Ok, so mid-January is not the ideal weather in Scotland to take a road trip. Nor is it the ideal season to attempt camping. (Let’s just say I’m a hotel kind-of-girl and leave it at that.) And yet that is exactly what we did.
I drove the long solo trip Northwards with a few Audio Books and 7 hours drive ahead of me. I detoured around the Lake District and stopped for a nice warm soup and coffee before reaching my friend’s house near Dumfries. I had met my friend while on a previous travel trip of mine, while attempting to drive my little pink car, also known as the Pink Yak, solo from England to Mongolia. I met him during the long line at the Turkey-Georgian border crossing. Although the border had taken a good six hours and we convoyed together for two days, I hadn't seen him in over a year. But hey, that's the great thing about travel friendships I've learned over the years... no matter the distance or time that separates you, you're always welcome for a hot cup of tea, a chance to swap stories and an adventure!
Photos: Frosted Flakes with actual Frosty flakes! And Me Scratching the Ice from My Windows!
Delirious from the long drive, but enthusiastic for the trip ahead, we sat over a cup of tea while he shared with me family photos from the early 1900’s as well as old newspapers. There were even original prints from the 1945 release announcing the end of WWII. It was pretty spectacular to hold so much history in my hands. Especially considering that as an American I had somehow lost touch with my roots abroad and although I know I have a mixture of Irish, German, Swedish and Lithuanian blood, I couldn’t tell you a single story about my family history nor tell you any of my lost relative’s names or history.
Photo Credit: Lewis Gault Photography
The next day we took a slow drive through Edinburgh towards Aberdeen. We saw the beautiful city through the fading light as the sun began to set at 4 in the afternoon. We cruised up the twisty roads to Aberdeen and grabbed dinner in a Dracula-themed Church which had been converted into a pub. The next day after a slow start we drove at a leisurely pace through the mountain pass towards the Western Coast. Crossing from the East Coast to West Coast wasn’t particularly a long drive but we found ourselves stopping at countless castles and enjoying doing our photoshoots in places with no fellow tourists or people around to photobomb us. It was very scenic and the weather, although chilly, was bearable and right for exploring. In fact, the muddy ground had frozen over and we found ourselves free from soggy clothes. We climbed up the steep mountain pass and witnessed the snow at dusk. We again snapped a few photos before climbing down the windy mountain road. In the dark we found a road that led into a forest. We pitched the tent and made our camp. After unsuccessfully trying to make a camp fire, we slept under a pile of duvet blankets and thick sleeping bags to combat the cold.
The next day we drove alongside Loch Ness and I finally got to meet Nessie first hand. She now lives in my car.
We reached the Isle of Skye just in time for us to find an adorable Deli an hour before closing time. We took advantage of the Wi-Fi so I could do a podcast interview which you can listen on my podcasts page. We then stocked up on snacks to survive the cold night and found a place to pitch our tent in an open field overlooking the Sea and the Mountain Peaks in the distance. The stars came out early (as it was dark by 4pm) and we took the chance to star gaze. We again attempted to build a fire, this time with a little help from proper tools but still were unable to keep it going for long or supply us with much heat. But the light from the fire was soothing enough and my professional photographer again went to work and occupied himself taking countless photos of the stunning night sky and the flickering of the fire.
Photo Credit: Lewis Gault Photography
Luckily for me, the clothes I was modeling were very warm and I felt pretty snug! We also were very intelligent and packed a lot of thick Duvet blankets, throws, cushions and mats for the tent. I slept with all my thermals on and even with the 6 layers of blankets and the best sleeping bag money could buy, if not for the double layered tent the ice would have gotten inside! We were quite lucky and didn't face snow, however the ice froze our milk and we ate very icy cereal the next morning!
The next day we—of course—got lost, but Isle of Skye is not a bad place to get lost. We saw the famous Fairy Pools and cruised the empty roads. We stopped a lot for photos and to revel in the shadow of the majestic mountains that lay before us.
After exploring the island we headed back to Dumfries where my little pink yak awaited me for the return drive home. It was a short, but sweet camping trip which I did in about 5 days total. I needed my getaway to this beautiful place with stunning nature. Scotland was a peaceful place to clear my head and I am looking forward to my next—hopefully warmer—visit to this enchanting land of unicorns and men doing yoga in kilts!