Scotland - B&B's and/or backpack tent?

Old Jun 19th, 1999, 03:07 AM
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Scotland - B&B's and/or backpack tent?

My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to Scotland in the early tourist season for 11 days. We will have a car and plan to spent a couple of days in Aberdeen and then go to the Highlands and Islands (or where ever) for the remainder of our stay. Are the camping opportunities something that should not be missed or should we just stay in B&B's? We would be bringing a backbacking type tent. Our preference is to camp in areas where you are not right next to another camper. Toilets and showers would be nice, but for a beautiful campsite, could be done without. Specifics would be appreciated.
Old Jun 19th, 1999, 08:43 AM
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This is the usual "depends" answer.
What is an unmissable camping opportunity.? There are campsites in most places which are well endowed with services but where the locations are more urban, they are not necessarily in pretty places. In the "real" highlands, it is not hard to wild camp, and the locations are scenic in the extreme.

What do you mean by early tourist season? Do you know how cold and wet it can be here until certainly the end of April? I was out in hail storms on the 29th May this year.

Give answers and I'll try to get more specific with the next reply
Old Jun 19th, 1999, 02:14 PM
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Ok- more detailed information
Aberdeen has 2 campsite bothe run by the Council. They will have all required facilities and are in suburban locations. They are not crowded. If was was rash enough to be camping ( which I'm not!) I'd try out of town.

North of town on the coast is a village called Newburgh which has a tiny campsite. I have no idea what the facilities are but I'd think they are basic. On the other hand you are 2 minutes walk from a national nature Reserve and one of the best estuaries and beaches in the country; and it's right next to an Ok pub, which owns and runs it.

Or you could go south to Stonehaven, also on the coast; with a picturesque harbour and a sweeping beach below spectacular cliffs and Dunottar Castle where they hid the Honours of Scotland. Strangely I can't find a reference to a campsite there, but I'm sure there must be one. If you're interested I'll check it out for you.

Inland along the Dee there are bunkhouses near Banchory and Braemar and camping at Braemar; Along the Don, there are camp sites at Alford and a Bunkhouse at Corgarff. there is an excellent Campsite at Huntly on the Deveron. In rural Aberdeenshire a number of country pubs will let you camp on their land for a small fee for the asking.

Why are you coming to Aberdeen? It has a lot to offer but I think this is only the third query i've readrelating to this area since I started to get my daily fix of Fodor's 4 months ago.

It's very dificult to answer your Highlands and Island question without a bit moe specificty on your part. It's a bit like me saying...I'm coming to California for a week, where should I stay?

But there is a lot of wild camping; ie find your site and pitch your tent. And we don't have bears.

There are also a lot ofcamp sites and bothies and camping barns. I would suggest you either sort out where you want to go- not necessarily very far in advance; daily should do it- and find somewhere to stay at that place; or get a camping guide and fix your route around the best sites.

I'd be happy to help find places for you if you can pin down the choices.
Old Jun 19th, 1999, 04:08 PM
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I am very pleased that you took interest in our trip to Scotland. After reading Fodor's for the past 3 months I figured you would be the person who could help us, in fact, I thought about e-mailing you directly but thought that would be rude.

I would be happy to be more specific.

My definition of early tourist season was the end of June or early July. Like right now. I guess that is not considered early tourist season?

Our idea of great camping is in a non-urban area with beautiful scenery and not necessarily with facilities. We would want to be able to camp near our car and not have to backpack to the campsite. We might want to camp one night if the weather is nice and then B&B it the next night. During the day we would like to hike and/or see the country by car. Pubs are a definate plus for the evenings.

The reason we are going to Aberdeen is to visit family, so we will not be camping there. After we leave Aberdeen we will have 8 days/nights to roam the country.

The first night we thought we might want to stay in a B&B in Inverness via the River Dee, then go to the Gairloch area (recommendtions from one of your recent postings) camp or B&B, head south toward Skye for the next 2 or 3 nights, head to Lochaline or Oban and maybe go to Mull and spend a night, spend a night south of Oban and end up near Glasgow the night before we fly home.

We would be happy if we spent 2-4 nights camping and the rest in B&B's. If there was a real neat Castle that had not been modernized extensively we might like to do that also. I think if we found a spot that was totally awesome we might change our plans and stay there longer. Our plans are very flexible.

Can you describe "wild camping" a little more to us?

Any recommendations on places to hike (not climb), stay or eat, in or near the areas I mentioned would be appreciated.

Thanks for all the information you have already given us.

Old Jun 20th, 1999, 03:03 AM
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OK. Here goes. Sorry about the redundant Aberdeen info.

Can I make some suggestions, based on your proposed route.

The main road wes from Aberdeen (A93) along deeside will be busy at the time of year you describe. If your intention is to get to Inverness fast, I wouldn't go that way. I guess, therefore, you are looking at doing some sightseeing along the way. That being the case I would suggest you go out the south Deeside road, rather than following the main road..quieter, a little slower, and more scenic.

You stay on the south Deeside road as far as Bridge of Feugh- very pretty- then turn south as though you were going to Fettercairn. When you get to Strachan, you do not take the Fettercairn turn but follow the back roads which will bring you out on the south side of the river at Aboyne. Stay on that side of the river. fwe miles further on you pass the entrance to Glentanar, where you could take a short detour and go for a walk in the remnant Scots Pine forest.

Stay on south Deeside till you get to Ballater when you need to cross over and get on the A93. You are now driving west along the north bank of the river and a few miles along you get to Crathie which is where you fid Balmoral Castle where the Windsor's go to masacre birds in the summer. (June/July is too early, so the grounds are open to the public).

