The little boy held his Daddy’s hand as he took the big step down from the train. He walked across the platform, stepping carefully on the wooden boards to avoid the tiny gaps. There was no way he was slipping down between them, no sir! There was water down below, sea water! This was Gourock Station on the upper Firth of Clyde where you could get off the train and walk less than 100 yards to the waiting ferry. Such exotic places lay ahead; Rothesay, Dunoon – so exciting!
Fast forward fifty years (yes fifty eek!) and a grumpy old man is saying, “Well Gourock is where we used to get the ferry. How was I supposed to know that it’s now for foot passengers only?” He then grumpily turns the motorhome around, grumpily drives it 10 minutes up the road and grumpily joins the queue for the vehicle ferry… Whatever happened to that fresh-faced excitable little lad, I wonder? Life. That’s what.
Welcome back to Vince’s travels! As we said last time we might be getting out for a wander or two on these shores as Europe is looking less and less likely as a destination this year. Our technique in the past has been to book an odd night here or there but largely wing it in between, finding accommodation as we go. Sometimes it’s a full-on camp site, sometimes a little 5-bay certificated location affiliated to one of the clubs, or sometimes it’s just a handy hideaway off the beaten track.
No such luck post-lockdown I’m afraid. The caravan park where I work is absolutely rammed at the moment; we’ve found that that’s the case all over Scotland right now as folks can’t travel abroad for their traditional holiday. There’s a whole new generation of campers, caravanners and motorhomers getting on the road too. I’ve lost count of the posts I’ve seen online which begin “New to motorhoming – can I just ask how to…” If you’re one of them – welcome! Even Vince has been getting emails asking for advice. He replies to every single one, bless him.
We were lucky to secure the very last pitch available at our overnight stop on the way north at Prestwick. Yes, where the airport is. Where the noisy planes fly overhead. A lot. Actually Prestwick Holiday Park was really lovely. Unusually in these times, the facilities are fully open so we not only had lashings of hot water for showers, we enjoyed a full-on steak dinner with all the trimmings at their clubhouse. Lovely! Before leaving we trespassed all over The Donald’s expensive golf course in Troon, just to capture this photo of Arran across the water for you. I hope you appreciate it. It’s a really great photo, really really great. Probably the best photo, best photo ever – everybody says so, even Fox News.
After Prestwick it was journeying up the map via the Gourock to Dunoon ferry we mentioned above. It’s only a twenty minute sailing but it saved us 70 miles of twisty roads. A well-spent twenty quid, I reckon. At the moment we’re sitting in the sunshine (and er… rather brisk breeze) on the shore of Loch Fyne at Argyll Caravan Park. Like the majority of campsites they’re only welcoming tourers who are self-contained like us. There are no facilities open so you need your own shower and loo. We’re perfectly happy with that, although a token reduction in price would have been nice… We completed the whole transaction by email – including receiving directions to our pitch – we haven’t even met any staff yet!
As an area to visit we can highly recommend it. The roads are quiet, the lochs deep and dark, the mountain names completely unpronounceable. Loch Fyne is well-known for its quality seafood so we took advantage of that at lunchtime today in Inveraray. The haddock was delicious, the banoffee pie even more so. Luckily we had a six mile round trip walk there and back so while it wasn’t exactly guilt-free we didn’t feel we’d over indulged. Well ok, maybe just a bit.
We booked three nights on this site a while ago, to make sure that we definitely had somewhere to stay, but our original plan to head further north to Arisaig was scuppered by the lack of availability at the campsites. We could probably have found a few free-camping spots out of the way somewhere but it doesn’t feel right to do this at the moment. I think there’s some resentment amongst local folks of all these townies coming up here, bringing their germs. We have our own mixed feelings when we see hordes of people invading our beautiful Galloway back home. It’s not good times for anyone at the moment; let’s hope we can get some sort of normality back by next season.
The Scottish Forestry Commission is trialling a scheme this year, where they are allowing small numbers of campervans to use certain forest car parks overnight. We aren’t too far from a couple of those so we’ll give that a try when we leave here the day after tomorrow. We’ll be sure to report back here of course, if the Scottish midges (Latin name: viciousbuggerae pirhanus) don’t strip the flesh from our bones first.
Meanwhile it’s that time again! I can hear the traditional Scottish countryside sounds of ice clinking into a glass and the squeak of a cork easing out of a bottle. Chin-chin, and hopefully we’ll chat again soon 😀
Click or tap any pic to enlarge.