Photography and Article By:
10 Day Motorhome Itinerary
of the Scottish Highlands
When first starting to plan our time in Scotland we new the Highlands would be an area that we prioritised to explore. But just how we managed to do that as a family had us toying around with various ideas. Do we hire and car and follow a self-drive tour? That seemed logical – I began to look up car hire and recommended duration of stays for a tour, however, I was perplexed with just how to manage it all. Do I pre-book accommodation before we leave? What if we don’t drive that far in one day?
As a travelling family, it seemed like it would be difficult to just turn up to a town each night and expect to find suitable accommodation.
Enter the thought of a motorhome! IT wasn’t my idea, I can’t take credit. It was my 9 year old daughters, who already developed a fascination with any sort of home of wheels. The delight she experienced when I told her we were motor homing through Scotland was close to bliss.
So for 10 days, we called our motorhome home, and this is how we travelled through the Highlands.
Day 1 Glasgow – Bunree Caravan Park
Picking up our motorhome we headed on the A82 heading towards Loch Lomond.
This east section of the highlands is a stunning entryway into what started for us as an epic adventure. The city faded behind us and we were enveloped by rolling green hills and vast horizons. We were so excited having picked up our home and transport that was going to take us all around this amazing landscape.
We stopped just a few hours into our drive for a stretch and to get our first go at making a pot of coffee with one very stunning view. Leaving behind one of many memories we headed off again, wanting to ensure we left enough time to get to our first stop.
Driving through Glencoe – we could have stopped every 10 minutes the scenery was amazing. There was only a few roadside stops big enough to cater for our motorhome and as it had been raining so we were also wary of not getting bogged (wouldn’t that make for a good story though?).
With some time spent enjoying the view at one lookout and a kind traveller happy to take a family photo of us, we headed off again. I got my first taste of Motorhome cooking which I tried to keep as simple as possible. We were treated to the most magical purple sunset that night and we knew were in for a journey like no other. The children spent time playing along the lake, enjoying nature and running around.
Campsite – Bunree Caravan Park
Day 2 – Fort William – Morvic
The next morning we had made plans to head off with enough time to get to the Glenfinnan Viaduct! Why? Because the Jacobite steam train would be passing (otherwise known as Hogwarts express to a few younger members of the family). It was a love drive and Mr OFT was learning very quickly how to manoeuvre the large motorhome on the narrow streets.
What we didn’t account for was an issue if there was nowhere to park! We pulled into a makeshift dirt clearing, clearly for cars to park to then walk up to the ideal spot for viewing the viaduct, however, there was no room for our large beast. We had to pull out and turn back the way we came. Then, other problem – we couldn’t find a park and we couldn’t find a spot to turn back around to go back the other way.
So, sadly we missed it all. The motorhome got a bit quiet for about half an hour. When travel plans don’t go accordingly it’s easy to get down, to fire off blame or curse about.
Ideally, we would have loved to have seen the train, to take some photos and marvel at this sight as it travelled along the curving viaduct, postcard perfect. However, it didn’t happen and I wasn’t going to let it get us in a crank. We drove on through Fort William and northwards towards Morvich. The rain seemed to set in all afternoon as we drove through some of the beautifullest wild countryside I have ever seen. We stopped for a quick lunch on the side of the road before heading off again.
We passed through Invergarry, Loch Cluanie, Shiel Bridge and Morvich.
As we arrived at our Campsite in the mid-afternoon the rain had soaked us through as we set up our motorhome in the plot. I quickly ran up to the laundry room to get our gear dry and we settled in for the rest of the day playing Uno and drinking tea. One thing to learn quickly with a motorhome is that whilst it is your vehicle it is also your only place of refuge. With the rain teaming down there was no place else to go.
Campsite Morvic Caravan Park
Day 3 – Morvic – Staffin
We were so pleased that the rain cleared (or sort of) the following morning. I was delighted to find my first Highland Cow – although they were all bit camera shy. Today was also special as we were driving to Skye with a stop off in Dornie at Eileen Donan Castle before crossing over to the island. The experience in the castle was amazing. It was our first castle experience on this highland adventure and it did not disappoint. Built on the edge of 3 merging lochs it is easy to see why this castle was so important to the protection of Scotland. The castle’s history dates back to the 13th Century and although it was partially destroying in the early 1700’s during the Jacobite uprising it was rebuilt in the early 1900’s and it showcases a wonderful display of historical significance and not to mention unsurpassed views.
