Love hiking, campervaning and visiting new and interesting places in Scotland
Follow my walking and campervaning adventures around Scotland. Visiting castles, waterfalls, forest walks, beaches and many other beautiful locations. Also love food and gin. Can't forget shopping too and recommending products I love.
When you do lots of walking there is 2 vital pieces of equipment you need. Good boots and comfy socks. The perfect pair of both will enable you to walk further and longer.
Last week Heather at Scottish Womans walking group posted some monogramed SWWG merino wool socks that were made in North East Scotland. So I was very interested to find out where. After a wee search I found Caledonia Hosiery on social media.
After wee chat online with the owner Steve he invited me along to his socks factory. I jumped at the chance. The inner geek came out as I am very interested in how things are made.
The company is situated in Forres Moray. It was started in October 2019 and started producing in April 2020. The owner Steve has actually spent half his working life making socks and is very passionate about it. This has now rubbed off on his wife Sue too.
Onsite the couple are producing 1000 pairs of socks a week each pair of socks taking around 8 mins to make. They produce various styles made from wool and cotton. They are all hand finished onsite. That includes washing and air drying before pressing on a shiny sock shaped hot press!
Although the company mainly design and produce socks for brands just recently they have set up a online shop at The Country Side store (link will be posted below). In the shop they have a selection of styles including their signature outdoor socks that I have been gifted to try.
I am super excited to try as not only are they locally produced. Compared to some socks I have purchased over the year they are very reasonabled priced.
My initial review they fit and feel very comfortable. I will be putting the them to some hike tests before I fully review but I do plan to purchase other styles.
I would like to thank Steve for inviting me along and giving a wee insite to how socks are made!
Our next few days was spent at Camping Skye at Broadford was time to chill out! Also a chance to do some washing as they have great laundry and drying facilities! The first night was very wet and windy we felt so sorry for the poor people in tents! The carried on most of the next day too. We sat binged watched Netflix and rested.
The second day the weather was a lot better so we managed to get out with the dogs. We just had a wee stroll along to the wee harbour area.
The dogs got a run about. I did some sea glass collecting and Mr C did some stone skimming.
Later on we treated ourselves and went to Cafesia for our tea! Pizza and baked Alaska what more could you want.
In the morning it was time to pack up and make our next move. We set off up the road we had all day to get to Uig for our ferry. I had made a list of places to stop en route.
First stop was the bridge at Sligachan for a few photos.
Parking wasn’t to good for the van so it was just a quick stop.
Just a few miles up the road we made another stop at Dun Beag Broch.
We had drove past it lots of time and never stopped. I actually couldn’t believe how big it was and how thick the walks were. Although mind the sheep poop if you visit as it is in a sheep park.
Little big further along the road we drove past Dunvegan Castle. We had talked about going in for a look. But honestly it was busy and I was happy to get a view of the castle so that’s what we did.
We did take a wee detour to Portree to get a supermarket and a look at the harbour.
As expected it was busy so didn’t hang about. We was ready to get away from busy places. Our final stop was Uig. Before parking at the ferry car park we took the short walk down to the Falls of Rha.
They are huge and worth the visit it is a total hidden gem. I had a wee look around the Uig pottery and treated myself to a stunning Cullins mug. I dropped in to the Isle of Skye Brewery and get a wee present for a friend. For food we popped in to the Hebriden Shack.
Mr C had some amazing scallops and I had monk fish scampi.
By the time we did all that and had a wee nap it was time for the ferry to Uist.
There was a great area for us to sit and relax with the dogs and it passed pretty quickly. We got off of the ferry when the sun wasn’t far from setting. So we put the postcode in the satnav and headed for the St Kilda view point. We didn’t have too far to go and we was just on time to watch the sunset and get a great view of St Kilda.
After our journey I was excited for our adventure ahead. So we had a early night and a good nights sleep.
We got up early the next day, made our breakfast and headed off. We had a lot to fit in on our first day. First stop was Scolpaig Tower for a wee photo.
We drove along enjoying the views of Vallay Tidal island (we have put it on our bucket list for next time). Just along the road we found a wee snack stop called The Wee Kitchen so couldn’t resist a second breakfast with a amazing beach view.
We took a wee drive to Berneray before our next stop. Parking up at Langass woods and went to follow the trail of bear foot prints. The trail lead us to the final resting place of Hercules the bear and Andy Robin. Myself and my husband have both fantastic memories of the pair visiting Keith Show in the 80’s so this was a must place to visit for us.
On our travels we found a fan Seafood cafe but it was unfortunately closed that day but the factory shop was open.
