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Beginners guide to Scotland 101

Wild Rovers customer Suzy B shares her recent adventure through Scotland in our Defender 90. Full of great places to visit and little insider tips. Thinking of your first trip to Scotland? Suzy’s guide is a great starting place.

Let’s go

We arrived at Edinburgh Airport and took the city bus into town to catch a train from Edinburgh Waverley. From here it was a short journey (1hr) to Tweedbank station where Crawford, the owner of Wild Rovers Adventures, very kindly picked us up! Not only that, but he had packed us some delicious local goodies to enjoy during our trip!

Stop 1 – Loch Lomond

Good for:
Beautiful walks and hiking

Where we stayed:
Cashel Campsite (pre-booked) which had lakeside views and great onsite facilities including a well-stocked shop

Conic Hills for fantastic views of the Loch, Oak Tree Inn (pub and restaurant)

Top Tip!
At stop number 1, we realised we hadn’t packed plastic bags (very helpful for everything from separating your dirty clothes to clearing away rubbish!). The Defender had pretty much everything we needed but we made sure to stock up using the campsite shop.

Loch Lomond and Cashels campsite

Stop 2 – Fort William

Good for:
Climbing Ben Nevis!

Where we stayed:
Glen Nevis (pre-booked) which is the closest for the start point to climb the mountain, has a large shop, onsite food van serving from breakfast to dinner.

Glen Nevis Restaurant and Pub – 2 mins from the campsite, make sure to book a spot for dinner, you will be hungry after that hike!

Top tip!
Take a detour via the Glennfinnain Viaduct to catch the famous Jacobite steam train! Famously featured in Harry Potter, set off early to ensure you get a space in the car park as this gets very busy. This is the perfect pitstop before catching the ferry onto the Isle of Skye from Mallaig, and if you have even more time the Silversands Beach is just a 5 minute drive from the ferry terminal.

Camping in Glen Nevis. 

(Above) Glennfinnan Monument and looking south along Loch Sheil. In a few of the Harry Potter movies the land to the right was used as a location for Hogwarts. (Below) The Glennfinnan viaduct looking north.

Stop 3 – Isle of Skye

Good for:
Dramatic scenery and hiking

Where we stayed:
Sligachan Camping (pre-booked), this was a great location for exploring both sides of the island, had a more ‘wild’ feel to it with dramatic views and was very close for our ferry to Isle of Raasay

Seamus’ Bar, opposite the campsite we had drinks here but recommend getting here early if you want food (before 7pm, otherwise you might have to wait at the bar with a drink). The Noost next to Sconser ferry was great before we left for Raasay.

Top tip!
The island gets busy in summer so make sure you plan which stops you are keen to see, the Fairy Pools car park was already full when we arrived around lunchtime and felt too busy for us. This is when we planned our stop to Raasay which was a recommendation we got from Crawford!

Our campsite at Sligachan on Skye

(Above) The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye. Be sure to arrive early to guarantee a space to park.

Stop 4 – Isle of Raasay

Good for:
Peace and quiet, amazing food, a real adventure away from the crowds!

Where we stayed:
We wild camped! There are no campsites on this small island, but there is a hotel and rooms at the distillery, however, this is also great just for a day trip.

Isle of Raasay distillery for the best food of our trip (open for lunch and dinner), if you fancy a tour make sure to book in advance!

Top tip!
Make sure to check ferry times for your stay, especially if you only plan a day visit – our wild camping experience was the highlight of our trip though so definitely think about it if you’re feeling brave (thanks for the recommendation Crawford!)

Wild camping on Raasay.

Raasay to Ullapool we stopped off at the following:

  • Leaving the Isle of Skye we grabbed breakfast at Lean To Coffee near Breakish, was an amazing family-run coffee, cake and sandwich place! 
  • We had a look around Shieldaig, a cute village overlooking a beautiful loch
  • Gruinard Bay for some seaside views and a picnic

(Above) On the road to Ullapool and looking north over Gruinard Bay.

Stop 5 – Ullapool

Good for:
Making it back to civilisation! Lots of pubs and places to eat

Where we stayed:
Broomfield Holiday Park, you can’t pre-book here and whilst the campsite is large do try to turn up in good time as this is the only campsite in Ullapool.

The Chippy @ The Seaforth for 10/10 fish and chips. The Arch Inn pub, we were lucky enough that our Tuesday evening there was live music!

Top tip!
There are great amenities in town including a Tesco superstore, outdoor clothing store and a handful of pubs, restaurants, and takeaways.

Sea-front at Ullapool.

Ullapool to Scourie we stopped off at the following:

  • Achmelvich Beach, a gorgeous stop with a campsite if you want to extend a beachy break – but be warned, it gets super busy and the car park is small for the beach if you are visiting
  • Clachtoll Beach, a more serene stop than Achmelvich

(Above) Achmelvich beach.

Stop 6 – Scourie

Good for:
Secluded beach, friendly campsite

Where we stayed:
Scourie  Caravan Park (not pre-booked, but we arrived around 3pm), this campsite had an onsite pub, SPAR shop and pizza place! As well as laundry facilities and amazing views.

The beach was perfect, we set up the tent and then took a trip down via the private access from the campsite with some drinks and our book!

Top tip!
If you’re following our route down to Loch Ness, then make sure to stock up on car snacks at the SPAR as this was our longest journey and there wasn’t much in the way of stops enroute.

Camping at Scourie

(Above) Scourie bay.

Stop 7 – Loch Ness

Good for:
Hunting Nessie!

Where we stayed:
Loch Ness Shores Camping and Caravan Club Site (pre-booked, I tried this in advance and there was no space but tried again the night before and got lucky!) This site is popular as it is the only one with direct access to the Loch Ness shoreline so try to book in advance if you can!

Walks around the Foyer’s Falls and dinner at the Craigdarroch Hotel! This is a lovely family-run hotel with a pub and restaurant (amazing food!!) that was a short walk from the campsite. We had a drink at the pub and managed to get an early table but if you can book in advance that would be recommended.

Top tip!
This route goes via Inverness if you want to break up the trip and head into the city! This was also probably our longest drive to date so we stopped for lunch in Inverness and got some final supplies in the Morrisons supermarket.

Looking for Nessie!

Stop 7 – Aviemore, Cairngorms National Park

Good for:
Beautiful walks, visiting Balmoral Castle

Where we stayed:
Oakwood Caravan & Camping Park (pre-booked, only the night before)

There are a couple of pubs and restaurants a short walk from the campsite, we ate at The Balavoulin and had a drink at The Winking Owl.

Top tip!
We were feeling tired and whilst we originally wanted to go hiking in Cairngorms, we ended up booking a trip to Balmoral Castle! This was another highlight of the trip seeing the beautiful grounds and gardens – we thought this was definitely worth a visit!

Balmoral Castle

Sadly, this marked the end of our camping trip, and from Cairngorms it was a 2h45 drive to return the Defender! We got the train back easily into Edinburgh and had a final night here before flying home.

As we wanted to fit the most into our trip we only stayed at each place for 1 night, however I would definitely recommend having flexibility as there were so many places we would have loved to spend more time exploring!

We have already started planning for our next Wild Rovers Adventure!!

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This amazing image of our Defender 90 under the Northern lights is courtesy of Marie Germis of Belgium