Moving on from Dornie we had a quick morning tea before the drive over to Skye. Our time spent in Skye was easily the most moving and special I believe for all of us. The island is incredible. Every turn, every town and the natural beauty is beyond anything I could have imagined. Seeing pictures and me showing you ours cannot do this place any justice.
We drove through Portree (picking up some provisions) and stopped off at Kilt Rock for some photo opportunities. We missed out on a parking spot again when we arrived at the Man of Storr but we later realised that the walk up to the rocks may have been too much to achieve that afternoon anyway!
We decided to venture as north as we could go staying our first night in Staffin. This was one of the quaintest caravan parks. Our host welcomed us and during check in asked if we like to walk. I nodded and she pointed to a gate at the edge of the property and mentioned that if we head through the gate and over the hill it was a nice walk down to the beach.
What we found instead was something far more magical than we ever imagined. At the time of going for the walk, I thought to leave the camera behind. I am so glad I didn’t. We witnessed one of the most incredible sunsets, and the kids were able to run through wild cotton fields. I look back at photos of these few precious hours spent on this cliff and remember feeling like it was the edge of the earth.
We walked from our caravan site into the small town of Staffin and had a lovely dinner down the road at a local country club.
Day 4 – Staffin to Sligachan
Our full day in Skye was jam-packed. We were mindful that roads on the Island were much narrower and in some instances, they were one way (with small inlets for passing motorists) which was still difficult given our large motor vehicle. We choose to head south and explore Portree further, taking a walk through the town, enjoying the shops and the sights. Mr OFT was keen to get to Talisker Distillery so we headed south to visit this much-admired whisky business. Again we were met with a little parking conundrum, but not being the whisky lover that my husband is, I offered to illegally park the motorhome and wait with it whilst he venture inside for a sneaky look and a purchase.
Our next stop of Sligachan which was also where we were planning on staying the final night in Skye. This campsite was brilliant and allowed so much on offer in terms of exploring. We headed out for a hike for a few hours taking one of the main walking tracks and returning to enjoy a much-needed wine at the pub across the road.
We also spent time planning the next day as it was Jude’s Birthday. We wanted his day to be really special. Well – he was off to a great start spending it in such a magical place!
The evening ended in a game of Aussie rules on the campsite and everyone trying to avoid being attacked by midgies!
Day 5 – Sligachan – Inverness
Jude’s Birthday! He’s 11!!
What a way to wake up to a birthday on the Isle of Skye. We left the Island sad but overjoyed with all we experienced and headed towards Loch Ness where I had booked us into a small pub for lunch.
The road along Loch Ness is beautiful. The large deep loch is home to the mythical Loch Ness creature.
I had to do a quick stop at a small bakery to find a cake and luckily scored a delightful small mud cake. Perfect! I even remembered to buy candles. I was feeling pumped. I secretly snuck the cake and candles into the Inn for them to prepare for us.
After Lunch, we stopped off at Loch Ness Museum and had a great time learning all about the mystery and myth of Loch Ness. The scenery to Inverness was spectacular and we arrived in Inverness with enough time for a stroll around the town.
Lunch – Loch Ness Inn
Day 6 Inverness – Glenfiddich
Arriving in Inverness marked a very memorable event – We bought towels!! When I had hired the motorhome it stated that linen was included (great as we don’t usually travel with our own bedding) but one factor I didn’t think of was towels for showering. Once we left Glasgow, the options were very limited for purchasing of towels that it wasn’t until we arrived in Inverness that I was able to purchase any. Up until now, we were surviving on travel towels – small microfibre cloths more like it.
Inverness is a beautifully laid out historical town. Inverness Castle sits high upon the hill in the centre and it gives a majestic feel as you walk around the river. We collected some more maps from the great info centre as we were keen to head off to Culloden.
We arrived at Culloden to be greeted with a fabulous kids treasure hunt they could experience in the exhibition area. After having recently watched Outlander (and hoping to run into Jamie Fraser), both Mr OFT and I were very interested in discovering more about the historical significance to the Scottish people.
The battlefield is sobering. After reading the history and then stepping out onto the grounds it is hard not to be emotionally affected by it all. The inconceivable death and destruction that occurred all in less than an hour in the battle of Culloden has been a marking point of such significance for the people of Scotland. It ended the Jacobite Rising, Bonnie Prince Charles was exiled and the way of life for Scots and their Clans where forever altered.