When we arrived at the shop I was amazed by the amount of scallop shells that lined the shore. Next took a wee tour round Benbecula stopping off at the Lady of the Isles statue.
Then it was time to find our friends house. We tracked down the area they lived and took a wee look about and chatted to some of the ponies at Loch Skiport before messaging Lindsay. It then turned out we had passed their house not long before.
Lindsay and DJ took us on a tour of South Uist pointing out places we never have found. We visited the most westerly point in Uist and even managed to get a photo taken together for a change.
That night we parked up not far from theirs. After a long lie we wakening up to ponies at the van. Once organised we headed along the the road and parked up to go for a hike in the hope to see a sea eagle.
It is such a beautiful area the photos don’t do it justice.
The afternoon was spent enjoying the views while exploring South Uist. After a failed attempt looking for the whale bones on the most amazing beach.
We did see some seals and found them on our second attempt. That night we parked up close to the beach and made plans for the next day.
It was our last day on Uist so made it a bit of a chilled one. We took a drive to Eriskay where I miraculously found a ladies ring. I did find the owner quickly with the power of Facebook.
Lunch was had at the Am Politician and a look round the shop. Before heading back to the beach for one last beach walk.
Our ferry next day was just after 6am so needed to get parked up close to by the terminal. We found a spot then took a walk to the Lochboisdale Hotel for a lovely meal. Then headed to the van and set the alarm for 4.45. To catch the ferry back to the main land it was almost the end of our holiday!
Going to end it here! We had a fantastic holiday and didn’t want to come home! I have posted some useful links below.
Once we was up organised and everything packed up. We made sure the water bottles were full as we didn’t know expect from the campsite I had booked the day before. We headed for Cromarty to catch the Nigg ferry. We had wanted to take this wee ferry for so long but it was never running when we was in the area. It was a bit nerve racking going on and off but it was a good wee hurl and I was chuffed to bits!
Once off the ferry we headed for Balintore to find the Mermaid of the North. She was on my bucket list and well worth a visit although the story about her is a little dark.
Mr C was meeting one of his friends just along the road so it gave me the opportunity to go beach combing for sea glass and I got a nice little haul.
Back on the road again our next stop was the Falls of Shin for a wee look.
There was no salmon leaping that day but plenty of midges. We did notice there was a lovely smell coming from burger van outside the visitors centre. We resisted though. We did notice there was a grey/chemical disposal in the carpark as well as water and bins. Good to know for another time.
The next part of the drive was like a scene from Mad Max there wasn’t much but hills and lochs. We soon got to Tongue as we drove over the Causeway we admired the amazing beach. It was only a few miles to get to Talmine. We had booked in to the Bayview Campsite but we had a wee look along to the harbour first. Wow the beach, the water, the sand it is beautiful.
The campsite well lets just say it had what we needed. It was just needing a wee bit of work but for £12 it was grand. It was only a stop off before heading west.
Next morning we just got up and we got moving we already planned to cook our breakfast at the causeway layby. I then failed to check my direction for going to Lochiver and we got rather shouty when I told Mr C to go the wrong way! Once we was going in the right direction. We passed through Durness but we didn’t stop as it was very busy. Our next planned stop was Kylesku bridge for some photos.
We took a wee detour for some pies from the famous Larder at Lochinver they were lush as usual. I had sweet potato and goats cheese as it’s my favourite followed by a peach and pear one.(Well it was lunch time)
Next we went on to Ardwreck Castle but just as I was crossing the road I noticed a waterfall. I did go over and take some photos at the castle.
But I wanted to go back to the waterfall it was lovely. I managed to walk all the way rounds as there was some stepping stones at the top. It is a total hidden gem.
Next stop was Knockan Crag although the weather wasn’t the best. I had a wee stroll around the trail Mr C gave it a miss as the midges were biting.
Our stop for the next couple days was Broomfield Campsite. We arrived early as we knew it would be busy. We wasn’t wrong they were queuing by 5pm. We was there by early afternoon and got our favourite spot. We booked in for 2 nights and couldn’t really be bothered to go to the shop. We had spent much of the afternoon watching the rain. I took a walk round to the fish and chip shop to pick up something for tea at the Seaforth. It was very busy but worth the wait. Mr C had scampi and I had fish in a bun it was lush.
The weather cleared up later and it turned warm we watched some ladies in for a wild dook. I was tempted but got the fear. As the sun was setting I went out and played with my camera settings. Was pretty chuffed with the results.
Next morning the weather was awful and we needed the shop. We waited will it went off a bit and took a walk and a detour to the harbour. Lucky we did as we was chuffed to see the Blue Clipper tall ship at the harbour so got a few photos before going shopping.
