Day five of the Slaw’s North Yorkshire adventure. Yesterday they arrived at Cayton Village CAMC campsite and an afternoon of catching up with friends was enjoyed (with one or two beverages imbibed 🤣)
It was a lazy morning with only a trot around the campsite dog walk for the pooches. Another bright blue sky and sunshine, but bitingly low temperatures. Mrs Slaw was now pretty desperate for a quality holiday ice cream, so they decided to walk along the Cleveland Way from Cayton to Scarborough to frequent the famous Harbour Bar. A journey via road of about three miles.
The Cleveland Way runs 110 miles from Filey Brigg to Helmsley. The section the Slaws took was well signposted and very well defined. Mrs Slaw felt quite giddy with life. It was so good to be out walking in the fresh sea air with the sun on her face (although she did get a sunburnt face yesterday 🔥) The gorse was magnificent against the azure blue sky and the heady scent of coconut was pungent in the air. Slaw was transported back to holidays many years ago when all the young ladies used to use Hawaiian Tropic sun lotion 🏝
There was hardly a soul about and this meant there was wildlife in abundance. A kestrel hovered above, fixated on his lunch somewhere on the ground. A heron flew, long and lazily, over the rock pools in the bay, and a roe deer was nonchalantly grazing in the undergrowth seemingly disinterested in the Slaws excitedly peering at her through binoculars from the cliff top.
The Cleveland Way has many different facets keeping your interest and delight as each corner is turned. Cliff tops, dingly dells, steep ascents and descents, wooded glades, links golf course and short sections on the road. Magnificent views over Cayton Bay and Scarborough South Bay. Cayton Bay with its raw natural beauty and South Bay overlooked by the infamous Grand Hotel and Scarborough castle.
Prince William and The Cottingham Cowgirl enjoyed racing round on South Bay beach, chasing, rolling and splashing in the sand and water. Okay, only the Cowgirl did. The Prince came off the beach looking as pristine as when he went on and the Cowgirl looked like a Gremlin!
The three mile walk ended up being nearly six! With up hills and down dales of the Cleveland Way, but it is a footpath well worth taking and Mrs Slaw finally got her quality ice cream. Although the Harbour Bar is only doing takeaway and no sundaes, she tucked into a fabulously creamy, dreamy, delight of a strawberry swirl cornet. Heaven 🥰
By it was a nippy one last night! Mrs Slaw needed gloves and a scarf this morning while taking the pooches on their morning constitutional. There was a hard frost, icy cold but beautiful, as the morning sunlight danced on the white grass making it sparkle and shine like diamonds.
The Slaws are on day four of their North Yorkshire adventure. Yesterday was spent in Leyburn and today they move on to Cayton. All campsites are Caravan and Motorhome Club sites and this is their first outing for six months due to COVID lockdowns. To say they are giddy is a bit of an understatement 🤣
This morning’s constitutional took Mrs Slaw, Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl down to Harmby Waterfall. It’s a busy road that runs past them and the sound of traffic usually drowns out the sound of the falls, but this morning was still and the traffic light. The sound of the water was loud and unmistakable. Mrs Slaw wasn’t sure how to get to them though 🤔 She ended up going down what appeared to be a private driveway. The pooches refused point blank to go into the thick, spiky undergrowth with Mrs Slaw (well, they have got short legs 😂) Pooches tied to a tree and Mrs Slaw set forth determinedly like Indiana Jones minus the machete, hat and boots. Okay, not like Indiana Jones at all. The falls were clearly visible not too far in luckily. The whole expedition taking less than 30 seconds. There must be an easier way though surely!
The Slaws left Wensleydale and the vista opened out to a wide expanse; hills only found far on the horizon. The journey took them through the pretty market town of Thirsk. No sign of the Yorkshire Vet though. Mrs Slaw really is slipping in her stalking skills 🤣 Taking the A170 from Thirsk to Scarborough, is particularly scenic, especially as you enter the North York Moors National Park. However, you are bombarded by road signs warning of the impending Sutton Bank; the severity of the gradient means that car and caravans are prohibited. Even though Helga is a motorhome, this was a red rag to a bull and a mist enveloped Slaw. He became glassy eyed, not seeing or hearing anything. Steering wheel gripped tightly; teeth clenched. Oh no, another Bealach Na Ba feared Mrs Slaw 😱 Helga selected her own gears and the Slaw’s sailed up Sutton Bank with ease. What was all the fuss about? The perfect photo opportunity was also thwarted by the trees lining the ascent. Such a shame.
Following the road ever eastwards, the higgledy piggledy cottages with their red tiled roofs are so quaint and photogenic. Their tiny doors and windows seemingly perfect for the vertically challenged Mrs Slaw.
What a difference a day and a few miles makes. From yesterday’s golden triumph, the daffodils lining the route to Cayton have now turned. No longer standing proud and tall, shining radiantly, but brown, wizened and bowed. A sad end to their glory.
The Slaws arrived at Cayton Village; a newly revamped CAMC campsite and chose a pitch on the upper site. Slaw always get his compass out and checks where the sun will go down. He chose well and they enjoyed barbecuing and drinks with friends in the sunshine until it set over the hill at 7.30pm.