At this point either decide if you want to go on up to Braemar and the Linn of Dee for the scenery (At the Linn of Dee there is a very pretty walk up the river or up the Lui river, in really quite stunning surroundings- from Glentanr on you are in serious walking (hiking) country but I guess you are too close to where you started to want to stop here) or turn right towards Tomintoul. If you do go up to Braemar you have to come back here. The road crosses moor and pretty rivers and brings you out at Corgarff on Donside, where you coss one of the Country's highest passes- the Lecht. Atthe Donside en there is an 18th century castle built by general wade as a barracks for the soldiers who were sent here to subjugate the populace, which is unspoilt and is open to the public.

Drive over the Lecht to Tomintoul- very good whisky shop- and then follow the road signs north and west to Grantown on Spey then Nethy Bridge. Oe of my perjudices is that I do not much like Inverness. It's in an important place and is OK, I suppose but it's a real "nothing" town. I would stay overnight somewhere about here, Nethy Bridge has B&Bs, a bunkhouse and hotels. Boat of agrten, which is nearby has a campsite.

The forest at Abernethy and at Rothiemurchus and at Glen Morlich are riddled with very walkable trails.

Then get Inverness out of the way. A quick zap up the A9- do the tourist stuff (20 minutes max) then go over the Kessock Bridge and on to Dingwall where you turn left to go to Garve, then Achnasheen. Lots of lovely hills to walk on along this road.

From Achnasheen, drive on to Shieldaig, which is next to Gairloch, next to Poolewe, next to Mellon Udrigle. There's a campsite at Gairloch and one at Mellon Udrigle. The locations here are superb; but you are also now in the sort of are, where, if you get off the beaten track a bit, and off cultivated land, you can simply stick a tent up. That's what I mean by wild camping.

In the shops in this are you can buty a booklet about local walks, but my would suggestions would include walking round Red Point- you cans ee it on the maps, walking in the Beinn Eighe National Naure Reserve- it has a visitor centre at Kinlochewe, or walking along the tracks n the north side of Loch Maree

To get down to Skye go back down to Kinlochewe and then west to Shieldaig (that's the other Shieldaig) and right round the peninsula to Applecross. The road is spectacular and looks over the Inner Sound to Raasay and Skye itself. You then drive back round Loch Kishorn to Lochcarron and south again to Kyle of Lochalsh via Plockton.

The bit from Kinlochewe to Shieldaig takes you through Torridon which has stunning mountains; the sea lochs are very pretty and Plockton is picture postcard stuff. Lots of places to stop pff and walk.

Cross the bridge to Skye an settle down to enjoy our most spectacular Alpine ridge- the Black Cuillin.

You can camp at Sligachan, Portree, Glen Brittle, and on Raasay on campsites. But you can pitch a tent just about anywhere you do no harm.

Dunvegan Castle is worth a visit. Suggesting places to walk on Skye is like mentioning shops in New York. Choose your own!!!!

Come off Skye on the Mallaig ferry and drive round the Ardnamurchan peninsula and Morvern peninsulas to get to Lochaline. The scenery here is very mixed, with huge flat beaches, but mountain ranges beyond.You come through Morar and Arisaig, then south to Ardnamurchan itself.(Don't leave mallaig without a tank of petrol!!) Try to see the movie "Local Hero" before you come. The beach scenes were filmed here.

Try to get out to Ardnamurchan point, for the view over the Small Isles- if you get visibility- then come back up Loch Sunart to Strontian then you cross the head of the loch and come south to Lochaline. There is no camp site here, but you will find a pitch if you want. The Hotel is a dive- don't stay there if you can avoid it.

Take the ferry to Fishnish from Lochaline, then go round to Tobermory. After that it really depends how long you want to stay on Mull.

You can cross on the little ferry to Ulva, and spend the day there walking on this unspoilt little island or you can go down to Carsaig and walk for a few miles along the bay.

When you leave Mull come off on the Oban ferry from Craignure. There's a camp site at Glenshallach, but at better one (I think) at Gallanachmore.

You can do the coast rout back to Glasgow or the inland route.

I think, after all taht water, I would recommend you go down to ballachulish and through Glencoe, the Glen of Weeping, and if you are not blown away by it, you have the constitution of an ox.

When you reach Crianlarich, you can either go south past Callendar to Stirling and zip in to Glasgow from there; or you can opt to go down Loch Lomond and stay there before your trip to the airport- try the campsite at Balloch at the bottom end of the Loch,

I issed the "eat" question earleri.

I will revisit the route with restaurants later. Now I must go out to lunch

Old Jun 20th, 1999, 04:29 AM
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Thanks for all the excellent suggestions. Two areas that I am having trouble locating on the map that I have are Abernethy & Rothiemurchus. It seems like I recall another posting, possibly from you, mentioning how beautiful the forest is in this area. Could you name a couple of other towns near there? We will have to get a better map when we get to Scotland.

A different subject but it definately pertains to Scotland. We have been "practicing" our whisky drinking before the trip and have taken a liking to Lagavulin and Talisker. Any favorites that we should try while we are there?
Old Jun 21st, 1999, 05:29 AM
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The Speyside Caledonian Pine forest runs from Nethybridge to Aviemore and takes in Abernethy and Rothiemurchus forests and also Glen Morlich, which belongs to the forestry Commission.

Lagavulin and MacAllan are objectively probably the best malt whiskys; but everyone's tastes differ. Get your self a good guide- Michael Jackson's is a good one- and try to differentiate between Highland, Speyside, island, and lowland. Just keep trying- there's no such thing as a bad malt whisky

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