A Scotland Road Trip from Argyll’s Secret Coast to Edinburgh
Part 2 | Day 5 – 9
A Scotland road trip Part 2! Welcome to part two of our Scottish road trip. Read to the bottom to find out how many miles we drove, how far we walked and how much we spent. We mentioned the blistering temperatures when we walked up Ben Nevis. Undoubtedly, we had the best of the weather on our Scotland road trip, with nothing but sun and warmth. Apart from at the top of Ben Nevis, of course.
And one final thing before we talk about days 5 to 9…What is it with the midges in Scotland? We’ve never known anything like it! They ate Stacey alive. And she got a tick bite! Thankfully, she got it out in good time to reduce the risks of Lyme disease.
Day 5…Day 5 was a bit of an Instagram vs reality check! We didn’t want to spend too much time driving every day so we set some time aside to head to Glencoe, with a shorter route for the day. We had Buachaille Etive Mòr, the Scottish Mountaineering Club’s Lagangarbh Hut and Kingshouse in our foresight. We’d spotted them all on the ‘Gram and the drive was only 35 miles or so from Oban, so why not visit?
Thankfully, they are all close to one another but the reality is there is nothing else to look at other than hills. We expected big things but were disappointed by the insanely expensive cheese sandwiches at Kingshouse Inn, and lack of deer or anything else, for that matter! Ha!
I have no doubt you can head off on some walking trails but it didn’t quite satisfy our interests. We thought we’d really appreciate the scenery, but it made us realise we are people people – we like civilisation, interesting things to look at and not as much isolation. Glencoe was a stark contrast to the bustle of Oban, which we absolutely loved. Don’t misunderstand this though. It was a photographic feast, but photography tends to be a by-product of our adventures, where this ended up being for the photography, not the adventure.
The day wasn’t a complete waste though, we got some pictures and paid a visit to Castle Stalker on the way to Glencoe. There’s a little gift shop and a cool coffee container (a shipping container that sells coffee!) where you can see the castle while you enjoy your coffee!
We had planned to stay at Kinlochleven but changed plans and headed to Fort William instead of staying in Kinlochleven…because there was also nothing there. Ha! Had we known how the day was going to be, we’d have headed straight to Fort William and cracked Ben Nevis instead of heading towards Kingshouse. One of my concerns in the van is killing time. I’m not sure why because we always have sufficient things to do…until this day. Anyway, we made it to Fort William and stayed in North Face Car Park.
Forestry and Land Scotland, which own North Face Car Park, have a ‘stay the night’ initiative, where you can stay in participating car parks, provided you are self-sufficient like we are. It’s a refreshing change to England, where you are encouraged to make the most of these spaces to enjoy the great outdoors, provided you play by the rules and respect the environment. For more information on the initiative, click HERE.
We went for a little walk up the hill, through the winding forest trails, which was a nice end to a frustrating day, before we bedded down in Bumper for the night.
Day 6 of our Scotland road trip and the most epic day of them all! We made the 1345 metre climb and back in 5 hours and 40 minutes. We walked from the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre Car Park. It’s pretty expensive to park – £1 for an hour or £6 for the day. There is the Forestry Scotland Braveheart Car Park just before, which you might want to consider parking at. It’ll add about 1.2 miles to your round trip, but the parking is free. If you need the loo, you will walk via the Visitor Centre, so can pop in before you hit the path up.
We walked the mountain path, which was previously known as the ‘tourist trail’. It was rebranded because the ‘tourist trail’ made it sound like an easy walk. It is not. To Ben Nevis summit and back from the car park is roughly 11 miles. 11 miles would be a challenge for some on the flat, let alone climbing to over 1300 metres. Not only that, but the terrain changes from easy gravel paths to stone steps, ice patches and fairly loose stone.
Be under no illusion – Ben Nevis is not a walk in the park. We saw almost all seasons in one day and it was foggy, windy and snowy at the top. Don’t be fooled by the blistering temperatures at the bottom… it gets cold at the top! As a rule of thumb, you lose 1 degrees celsius for every 100m ascent.