Day three of The Slaw’s North Yorkshire adventure dawned with sunshine and birdsong and all was well with Mrs Slaw. The pooches’ morning constitutional was a circular walk from Hawes to Gayle and back via Mossy Lane. A lovely sunny walk with photo opportunities in every stone building and rustic signpost. Mrs Slaw got all arty farty with the photos 😜
Around midnight last night, Mrs Slaw decided to check if there was availability at Lower Wensleydale for day three. It had always been the plan to feature Leyburn in this trip; indeed, Slaw merrily told anyone that asked that the Slaws were going to Leyburn 🤣 So much was this ingrained in his brain that he actually ignored the sat nav, carefully programmed by Mrs Slaw on day one, and head for Leyburn instead of Threshfield. It added a good half hour onto the journey, but it wasn’t a problem as Mrs Slaw had ensured Helga is well stocked with Werther’s Originals 😜 Anyway, we digress. Yes, there was availability for Leyburn. Bookings were swapped and plans changed.
After the very pleasant walk this morning, it was time to head off to the next campsite. Helga was dutifully packed up and off they went. It’s a wide Dale from Hawes to Leyburn. Bright blue skies were scattered with white powder puff clouds. Limestone walls zigzag across the rolling hillsides as far as the eye can see. The roadsides swathed in the glorious spring triumph of golden daffodils. The road wend through lovely little villages following the course of the river Ure, but every so often was an ominous flood marker giving a stark reminder for the unsuspecting traveller of the force of nature.
Check-in at Lower Wensleydale campsite was pretty pain free. The Slaws chose the same pitch they had last August. Lots of sunshine! A quick bite to eat then a 20 minute walk into Leyburn along the main road. It is quite busy, but a pleasant enough walk. As the Slaws walked into the market square Mrs Slaw’s heart sank. The Bymor Ice Cream kiosk was closed! Poor Mrs Slaw; thwarted yet again in her quest for a quality ice cream. It will end up being a Mr Whippy in Scarbados 🤪
An empty table was spied on the veranda of the Golden Lion in the Market Square. The Slaws settled in for a couple and a bite to eat. Oh dear! The pub stopped serving food at 2.30pm and they had no Pinot Rosè 😱 Mrs Slaw really is struggling on this holiday 🤣 A packet of Pipers crisps and a white Pinot Grigio it was then. All was well until Mrs Slaw realised that the crisps were £1 a pack 😳
It was a day of two halves. When the sun was shining it was toasty warm, but with cloud cover it was biting cold. What to wear at this time of year really is a dilemma. Oh well, just to be out socialising and sitting outside a pub with a drink is such a treat after lockdown that the Slaws will take it!
Mrs Slaw slept the sleep of the dead. Straight through without waking. She awoke to the rat-a-tat-tat of a distant woodpecker and the surrounding birdsong. A perfect dawn chorus.
Yesterday was the Glorious 12th. The first day of the lockdown easing where you can spend the night away from home in self-contained accommodation. The Slaws tripped off in Helga to Wharfedale Caravan and Motorhome Club site near Grassington in North Yorkshire and a lovely afternoon was had by all.
This morning, Prince William and The Cottingham Cowgirl enjoyed their morning constitutional around Threshfield Quarry. This is a pleasant walk from the site up the hill and down into the quarry. Lots of information boards and sites of industrial heritage telling the stories of the lime kilns. Then it was time to leave the site and move on.
The journey north from Threshfield to Hawes was beautiful. Single track roads, through quaint stone villages of chocolate box cottages with pocket handkerchief gardens and quirky names such as ‘Starbotton’. The Slaws meandered in Helga along the dale bottom; past Swaledale eyes and lambs grazing in pea-green meadows. Stone shepherd huts randomly dotted around. Climbing out again past the waterfalls and stone bridges at Cray, underneath the terraced limestone hillsides, before finally reaching the main road and turning left to Hawes.
A warden at the campsite was on hand to meet and greet and explain the COVID procedures. No toilets open on this site. Pitch up, NHS track and trace, then up to reception to pay. Not as many empty pitches here, but still plenty of choice. The Slaws chose their pitch then Mrs Slaw head off to reception to pay. As she was putting her arm out to open the door a man swiftly side-stepped her and shot through the door first. He must have felt Mrs Slaw’s piercing stare burning into the back of his head as he turned around and held the door open for her to follow him in. Mrs Slaw clenched her teeth, breathed deeply and calmly informed him that it states very clearly on the door that only one person is allowed in at once and she had been just about to walk through the door. He blithely said ‘oh sorry, I didn’t see that’ and shut the door in Mrs Slaw’s face. Now, he either caught Mrs Slaw on a good day, or she is mellowing in her old age, as the pocket rocket didn’t launch on this occasion 🚀 She merely chuntered outside about how this is the exact same attitude as those people who park where the hell they please, and they think it’s okay because they have put their hazard lights on!
