ROAD TRIP AROUND SCOTLAND
Friday’s work is finished and we pack our last bits of food. Time to head out for an adventure! My best friends Lenka and Alky from back home in the Czech Republic are visiting. We tailor a long weekend road trip to their requests and our best knowledge of must-visit places.
A PERFECT CAMPFIRE EVENING
We plan to go to see the Highland Games in Birnam, just south of Cairngorm National Park on Saturday. Charlie and I once camped not far from there close to Blair Athol so we know exactly where we want to spend the night. A lovely little sand beach by the river Garry is the perfect spot for camping. When we get there, we divide roles and get going to get everything ready before it gets dark. My friends are sleeping in a tent and Charlie and I under the tarp in our bivvy bags. The evening finishes with haggis and sausages cooked on the fire with bannock (camping bread) for dinner.
TIME TO GET UP
As I’m drifting in and out of sleep, I feel a sudden wave of some sort over my body. I think to myself, I am either dreaming or my mattress inflated and moved as I turned over. A few seconds later I’m jumping out of my bivvy bag as Charlie shouts to wake me up and move because the river water is already rolling under our tarp and splashing on me. He picks up my trainers as they’re already floating and starts dragging all of our equipment higher up from the beach. I quickly wake up my friends in the tent by basically ripping the tent open and shouting to get out now.
We are running around in our underwear and socks, trying to collect things lying around, and unpegging the tent so we can move it out of the way with everything inside. As the water is getting higher, we just about manage to get everything in a safe place.
It’s just after 6 am, panic is over and we get dressed. By 6:30 am there is no beach. We pack our stuff and cook breakfast as there’s not much else we can do and no-one feels like going back to sleep with this rush of adrenaline instead of a gentle alarm. I jokingly ask my friends: “Did you want a Scottish adventure? Here it is then.” We all laugh as we’re eating our porridge and drinking a cuppa. We grew up in Scouts together so this is yet another funny story to share by the campfire.
On the other hand, flash floods, like this one, are not to be underestimated. We probably should have realised that this was potentially going to happen with the weather forecast. Thanks to Charlie waking up so early and noticing that the wind had stopped, we quickly got ourselves to safety. We all agreed that we were really lucky. If Charlie and I slept in a tent instead, we would probably have only noticed once the water was already filling up our tent.
It’s still early but we head to Dunkeld for a walk before the Highland Games start at 11 am. The weather stays very temperate for the whole day and we usually dry just about in time before the next shower. None of us have been to the Highland Games before so we enjoy the mix of athletic competitions like cycling and running with Scottish activities like bagpipe playing, a haggis eating competition, and traditional dancing.
All that’s left today is to find somewhere to camp on the way to Glencoe where we plan to go for a hike tomorrow. We manage to find a spot about halfway by some farmland. The farmer comes to check on his stock in the morning and we have a nice wee chat with him. My friends are impressed with the kindness and relaxed manner of Scottish people.
HIKING IN GLENCOE
It starts to rain again as we are driving towards Dulness Estate where we plan to start our hike. Fortunately, the rain stops when we get there. We have time to get ready for the hike. We walk through Lairig Eilde and after successfully crossing the river without getting wet, we walk up the Buachaille Etive Beag ridge. Our luck is staying with us and the ever-changing weather only presents us with rain on the way up. Walking on the ridge to Stob Dubh is completed with beautiful views and sunshine and a typical Scottish breeze. The views towards Loch Etive are just stunning and we find it hard to grasp the majestic elegance of the West Scotland mountains.
The last bit of the hike is all downhill and it seems never-ending. When we finally get to the car, it starts pouring down with rain. Putting up tents and cooking dinner is real fun in the rain (not). As it gets dark, the rain stops and we manage to dry out our shoes by the fire. A useful trick to dry shoes that Lenka saw on Facebook seems to work. All you need to do is heat some stones in a pan on fire and then put them inside your boots. Boom. Easy.
RAINY LOCH NESS
When we wake up into the last day of our road trip, it’s pouring down with rain again. This time, it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop. If I’m honest, I enjoy the mysterious look of the Scottish mountains showcasing all the shades of grey possible, with clouds rolling through the valleys. There’s something really special about it. Rain follows us all day as we drive around Loch Ness to Inverness.
After Lenka goes to see the Loch Ness exhibitions, we all agree that we are ready to head back home. Four people getting cleaned, camping equipment to dry and one small damp car to air out, is going to take a while. Campfire smelly is the best type of smelly though.
We are all coming back with a big tired smile and plenty of unforgettable memories together. Lenka and Alky are flying back to the Czech Republic the next day with the sadness of their holiday coming to an end. Charlie and I are happy that we had the chance to show at least a part of our new home to someone new.
Camping adventures are great. Many more to come.
For more photos from this trip, check my Instagram @makeityouradventure.
Or for more adventures, you can check my Adventures blog here.