So, consider you are climbing a 1345m mountain, starting not far from sea level. Minus 13 degrees celsius from the starting temperature on your weather app and it will give you a rough idea of the highest temperature at the top. You also need to consider the wind and how that will affect the temperature. Long story short – don’t overestimate the temperature at the top!
It was remarkable how many people were wearing vests, shorts and trainers. You might regret that, so make sure you have warm and wet weather clothing in your backpack, some suitable footwear, along with some snacks and water to keep you going.
Despite the weather at the top of Ben Nevis, it wasn’t as cold as our ascent up Snowdon. It wasn’t as windy and we weren’t as wet…bonus!
The Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge
After returning to Bumper, we headed to Spean Bridge, which is a few miles northeast of Fort William. The purpose was to visit the Commando Memorial.
Joel worked with the Royal Marines for four years with 42 Commando and 30 Commando, so it was fitting to take the opportunity to visit the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge. The Commando Memorial was built in memory of the officers and men of the original commandos who died in the Second World War between 1939 and 1945. The Commando Memorial overlooks the training areas of the Commando Training Depot established in 1942 at Achnacarry Castle and the views are truly incredible. It doesn’t require a lengthy stay at the Commando Memorial, but one you should definitely add to your Scotland road trip itinerary.
Bunroy Park Campsite
A friendly, peaceful and well-kept campsite. Bunroy Park campsite is quite possibly the best campsite we’ve ever stayed at. And it was the perfect location to stay after a sweaty walk up the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom. Bunroy Park Campsite had quite possibly the best showers we have ever experienced at a campsite…as warm and wet as you’d like! There was even relaxing music, like some fancy spa!
The location is beautiful, located right by the River Spean, which was about 20 metres from our pitch. Being so close to such a beautiful river, we took the opportunity to get in! We expected it to be a bit colder than it was, given there was still freezing cold water running from the mountains.
If you happen to stay here, we recommend a wander down to The Roy Bridge Hotel. It’s about ten minutes or so on foot from the campsite. You can grab a bite to eat or just a pint if that’s all you fancy. And if you like a stout, they do a lovely Scottish stout. Find out more about Bunroy Park and book online HERE.
Falls of Bruar
The Falls of Bruar has served as a tourist attraction since the 1700s, apparently. The falls were an unexpected pleasure and a hidden gem on our Scotland road trip. The Falls of Bruar are an addon to the House of Bruar, which is a bit of a tourist hot spot. It’s an upmarket shopping experience with a lot of tweed, farm shops, furniture, art, homeware and an outlet. There’s even an ice cream shop and a fish and chip shop. We didn’t try the fish and chip shop but it smelled absolutely delicious!
We hadn’t planned to stop at the Falls of Bruar but noticed the sign and decided to stop because we had loads of time. We’d planned to get to Falkirk that day, with no other major activities organised. I say stop, but it wasn’t as simple as that. Because we had overshot the turning, there was almost a 10-mile round trip to get back up the hill! But it was totally worth it.
One day after Ben Nevis and Stacey was being dragged up even more hills. Ha! Don’t be alarmed though, the walk to the top of the falls is roughly 1.5 miles, so it’s not too far. It’s fairly steep, but the paths are easy to navigate. We’d recommend going clockwise up the east side. There’s a really steep, but short, hill on the west side that’s better to come down than go up! You won’t regret a visit to the Falls of Bruar, or the House of Bruar, for that matter. Add it to your Scotland road trip itinerary!
Heading on a Scotland road trip? You MUST head to The Kelpies. What are The Kelpies? The Kelpies are two absolutely massive horse head statues located on The Helix on the Forth & Clyde canal in Falkirk. In fact, they are the tallest sculptures in Scotland and the world’s biggest equine sculptures.
