ROAD TRIP BABY – Scotland edition

Adventures, Travels

I had the most perfect trip in June. The most amazing road trip. In a country that left me quite speechless. Taken back by its beauty…

… introducing Scotland.

Seriously though, how have I grown up not knowing how insanely picturesque Scotland’s nature was!? I mean I had an idea that it was beautiful, but what awaited me on the other side of the English border I just hadn’t expected.

The trip was a birthday surprise for my boyfriend, and thus I got to do all of the planning by myself. I quickly decided on a camper van and booked through Spaceships Rentals which worked flawlessly. As always I didn’t plan anything until the last minute, but a few nights before the trip I sat down and spend the night researching – plotting the best places I found into a map that could work as inspiration for the journey we were embarking on.

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I edited out the lovey-dovey birthday message from the two post-its.

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This was the back of the map – How incredible do these places look!?

Apparently, I did my research well, cause when he arrived in Edinburgh and was filled in on what we’d be doing he was on-board with my suggested plan. And so the adventure could start.

As we both arrived late in the evening (me from London and him from Copenhagen), I had booked an airport hotel for the first night. When we woke up in the morning we headed straight towards the car rental and started DAY 1 of our road trip.

Meet Arthur – our best friend for the trip.

Our first stop was…. the supermarket. We stocked up on snacks and food that could be cooked on the portable stove that came with our van. We ended up eating everything, and actually only ate at a restaurant once.

Two happy campers ready to goooo.

Since I don’t have a license and my boyfriend had previously voiced that he didn’t care too much for driving on the wrong side of the road, I had been super nervous leading up to the surprise. Everything turned out okay though – the driving wasn’t that bad for him and he only almost got us killed once.

Our first pitstop was this cute little village that we spotted from the side of the road.

The landscape was so beautiful.

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Spot a happy fool.

On the first day, we didn’t do any hikes but were mainly in awe of the landscape from the comfort of the car. We drove past Loch Lomond and through Glen Coe. We had considered hiking to the top of Ben Nevis, but that would take a full day and with our limited time in Scotland, we decided that our efforts were better spent elsewhere.

We tried to find a spot to sleep with a view of Ben Nevis, but we didn’t succeed. In Scotland, you can park your campervan and sleep everywhere as long as you’re not bothering the traffic or anyone, unless stated otherwise. The last part of that sentence is crucial since there are loads of signs stating “no overnight parking”. It can be a bit challenging finding a spot to sleep, but we only had an issue on our first night there.

We ended up finding a big parking spot that we could spend the night at. It turned out to be a parking spot made for the film crew when they were filming Braveheart right in the area.

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First time trying to make the bed inside a campervan.

I succeded!

Jonas enjoying his morning coffee in front of the beautiful view from our bed.

Scotland was my first ever (but definitely not last!) campervan experience, and as you can see from the smile on my face below I was quite excited after having had my first night in a campervan.

With a good night’s sleep, we were ready to embark on DAY 2 of the road trip. Before take-off, we went for a walk in the area around the parking spot to and I collected a bouquet of flowers from the fields.

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Back on the road!

Our first stop was at the Ben Nevis Distillery, but sadly their next tour didn’t start for another two hours, so we ditched the whiskey tour this time around.

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Scotland is a land of contrast. And incredible light.

 

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Eilean Donan Castle.

 

I hadn’t added any castles to the road trip layout I had made for Jonas, but we passed by a few on our chosen path anyways. This was the Eilean Donan Castle. We only saw it from the outside cause we were too cheap to pay the entrance fee. It was still a beautiful sight. There’s quite a big difference to low-tide and high-tide – at low-tide, you can almost walk to the castle without using the bridge.

When we got back in the car after hanging out at the castle we finally made it to the Isle of Skye. Up until now, we had seen some incredibly beautiful nature, but the mainland of Scotland has NOTHING on the Isle of Skye. Just wait…

Our first stop on the Isle of Skye was the Fairy Pools. When we got there it was pouring down (!). The epic thing about having a campervan is that you can just go to the back of the car and boom – you’re in your bed. So that’s what we did. After chilling (and maybe a little nap?) we opened our eyes and the rain had stopped.

