Stroll across the cliffs of Skye, savour the seafood in a scenic fishing village and sip single-malt whisky in Glen Coe. Scotland in a campervan has all the ingredients for the ultimate road trip
When you explore Scotland in a campervan the journey becomes as important as the destination. It is most rewarding to avoid the tourist routes and go your own way. Here are some recommended routes off the beaten track to get your motor running.
The East Neuk of Fife is a charming corner of Scotland within easy reach of Edinburgh, making this a good route if you have just a few days to spare. Start from St Andrews and motor down through the tiny fishing villages along the coast. Crail, Anstruther, Elie, Pittenweem and St Monans all have their charms and invite relaxed exploration.
The Anstruther Fish Bar (www.anstrutherfishbar.co.uk/) serves legendary fish and chips making it an ideal pit-stop. There are plenty of coastal walks to stretch your legs or, if the sun is shining, take a dip in the tidal swimming pool at St Monans. Grangemuir Woodland Park (01333 450314, www.caravancampingsites.co.uk/fife/grangemuir.htm) is a secluded and lovely campsite set in the grounds of a former estate and located a mile outside of Pittenweem.
Road To The Isles
Taking a scenic route is unavoidable in Scotland. If you plan to travel to some of the beautiful islands take the A830 from Fort William to the ferry port of Mallaig – poetically known as The Road To The Isles. This is a gorgeous drive with the added benefit of a great campsite just a few miles outside of Mallaig.
Camusdarach campsite (01687 450221, www.road-to-the-isles.org.uk/camusdarach) is a sheltered, well-kept secret just a few minutes walk from the silver sands of Morar. Film buffs may recognise it as Ben’s Beach from the cult film Local Hero. Stop off for a night here before your morning ferry ( www.calmac.co.uk) and enjoy stunning sunsets and island views from the beach.
Skye is a great camper destination with secluded beaches and some of the best walking in Scotland.
The dreaded midge fly has sabotaged many a Skye holiday so buy some Avon Skin So Soft cream en-route and smother yourself regularly. Or eat a lot of garlic, or stay in the bar.
Skye is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland but it is easy to give the crowds the slip in your campervan. Glenbrittle Campsite (01478 640404) on the shores of Loch Brittle and the foot of the Cuillin Hills is a great base if you want to explore the hills. Or unfold your deckchair, get your book out and enjoy the views over Loch Brittle.
Further north, Uig is the ferry port to the remote Western Isles - ideal for a far-flung camper adventure. Otherwise continue round this northernmost point where you will find the Skye Museum of Island Life (http://www.skyemuseum.co.uk/) The painstaking reconstructions offer poignant insight into Skye’s not-so-distant crofting past.
The weird and wonderful rock formations of the Quiraing dominant the landscape of north-east Skye so take time to explore before reaching the tamer landscapes toward Portree.
Skye is connected to the Scottish mainland by the Skye Bridge. An alternative route off the island is on the dinky turntable ferry from Glenelg to Kylerhea (www.skyeferry.co.uk/). There is an otter sanctuary here so keep an close watch for the elusive creatures.
Greatest of glens
The route through Glen Coe is one of the most breathtaking in Scotland. Despite one too many tour buses it should not be missed.
The Red Squirrel campsite (01855 811256, www.redsquirrelcampsite.co.uk/) is an excellent base for exploring Glen Coe. Hike into the Lost Valley, reputedly haunted by the ghosts of the slaughtered MacDonald clan, or putter along the length of Glen Etive. The road into Glen Etive is too narrow and winding for tour buses so you can enjoy the landscape undisturbed. Stop for a swim along the way, or just take in the view with a nice cup of tea.
The Clachaig Inn (www.clachaig.com), just a few minutes walk from the Red Squirrel campsite, is the place to relax after a day exploring. The inn serves great food and the Boots Bar has an impressive malt whisky selection with live music to get you dancing once the whisky starts working its magic.
Getting on the road
There are several companies in Scotland tthat hire out VW campervans:
Lochwinnoch, 16 miles west of Glasgow: