Welcome to the second part of my campsite review. Let’s get straight on with the show starting with the fabulous night 10, which incidentally also happened to be my birthday!
Night 10: Woodland Gardens Caravan and Camping Site, Lundin Links, Fife
This site advertises itself as adults only so I knew it would be a quiet one. When I arrived at reception and was booking in the owner asked me what the date was and I told him it was the 21st and added briefly that it was my birthday. He informed me that he also liked to be away on his birthday to avoid the risk of surprise parties. This is, of course, certainly not why I chose to go away for my birthday, but it was a welcome reminder that it was, in fact, my birthday and a text message received a short while later alerted me to the fact that I still hadn’t opened the handful of birthday cards I had taken with me. So, there I was sitting in the large (and very exciting) recreation room, surrounded by my cards and chatting away on the phone to my flatmate when the female owner of the site (Jan) came in carrying a small cake and an envelope. The picture on the right shows the cake in all its glory (that didn’t last long) and my (somewhat themed) birthday cards. With the above in mind, how can I possibly complain about this site?! Not only that, but there really isn’t much to complain about regardless of the owner’s generosity and thoughtfulness. The site was indeed quiet and very sheltered (a joy when you’re camping almost every night) with a very clean and gorgeously decorated bathroom block (notice this one isn’t referred to as a toilet block!). There were two touring caravans at the site the night I was there and the following morning I got chatting to a lady who owned one of the vans who was telling me about what it’s like to camp in a van and how they actually manoeuvre the caravan so the towing part is against a wall or fence (that had really intrigued me, but apparently it’s just a matter of pushing it). So, to summarise, this site is great. It’s fairly new and still building its reputation, but I’m sure it will go from strength to strength, so if you are ever in the area then just get a tent and camp there!
Night 11: Miltonhaven Seaside Caravan Park, St Cyrus, Aberdeenshire
I will forever remember this place as “the animal campsite” and I will explain why. Firstly, there was Tom, a big, fluffy, ginger cat who followed us around the site as the owner gave me the introductory tour and then visited me briefly at my tent later that evening. Then there were the ducks. Now apparently there are two sets of ducks: the first set are a friendly bunch of four who travel to and fro between the campsite and another property a short distance away, chatting to people and generally just socialising really. The second set of ducks hang out at the campsite’s pond and, in extreme contrast to the first set, will disappear as soon as anyone goes near them. I became very familiar with the first set of ducks who visited me a few times on the evening I arrived (crawling out from underneath my car at one point) and, whilst I ate breakfast the following morning, one of the males watched me closely whilst beckoning his female friend (who sadly never showed). In the evening I went for a short walk along the beach just in front of the campsite. On my way back I narrowly avoided stepping on a chicken that was lingering about as I was heading for a gated section where goats and rabbits were chilling out. I watched them for a while until a pony appeared and approached me. Now, I’m a bit of a funny one when it comes to animals in that I like looking at them, but I’m not particularly keen on touching them, so instead I decided to ask it if it would mind me taking a picture of it (I’d had a lot of sun that day, it’s my only excuse) to which, of course, it didn’t reply so I went right ahead and took the picture, being mindful to thank the pony afterwards. I then felt really guilty as I walked away and it continued to watch me (a.k.a. beg me to stroke it). To be honest, there’s not a lot else to say about the campsite aside from the various creatures that tread it’s paths. It was a great location (essentially on the beach) and was very quiet. The bathroom was fairly standard (and you had to pay for the shower), but it did have a kitchen (with a kettle!!! a real rarity) and recreation room, which were both a bit of a bonus. I would be more than happy to return if I ever find myself in those parts again, mostly (of course) to re-visit my little animal chums!
Night 12: Peterhead Lido Caravan Park, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire
Now this was a strange one. No one really seemed to know what they were doing when I arrived (apart from having a barbecue!) and I got the impression that the man who oversaw proceedings hadn’t been doing it long. I was handed a key for the toilet block (yep, back to toilet block now) and asked where I wanted to go, so I pointed to a pitch that looked like a sensible enough choice to which I received the response ‘You can go wherever you like’. A bit weird, but not rude in any way, just strange. My stay here wasn’t entirely pleasant. The caravan park was a bit of a thoroughfare for teenagers and I had that damn old man (see the first of my least favourite people in an earlier post for more ghastly information about him) pestering me almost continuously. It was a nice enough location, but it all just felt a bit odd and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t glad to leave the following morning. There seems to be an issue with campsites in this area whereby the local council have taken over responsibility for them, but done absolutely nothing with them. My recommendation: don’t camp in this area unless you absolutely must.