We got out of the car and made some coffee on our portable stove before we headed out on the hike.

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Even though it was far from the blue skyed pictures with crystal clear water we had seen, it was still so beautiful.

 

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Suddenly the sun came out and revealed (once again) the most beautiful of contrast.

 

After the Fairy Pools, we hit the road again. This time around our destination was the Neist Point Lighthouse. We were both awestruck by the beauty of the Isle of Skye. Even staying on the road the sights were incredible.

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I mean…

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I fell in love with lambs on the trip (how could you not!?). More pictures will follow hehe.

 

We made it! The drive had been a bit tricky, there were no “no overnight parking” signs, and the view from the parking lot was AMAZING, so we instantly decided that we’d spend the night by the lighthouse.

 

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Not your average parking spot view.

 

From the parking spot, we embarked on the walk to the lighthouse. And it was a BEAUTIFUL (I can sense that I am using both the word “beautiful” and caps way too much in this post, but I just can’t help it..).

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The Neist Point Lighthouse.

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Behind-the-scenes.

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Hi, I love you.

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The lighthouse was abandoned quite a few years ago, but it used to house sailors in cabins surrounding the lighthouse.

We were in the mood to explore, so we jumped a fence to be able to go have a closer look at the cabins. Looking through the windows felt a bit like a scene out of a horror movie, as you could see books, medicines, and alcohol bottles had just been left behind.

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Hello friend.

 

Back at the car we put on a bit more clothes and headed on another walk to watch the lighthouse (and the sunset) from a different angle.

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The most serene of views.

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The sun set into the ocean as we shared a bottle of wine and thus it became … dinner time! The menu was some kind of soup and naan bread. Cooked on the portable stove in front of Arthur.

 

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Hi! The next picture shows the view from my kitchen.

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The view from our bed on the second night.

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Goodnight baby.

We woke up to pouring rain. Well-rested and happy we made it to the front of the car and off we were on DAY 3.

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After driving for a little the rain had calmed down and it was time to stop so we could fix the most important mourning routine: COFFEE! For breakfast, we had yogurt with granola and blueberries each day. There was a small fridge in the back of the car which worked perfectly for storing our food (and beer).

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DAY 3 was definitely the most adventurous of them all. We went on two different hikes and got lost on top of a mountain. Like really lost. But more on that in a bit.

The first hike of the day was the circle hike around Quiraing. The beauty of this place was insane. You can see it for yourself.

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Ready to go with the safest hiking candy of them all: the lollipop.

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I mean look at this!

The coolest thing about hiking at Quiraing is that the scenery is constantly changing with each corner you turn.

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The timer queen strikes again!

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Behind the scenes.

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This is one of my favorite pictures of the trip.

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Now we’ve gotten to the point where things started going WRONG. After hiking for quite some time we took a break and sat down. The fog was increasingly getting denser, and when we got up we must’ve somehow taken the wrong path.

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Unknowingly walking straight into a bad situation. Bye-bye!

So after walking through the dense fog for quite some time, we realize that we have zero ideas where we’re going. There are moments where we think we’re walking on some kind of path, but most of the time we’re way off the beaten path. And for a while, we keep going back and forth between those two scenarios. Did I mention that the fog was dense? The beautiful view from earlier was completely gone. All we could see was fog.

We get the idea to start walking uphill. It looks like we can see the top of the mountain, and we figure that we’ll be able to spot where we’re supposed to go from up there. We start walking up. We keep walking up. We reach what looks like the top more than once, but it just keeps going up. The reeds are knee-high in places, and there are quite deep holes in the ground scattered around.

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We realize that we had just been on the other side of the mountain and seen the steep drop from the top and down on the other side, so we decided to give up on the hope of reaching the top. I was starting to panic a bit. “Are we gonna have to sleep here?”, “We’re running out of water”, “fuck – we parked our car in a deserted parking lot – no one will know we’re up here”. We had zero services, but Goggle Maps (I LOVE YOU) were still able to show us our location. We knew where we had parked the car and could sort of make out the directions we should be going in. And so we continued. Jonas succeeded in calming me down, but every few minutes I made him stop to hug me.

