Today we were heading for nowhere in particular, once again. One of those "let's see where we end up" situations. That's what winging it is all about. Just drive and plod along and enjoy your surroundings, stop when you want to, when you see something lush, no time restrictions or panic to get to certain campsites at a set time.
As I said, today was no different. We had the usual breakfast of local sausages and bacon (always bacon involved) and copious amounts of coffee and set off, leaving behind the tranquil idyllic settings of Achmelvic and its glorious beach and sunsets.
We trundled along, looking at each roadside sign that offered tempting visual delights "Nah. Nope. Don't fancy that" as we passed each one. Then, as we rounded Loch Assynt we saw a castle. A derelict ruin of a castle but a castle nonetheless! Anchors on, all of our worldly goods threatening to leave the van through the windscreen, we slid into the rather full layby and into the only space available! Bonus! We crossed the road and followed the path down to the ruin and just stood there staring in awe at this marvel before us!
I pondered for a while and thought about the battles that this building had witnessed, the torture, love, romance and death. I thought about the cold harsh winters the occupants had to endure, smashing through the ice covering the loch to fish. Wind howling through glassless windows, huge banquets with jolly music and song being performed by the minstrel and his odd guitar thing. Ardvreck Castle, you captured my heart.
A rumbling tummy snapped me back to reality and off we went for some photos. I love taking photos, as you can probably tell by now. And I take many. I find it hard to delete even the worst ones as I feel they tell a story. But my 68gb phone memory was full and I had to delete many photos which made me sad.
After spending what seemed forever deleting, I added a few more to the collection and we made our way back to the van. As I rounded the passenger side to go in and make some lunch, and coffee of course, I noticed a little burn trying its best to be rough and rapid. We followed the course upstream and we were rewarded with a waterfall! And two chaps, naked, just hopping out from the base. I did giggle and one did say "Don't laugh, the water is freezing!" We let them wrap up their modesty in a towel before getting as close as we could to the falling, foaming water. I had no intention of getting in though, mainly as the water was actually freezing but also because I'm shy when naked outdoors. And there might be sharks. Kerry wanted to get in but wouldn't without me and the two chaps were still loitering around, likely hoping for a glimpse of a naked lady. Or man...
After a seemingly short drive but one that looked like several days on the map, we arrived at a nature reserve called Knochan Crag. Steeped in history with an excellent visitors centre and toilet block with a water point outside. There were signs welcoming you to stay overnight. We thought about it for a bit but it was still early in the day really to be parking up for the night. We did however park to go and explore. We played with the interactive storyboard and learned about the area and how far some of the rocks here started out life millions of years ago on a completely different continent!
We followed to trail up the hillside and read the ones that had been carved with the story and marvelled at the insane views the height afforded us. We followed the loop back round to the start and headed back to the van to pursue our quest for the perfect overnight spot.
Once again we found ourselves following canoe truck man for a bit but he turned off, no doubt looking for more water to sail upon. Or oar or whatever. We drove past many Lochs and ascended many huge long power sucking hills and followed the A835 all the way into Ullapool. Just before Ullapool though at Ardmair, we saw a campsite, and canoe truck man again. The campsite was nestled nicely on the water's edge. Picturesque and also full. Of course it was full. It was beautiful. The guys at the counter did make us coffees though. And I picked up some lush bread to go with dinner/supper/tea/whatever.
Kerry checked on the map to see if there was anything else but there was nowt. We headed into deep Ullapool, a most wonderful coastal town and woe and behold we saw a sign for a campsite. Beauty! We followed the signs down past the harbour and a chippy with a 16 mile long queue until we turned into the entrance. After my enquiries, and pointing out I was a blogger and aherming my Campervan Bible t-shirt we found ourselves booked on for the night, right at the Loch edge. With electrickery, so Kerry can straighten her hair.
Of course, coffee was had before we did anything, then shower time as we were feeling a bit erm unfresh. The showers were good here, which was a relief.
The view from the back doors of the van was even better though! Straight out over the loch, and out to the open sea. I set a chair up for Kerry and she immediately sat in it with a bottle of homemade cider that I'd bought from a campsite in Gloucester. The setting was surreal! The sun was beaming down, the loch was calm, the sky was cloudless and blue and the campsite was calm. I didn't want to leave.
We did leave though, shortly after, but only to go and check out the harbour. We walked past an Indian restaurant right at the site gate. Noted...
After a couple of hours of sitting on the pebbled beach watching the ferries come in and out and marvelling at the speed and efficiency of the unload and reload, we wandered back to the van, hand in hand, content with life and what Scotland has offered us so far.
"Ooooh look Kerry, an Indian restaurant!" I said as if I'd only just noticed it. But I hadn't only just noticed it and I already knew what I wanted. In fact, I'd been constantly thinking about my stomach since I saw the restaurant. Kerry chose hers and I ordered for a takeaway as the eat in sit down bit was still closed.
Food in hand we sauntered back to the van to eat like royalty and watch the sunset over the loch whilst the ferry made its way to the islands. A camper was fishing off the beach, subtly lit by the last rays of the sun as he cast his line out far in the hope of catching something a little less chewy than a welly. My curry was far too hot despite me not even ordering a hot one, but I powered on through trying my best not to show the pain that was enveloping me. I could feel the heat, the sweat, the hot flushes, the guts burbling and bubbling and doing unpleasant things that it shouldn't do when in a confined space with the woman of your dreams...This did not make for a very romantic evening at all.
Holding in so many farts that I thought I may actually explode in a ball of firey methane, we settled down for bed. I was praying that Kerry would sleep like an angel tonight. Preferably a deaf one. I would find out in the morning I guess.