Mrs Slaw was now in dire need of an indulgent creamy ice cream from the Wensleydale Creamery. Off the Slaws trotted through the charming little town of Hawes and up to the creamery. Shock horror 😱 No ice creams!!!!!! Mrs Slaw is not having the best of days 😭 Back down the hill and a ‘table a deux’ was spotted against the pub wall. Then ensued a relaxing afternoon chatting with locals and tourists alike and watching the world go by. How do you tell the difference between a local and a tourist? Tourists have clean wellies and locals have sh*t caked wellies 🤣
The Crown has a good range of drinks and food on offer. Table service and patio heaters made for a very pleasant experience. The two waiting on staff were very friendly and efficient. Dog chews for the pooches and attentive service for the Slaws. The landlord made an appearance every now and then, reminding punters of the rule of six. One party of eight squashed onto a wooden bench seat which only really fits six at a push! Why do some people think the rules don’t apply to them? The Slaws both had the rotisserie chicken it was moist and tasty and a good choice. A random rain shower cooled things down and it was soon time to head back to Helga to settle down for the new series of Our Yorkshire Farm. Amanda Owen does shop in Hawes, but Mrs Slaw, super stalker, didn’t spot her today 😜
April 12th 2021. Not to be confused with August 12th – a controversial date if you’re not into game sports. No, the glorious 12th; the third date of the government’s lockdown easing programme. The date that you can legally stay away from home in self-contained accommodation as we ease out of Covid lockdown. Campsites across England have opened for the first time in months and the Slaws were champing at the bit!
The Slaws should have holidayed in Barmouth at Easter, but that wasn’t happening. So, those days’ leave were added to a weekend away and, hey presto! A week’s road trip in North Yorkshire it is! Six nights over four sites – Wharfedale, Hawes, Rosedale Abbey and Cayton Village. All Caravan and Motorhome Club club sites. The Slaws do like a club site due to their proximity to towns and villages.
The morning dawned bright and dry with beautiful sunshine and blue skies. The journey did have a few hiccups, mainly down to Slaw thinking they needed to go up the M1. He still thinks he’s going to Leyburn; no matter how many times Mrs Slaw tells him they’re not 🤦🏻♀️ En route Mrs Slaw counted the caravans and motorhomes. The route certainly wasn’t clogged up as many nay-sayers on social media proclaimed it would be. 24 motorhomes outnumbered by 35 caravans. The site at Wharfedale was also surprisingly quiet. So quiet Slaw just couldn’t decide where to pitch 🤔 Round the site they went, twice, before settling on a pitch under a dry stone wall. The wall afforded a lovely windbreak from the prevailing icy North wind. The site has all the COVID precautions in place and feels safe. The toilet blocks are open for toilets only and only four people are allowed in at once.
A bowl of homemade soup later and it was time to head off for a walk. Right at the bottom of the site, by pitch 91, is a gate onto the moor. A very pleasant walk down to Skirethorns Lane, then over the B6160 onto a bridle way round on to the B6265 into Grassington. Grassington has many themed weekends to delight you! 1940s, Dickensian Christmas, Music and arts to name but a few. First stop for the Slaws today was the Devonshire; famous as The Drovers Arms from All Creatures Great and Small.
Mrs Slaw was slightly worried as the table outside the pub was right at the side of the road. It was a very small road and those passing tractors are very big! The Slaws tried the beer garden round the back, but the plastic flowers adorning the trellis and the piped music wasn’t to Mrs Slaw’s taste. So, much to Slaw’s disgust they all trooped back through the pub to the first table they sat at out front 🤣 Even though the sun had now gone from those tables, and the tractors kept on coming, Mrs Slaw was much happier out front. If Mrs Slaw is happy, so is Slaw! A couple of drinks and some Seabrook prawn cocktail crisps were enjoyed. Oh my! Seabrook beat Walkers hands down every time!
Mrs Slaw spotted a van in the town square liveried with ‘TV and film set cleaning’. A bit of people watching later and she spotted a man carrying a Henry across the square and into an empty shop. He was diligently hoovering one shop and then went next door. As the Slaws left, Mrs Slaw accosted said cleaner who told her he was cleaning in readiness for filming a new series of ACGaS!
Back up the hill to Threshfield and the Slaws next stop was the Old Hall Inn. Serving food in the back beer garden. This suited the Slaws just fine as this was a lovely sheltered garden with full sun and fire pits. The pits were more for fancy or kippering you if you were in line of the smoke 🔥 A nice touch though.
Decent menu choices allowed Mrs Slaw a chicken and chorizo pasta with focaccia and Slaw had gammon egg and pineapple. Fair pricing too at 13.95 and 15.25 respectively.
Time to wend their way back to Helga. Walking back up the Lane, the gardens were full of rabbits and pheasants. Delightful! As they walked back up from the bottom to the middle of the campsite, Mrs Slaw counted 17 empty pitches. Hardly full, as all the nay-sayers predicted! The Slaws have had a thoroughly good time on the first day of their North Yorkshire trip. Tomorrow is another day.
The view from the Loch side pitch at Ardlui Marina last night was breathtaking. From Helga’s cab window it looked like she was actually on Loch Lomond and the movement of the water made it feel like she was cruising.
Mrs Slaw used the facilities on site this morning to wash her hair. Such a disappointment! While the facilities were clean and well-maintained, the water pressure was terrible 😢 For most of the shower it was an abysmal trickle and even worse when a loo was flushed.
Cabin Crew prepare for take off! Mrs Slaw performed the pre-flight checks in the cabin while Slaw completed the outside jobs. It is a well-oiled, slick manoeuvre. Never planned or orchestrated. It has just evolved over their eight or so years of motorhoming. The final route through Scotland commenced. It was a bright, sunny but cold day. The penultimate day of the Slaw’s Scotland Road Trip, taking in the NC500. Tonight’s stopover though is in England. The road along the shores of Loch Lomond was reminiscent of the road Slaw drove our Vera down at the side of Lago Maggiore in the Italian lakes. Winding, tight and hairy in places; especially when you meet a big vehicle coming the other way! All too soon Helga crossed the border into England.
Once Helga left the busy M6 and A66, the roads became smaller and smaller until it was just a single track road heading over the Yorkshire moors. Slaw commented on the lack of passing places. It seems England are far behind Scotland in that respect. However, the open moorland with stunning views for miles around gladdened the hearts of Slaw and the Mrs. The rugged raw beauty so familiar to Yorkshire folk. The Highland Coos now replaced by Swaledale Sheep, the emblem of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Tonight’s motorhome stopover is the Tan Hill Inn; famed for being the highest pub in Britain. A coaching inn since the 18th century, it sits aloft the moors at a heady 1,732 feet (528 metres) above sea level. While the pub has rooms available, motorhomes are welcome to stay overnight in the car park for a fee of £10 per person. Facilities include showers and loos. There is live music Friday and Saturday nights and a new attraction is the Dome Dining Experience. Mrs Slaw booked this as a treat for the last night of the holidays.
The Dome was set out beautifully. Crisp white table linen and napkins, shiny silver cutlery and sparkling glassware. A heater had made it the perfect temperature. An iPad played the songs of your choice. Mrs Slaw chose Prosecco and Slaw Guinness while they perused the menu. Slight let down for Mrs Slaw, the Prosecco was not served in a fizz flute, but a bog standard bar flute glass. Mrs Slaw has a thing about glassware. It makes or breaks a drink in her opinion. However, she soldiered on so as not to spoil the special occasion. The Dome is dog friendly so Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl were in attendance.
The dining experience is a three course meal with a bottle of wine or Prosecco. The menu choices are fairly broad. From chicken and chips, to curry, to steak. Starters are standard; such as soup and prawn cocktail. Desserts equally standard; brownie, fudge cake, crumble, ice cream etc. The starters arrived and Mrs Slaw was delighted with her tomato soup. To say the staff had to fetch it from the kitchens, round the car park, and across the grass to the Dome it was piping hot! Homemade and rustic it is a good choice. Slaw was happy with his prawn cocktail too. A good start!
The sun was beating down on the Dome. The glare from the white linen was strong. Mrs Slaw ended up wearing sunglasses! She turned the heater off as she was now the colour of the soup 🍅 This was a mistake. The sun was now hidden by big black clouds and the wind and rain were lashing the Dome. It was soon apparent that the zip on the door into the Dome was broken and it was blowing a hoolie through the gaps. The temperature dropped and the heater was turned on again. This change in weather continued all afternoon as the wind blew the clouds and showers quickly through. It made for some stunning skies though.
The main courses were steak for Slaw and lamb shank for the Mrs. It is always a worry when Slaw orders steak as he’s probably sent more back than he’s enjoyed 🤦🏻♀️ However, it was cooked to perfection. Medium rare, with just the right amount of pink. Accompanied by a tasty peppercorn sauce. Mrs Slaw was also pleased with the lamb. Things were looking good.
Desserts were also very good, but Slaw and the Mrs were full to bursting and so were unable to finish them. Coffees were declined. Overall, an enjoyable experience and something different. The food was good and the staff very attentive.
After their allotted three hours, the Slaw’s retired to the pub and were given a table in the ‘Rustic Barn’ where Crackpot played a live set. This was very strange! Live music in a pub? Not since February have they enjoyed such a thing. The duo played a mix of Irish and Americana foot stomping sing alongs that went down well with the crowd. New covid closing times adhered to and the pub was emptied by 10pm. It should be a good night’s sleep as the pub is in the middle of nowhere. It’s a clear night and the stars are out. A perfect end to a perfect holiday!
Mrs Slaw and the pooches set off for their morning constitutional from the Ben Nevis Campsite. They happened upon an open gate right at the bottom of the site. Ever the opportunist, Mrs Slaw quickly snuck through, furtively looking over her shoulder. The other side of the gate was a bit of a workman’s site; skipping past the machinery she found a little path that ran right along the river Lochy. It had been a frosty night (this is Mrs Slaw’s summer holiday for goodness sake! Wistful memories of that lovely new bikini for St Tropez fleetingly passed by) Mrs Slaw dug her hands deep down in the pockets of her Rab down jacket and wished she’d put her gloves on. It was all worth it though as she looked out over the river through the rising mist, at the heady heights of Ben Nevis broodingly towering over her.
