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frazerg

Scottish Holiday

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Hi All,

We've always had a hankering to go on holiday to the top of mainland Scotland. To do this we're thinking of stopping off at Blair Drummond for 3 nights then going to Sango Sands Oasis, Durness for 7 nights. Then down to North Ledaig for 4 nights and then stopping off at the Lake District on the way home for 3 nights. Does anybody see a problem with the selected sites, distances involved for a days travel preferably 9-4, We're not interested in the NC500 but wont want to get mixed up with it especially towing. Any help or suggestions most appreciated before we book.

Thanks

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Posted (edited)

You might find travelling in the Highlands a bit difficult to estimate mileage especially on the West as the roads are narrow and single tracks in areas and passing places that slow progress .

 

 

Dave

Edited by CommanderDave

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You'll be averaging about 20 mph on single track with a caravan.

 

Dunnet Head is the top point of mainland Scotland - but then there's Orkney and Shetland

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Hi,

Google Maps route is to go on A9, A836 then A838 for Sango sands. The A838 looks single track. Is there a better route up than this. When we tour in the UK we average 40 mph including stops, this gives us a 280 mile range per days travelling. Obviously single track will slow us down so how long do you think it will take us.

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, frazerg said:

Hi,

Google Maps route is to go on A9, A836 then A838 for Sango sands. The A838 looks single track. Is there a better route up than this. When we tour in the UK we average 40 mph including stops, this gives us a 280 mile range per days travelling. Obviously single track will slow us down so how long do you think it will take us.

 

 

The time of year will make difference on the amount of traffic which can be a few hundred yards to the next passing place .   I would not try and put to many miles between sites on the West side in the Highlands but Dunnet down to Inverness is fine .  

 

Sango sands is a nice site and beach did a week myself last year there . I Recommend the Chocolate factory a short walk from site .

http://www. cocoamountain. co. uk/visitus/

 

Dave

Edited by CommanderDave

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22 minutes ago, frazerg said:

Hi,

Google Maps route is to go on A9, A836 then A838 for Sango sands. The A838 looks single track. Is there a better route up than this. When we tour in the UK we average 40 mph including stops, this gives us a 280 mile range per days travelling. Obviously single track will slow us down so how long do you think it will take us.

 

Your average speed will vary greatly according to the road standard - from Blair Drummond to Durness, it may start at 55 average plus stops on dual carriageway but then slow down on the single carriageway to 45 and crawl on the single track if there's a lot of oncoming logging traffic as they don't give way! Google Maps gives 5 hours 5 minutes driving time but I think that's optimistic towing, more like 6 hours plus stops, so doable within your 9-4 parameter.

 

Going via Ullapool would add 20 miles but about the same time as you're towing - that's two-lane single carriageway nearly all the way, a good fast road as well.

 

Last cheap fuel is at Inverness, Morrisons and Tesco - there's an Asda at Tain but that's a longer route variation.

 

Don't forget to look at the scenery!

 

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Stayed overnight at Blair Drummond in 2017. Very nice walled garden site run by a decent chap. Good for Stirling, although we did not have time. The trip up through Callander and the Bridge of Orchy into Glencoe was spectacular.

Watch out for the road edges as they are often poor and could catch you out and also the big articulated trucks carrying wood, they get wider as they approach!

Have a great trip.

GB

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14 hours ago, GB1309 said:

Stayed overnight at Blair Drummond in 2017. Very nice walled garden site run by a decent chap. Good for Stirling, although we did not have time. The trip up through Callander and the Bridge of Orchy into Glencoe was spectacular.

Watch out for the road edges as they are often poor and could catch you out and also the big articulated trucks carrying wood, they get wider as they approach!

Have a great trip.

GB

 

Totally agree the logging lorries can be quite scary as they don't slow down as they pass on the narrow sections .

 

 

Dave

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Yes, agree with all of the above.

I live up here and travel these roads a lot for work and I would agree with Black Grouse and go via Ullapool. A bit longer, but the scenery is just as spectacular and as said, it's good double track to Rhiconich.

From there to Durness is single track and about 15 miles, depending on traffic, maybe 35-40 mins towing your 'van.

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I agree with both of the above comments about routing to Durness from Inverness via Ullapool.    The road is good twin track all the way to the Kinlochbervie turn off ( it was improved and the bridge built to replace the ferry at Kylescu to improve access to that port).  The single track stage is mostly very open with good viewing ahead so not a problem spotting the oncoming traffic.   You will not have any problem on that route with timber lorries as there are no trees to harvest and transport.   However, whichever route you take, I think you should be prepared to be a little later than 4 arriving but not too much.   My computer usually tells me that I average 38 mph towing on the roads up here and you will undoubtedly want to stop to admire some of the views.   There is a good layby at the Kylescu Bridge,   I would strongly recommend booking as you will be arriving after many of the NC 500 have already stopped for the day.