The rest of the day was spent people watching but landed lucky with a amazing sunset.
We got up at a decent time next day made coffee and packed up. We was read for our next road trip. We had to decide which way to go if we should detour Applecross but decided just to take the quickest route. We had been on the Bealach na ba lots of times and the road would be busy. We headed for the Garve road.
I had only planned two stops on the road. One to Manuelas Bakery and Fairy Gin Distillery and the view point for Eilan Donan Castle.
Parking wasn’t the easiest at the bakery and distillery but we got sorted. It was all so cute and quirky and the cakes wow they are lovely. The nice man at the bakery gave me some great advice on which gin to purchase and it’s so nice.
We only had a few more miles to go before we got to our next campsite in Skye.
Thank you for reading. I’ve posted some useful links below! Tracy x
After patiently waiting for Mr C to finish work all day we headed off on our way. After getting our 12v tv back the day before still broken we decided to go to Curry’s. We picked up a new tv and use a invertor when we don’t have a electric hook up. Once that was all sorted we spent our first night at one of our favourite campsite Barns highland at Nairn.
With the fridge full of goodies from The Larder. By 9 o’clock our bellies were full and we ready for bed!
We were wakened and organised reasonably early next day. Mr C had some boots saved from Highland Army Surplus so we nipped back there to pick them up. I got a wee dry bag for my pocket camera as I had left my one at home.
Once we had all that sorted we hit the road and finally had everything we could go to our next campsite Fortrose Bay. We did have a wee detour round to Chanonry point but it was very busy and we couldn’t get parked. I hopped out and got a quick few photos in the rain before going to the campsite.
Once parked up we just chilled and watched the rain just enjoying our first day of our holidays.
Later on we ventures back along to Chanonry point with the dogs. It was even busier this time we did sit at the beach area for a little while. With no sign of any dolphins we walked back and picked up a tasty fish supper from McGinty’s fish and chip stop in the village.
On our second day at Fortrose thankfully we woke up to nice weather as we had made plan for a good walk. After breakfast we headed for Rosemarkie.
I’ve been looking at photos of fairy glen and the waterfalls so I couldn’t wait to go. I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
The walk was lovely even though I had wet feet in the first 5 minutes. The dogs had a ball but did have to take Suzi in to the water at Rosemarkie beach to clean her up a bit!
After our 5 miles trek we left the dogs at the van and took a wander in to the village. We stopped off for a look at Fortrose cathedral.
What a amazing place to have in small village. By that time Mr C was ready for a pint. So we went on a mission to find a pub. We eventually found the Union Tavern. A very welcoming pub with good beer.
After a few pints we had a pit stop at the Coop for something for supper. That night we spent getting organised and packed up. The site was lovely and in a great spot with plenty to see and do. But it was time for our next part of our holiday.
Posted lots of links below of the places we stayed, places we visited and even where I got our food!
I am pretty sure I have covered most of our stuff in part 1 & 2. I you are maybe thinking that some amount of stuff we take. Part 3 may also be extensive.
Might as well start with my camera equipment. I have a small camera ruck sack that fits my Canon 70d, my Sony dsc wx500, charging cables and tripod. In the wee pocket in the front I manage to fit in a note book, pens, micro fibre cloth to clean lenses and a wee helpful tip sheet that I got with my camera that I refer to often.
I do have another we Osprey camera bag that is handy for taking my Sony pocket camera if I am going for a walk. I also have yet another bag with the Gopro in that I don’t often use but don’t want to leave it home just in case 😂😂😂. All these bags either stay on the bed during the day or in the foot well. Not ideal storage but can’t have everything perfect.
Speaking of storing stuff on the bed. We recently purchased two dry robes from Two Bare feet that are great for going to showers at campsites. Chucking on if it is cold in the evening when your sitting out or just wearing in general if the weather is horrible. These are just kept on the bed during the day so they are handy just to grab and we just transfer them to the front seats at night!
Just above our front seat. We have a great wee cupboard that Mr C built by extending the original shelf and adding in a partition and a door. He did a good job for a digger driver! In here we have to fit in all our clothes.
A lot of careful thought has went in to what clothes I take for us. Well not really I just keep putting in till I can’t fit anymore. But I tend to take trousers/shorts, t-shirt and fleeces that are light easy to wash and dry. A couple hoodies each and I take a couple pairs of jeans with a nice top in case we go out for our tea or something. In reality I have never worn the jeans yet and one day I won’t bother taking them! We have both got compact waterproof jackets and quilted jackets that we keep in the cupboard too! I do try and have it semi organised with a side each and in the middle there are a box each for underwear, socks, pjs and dookers! There isn’t really much room left once I’ve stuffed all that in but I do have enough for a couple towels, a spare bed sheet!
