Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Glasgow to Loch Awe - Scotland Tour 2013 - Living in a Hiace Camper Van

Welcome back!

Today I set off from Glasgow heading on towards Gourock to get the ferry to Dundoon, and drive into Argyll National park - a route I have never taken before.

I stopped off at a supermarket on the way to Gourock to get some food to last me a couple of days, and to fill up the fuel tank for the journey ahead. After eating lunch I set off for The ferry port.

I drove onto the ferry for Dundoon - its one of those small drive on/drive off ferries as it doesn't have to go a long way, but the views are great as you can see the mountains and forest on the other side, and today was warm and sunny too..

I was amazed on driving off the boat into Dundoon, as when I rounded the first bend out of the town I was driving into real Scottish highland scenery. Any of my friends in N Ireland reading this - its only a short drive up the coast from Troon, then this short ferry ride and you're into an amazing mountain wilderness.

Pretty soon I came onto Loch Eck, an incredibly beautiful part of the journey, and again so close to 'civilisation'. This drive along the loch reminded me of the scenery in Switzerland, especially on a day like today. I stopped a couple of times, just to stand on the loch shore in the stillness, looking out across the mirror surface, reflecting thousands of pines..

My plan was to continue on to Inverary, then head north until I came to a b road along the shores of Loch Awe. This was a narrow, single track road along the side of a 20 + mile long stretch of fresh water. It appeared that it was an anglers paradise, with fishing lodges and cabins along the first stretch of the road.

The bluebells are in full bloom in the highlands

As I drove further and further along, my speed never exceeding 30mph, the cabins became more rickety, and the locations more picturesque. I stopped a few times again to explore some of the little paths by the roadside, leading through the trees to the pebbly shore. One in particular was incredible as it ended on the facing a small island close to the shore, but inaccessible except by boat. On the island was a castle, half overgrown with ivy, but solid and imposing - Ardchonnel Castle.

As it was around 5:30 I decided that I'd look for a place to camp and prepare my evening meal, and probably spend the night. After slowing down to check out a few options I spotted a forestry track, and after walking it first to check the condition of the surface I drove up to this spot:

I'm now camping here, after having had my dinner and then a bike ride back along the edge of the loch. I stopped to sit silently by the shore at a camping spot; there were a few stone ringed fire pits, and watched as small fish jumped to catch the evening flies..

On return to the van warm form the cycle,  I took a shower out the back of the van, the stored water was even a little warm and it was so refreshing to be able to take a shower in the wilderness. I have seen a couple of wild deer and a whole flock of brent geese resting together close to here. A short walk from the van there is an old ruined church, the walls around its lands still solid. I was able to collect water from the stream there, and the dwellers on this site would have done in distant times past..

Miles so far: 179

I dont always have an internet connection, so I'll write a post each evening, and upload them when I get online..

If you're looking for a good map of Western Scotland and the Western Isles, the one I recommend is the 'Road 2' - this map used to be produced by OS, but they stopped doing it. You can buy it here for £4.99:

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See you soon..

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