Readers of top travel books “Rough Guide” voted Scotland “The Most Beautiful Country in the World” in 2017. So this could be the year you should visit Scotland before the rest of the world gets here.
If you live in the UK, with exchange rates being as they are, it’s a great year to get to know Scotland better.
If you’re travelling from outside Great Britain, there’s a good chance you’ll get more pounds for your local currency in 2018 than previously.
What to do for the Weekend?
The sun came out to play last weekend, so once we’d finished working at a local wedding on Saturday afternoon, we headed to East Lothian in Lola. We had been lucky enough to get a last minute booking on our favourite pitch at Thorntonloch and unbelievably despite the weather, Lola had a weekend off, so we seized the opportunity.
Pitch C9A is the perfect size for a campervan and looks directly onto the beach. Thortonloch is a very handy site to get away for a night, without travelling far at all. The beautiful beach is often empty and it’s hard to believe, you’re just south of Dunbar.
We BBQ’d chicken satay, enjoyed the beach and sunshine and then retreated into Lola when the midges came out at dusk.
I love chilling out in any of our campervans, they’re always fun and cosy to shelter in, when you don’t want to be outside any longer.
After a great night’s sleep and BBQ’d bacon butties for breakfast, we drove south on an adventure over the border.
Mighty Dub Fest
We had a rare Sunday off and our friends at Lothians Volkswagen Club had told us about a VW Festival they were going to for the whole weekend at Alnwick Castle, The Mighty Dub Fest.
To be honest we never dreamt we’d be able to make any of the numerous English VW Festivals, as they’re usually quite a drive and at our busiest time of year. So who were we to not let fate and Lola guide us to our closest one.
Once again the weather was glorious and as we’d hoped the selection of VWs on show was different from the ones we see at Volksfling, Route 90 and other Scottish car shows.
The setting in the fields below Alnwick Castle (of Harry Potter fame) was beautiful and the show was in two areas, making good use of the space. The Show and Shine display area could have been bigger but this is only an observation from someone who didn’t see what the festival looked like at its busiest, as some campers had left on the Saturday or Sunday morning before we arrived.
We enjoyed seeing some beautiful and rare models of air-cooled VWs, bumped into some friends, caught a little of the entertainment, browsed the stalls and ate at the catering campers before heading home.
Camping in Lola, for a sunny, summer weekend in the country, meant no sunburn or midge bites and huge grins all round.
Are you looking forward to a summer in Scotland? Even if you live here or have visited before, there may be some hidden gems to discover.
Visit Scotland have given us the staycation term and 2017 as The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, so get behind the wheel of a 1960s or 1970s VW Campervan and go exploring on a nostalgic roadtrip.
If your bucket-list dream is to relax by a moonlit lochside or stunning beach, in one of our genuine Vintage VW Campers, then grab the opportunity to book while we still have 2017 campervan hire availability.
Near Vintage VW Campers HQ visit Kinneil House in Bo’ness, which has Open Days on 25th June, 27th August, 16th September & 29th October. The grounds are good to visit on any day of the year and their museum is open year- round but getting to step foot inside the former home of the Dukes of Hamilton and see the renaissance wall paintings is a rare and amazingly free opportunity.
For classic car lovers there’s a real treat on 2nd and 3rd September, when the Bo’ness Revival takes place at Kinneil Estate. The highlight of the weekend festival is the Bo’ness Hill Climb and 2017 marks the 70th anniversary of when the speed hill climb first took place, at Scotland’s first ever motor racing venue.
You can rev up for Bo’ness Revival by visiting the Doune Hill Climb first on 17th & 18th June. While you’re in Doune, if you haven’t been to the castle a lot of the world have already seen on Monty Python & The Holy Grail and Outlander, as Castle Leoch, you may want to stop off there.
Go to nearby Cardross Estate on 18th to 20th August for Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival, besides music there’s various arts and craft entertainment options for adults and kids. Camping with electric hook-up is available.
VW fans shouldn’t miss Route 90 at Lathalmond Vintage Bus Museum on 21st to 23rd July. Close to Dunfermline and now in its third year, this VW Show keeps getting bigger and better. Camping is available and the vehicles and people you meet are guaranteed eclectic but all connected by VWs.
Have a fun day out at Jupiter Artland. The sculpture park has incredible Charles Jencks landforms, like those you may have seen at The Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Or if you were lucky enough to have gone to the one day a year opening of The Garden of Cosmic Speculation at Portrack House near Dumfries, you will know his work. (Keep an eye on ‘Scotland’s Gardens’ for the 2018 Open Day date for the Garden of Cosmic Speculation.)