 

Black Grouse mentions fuel at Inverness,  The more practical one with the caravan on is Tesco as Morrisons is towards the centre.   Tesco is very easily reached as you take the slip road and roundabout signposted A96 Aberdeen and after less than half a mile take the second exit at the first roundabout on the short stretch of dual carriageway.   You have to make an easy U turn into the fuel pumps and either side of the right hand pumps is an easy exit.   We invariably top up there when heading North or West with the van on.   If you are thinking of shopping at Tesco, I would park in the shopping park rather than the Tesco park as it would be very tight and full  - usually lots of spare spots in the shopping area.   There are fuel places at Ullapool, Scourie and Durness but the price is invariably high.  

 

At Sango Sands, Smoo Cave is worth an explore - the trip in a small rubber dinghy is often full in season but you can see most of it by just peering in.   A trip to Cape Wrath lighthouse is interesting.   You take a small passenger ferry across the  Loch and then an old mini bus ride across the hills to the lighthouse.   There is a small cafe there, not much else, but the views and cliffs are stunning.   Another day that we have enjoyed is a trip to Handa Island which is a vast bird reserve with Puffins and masses of other sea birds on the incredibly high cliffs.   You head back towards Ullapool but turn off before Scourie for Tarbet and take a small rib ferry across to the island.   The wardens then give you a briefing and it is a superb circular walk around the island with board walks on any stretches that might be boggy.   There is a sea food cafe at Tarbet where we had a memorable lunch.   The headland to the North of Durness is well worth a walk for the sea views if the weather is good.

 

I personally would have thought that 7 nights at Durness would be a bit too long, particularly if the weather is not too good.   Also from April to Sep, it is very light in the evenings so you have extended days.    You may wish to consider having a couple of nights near Thurso and taking the day trip from John o Groats across to Orkney - it is an interesting trip that takes in the major points of the main Orkney Island and an extra experience having come all this way.   This would also mean that you see the scenery across the northern coast and down that part of the eastern as well.   Wick is worth a visit with an excellent museum near the harbour - there is a Tesco with cheaper fuel just as you reach Wick from the North.

 

Any questions - just ask.   It is a super part of the world to visit even with those driving round the NC 500 - the roads have been there for years but only promoted recently.

 

 

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Modern coaches with their extra wide mirrors are a worse hazard on the Glencoe road than loggers.

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Travelled the A82  along the shore of loch lomond, 18 months ago  very early on a bank holiday. The coaches come over the centre white line at speed and near a bridge one coach took out the whole side of a 4x4,  exciting times. I would think twice about using the road again. I never had a problem with logging lorries myself just coaches mostly foreign .   As a parting shot, had one morning of rain in the 4 weeks how lucky were we.

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I have been following this with interest as we are planning a trip to Scotland this year. The idea is  getting to Morvitch as fast as possible then meandering back to Arisaig and then Barcaldine. I have now discounted my planned route via the A82 going north and am looking to someone to advise me on the best route from Cambridgeshire please.

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24 minutes ago, LongTimeCaravaner said:

I have been following this with interest as we are planning a trip to Scotland this year. The idea is  getting to Morvitch as fast as possible then meandering back to Arisaig and then Barcaldine. I have now discounted my planned route via the A82 going north and am looking to someone to advise me on the best route from Cambridgeshire please.

 

A1/A1(M) to Scotch Corner, A66 to Penrith, M6 to Carlisle, M74/A74(M) to Hamilton, M73 to near Cumbernauld, M80 to Bannockburn, M9 to Stirling, A84 to near Killin, A85 to Crianlarich, A82 to Invergarry, A87 to Morvich.

 

The A82 from Arrochar to Crianlarich has been significantly improved in recent years - I never had any issues with it before improvement but some caravanners still dislike it after them.

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The route that Black Grouse recommends for LTC from Cambridgeshire to Morvich is most definitely the way that I would go.   A good tow all the way and the scenery just gets more spectacular.   Worth a stop a few miles after Fort William at the Commando Memorial with easy parking with the van hitched and great views.

 

The problem stretch of the A 82 is the 6 miles or so North of Tarbet (note this is not the Tarbet I mentioned in my input above about Durness).  Here the road is between the Loch and the rocky hillside with  bends, restricted width and difficult to see ahead in parts.   It is possible to tow but whenever you meet a lorry or bus, it makes for an uncomfortable moment.   Black Grouse's route avoids this stretch and also the traffic in Glasgow.   You may wish to route back via Crianlarich and near Killin after you have been to Barcaldine.