If you are near Culloden I highly recommend devoting some time here.
After Culloden, we drove to Cawdor Castle and stopped in the beautiful carpark and surrounding gardens for lunch. We were going to enter however we felt the family price at the time was a little on the expensive side and decided to continue on to our destination and visited quite a few more distilleries. Glen Grant Distillery, Glen Moray and Glenfiddich!
We stayed the night at Huntly Castle Caravan Park
Day 7 – Huntly – Miltonhaven
Today was Sunday and I was adamant I was going to get a Sunday Roast! A little planning and I timed us perfectly to arrive at Lairhillock Inn for a wonderful lunch.
As we travelled along the east coast I remembered a Castle I wanted to visit and right before my eyes it appeared. I only needed to ensure we could fit the motorhome in somewhere! And bingo we could. Dunnotar Castle is an incredible Castle to visit with children but do be mindful that there are plenty of stairs down and just as many up! Pushchairs would be discouraged!
It was raining when we arrived and this castle is pretty much all ruins – so yes we got wet, but hey it was spectacular that we didn’t care.
We made our way to Miltonhaven and this campsite was probably one of our favourites. It is situated on the coastline perfect for a spot of skimming rocks and this was the first site that had a games room which was a lovely reprieve from being crammed in our motorhome all evening due to the rainy weather.
Day 8 & 9 St Andrews
The next two days we spent in St Andrews. We were glad of the two day reprieve and our campsite was situated high up on the outskirts of town allowing us to set up, and walk into town. We were blessed with great weather and enjoyed some wonderfully memorable moments in St Andrews. We visited the home of Golf – St Andrews Golf Course/The Experience Centre which Mr OFT enjoyed immensely! Hard to believe there are over 500 years of golf to experience.
We loved our time in St Andrews as after being in quite remote towns it was nice to wander through the township fossicking in old stores and enjoying morning tea in a cafe.
St Andrews Cathedral is impossible to miss and well worth a wander through and there is so much to see both outside and a fabulous museum of artefacts and history indoors
There is also a deer farm just on the outskirts of St Andrews so we took the opportunity for a walk around. The species of deer was extensive and for a few extra pounds, the kids got some food to feed them as we went along.
Next adventure after leaving St Andrews I called the Outlander Tour. We drove past the town of Falkland which was used as the old Inverness in the first series. I couldn’t help but stand in the exact location as the ghost of Jamie in one of the first episodes. Falkland is a beautiful small town and there was a castle or stately home right near the entrance however we were on a tight schedule so pushed on toward Duone Castle which all Outlander fans will know as Castle Leoch. This castle was incredible and we all did the audio tour (which does have Sam Hueghan narrating various components). Parts of the Castle were ornate and richly lavish whilst others were sparse and cold. It was chilling to try to image living in such a place and just how different times are now. The kids were amazed with the “kitchen” being just really a room with massive fire pits. Explaining the times without modern luxuries in a historic place such as Duone Castle was rather easy – there are no mod cons. A quick dress-up opportunity in the gift shop and then we were off to our last campsite for the night.
As we arrived for our last night, of course, our luck was tested. Our one key for the services snapped leaving us without access to our gas and electricity services. We were concerned about the lateness of the day and heading into the nearest town to try and find a locksmith or keycutter. As I was taking the key to reception we started talking to the owner of the finest RV we had ever seen. It appeared the Royals Royce of motorhomes. I explained our situation with the key and before I knew it, she had taken the key and said she would be back. Her husband and her then drove into the town (with a small car they tow) and found a locksmith who was able to cut another key for us. We were saved! I had a nice bottle of South Australian Wine tucked in the pantry that we later when over and thanked them with. Such great travelling spirit.
Day 10 – Return to Glasgow
The next morning we returned to Glasgow to return our motorhome. It was an adventure we talk about often. Little moments that may have been insignificant or minor now that the trip has passed all become part of a bigger memory. A memory for me that conjures up so many feelings. One overriding feeling was the sense of closeness. Sure, during this adventure the four of us were inseparable, but it was more than that. The closeness because part of the experience and I am so grateful we chose to explore the highlands in this way. We played, slept, ate and travelled together. Never too far apart and our routine around each other became part of the whole process.
If you enjoyed this post, please read my other article about What I learned Motorhoming with my family.
Thanks to Visit Scotland for the provision of a Press Pass which enabled to visit many castles and museums.