All of sudden a fence appeared through the fog. We had seen a fence on the other side of the mountain, so we figured if we just followed the fence we would somehow make it back on the route. And so we did. Up. Up. Up.

After what seemed like an eternity but in reality was an hour or so of being stuck in the fog, we finally made it back to clarity. The fence had saved our lives (or so it felt like) and I could breathe properly again.

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Yay, we survived! Being lost on top of a mountain is quite the relationship challenges, and I’d say we aced it.

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The beauty was back once again.

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I’m pointing to the small deserted parking spot where we parked Arthur (Jonas is attempting to play along). We’re coming for you Arthur!!!!

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It definitely wasn’t an easy hike (especially not since we decided to stray from the route…) but well worth the hassle!

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THE CONTRAST THOUGH.

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You and me.

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And so we made it back to Arthur.

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Jonas cooked lunch …

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… and I calmed the last bit of my worried nerves with a beer in hand.

After chilling in the back of Arthur the scary experience of being lost on top of a mountain in Scotland had left the body, and we were left with nothing but a quite good story.

After driving a few minutes we turned a corner, and Jonas spotted something falling from the top of the car onto the road. We both instantly realized that we had left our hiking boots on top of the car to dry, but of course, had forgotten to bring them back into the car… Jonas’ boots we’re still on the roof and mine had luckily both fallen off right then and there, so I could collect them from the road with no harm happened. Whoops. It’s never a good idea to put something on the roof of a car…

The next stop of the day was Kilt Rocks and Melt Falls. A beautiful waterfall just by the side of the road.

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Melt Falls.

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We were both quite exhausted after the Quiraing hike, but we had one more hike planned for the day, and we knew it was one that couldn’t be missed. We parked the car by the Old Man of Storr and got ready to head up high once more.

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Pushing the last bit of adventure out of tired legs.

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The Old Man of Storr can be spotted to the left. It was possible to hike up to the right so you were leveled with the Man himself, but we didn’t have enough energy to go that high.

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Even though we didn’t hike to the very top, the view we got still landed on the top 5 list of most stunning views I’ve ever seen.

Sadly the pictures don’t even come close to justifying how beautiful it was, but here’s an attempt.

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It’s the depth of the view that really got to me. It just keeps going and going.

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I mean look at this!!!

We made it back down and started driving back towards the mainland, where we were planning to spend the last night.

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A roadblock Isle of Skye style.

On the way back we made it through Portree; the main city of the Isle of Skye. We arrived just in time for sunset and got to see this beautiful view.

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Beautiful pastel-colored houses.

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After quite a long drive we made it off of the Isle of Skye and back to the mainland. We were getting quite desperate for a place to sleep, and we passed the Eilean Donan Castle once again, we agreed that the “no overnight parking” could be interpreted to only mean one side of the parking lot, and so we took a chance and parked here for the night.

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Solid view for a tooth-brushing session.

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The last campervan bedroom view wasn’t bad at all!

Just as we were getting up someone knocked on our window. Jonas had luckily just gotten dressed and could answer the knock. Turns out we weren’t allowed to spend the night there. Whoops. We quickly made it to the front of the car and drove off into DAY 4 of the road-trip.

Since we had made it quite far away from Edinburgh and we had to hand over the car at 4 pm in time to catch our flights, DAY 4 was just a driving day.

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The best right-sided driver.

We drove through the Cairngorms National Park and saw some more beautiful places, but the only stop we made was one to clean up the car and do the dishes.

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Parking lot dishwasher at your service.

And just like that four amazing days had passed us by in Scotland. We made it back to Spaceships Rental place and handed over the keys to Arthur.

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Bye-bye Arthur!

We both agreed it was one of the best vacations we’ve ever had. To me, it definitely put the idea of an extended weekend trip into perspective. I’ve always thought about cities only when opting for a short trip, but the number of experiences we squeezed into four days in a campervan proved to me that there are so many other options out there.

It’s definitely not the last time we’ve taken a trip in a campervan, that is for sure. The freedom of being able to go wherever you want, whenever you want is amazing. And for two nap loving people like us, always having your bed right by your side is genius.

// Annika

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