Meanwhile, back at Jupiter Artland, children and adults alike will be entertained by the interactive nature of the many other installations. This beautiful parkland is open to the public from May to October every year.
Travelling east to Tantallon Castle, built in the mid- 14th century but still impressive even as ruins today. Here you can climb to the towers and battlements and enjoy the views to Bass Rock. Take in the abundance of seabirds and the massive drop of the biggest remaining wall of this medieval castle, straight into the crashing waves below.
Ok, it is listed in our itineraries but we should mention the next few months are the best time of year to visit nearby St Abb’s Head Nature Reserve, the noise from the seabirds nesting on the cliffs is phenomenal.
The Borders & Dumfries
Head south to Scott’s View near St Boswells in The Borders. This magnificent viewpoint inspired some of Sir Walter Scott’s literature and he spent so much time here the horses pulling his hearse to Dryburgh Abbey are said to have paused here from habit or to allow their master one last look at the stunning landscape.
Spare the horses, as the campervan’s air-cooled engine takes you west to The Grey Mare’s Tail, one of Scotland’s highest waterfalls at 60m. Our recent rainfall has the advantage of making this more spectacular than ever! Around here you can spot birds of prey and enjoy some fine wild-camping spots.
Not far from here at Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries, you can enjoy bands like Peter Hook & The Light, Frightened Rabbit, Dizzee Rascal and The Jesus & Marychain at Electric Fields Music Festival on 1st and 2nd September. If you’re quick they still have limited campervan passes available.
Head north-west to Kelburn Castle and Estate near Largs. Gaze in wonder at the modern graffiti on the ancient 13th century castle, camp in the grounds and enjoy some unique festivals. Looking for somewhere to take Dad on Fathers’ Day? It’s only a week away on 18th June and you can still treat him to our Fathers’ Day Campervan Gift Experience Offer. Or take him to Ginger Day at Kelburn Castle where you can enter suitable heads of hair into ‘The Ginger Prince’ and similar competitions.
From the 30th June to 3rd July the Kelburn Garden Party is a boutique music and arts festival worth a visit in the Castle grounds.
If you are interested in Scottish Wildcats, of which fewer than one hundred remain, then you should head for Newtonmore’s Wildcat Centre. You aren’t likely to spot one of Britain’s most endangered mammals in the wild but The Wildcat Experience is highly entertaining for children and adults too. This is possibly the best treasure hunt ever, as you have up to 131 model wildcats to spot hiding around the village.
There’s a serious side to the information available at the Wildcat Centre, as they need donations to the conservation project aiming to prevent the extinction of Britain’s last large mammal predator.
So, we hope it won’t be a busman’s holiday as you venture forth into a country you already love but wish to take a different perspective on. What better way than in a slow- moving campervan that allows you to marvel more at the place you are lucky enough to call home, even if it is just home while you park your vintage VW camper.
(Which aren’t in Edinburgh or Glasgow, or even on Skye!)
Edinburgh and Glasgow are both amazing cities with great architecture, galleries, history, people to meet and places to go. But what if you have time to spend elsewhere in this beautiful country and you’d like to know where the locals would go?
Most of Scotland’s population live in ‘the central belt’ and since 2013 many of them have been flocking to marvel at the world’s largest equine sculpture: The Kelpies. Designed by sculptor, Andy Scott, the two horses’ heads are built over 30ft high in steel. Situated in Helix Park in Falkirk, a five minute drive from Vintage VW Campers HQ. The nearby Falkirk Wheel is the world’s only rotating boat-lift, which links the Forth & Clyde with the Union Canal and is also a must-see when in the area.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is on our doorstep, just under an hour’s drive brings you to the bustling town of Callandar. Several lochs are in this area providing fishing by permit or other water sports activities. The walking and wildlife watching opportunities here are also fantastic. The Park has become so popular with locals that a byelaw has been passed preventing wild camping in the area; fortunately, there are plenty great campsites to choose from.
A three hour drive from Falkirk will bring you to another favourite town, Oban. Oban is a fun port town with opportunities to buy seafood from the pier, take a hike up to McCaigs Tower to see the amazing view. Visit the Oban distillery and take a boat trip to watch seals or take a ferry to Mull, which is a great island to camp on. A boat trip from Mull or Oban brings you to the famous sea cave, Fingal’s Cave on Staffa.