Night 13: Rosemarkie Camping and Caravanning Club Site, Rosemarkie, Black Isle
Perhaps it was because I arrived just before they were closing reception, but I didn’t receive the personal service at this site that I had at others. I’m not sure if it’s a Camping and Caravanning Club thing as it was a pretty big site, but never mind. The site was in a great location right on the beach and just a 20-minute walk from the lighthouse at Chanonry Point. To be honest, this is one of the sites that didn’t stand out so much to me. My notes tell me that the facilities were good, but there weren’t enough showers and that I bought fish and chips from a shop in the village (now I do remember that). It was also one of the sites where I encountered the sea mist, which was particularly spooky as it started coming in that evening so I made a quick escape to the safe confines of my tent. So, not much to write home about with this one, unfortunately. It wasn’t a bad site and the walk along to the lighthouse was lovely, but I’m not going to rave about it.
Night 14: Wick Caravan Site, Wick, Caithness
I received a lovely welcome at this site from the very friendly female owner who I got chatting to for quite some time upon my arrival. She emphasised the fact that she and her husband were always onsite so I would not be abandoned. She was certainly right there as it didn’t take long for the only other camper to start chatting and then attempt to feed me wine (see earlier post for more information about him). The funniest thing I remember from this site was that I had some wet washing from the previous evening hanging around in the car all day and it wasn’t drying at all so I utilised the resources I had available to me (a camping washing line that refused to stick to anything with it’s suction pads, my car and my camp bed) to hang my washing out to dry. I wish I had taken a picture of my efforts as it probably would have looked rather amusing to the standard passer-by. Fortunately though the site was (as it states on its website) secluded and passers-by were in short supply. The facilities at the site were very good and I remember spending a particularly long time in the bathroom that morning (I think I was mostly hiding from my weirdo camping neighbour). For the great customer service this site gets my thumbs up, but the fellow camper gets a big thumbs down.
Night 15: Sango Sands, Durness, Sutherland
Seriously, I challenge anyone not to like this site (except if it’s raining, then it’s probably not pleasant). The location is absolutely stunning and you truly do feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, which is basically where you are! Sango Bay is one of the best beaches I saw during my trip with it’s big old boulders sticking out of the sand in all manner of directions. The weather was absolutely perfect which I think added to the loveliness. As I walked back from my stroll on the beach that evening two men were sitting outside the bar and one said “hello” and I said the same back. He then said that I had brought some good weather with me to which I replied “I’m leaving tomorrow”, which gave them a bit of a chuckle (in fact, the weather was even hotter the following day – at least it was where I found myself, who knows about them). Staying at this site was cheap, very cheap. I made a note that it was £6.50 for the night, which was the least I paid for a night during the trip. The toilet block was fairly basic, but the owner was really friendly and chatted to everyone, welcoming those arriving with “Hello. How are you?” This was a really good site, mostly for the location, and I would recommend it to anyone who just happened to find themselves at the very top of the Scotland!
Night 16: Clachtoll Beach Campsite, Clachtoll, Lochinver
My favourite thing about this site was the welcome and regular presence of the site’s owner. He’s gave me a tour of the facilities and picked a suitable pitch for me. The following morning his did the rounds, saying hello to everyone and asking how they had slept. Really lovely guy and service like that sticks in your mind. As with many of the campsites in the Highlands, this site was just next to the beach and it was a very lovely beach, which I recall being very sandy (one thing I struggled to enjoy on my trip it was walking over dry sand – it’s really tough going). It was a busy site with people wandering to and from the beach, which was actually rather nice. They also had a hot drinks machine, which I was very pleased about, although the hot chocolate wasn’t great (why I was drinking hot chocolate on the warmest day of my trip I don’t know!). For the sheer friendliness of the owner alone I would happily revisit this place. Warning to anyone who does end up here though: mind the sheep, they get all over the road!
Night 17: Ardelve Caravan and Camping Park, Ardelve, Dornie
I won’t dwell on this final site for today’s post for long as the owners dwelled on me for less time than it will take for you to read this. When I arrived there was a sign saying to pitch up and the owner would come around in the evening to collect the fee (they didn’t end up coming until the following morning). The toilet block was basic and that was about it really. There was a nice view. That is all. If you want to be uninterrupted at a campsite then, by all means, do stop here, but I shan’t be rushing back.
Night 18: Ardnamurchan Campsite, Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan
This was the site where I first encountered the midges and it is this that seems to be the recipe for the forging of new friendships that takes place at this campsite. The owner is a nice enough man, but I was actually greeted by a fellow camper instead who showed me who I needed to speak to. There is a lovely view from the bottom of the site and Kilchoan prides itself on being the most westerly village on mainland UK (fascinating fact of the day for you right there). The campsite is a little odd in its layout. I completely understand why it is laid out as it is because otherwise it would be a fairly steep slope, but there are a lot of steep gravel paths and awkward manoeuvres to arrive at the pitch. Getting out was a bit of a struggle, but I just about managed. The toilet block is very basic and there certainly wasn’t enough showers the following morning with people having to wait outside until one became available. Overall I like the site and there is a very relaxed feel about it. I would recommend it to those who don’t have a big vehicle and are well-equipped to deal with midges!
That is all for now! Final nine nights tomorrow, followers. (Advance warning: nights 28 to 30 won’t be included as I was either staying at my sister’s or home). So, until then… 🙂