The last few things we have in the cupboard are our toilet bags. Instead of toilet bags I actually use dry bags. One big one that holds everything and one smaller that has the essentials.
Our toilet bag isn’t very extensive. We take one tin of deodorant that we share, Mr C has his own shower gel it’s meant to be a 2 in 1 hair and body but we didn’t have any I’m sure he wont notice. I have two bars of soap one is for face and body and the other is a conditioning shampoo. I got these locally from Heavenly Favour I will post the link below! I just take a wee jar of moisturiser, lip balm, couple hair bobbles, perfume, shower capand of course toothbrushes and toothpaste. My last wee bag is for my hair, a travel hair drier, brush and straightners but I don’t use that often honestly when we are away I am not particularly fussed how I look!
I am almost there though just our heads and feet! Footwear wise I take for each of us a pair of good trainers, a pair of walking trainers and a pair of sandals along with the hiking boots in th boot. These are stored under the passenger seat. Last thing is woolly hats and neck tubes they just stay on the dash board!
Really hope this wasn’t too boring and all makes sense! Feel free to ask me any questions on packing or give me some tips!
The first part I gave you a complete lowdown of our shite shelf! It is nothing compared the amount of stuff we have in the boot!
Last year we took the plunge and purchased a couple of mountain e-bikes which with the front wheels off fit nicely in the boot at one side and the front wheel stored at the other side! We also take out the batteries so they are much lighter to lift in and out.
Once the bikes are in it does leave a fair bit of space. We have some essentials like a toolbox and some levelling chokes that I try to avoid using as I never set them right.
This holiday we have decided to take two awnings with us along with the one that is mounted on the side of the van. We have a small base seconds pop up tent that is a great piece of kit that goes up in seconds for staying at places for one night. Unfortunately they are discontinued but they are similar ones online but way more expensive that what we paid.
Our second one is a Vango airhub hex which actually comes in a drive-away awning style but we decided we didnt want the faff and bought a stand alone one. It also only takes a few minutes to go up and is great if we are staying somewhere for a few days and needing extra space.
Outdoor furniture wise we take a couple large comfy outside folding seats and a small table.
We also have a large Cadac (gas grill) which is great for cooking inside the awning or outside. We have been cooking more in the van lately but it is still handy to take along if we are cooking a lot at a time.
Think that is pretty much our lot in the boot apart from so other bits and pieces. A wee fan heater if it’s cold and we have a electric hook up, a electric hook up cable, a cordless Dyson hoover, extra bottles of water, a 12v shower, some fire wood and fire pit if we are somewhere we can use it, some hiking boots and of course the dogs food.
That is pretty much all the storage apart from the clothing cupboard that is coming in the next part. We do some net bags beside the bed are that are handy for holding wee stuff like remote controls, dogs leads and my pocket mountains books.
We try and give everything their own wee place and keep everything tidy as much as we can! Part 3 coming soon! Once I’ve finished actually packing!
After year’s of van life my packing skills have came a long way! I do kind of know what I need and don’t need allegedly I am pretty sure my husband may not agree!
I might as well start at the top! With what is know as the shite shelf. Think that kitchen drawer that everyone has the one with all the crap in. So first up first aid kit, liquid talc (ace for chub rub), wipes when you can’t get a wash! Selection of tablets and tiger balm in case we walk or bike too much and get sare bits!
Next up on the shite shelf. A few DVDs just in case it’s pissing we rain and we have no signal. I’ve a wee jar for my sea glass Mr C would chuck at oot but it’s staying. Also got some doggy treats, poop bags and some sweeties cause well you do need sweeties!
Better get back to the more essential stuff though! Midge repellant I think we have pretty much a thing covered here! Beastie be gone a tried and tested balm that not only repels the wee buggers it’s soothes bites too! http://www.andersonaromatics.co.uk/ Smokin Midge a new piece of kit that helps smoke the wee buggers oot. I’ve not tried this yet but it come highly recommend! https://www.thesmokinmidge.com/ Also got some bug off wax melts https://wanderingstarwax.com/ Also got a couple nets and some oil that we can put in to the fans beside oot bed!
As well as the midge wax melt I take a selection of other melts. Which is great for getting rid of the smell of cooking in the van and makes it more homely!
Moving down in to the actually kitchen cupboard area. We have 1 cupboard that has the usual stuff, plates, cups, gin mugs, cutlery, foil & cling film. Coffee, salt, sweetness, cup a soups and crackers. We all take a wee gas stove and gas so if we run out or just want to boil the kettle outside we can!
