Once a year we try to travel up to Scotland and explore another part of the beautiful country. It seems with every trip we fall more in love with this rugged and unspoilt landscape. With an amazing coastline, that for me, is up there with the world’s best and the mighty Highlands inland that treat you to miles and miles of untouched rugged landscape. For my wife, it’s the castles, wildlife, coastlines, islands and getting me away from work.
Then we have the Lake District, another place that pulls me in every time I visit. With such an amazing display of mountains and lakes in such a concentrated area it overwhelms me with every visit.
With the recent arrival of our first child we decided that maybe somewhere further south might be easier, so we decided on the Southern Hebrides. With no real plans (I don’t really do planned holidays) we set off in the camper and our only guide being the weather forecast.
On the way North we stopped of in the Lakes for an evening to break up the journey (plus the weather was great). We pulled up at a cracking campsite (Side Farm) next to the shores of Ullswater. Waking up to sunshine I snuck out to ride the famous Kirkstone Pass (in both directions) before we set off to catch the ferry over to Arran.
I was really looking forward to Arran this was going to be the main part of the trip. Unfortunately the weather was pretty poor and the forecast wasn’t looking good either, so we decided that our time on Arran was at an end and we would return another time to investigate the hills and stunning coastline.
After Arran we left for Islay, we used Kintyre as our route across and this was an area I had not even researched as we were originally going to skip through the middle. Due to the weather we decided on a days driving, so we headed around the leg of Kintyre eventually making our way to the port, so we could cross on to Islay.
It turns out that Kintyre is amazing, and somewhere you could definitely spend a week or two just exploring the coastlines, woodlands and wildlife. It has made it on to the top of our list for a return visit.
From Kintyre we sailed across to Islay, where we stumbled across an amazing campsite that was nestled in the sand dunes at Kintra. With our camper sat on top of these dunes we woke to an amazing view out to sea and at last the weather was looking up for a couple of days.
I popped out on the bike for an hour or so before the family woke, to have a little look at the Mull of Oa and the surrounding headland. I really enjoy the fact that you can cycle from one side of an island to the other in such a short amount of time, it’s like a mini adventure. I hope one day to go back and bike pack these islands and really get a true feel for them and the hidden gems they have to offer.
There was a lot of evidence of peat cutting on Islay, with large areas altered by man’s hand. Islay also boasts a large amount of whiskey production with many distilleries dotted all over the small island.
After a day travelling on Islay, we headed over to Jura. I have to say this was the island I was really looking forward to visiting. With only 198 permanent residents and thousands of deer, it just sounded like my kind of environment.
The crossing from these two islands only takes five minutes and its one of the most exciting five minutes of my life. With the Paps towering over you as you head towards Jura and the fast flowing current of this tight stretch of sea, you can’t help but feel like your in a wild part of the world.
Within the first 500m I was hooked, I knew then at that point that this was going to be an amazing two days. There is only really one road on Jura and it runs along the Eastern coast of the island. For much of the journey you can see across to Islay and then across the Sound of Jura to the main land.
We only had time for one night on Jura before we had to start heading home, so we opted for a lovely meal in the Jura hotel, which happens to be the only hotel/bar on this remote island. Once finished we made our way up the coast to Corran Sands where we camped on the edge of a beautiful beach. From what I can see, this is a favourite spot to park/camp, as there is no official campsite there. The Jura hotel does take small tents on its front lawn but not campers or vans.
There is something pretty special about sitting in your camper in a wild spot with no one else around and no signs of humans. Just a perfect view to enjoy all to your self.
After an amazing evening we woke up to a cracking sunrise, unfortunately this brought with it a swarm of man eating midges. So after a quick exit we headed North past the stunning Paps and on up to Lussagiven which was our furthest point on this trip. We were treated to stunning views and many sightings of the deer on our drive. Once we arrived at Lussagiven we were treated to a laid table boasting coffee/tea and freshly made cakes. Which you helped yourself to and left a suitable donation for what you consumed whilst enjoying the stillness of this remote bay.
Unfortunately this also marked the start of our return journey. Luckily we had planned this over three days to ensure a relaxing drive and another two nights in the Lakes.
There are not many towns that I love to revisit time and time again but Keswick is one I do. There is something about this bustling town that pulls me in more on every visit. I have a real soft spot for outdoor shops, good cafes and pubs, lay these out below some amazing mountains and next the a picturesque lake. It is easy to see why I love this place.
As always, it was a great trip visiting two of my favourite locations in the UK. What made this trip really special was that our little Harri was with us. This was the first of many trips we have planned for him, and already I feel like he will enjoy the outdoors as much as I do. I look forward to showing him what I enjoy and what the outdoors means to me, why we should appreciate it and most of all why we should take time out of our busy lives to get away from the rat race and explore this amazing world we live in and its people that help shape it.