The holiday is coming to end. The Slaw’s Scotland Road Trip taking in the NC500 is now heading south. However, this morning has a western detour. It was a quick ‘off’ as there is a train to catch! The Jacobite Steam Train runs twice daily from Fort William to Mallaig and crosses the very picturesque Glenfinnan viaduct. A location used in the 1969 film Ring of bright water, but more recently, and famously, for the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies. Mrs Slaw did her research and contacted the train operator to find out the times the Jacobite crosses the viaduct.
Helga arrived in plenty of time at the Glenfinnan visitor centre and a good job too! By 9.45am the car park was full. Slaw had made his plans to fly the drone over the viaduct to film the steam train. However, Mrs Slaw spotted the sign; ‘No drones’ 😢 Under the sign was another one though, that said ‘Permissions ring Alistair’ and a phone number. The call was made and a meeting arranged. Slaw was sweating a bit now as time was ticking by. Alistair arrived in his cow-muck green Landrover, dressed like a Scottish Laird in checked flannel shirt, green jumper and plaid knee breeches. Licence shown, insurance checked and questions from the drone code of conduct correctly answered. £10 admin fee duly paid and Alistair directed Slaw up the Glenfinnan Estate road to a large field from where to fly his drone. Whether Alistair is the Laird or the game keeper, someone is onto a good racket!
There were hoards of people climbed high up the hillside overlooking the viaduct for that ‘perfect’ shot. Looking backwards to the viewpoint from the visitor centre it was also packed. No pressure Slaw then to get that ‘perfect’ shot! The train was heard in the distance chugging as only steam trains can and a melancholy whistle sounded, echoing down the Glen. All around, the air was electric. The anticipation palpable. The Jacobite came into view from the right hand side; beautiful, shiny black engine and sleek red carriages. Snow white plumes of steam billowing from the engine perfectly suspended parallel to the carriages. It was majestic and stunningly framed in the nook of the Glen.
The Glenfinnan monument is on the Loch side of the road. An imposing structure at the head of Loch Shiel to commemorate Bonnie Prince Charlie. ‘Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing…’ (as we sung in school) On this site he raised his standard to recover the throne for his exiled Stuart ancestors in an arduous and unfortunate enterprise that ended at Culloden.
Prince William had obviously had a veritable feast while mummy was taking photos. As Helga was travelling along the shores of Loch Linnhe, the Cottingham Cowgirl started crying. Mrs Slaw looked behind to the dog shelf, where the pooches travel in style in their harnesses and usually on a velvet blankie (currently travelling on a yellow and pink beach towel as Prince William puked on the velvet blankie 🤦🏻♀️) Prince William was looking very sorry for himself with something green and slimy hanging from his beard 🤮 The Cottingham Cowgirl had had enough and had jumped down away from her disgusting big brother (technically 1st cousin once removed 😜) Mrs Slaw set forth whilst Helga was still travelling. Her years as a coach hostess came into play as she held her own walking down the aisle looking for baby wipes, while Slaw looked for a suitable place to park. Mrs Slaw dealt with the offending item on the bench seat that Prince William had feasted upon. Some sort of tree nut? When will he learn? Mrs Slaw spends a fortune on grain free dog food with 65% animal ingredients for his delicate little tummy and he delights in filling his boots with cr*p then deposits it all over Helga 🤦🏻♀️
The incident dealt with, Helga continued on her route south. The drive through Glen Coe was stunning; reminiscent of the Slaw’s USA road trip through the canyons.
The destination was reached; the Ardlui Resort at the head of Loch Lomond. Helga missed the entrance to the touring site and pulled into the hotel car park to be greeted by her predecessor! Our Vera! Would you believe it? These blogs have mentioned the Slaw’s beads and barefoot days many times and they regularly fondly reminisce about ‘our Vera’. She was reluctantly sold six years ago for a bigger van. She served the Slaw’s well. Taking them to France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Italy. Visiting the F1 GP in Spa and twice to Monza. Mrs Slaw was practically in tears! So emotional. What was even better was that the current owners love her just as much.
Helga parked up in her Loch side pitch. The most expensive pitch of the holiday. £35 per night, but the views of Loch Lomond are to die for!
A few aperitifs in the hotel were consumed. Mrs Slaw was still quite emotional after reconnecting with V. The rosè was flowing! The conservatory was the second choice of seating as the recommended decking with views over the Loch was sodden from the lashing down rain. Not forecast on Mrs Slaw’s app 😡 The conservatory was cold with a through draught. So Slaw asked for our table this evening to be in the bar area. As expected the carpet was a tartan check. What was confusing though was the eclectic mix of decor. Quite fitting was a wall of taxidermy. A fox, an eagle, a large fish, and a stag. There was a wall of local history with old photos of the hotel. Then, seemingly out of sync two walls of Art Deco esque with striped wallpaper and mirror plaques with leaded flowers. Make your mind up Ardlui!
