Friday, 20 July 2018

Wild camping and on

On the seafront at Arbroath
We woke on Sunday morning to Oscar cat miaowing outside the van to be let in, despite the family being home, how lovely to still be in demand, we had coffee, stayed quiet to not disturb anyone, till Angus came bounding into the van followed by Louise. OK, acceptable to go in and join them for breakfast, and there we sat till midday when thought perhaps we’d better toddle off as they no doubt had things to do.

Oscar cat trying out the chairs in our motorhome beforewe left
We drove the 15 minutes we had planned to the seafront (location: 56Deg 33'08.5"N 2Deg 35'19.1"W), a whole different view of Arbroath as tourists, rather than home dwellers, it was lovely. We pottered into town and bought our smokies, bought the newspaper, which actually turned out to be Saturday’s but who cares, chairs out and cake looking at the sea. It was exactly the stop I wanted it to be, until 23.00 when we turned the light off, when the circus pulled into town, right behind us! To be fair they were very good and we did sleep, but took us by surprise!

Our parking next to the sea on Sunday afternoon
Right, back to touring then, head to Pitlochry for a bit of touristy stuff, thought I’d better have a drive, but typically, as soon as I got behind the wheel the road got narrower and windyier, but hey. Pitlochry was busy, the first hydroelectric dam, with fish ladder, which sadly wasn’t open for viewing, interesting nonetheless. We then headed off to find our second free site, only to find no overnight parking signs every where, while in the forest we spoke to a ranger who recommended a forestry commission site about half an hour away, back along the wiggly track we’d just done, only £10 so back we went. We actually hit a big lay-by by the river about 5 miles before we got there with no signs so thought we’d give that a go. Lovely (location: 56Deg 42'06.1"N 2Deg 10'29.3"W).

And next morning after the circus arrived at 23:00
The dam at Pitlochry and, left, the fish ladder
Fort William and Ben Nevis next then to meet Paul who we stayed with in Brisbane and Nic his old climbing partner from Brum, who now lives in the Lake District, hadn’t seen her in years. Paul’s plan for Ben Nevis wasn’t the tourist track, or even the regular route up the Carn Mor Dearg arête, we started off normally, but then blundered through the heather, across the stream and up the other side to a gentle slope to do the whole of the arête! We had to do every top, not the first as there were cairns, but obviously not all regularly done! It did go on a bit, but the views were amazing and we barely even saw anyone else.
Our free campsite on the river Tummel with Schiehallion in the distance
Until we got to the summit, when OMG, it was hideous, yes we had a spectacular, and very rare view, but the hoards of people ......! And then it got worse, the path down and been constructed to cope with the squillions of tourists not pretty, not enjoyable, and actually quite slippery underfoot, as the cuts and bruising on the heel of my right hand will attest! Just get me off this mountain..... after 11 hours, and 22km we were back at the van having walked the UK’s highest mountain, but I’ll tell you now, I’m not going back up there again. Here's Paul's 3D map of the route:

Here's a little chaffinch we saw at the Glen Nevis campsite
After a leisurely breakfast, and much chatting, we set off later than planned towards Edinburgh, planning to stop in Falkirk to visit the Falkirk wheel, a boat lift, and the Kelpies, statues of horses heads visible from the motorway. The best laid plans however, came to nothing as driving through Glencoe, the foreign motorhome coming towards us was too far over and with an almighty bang, both of us lost our door mirrors, well we assume he did, at 50 mph each I don’t suppose it stood much chance!

On the Glen Nevis campsite (location: 56Deg 48'11.8"N 2Deg 4'26.3"W)
We stopped, took off the dangling little remaining bits and taped up the wires, both shell shocked. The only motorhome place we know is Perthshire Caravans, so we gave John a call. What a star, as I type his mate Carl is fitting a new mirror, having driven an hour to get here as he said it’s too dangerous for us to drive to him in Perth. It all came home to us that it’s only money when we were turned round in Callander due to the police car that had come past us blocking the road as they cleared up the fatality...

Breakfast with Paul and Nic
We’ve now had a lovely day with Simon and Diane who we met in Vietnam, caught up with in Ledbury, in Spain, skiing and at their home in Edinburgh twice. Today our legs were aching and it was raining, so we’ve chatted, eaten, done a recce for tomorrow, visited the botanical gardens, chatted and eaten. All in all a lovely day.

On the hike up the 'Tourist Path' of Ben Nevis
Resting at the 'T' junction of paths, right is the continuation of the path to the summit, but we go left back into the valley and up towards the much longer horseshoe walk
Crossing the river in the valley below Ben Nevis
On the first summit that Paul insisted we do. It's just a 'top' and one which most people miss out when doing the horseshoe, but Paul is a purist!
The route yet to come, on the left is the route up to Carn Mor Derag, Ben Nevis summit is in the distance with a bit of snow still on it
And, as we get a bit closer, the crowds of people on the summit, this photo showing the crags that people never see when doing just the 'tourist path'
A view of Carn Mor Derag arette with Ben Nevis summit off to the right

Paul taking the hard route, Jackie the easiest
Nic showing her balance prowess on the narrowest part of the ridge

On the final approach to the summit
On the crowded summit. The ruined observatory is on the left, the shelter is centre and the summit cairn on the right.
The view down through Observatory Gully of the route we had done
Look at these characters, Nic, Jackie and Paul. Now look at the photo below of where they were standing...
On the very edge of Observatory Gully with a 1000m sheer drop below them
The mountains in the distance, viewed from the summit of Ben Nevis are the Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye 
Ben Nevis has a big summit and this was the path down

Summit photo!
Nic and Paul had to have a photo on the bit of snow left just below the summit
And here we are in the pub afterwards. Tired people enjoying a well deserved pint (is that wine you've got there Paul?)

And then on the drive through Glen Coe, a meeting of door mirrors. I stopped the video at the point the swearing started!
The metal frame was all that was left of the drivers door mirror
But a very nice man, Carl, from DC Motorhome & Caravan Service (07476 740427) drove out from Perth and fitted a replacement. Fabulous job, great service and very reasonable cost. What a lifesaver!
Jackie, Diane and Simon in Edinburgh Botanical Gardens today
The fabulous Victorian glass house at the Botanical Gardens
Diane, Jackie and Brian in the Botanical Gardens

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