Road Trip (Part 1)
12 days. 1,700 miles.
6 National Parks
In other words, a pretty epic way to start the summer
Tabitha and I have been wanting to do some sort of road trip for ages. So when we read an article in Evo about the North Coast 500 we decided to give it a go.
Organisation was a bit challenging considering we were 400 miles apart but, after numerous skype calls, we managed to finalise our route and campsites.
We always knew that the first leg of the road trip would be the most boring. So instead of driving straight up to Scotland, we decided to take a detour through the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District - areas of England we'd never been to.
Our first campsite was at How Stean Gorge, about 40 mins north of Harrogate.
Harrogate was the obvious place to stop as it is where my Grandparents lived for a while and the place where my Dad was born.
And before you ask, yes we did go to Betty's Tea Room.
What better way to celebrate the start of the road trip than with mini sandwiches, tea, and cake?
The next morning, we packed up early and started the drive across the Yorkshire Dales into the Lake District.
Despite some interesting road choices by Google maps, we managed to get to our second campsite at Lanefoot Farm in Thornthwaite.
We had booked a night in one of their shepherd huts to give us a break from pitching a tent. Although it didn't have beds, the carpet and radiator made it seem like a 5-star hotel!
On the way over from Harrogate, we took a detour and drove along Honister Pass and Whinlater Pass. If you watched the BBC 1 drama 'The A Word' this is the area of the Lake District in which it was filmed.
After a very comfortable night, we drove from the Lake District to Edinburgh.
The main reason for cutting back across the country was that my halls were still open and we weren't about to pass up the opportunity for hot showers and a night in a warm bed.
To mark the fact we'd actually made it to Scotland, we treated ourselves to burgers from Byron on North Bridge.
Sweet potato fries make everything better!
From Edinburgh, we headed north-west to the Isle of Skye.
As ever we took one of the most indirect routes possible.
But this time, it definitely paid off. Not only did we drive through Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park but the road we were on also took us through Glen Coe.
Neither of us could get over how beautiful this part of Scotland is - it was very difficult not to stop in every layby to take photos.To make the route even more convoluted we took the Corran ferry across to Loch Linnie to Ardgour.
And it was leaving this ferry that we had our first and only mechanical issue of the trip.
It began when I started up the car and the engine light came on.
Considering the Punto enjoys having impromptu light shows on its dashboard neither of us thought anything of it.
But after I had driven off the ferry and was heading up the jetty to the road, the accelerator stopped working. In other the words, the car just decided to stop moving forward despite the accelerator being flat to the floor. Luckily the car still had some momentum so I was able to pull over to the side.
Now Tabitha and I are no mechanics, we leave that to our Dad, but we decided to try the reliable turn off turn back on routine.
And, in true Punto style, it moved off without a hitch. Once off the jetty we stopped in a layby and tested the oil level and also checked to see if the one dodgy spark plug had done its usual thing of popping up. But no, nothing was obviously wrong. And with no signal the only option was to keep driving and hope for the best. For the rest of the trip, the engine light spontaneously came on and off but we never had the same problem again. Turning something off then on again clearly does work!
From Ardgour, we drove around the headland to Mallaig and it was this part of the drive where we had our first encounter with Scotland's infamous single track roads.
If on a map you ever see a road outlined by dashed black lines that means it's single track (basically a road just wide enough for one car with passing places every 20 metres or so)
In other words 90% of roads on Scotland's West Coast.
We got the next ferry from Mallaig to Armadale without any issues and the sun even made an appearance as we drove north in Skye to Dunvegan.
We pitched our tent at Kinloch campsite and got an early night.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 - coming your way soon!