Mrs Slaw perused the menu. Mussels in a white wine, cream and garlic sauce. Ooh! Her favourite ❤️ But, after last night’s debacle with Mussel-gate in Banavie, Slaw was very happy when Mrs Slaw chose the Cullen Skink. Mrs Slaw was happy. Slaw was happy. When ordering, there was a wobble though. Mrs Slaw ordered the lamb and asked for it pink. The waiter said, he hasn’t got that option. It’s either medium, medium rare or rare. Mrs Slaw tried to explain those are steak options. She wants the lamb ‘pink’. In previous establishments she’s asked for it pink and the chef has sent it crozzled because those who ask for it pink send it back when it’s pink because it’s got blood in it 🤦🏻♀️ Mrs Slaw quite happily eats steak tartare so when she asks for rare or pink she means it! The main course arrived. It looked good and was beautifully pink. Sadly the meat was cold though. Mrs Slaw dare not sent it back for fear of it coming back crozzled. Very strangely it was served with onion rings, field mushrooms and a tomato. Not what Mrs Slaw is used to!
It was a clear night last night and Mrs Slaw was stargazing through Helga’s bedroom roof light. A myriad of twinkling lights shining hues of blue and pink that lulled her to sleep. It was night 12 of the Slaw’s Scotland road trip in the motorhome taking in the NC500.
Day 13 was a lovely sunny start in Dornoch. Mrs Slaw, Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl enjoyed a pleasant morning constitutional to the beach. Only a 10 minute walk from the Dornoch Caravan and Camping Park. Today is tinged with sadness though as it is the day the NC500 is completed. However, there are still four days left of the holiday and the weather forecast is promising.
The drive south from Dornoch takes you over the Dornoch Firth. There are very pretty views to the right, of mountains in the distance and to the left looking back you see the full vista of the miles and miles of sandy beaches. It’s a fairly unremarkable stretch of road along the Cromarty Firth to Dingwall. However, a very fast road compared to those of late. A crumpled shell of a car, tied up like a birthday present in police tape, had its resting place in the ditch as a reminder to other travellers. One lady did not take heed and performed a very dangerous manoeuvre behind Helga, which very nearly resulted in her making a garage out of Helga’s bedroom! Slaw gestured rudely to her out of the window as she sped past 🤬
Helga turned off the drag strip just before the Cromarty bridge and took the Moray Firth Tourist Route to Dingwall. This is the official NC500 route. Mrs Slaw had identified a picnic table icon on the map just out of Dingwall and earmarked it for a brunch stop. Sadly, although there is a very pretty picnic area at the end of Ferry Road, it’s not really suitable for large motorhomes. Back on the road to find a better place, Mrs Slaw directed Slaw to a Forestry car park. Slaw declined as he thought it was a bus stop 🤦🏻♀️ Helga ended up parked in the services at Tore for Slaw to make sausage and egg butties. Mrs Slaw was quite happy observing two very buff loggers attending to their flat bed trucks 😜 All too soon, Helga crossed the bridge in Inverness with a view of the castle and the NC500 was complete! Helga had covered 575 miles. The official route is 516, but Helga had a few additions to Badachro, Firemore, Sheigra etc.
Wester Ross is definitely a place that the Slaw’s will return to. The North and East did not hold the same delights for the Slaw’s and it’s a case of ‘been there done that’; however, the elusive NC500 T-shirt in a size less than large is still to be found 😉
The final leg of the holiday has now commenced. Wending our way down through the Highlands and Lowlands and back to God’s own county, Yorkshire. Helga hugged the shores of Loch Ness, seemingly not wanting to leave this beautiful area. The route passed through Drumnadroicht; a hive of activity with bars and cafes with their outside tables full of holiday makers enjoying the sunshine. Loch Ness’ waters are a deep cobalt blue. Stare at them for a time and who knows what you will see? The Loch follows the Great Glen Fault that was formed around 430 – 390 million years ago and cuts diagonally from Fort William to Inverness. Loch Oich was the next Loch en route. The waters were so still and tranquil. The images reflected in perfect symmetry. The waters so clear, Mrs Slaw was tempted to go for a swim.
Fort William is the stop for the night. The Ben Nevis Holiday Park is aptly named with superb views of the Nevis Range, including oor Ben. All facilities are open at the time of the visit. It’s a very well set out site with hardstandings, lush green grass and pretty trees affording shade. There was a conundrum though, Mrs Slaw was directed to pitch 15. Pitch 15 was duly located, with a marker for pitch 15 and also a marker for pitch 16 on the same pitch? It was also the last pitch on the row, but the leaflet showed 15 and 16 as separate?? After a bit of head scratching, Slaw decided that as the pitch was next door to 14, it must be 15. God help the poor beggar who arrives to pitch on 16. It’s seems it’s like platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross. Everyone knows it’s there, but no one can find it 🤣
This stop was chosen for the Neptune staircase locks on the Caledonian Canal. The lady on reception told Slaw it was a 15 minute walk to the locks. She lied. It’s 30 minutes. Mrs Slaw knows because she timed it! The locks were not as photogenic as the locks at Fort Augustus according to Mrs Slaw. But there was some interesting artwork lockside. Mrs Slaw thought it was a urinal from afar 🤣🤣
Slaw had done his research for the area and booked a table at The Moorings Hotel next to the locks. Mrs Slaw chose mussels and Prosecco and Slaw steak and San Miguel. Mrs Slaw waited, just waited, for the complaints from Slaw. It started. A disdainful look. A smacking of the lips. A sniff of the drink. Oh no, here we go! Slaw even argued with Italians about how Peroni should taste (see my blog Tre Laghi in un giorno) how will a Scots lady serving Spanish beer fare? He had his drink replaced and seemed content. Oh dear, Mrs Slaw’s food arrived. It looked magnificent. However, no receptacle was brought for the shells. Mrs Slaw had to ask. A bad sign. A few mouthfuls in and it wasn’t good. Mussels served in a white wine and cream sauce should have garlic as a flavouring in the opinion of Mrs Slaw, and believe me she is a bit of a seafood connoisseur. These were flavoured with tarragon! Yes, really 😱 In addition, the pancetta (yes, really!) was fatty and the baguette extremely dry. Mrs Slaw is an expert mussel eater. Using a shell to extricate the others. Wait! No finger bowl had been brought. Even worse. Mrs Slaw had to ask again (take cover!! The pocket rocket could be about to launch!) Luckily for the hotel, no one came to ask how the food was, and when the plates were cleared, no one asked how the food had been. Slaw ushered Mrs Slaw out very quickly and The Moorings Hotel lived for another day!
