Craggy, snow-covered peaks, deep lochs and wild landscapes… that’s what most people think of when you mention Scotland’s highland scenery. But so far, my experience had not stretched beyond the big Scottish cities which I had visited for work, so I was desperate to see and experience some of its rugged beauty that I had heard so much about.
Two weeks travelling around in our VW campervan would do it… or so I thought. But the truth is that there is just so much to see that even twice that amount of time would not have been enough to fully appreciate all that Scotland has to offer. So here are just a few of my highlights…
Cairngorms National Park
Our first overnight stay was in the beautiful Cairngorms National Park – a stunning national park, very popular for outdoor pursuits with its high mountains and dark lochs with their sandy shores. Not to mention the fantastic photo opportunities on offer… of which I took full advantage!
We could have spent a week just exploring this beautiful national park. There were so many pretty walks and fun activities to do within walking distance of our campsite. If you go, make sure you try out grass sledging – it was great fun!
Climbing Ben Nevis is on many people’s lists of walks to do in the UK, and we were no exception. It was a pleasant uphill trek to reach the summit (it’s a fairly easy walk if you are fit as the path is well-trodden). Unfortunately, our view from the top of the UK’s highest peak was blighted somewhat by the mist and rain which descended as we ascended! I was also amazed to discover that the final section of the climb was entirely covered in snow and ice, even in the midst of summer… something which caught out those less well-prepared than we were! But it was another peak ticked off and meant we had now climbed all three of the UK’s highest peaks – Scafell Pike (England), Snowdon (Wales) and now Ben Nevis…
The Jacobite from Fort William to Mallaig
One of the highlights of our trip was the great railway journey from Fort William to Mallaig… and if this photo looks familiar, it’s probably due to its appearance in the Harry Potter films! This was where the journey to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was filmed. The railway passes by lochs and sharp peaks to end up at the lovely town of Mallaig. It must be one of the most beautiful railway journeys in the world… you can read more about the journey here: My Favourite Railway Journeys: Fort William to Mallaig
One of the most beautiful locations we pitched camp at during our road trip was a peaceful site right on the banks of Loch Lomond… It was on the opposite side to the main road and was therefore not as accessible (there was a very steep hill to get to the site, which our 40-something year old VW nearly didn’t make it up!) – meaning it was much less crowded with tourists! Watching the sunset silently over the Loch was stunning, as was swimming in its calm (if rather cold!) waters.
But, it not always just the places you visit that make an impression on you… some of the most beautiful vistas were as we were driving between campsites. We drove through Glencoe to get back to England and the scenery there was truly breath-taking… we will definitely go back and visit that part of Scotland next time.
As you can probably tell, I think Scotland is an amazing place to visit, with so much to offer… great outdoor pursuits, imposing castles, vibrant cities and, best of all, stunning scenery wherever you look!