Also a three hour drive from Falkirk will take you north to Lochaber and Scotland’s most famous glen, Glencoe. The drive through Rannoch Moor, just before the glen is similarly spectacular. Glaciers and volcanoes formed the breath-taking scenery around here. Glencoe mountain resort is great for thrill-seekers; hiking, climbing, mountain biking and skiing are all popular pastimes here. There is a National Trust for Scotland Visitor Centre to help you discover the history of the Glencoe massacre.
A further two hour drive brings you from Glencoe to Arisaig. Arisaig is a small village at the start of sandy coastline which runs up to the Sands of Morar. Not only are the white sand beaches stunning but the views to the Isles of Eigg and Rum are similarly so. A perfect spot to catch an amazing sunset from the many great campsites along the shoreline.
If you have time to drive the North Coast 500, then do not miss Sango Sands, a mere 259 miles from Vintage VW Campers HQ is this other-worldly beach at Durness. As you are now at the end of the Scottish mainland, you could say you are at the end of the earth in some respects. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and conveniently at the top of those cliffs is a great campsite. Durness is the village where John Lennon spent his childhood holidays and understandably had to bring Yoko for a visit in later life. Also check out nearby Balnakeil Beach and Craft Village. Be sure to have a hot chocolate at Cocoa Mountain.
So now only the sea separates you from the Orkney Islands, the nearest port from Durness is Scrabster, but you can also take ferries here from Aberdeen or Gills Bay. The west Orkney mainland is a magical pre-historic landscape protected by its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The Ring of Brodgar standing stone circle was built between 2500 and 2000 BC and its unconfirmed purpose adds to the mystery. The nearby Skara Brae was built in 3200 BC and is an amazing Stone Age village.
From Ullapool or Skye you can catch a ferry to the adjoining islands of Lewis & Harris, once again history and beaches are two of the main attractions here for many. The Callanish Standing Stones are as unexplained and magical as the Ring of Brodgar is. The west coast Harris beach of Luskentyre regularly appears in lists of top beaches of the world and it is indeed stunning but do not miss Ardroil Beach in Uig Bay on Lewis. Like Sango Sands it has an ends of the earth feeling and given there’s not much between here and America except ocean, you can understand why.
Back down the country, this time on the east coast is the charming East Neuk of Fife. Just over an hour’s drive from Falkirk brings you to this stretch of coastline, peppered with quaint fishing villages and beaches. Neuk is the Scots word for corner and this is indeed a very special corner of the world.
So most people have now heard of the North Coast 500 but did you know that the West Coast 400 is now a packaged adventure roadtrip you can dip in and out of covering Oban to Campbelltown? We also have a South West 300 roadtrip and this takes in stunning drives like The Devil’s Beeftub and favourite spots like Moffat & Kirkcudbright.
I have a deep, life-long love of Skye, having holidayed here in the 70s and every decade since. It is the most popular location for Vintage VW Campers guests to go but it can get crowded in summer months and I’d recommend going here in Spring or Autumn if you can.
We have other itinerarysuggestions and recommended campsitesto help you plan your roadtrip. Or choose your favourite campervan on our fleetand get bookedwith us for an adventure of a lifetime.
Well that’s what it tells us in our diaries for Sunday, so I’m happy to go with this plan.
“What do you mean the clocks are springing forward, making this Spring?”
If you are anything like me, you will optimistically be looking out flip-flops (actually mine have never been put away) and dreaming of sunny roadtrips and BBQs.
As our fourth holiday hire of the week buzzes out of our forecourt, I’m still wondering where the winter months went.
When things quietened down for us in October, we took to the roads ourselves on an adventure to Orkney in Lola. At that time the winter months stretched ahead with more than enough time to do all we wanted in readiness for Easter 2016.
Now it is upon us and most of what we hoped to achieve is completed; we are loving being back to what we do best: looking after our guests and sharing the joy of our VWs with them.
I have to say Solway Campers & Raptor Restoration have worked so hard on our campervans over the winter months that they have been mechanically and cosmetically maintained to an enviably high standard. New parts galore have been lavished on them (as my Bank Manager knows only too well!)
Those air-cooled engines are now chugging up the Bealach Na Ba, along the North Coast 500 ,down the Northumbrian Coast and over the sea to Skye; spreading smiles, waves and happiness wherever they wander.