Hurrah! A West Coast sunset was achieved. Slaw and the Mrs stayed on a Crofter’s campsite last night in Sheigra, deep in the Scottish Highlands, on a clockwise NC500 road trip in Helga the motorhome. So called because she is a big German girl 😜
It was a beautiful day spent mostly sunbathing and snoozing surrounded by sheep. Slaw was feeling very smug as the day was organised by him. There was nothing in the colour coordinated folder with activity notes stuffed in plastic wallets, carefully, methodically and time consumingly compiled by Mrs Slaw in the weeks prior to their NC500 road trip. Oh no, this a manly thing. A macho ‘leave it to me’. Planning is not needed. Slaw came up trumps. Mrs Slaw was happy. This makes Slaw happy. It’s so much better when Mrs Slaw is happy!
The sun disappeared over the cliffs at Sheigra. Fellow campers trooped up the hillside to get a better view; like sheep following their heaf, staying together for protection. Mrs Slaw had another glass of wine and Slaw sent the drone up. It was beautiful!
Drone put away, Slaw set up his next gadgetry (he is Mr Gadget); the camera and tripod to photograph the night sky. Oh dear. Some very inconsiderate campers arrived in the dark and started to pitch their tent with their headlights on facing straight at Slaw and his camera! A lot of chuntering, muttering, huffing and puffing, stomping and swearing took place until the offending lights were extinguished. Peace resumed. Mrs Slaw wrapped herself in a blanket and lay back in a reclining camping chair with another glass of wine (well, she is on holiday 😉) The sky was superb! Layer upon layer of twinkling stars. The harder you looked the more you saw. Shooting stars flashed across the vista and the Milky Way was clearly visible. Mrs Slaw was not Rosie Probert in the darkness of the darkness to forget she was ever born. Mrs Slaw felt reborn and revitalised, and snug under the blanket with wine.
After yesterday’s beautiful sunshine, this morning broke with a sea fret. Mrs Slaw took Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl for their morning constitutional up the hillside to the top of the cliff. It was slippy underfoot and Mrs Slaw daren’t let the precious pooches, aka the explorers, off their leads for fear of them jumping off the cliffs like Lemmings 😱 Even with the sea fret, the raw beauty of the Crofter’s campsite was clear to see. Wild, bare; just perfect. Leaving was very difficult. More so, as it was the last stop on the magnificent West Coast.
It was only a 20 mile drive this morning from Sheigra to Durness on the North Coast. Once on the road, Mrs Slaw drew forth the colour coordinated folder and informed Slaw of today’s activities. A visit to Cocoa Mountain and Balnakeil beach, before arriving at Sango Sands campsite, then a walk to Smoo Cave. Slaw smiled good-naturedly.
The landscape has now noticeably changed. Gone are the lochs and glens. Gone is the heather and the bracken. It is now a rocky desolate landscape. Helga arrived at Cocoa Mountain. Mrs Slaw was salivating. One ginormous, famous, hot chocolate topped with molten milk and white chocolate, and a side of chocolates later, Mrs Slaw was uber happy 🥰
It’s just a ten minute walk down to Balnakeil beach from the hot chocolate shop. It was a hairy walk though as there are no footpaths, it’s a single track road with passing places and The ‘Big Ball Rally’ came through. A dozen or so supercars ‘doing’ the NC500 in a weekend and this was one of their stops. Mrs Slaw was rather taken with the Aston Martin 🤩 Slaw got talking cameras with the camera car man, who spends his time suspended in a harness from the car taking photos of the supercars 🤪
Sango Sands campsite is extremely busy. Mrs Slaw tried to book a month ago and all electric pitches were already booked for the Saturday. We could have left it to chance for a first-come-first-served non electric pitch. It was too much of a risk for Mrs Slaw, so we booked the Sunday electric pitch. Slaw got chatting to Helga’s neighbouring motorhome driver at Sheigra last night. He had experienced negativity on his anti-clockwise route on the North Coast. He had tried to free camp in one area near Durness and was moved on by a local. He ended up free camping in a car park and was rudely awoken by cars beeping their horns at 6am. Mrs Slaw is glad she spent hours researching and booking on sites in areas of hostility!