The Kelpies are a magnificent feat of engineering. Standing 30 metres high and weighing 300 tonnes each, they contain approximately 18,000 individual pieces. The Kelpies are a really creative structure that almost resembles a 3-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. Like it was built using numbers to know where every piece went. It’s cleverly positioned with the canal boats able to pass through the middle.
Kelpies derive from Scottish folklore. They are malicious aquatic spirits, with links to human sacrifice. As this crazy concept eventually died out, the story of the kelpies was used as a deterrent to keep children away from dangerous bodies of water. The reason The Kelpies in Falkirk resemble horses is because the story goes that the Kelpie was a shape-shifting spirit that most often appeared in the form of a horse.
I had wanted to see and photograph these for years. Sadly, I couldn’t photograph them after dark, as planned, for reasons explained shortly. But we made it to them and that was the important thing.
You’ll find toilets, a gift shop, and a few takeaway vans to get your caffeine fix and a bit of scran. Scran is Scottish, Northern English and naval slang for “food”. According to the internet, long before scran meant food, it was 18th-century slang for a bar tab.
So, we’d planned to stay the night. But this was not going to be the case, unfortunately. We use Park4Night and the Wildcamping app, but both are hit or miss. In this case, Wildcamping was a total miss! Ha! There is no camping allowed – exclusively stated on an entry sign. Because we couldn’t stay the night, we decided to head into Edinburgh early to have an extra night there. As ever, we remained flexible and made the most of an extra night in Edinburgh…
Day 8 | Edinburgh
The last stop on our Scotland road trip was Edinburgh. We spent two nights in Edinburgh in two different BnBs, booked through Booking.com. Had we known how bad a nights sleep we were going to get in the first one, we would have crashed somewhere in Bumper. Not only did we have a crap nights sleep, someone reversed into Bumper overnight, denting the rear bumper! Sadly, they left no details. But thankfully, Joel’s dad helped get the dent into better shape with his trusty heat gun! The benefit of having a rough around the edges van is you aren’t too concerned when it gets a knock or two!
Popular among hen and stag dos, Scotland’s capital city is definitely a bit of a party place and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a hive of activity and a gorgeous place to visit. We struggled to find anywhere to get a drink because of the pandemic. Everywhere was booked up. Imagine city centre pubs being booked up? Well, that was the reality of Edinburgh during a pandemic! Ha!
After being in the great outdoors for so long, it was nice to get back to civilisation again, much like Oban. Although we didn’t have time to visit many of the attractions, we did manage to cover a lot of ground and see most of what Edinburgh had to offer in terms of outdoor stuff. We made an attempt to visit the Botanical Gardens but they were booked up, of course! Edinburgh had such a great vibe and felt like a load of cities rolled up into one awesome place.
Day 9 | Home
One of the most beautiful drives on our Scotland road trip was on the way home, out of Edinburgh. It was a last-ditch attempt to find some Highland cows. Surprisingly, we’d only seen them at Kilchurn Castle and just down the road from the Falls of Bruar. We thought we’d see them in every field! Anyway, we took the A702 road through the Pentland Hills Regional Park. Sadly, we still didn’t see any! But we did see some stunning scenery along with one of the most beautiful roads we drove on our Scotland road trip. The A702 is the road you should drive from Edinburgh to enjoy your last bit of Scotland before returning to reality…and work!
In total, our Scotland road trip was 9 nights long. We drove 1198.3 miles, walked 75 miles and spent £546.47, including fuel, food, accommodation and attractions.
A Final Word…
The mobile phone signal was absolutely shocking for almost our entire Scotland road trip. This is definitely not a bad thing. It’s nice to be away from technology for a bit. Given there is little to no signal, we’d recommend you download offline maps to Google Maps so you can still navigate. Unless you still like to navigate by paper maps, of course! The radio signal was also poor, so download some road trip tunes to your phone too to keep your ears entertained!
Heading on a Scotland road trip or been on a road trip to Scotland? Got any thoughts on a Scotland road trip where to go? Let us know where in the comments below!
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