staff. We ate here in the second night and there is also a 'airstream' type caravan outside who do takeaways and drinks. On our first trip down I walked though the gate in the camping field and was 2 feet away from a Stag. I fumbled for my phone to take a photo but he looked at me and wandered off.

    Like I said, the weather was amazing....


    We are certainly going to return here. Lots to see around . We didn't manage to visit the walled garden restaurant but we heard great things about it.

    We did however visit the 'Sand' beach 10 minutes along the coast...


    Snapped this on our way back after an afternoon at the beach...quite like this shot but I think I need some new wing mirrors :)

Share This Page