Durness doesn’t have the allure of the West Coast for Mrs Slaw. For her, it is reminiscent of a Yorkshire East Coast holiday resort. However, Mathers Shop is worth a visit. Donnie is a dog lover and always has a treat for them. He prefers dogs to humans. A good choice! Donnie has a good selection of NC500 stickers and pin badges too. The difference is the beach. Oh my! It is simply stunning.
It’s a nice headland walk up to Smoo cave from Sango Sands. Local farmers have placed bales of hay along the road to prevent people from free camping on the machair. This is the first place on the NC500 we have seen anything like this. It must have been bad for the locals to take this step 😢 Smoo cave is accessed via a steep descent down the cliff side on a good path with handrails. Due to Covid, the tours aren’t taking place, but you can still access a part of the cave over a quaint wooden bridge. The colours of the stone are magnificent!
Mrs Slaw made full use of the facilities at Sango Sands. Another velvet blankie washed after Prince William puked again! He will eat seaweed and sheep sh*t 🤦🏻♀️ Only £2 a wash here, as opposed to £4.50 at Ardmair! The shower blocks are clean and plenty of hot water. The pub is open on site and a table was booked for 6.15pm. Only two-hour slots are allowed and the Covid rules are strict; but that ensures your safety. A couple of drinks later, Slaw and the Mrs got a takeaway from the Sango Sands Oasis restaurant. Surprisingly very good. Tomorrow, the route takes us across the very top of Scotland and gin is involved!
Mrs Slaw was rudely awakened this morning by a gennie! Half asleep she was rattling the window blinds, peering out in all directions, trying to work out where the noise was coming from.
We are now on day 7 of our Scotland road trip, taking in the NC500. Last night we camped at Ardmair Holiday Park just north of Ullapool. It’s a big site with all facilities open. It was also full. Mrs Slaw was ready to kill whoever was running the generator before 8am! Then the generator rode past; it was a man on a motorbike. A very inconsiderate man who had run his engine, with occasional revs, for over five minutes. Mrs Slaw wished him well as he passed, with a gesticulation that could have been mistaken for an insult 🤬
Now wide awake, Mrs Slaw took Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl for their morning constitutional along the beach. It wasn’t much fun for their little paws as it’s pebbles and not sand. The sort of pebbles that are great for skimming and pebble art. The bay was calm and a Calmac ferry glided serenely into Ullapool from Stornaway. A brave campervanner, who had free camped in the lay-by outside of the site, was having a dip in the bay.
We left the site and headed north up the A835. We have three more days wending our way up the West Coast before heading east along the very top of Scotland. Our first activity today was a circular walk around Knockan Cragg. It’s an interpretive trail including sculptures and poetry, places to sit and admire the view and a treasure hunt for children. It was steep in places and an older couple behind us gave up and turned back. We continued and were rewarded with stunning views over Assynt.
Next stop on today’s itinerary was Ardvrek Castle, keeping north on the A837. A haunting ruin on the shores of Loch Assynt. It is apparently haunted too 👻 It was the seat of the MacLeods and has not been occupied since 1672.
It was very busy with tourists and trying to get a photo without anyone in was tricky. It was also sad to see where people have camped near the ruins, flattened the machair and burnt the grass with fires. Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl had a great time exploring the ruin.
Time for a bite to eat. We called into Lochinver and sampled the delights of the famous Lochinver Larder – pies! Slaw had lamb and Mrs Slaw the steak and ale. The short crust pastry was superb, the steak succulent and the ale very tasty in the gravy. Two more pies were duly purchased for tomorrow. All served from a converted Leyland DAF truck! Lochinver has a few shops; a butchers specialising in venison, a convenience store, gift shops and a petrol station.
Our last stop before the campsite for tonight was Achmelvic Beach. It’s a hairy drive down from the B869. We parked in the car park (sodden with grey clay mud which is now all over the carpet in Helga 🤦🏻♀️) Slaw was not happy. Not with the state of the car park, but with the ‘ne’er do wells’ that were sitting in an old Hymer staring at him. If you’ve read my blog ‘To aire or not to aire’ you’ll understand. Ne’er do wells are always lurking ready to pounce! These ones were waiting for no one in the car park so they can break into Helga while we are at the beach. Bear in mind there were lots of other vehicles in the car park and none of them like Helga, lit up like a Christmas tree, flashing neon alarm lights saying ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’. So, it was a quick stroll over the machair to the beach to take some photos then back again. Wow! It is positively Maldivian with talcum powder white sand and crystal clear azure blue sea.
Our campsite tonight is Clachtoll Beach just above Achmelvic. We received the best welcome of the whole holiday so far. Tom and Andy greeted Mrs Slaw by name and showed her round the facilities. She was giddy with excitement! An upgrade to an electric pitch! Oh joy, she can use a hairdryer and straighteners! There was visions of Chrystal Tipps making an appearance tomorrow. Also, a Wi-fi area. Even more joy! Mrs Slaw can download her new book to her kindle (a task she thought she had completed at home but obviously failed 😢) As this blog is written, the sun has set behind the clouds yet again. The famous west coast sunset alludes Slaw once more.