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Thank you both very much. I will now start to plan distances and night stops.

 

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, blondchaser said:

Modern coaches with their extra wide mirrors are a worse hazard on the Glencoe road than loggers.

 

Been up and down this route many many times in lorries, car and caravan and have had very few "near misses " to be honest. Local lorry drivers can be threatening at times especially with they mad suicide aluminium mirror covers but in general are mostly considerate.

 

My tip when on the Tarbet to Crianlarich stretch if you feel compromised  slow down and pull in as tight as you can and come to a complete halt. If the oncoming vehicle hits you they are at fault. This stretch has been upgraded quite a bit cutting out the more tighter parts but be aware of falling boulders on the edge of the road land side not loch side. Even to this day they still seem to work loose due to winter rain and can be a hazard.  

 

Take your time and enjoy the scenery. Always envy first timers in the highlands as you are in for a treat. ..... 

 

GAS. ...B)

Edited by Grumpy Auld Smeesh
forgot words

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28 minutes ago, Grumpy Auld Smeesh said:

My tip when on the Tarbet to Crianlarich stretch if you feel compromised  slow down and pull in as tight as you can and come to a complete halt.

 

Good advice, we were up there,sans caravan, a couple of New Years ago and must admit the loggers seemed to 'own' this road.

geoff

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As posted previously, the road up out of Glencoe is totally not fit for purpose. Last time I came home from Glencoe I followed a fully laden artic up the drag. The super single rear tyres of the trailer were, on some parts, only 50% on the tarmac and 50% overhanging the bog. Ma hert wis in ma moo and another part of anatomy "Twitching", just waiting for road to give way and whole rig to go over on it's side. No lorry driver should be put in that situation.

It's a miracle that there are not more serious incidents on this stretch of  farm track

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Thanks for all the good advice. Taking Ancell's point about 7 days being too long at Sango Sands and going to Thurso as well, while we're up there, is it best to go straight up there then cross over to Sango past Dounreay . Is this route ok for towing. Then we could use BG's route going south to North Ledaig.  

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10 minutes ago, frazerg said:

Thanks for all the good advice. Taking Ancell's point about 7 days being too long at Sango Sands and going to Thurso as well, while we're up there, is it best to go straight up there then cross over to Sango past Dounreay . Is this route ok for towing. Then we could use BG's route going south to North Ledaig.  

 

Durness to Thurso, or vice-versa, is about half single track and half recently improved two-lane road.

 

The A9 from Stirling to Thurso is good two-lane but with dualling improvements going on between Perth and Inverness - north of Inverness the A9 is two-lane but with steep hills at Helmsdale and Berriedale, but with anticipation and full throttle they're ok.

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Sorry to add a wee downer so early in 2019- The Durness Weather!

I have only once spent two consecutive dry days there-neither devoid of wind less than force 4-6!

Its superb north of Ullapool on the rare sunny days but best to plan your retreat if a big low pressure moves in.

Equally they have had no rain for several weeks when the rest of Scotland has been rain lashed its all a matter of luck eg 2018 was a summer of sunshine on Kintyre Brora Fraserburgh and Findhorn-at least when we were there😀

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8 hours ago, ancell said:

Sorry to add a wee downer so early in 2019- The Durness Weather!

I have only once spent two consecutive dry days there-neither devoid of wind less than force 4-6!

Its superb north of Ullapool on the rare sunny days but best to plan your retreat if a big low pressure moves in.

Equally they have had no rain for several weeks when the rest of Scotland has been rain lashed its all a matter of luck eg 2018 was a summer of sunshine on Kintyre Brora Fraserburgh and Findhorn-at least when we were there😀

 

Whilst I agree with the need to be flexible, we've had dry weather on every Scottish holiday bar one - "good" doesn't exclude a single wet day in my book, nor windy days - the exceptional holiday was a fortnight in May on the Western Isles (Outer Hebrides) when it rained constantly and the wind never dropped below moderate gale force 7 and peaked at storm force 10.

 

A quick look at a climate map of Scotland shows the west is wet, the east is dry - but that's only about averages.

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The trouble with being flexible in this country is so often you have to book in advance.

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LTC.   You mentioned that you plan to go to Arisaig.   I recommend that you book whichever site that you hope to use.   The area has become incredibly popular in the past couple of years with all the sites full.   Our friends who live there warned us not to come down without booking as we had done in the past.   

 

Mentioning weather, we had the most glorious week at Oban in May this year but have gone home early from Arisaig on three occasions when the rain was arriving horizontally and forecast to continue to do so.   It is purely a matter of luck as on one of those visits, we had ealier taken the ferry to Eigg for the 3 hours or so that you can spend there and came back sunburnt.

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