In the cupboard that has the water tanks in I take some cleaning stuff and a bowl that I can use for washing! Also the most important a good selection of gin & whisky!
Last of all we even make most of the space in the sink by having a wee basket containing cleaning wipes, black bags, washing up liquid, a couple tea towels and cloths. The basket is easy to lift out when we need to use the sink.
I think this is going to have to be in 3 parts cause well I dinna realise how much stuff we actually take 😂😂! Part 2 coming soon!!!
Living in the North East of Scotland you can’t always be ootside raking aboot cause well it does rain a fair bit and I kane skin is waterproof but sometimes I like to visit places inside too! As much as I find whisky distilleries interesting place to go and visit I just canna drink the stuff. Gin on the other hand is a whole different story I love gin and I have certainly tried plenty.
Just a wee drive or bus trip to Elgin is far there is a wee gin distillery called Avva. Jill the owner and distiller produces the lovely stuff on site in their bespoke gin still called Jessie-Jean that was handmade by one of my friends Derek & his team at Speyside Copper Works. https://www.speysidecopper.com/
Their gin is made with Speyside water and a mix of highland and Speyside botanicals. If you chose to go for a tasting/tour you will get a chance to taste all 4 of their lovely gins they produce as well find out more about how Avva gin is produced.
JIf you don’t have time for a tour can also visit their onsite shop, where they have a lovely selection of Liqueurs, mixers, glasses and of course the all important gin.
I had a lovely morning chatting with Jill not only about gin but about a million other things too! I highly recommend giving them a visit if not for a tour/tasting but just a wee look in the shop!
Keith is situated almost slap bang in the middle of the A96 between Aberdeen and Inverness. With a population of around 4500 people. I have lived in Keith more than half of my life and think I have walked every path and photographed every landmark and place of interest many times. I could make a long list of paths to walk and parts to visit but I will just tell you about a few of my favourites.
A great walk to explore is the Den woods, Falls of Tarnash and Dunnyduff woods you can make it a short wee walk of a couple miles or if you are feeling energetic you could put on your hiking boots and carry on up the Balloch hill. It is about a 10 miles round trip but totally worth it if the weather is good. Check out this link there are a great selection of walks to try. Keith – Moray Way
I haven’t gotten round to doing this yet but is on my list but does come highly recommended. You could jump on the train to Dufftown then rather than taking the train back you could walk the Isla way The Isla Way – Moray Ways
Not far from the station is the very photogenic Strathisla Distillery that looks beautiful in all weathers the folks at Strathisla do a range of different tours from blending, tasting and walking tours . Even if whisky is not your thing it is still worth a visit. We did do a blending tour a few years back and it was a great afternoon out! https://www.maltwhiskydistilleries.com/strathisla/
There are quite a few lovely buildings in Keith the St Rufus Church is quite a notable one as you pass through Keith.
As well as the St Thomas’ Church with its copper dome and the town clock that dominates the main street and the sky line of Keith.
Keith is split in two by the Union bridge with Keith on one side and Fife-Keith on the other with the River Isla running through the middle. Just beside the Union bridge you will find the Auld Brig that dates back to 1609. There is nice wee area here that makes a great picnic location.
As I said earlier I could make a massive list of places but where is the fun in that make your own wee adventure and discoveries. If you do make a visit to Keith don’t forget to have look round some of our lovely independent shops we have as well as several cafes, takeaways and hotels if you are looking for somewhere to eat or even stay!
For more information on Keith I have posted some useful links below with more information.
I love to go to lots of places like Ullapool and Skye but you cant just chuck the dogs in the car and be there in 20 mins! But Cullen is just down the road and with lots of options of walking routes Cullen is not just a place to go to the beach!
One of my favourite hills is the Bin of Cullen which over looks Cullen its a great walk for all the family. On the clear day there is amazing view of the Moray coast line and the hills and mountains in the Blackisle. https://discovercullen.com/bin-hill/
Next stop on my virtual tour of my favourite places of Cullen is Cullen house. The beautiful building that was built in 1602 although it is now converted to separate private dwellings. The grounds can be visited on a Tuesdays and Fridays from 1.30pm till 4.30pm https://discovercullen.com/cullen-house-cullen-auld-kirk/
Cullen is famed for their amazing beach but instead of heading for the main beach of the 3 Kings. We are going to a stunning beach called Sunnyside that can only be reached by foot.
No walk to Sunnyside beach is complete without walking a little bit further on to visit Findlater Castle. The first historical reference to the castle is from 1246. The remains that are still there are from the 14th-century rebuilding. http://www.findlater.org.uk/Castle.htm