We had not been to Dalraddy Holiday Park for a really long time so we thought we would try it out again. The campsite is located just a few miles from Aviemore with lots of activities on and off site.
The site itself is large with chalets, residential caravans, seasonal & touring pitches as well as tent pitches. Around the site there is a main toilet block with showers, dishwashing and laundry. There is a smaller shower block as well as other small toilet blocks. At the reception you can find a small shop stocking the essentials. There is a great play park for the kids and an abundance of picnic benches. If you are in a group there is a fantastic bbq area if you want to get everyone together.
At the entrance of the site you will find Alvie Forest Food a fantastic food van with beautifully prepared dishes and a recent addition of a coffee cart called Cabin coffee. Quad biking treks are available to book at the gate there are plenty of other activities and it is worth checking out the Alvie Estate website for something that suits you.
For me Dalraddy is a great place to get walking and biking. There is a fantastic walk to the Duke of Gordon Monument. You can walk/cycle along the Speyside way. We headed to Kincraig and Loch Insh and got a pint at the Boathouse before heading back.
If you would like to explore the area there is plenty to do within a 10-15 mile drive.
Highland Wildlife park is around 5 miles away. At the park you can drive through the reserve and see the polar bears, snow leopards, amur tigers and many other animals then visit the wildlife discovery centre. Entry fees do apply.
Loch Insh Outdoor Centre is around 3 1/2 miles. Where you find a large selection of watersports as well as tubing, skating and archery. Prices vary depending on activity.
Cairngorm Mountain Railway is around 12 miles away. The railway has only just reopened after being closed for some time. You don’t have to take part in snowsports to go up the railway you can just take a trip up to enjoy the views and have coffee and cake at The Ptarmigan restaurant. Return tickets can be purchased at Cairngorm Mountain resort.
Strathspey Steam Railway is only 4 miles away at Aviemore and is a fantastic day out for everyone including your dogs. You are taking along the line from Aviemore to Broomhill and return in a beautiful steam locomotive. There is an option to enjoy a light lunch or afternoon tea along the way. Booking available online or at the station.
This is only a very small selection of activities available!
Dalraddy is a great site to visit with everything you need and so much to do just on your doorstep!
I ventured a wee bit further afield for a change, to Ullapool which we visit on a regular basis. Ullapool is on the North Coast 500 route and is one of the larger towns in North West Scotland with a busy ferry port and harbour. There is a great selection of places to eat and stay. Overlooking Ullapool is a hill called Cnoc na Croiche also known as Ullapool Hill which is a short but steep climb with very rewarding views.
Distance: 2.25 miles Time: 1hr Level: Easy with some steep parts. Terrain: Mix of pavements, well walked paths and uneven paths. Access: Arrive by car, parking is available in the long stay car park beside Tesco IV26 2XB. There is a regular stagecoach bus from 42 Inverness
Route: I am starting my route from the harbour on Shore Street in the centre of Ullapool. Cross the road at the boat trip and bike hire cabins and head up Quay Street past the Fish and Chip shop, try and resist the smell that is guaranteed to make you hungry. Take the third road on the right called Market Street and follow it to the end, before turning left and heading up Mill Road.
On your right, just after you have passed Highland Stoneware and Broom Court, you will see a gate and a signpost for Ullapool Hill. Go through the gate and you will start the short steep climb, but there are plenty of benches to stop and catch your breath. You will pass a path to your right, ignore it, but not long after you will take a turn to the left and you will head further up the hill.
You will come to a bench with a path on the left and one behind, take the path behind the bench. The path becomes rougher so watch your step. You will see a pile of stones to the right but keep going along the path till you reach a slightly overgrown viewpoint stone, although the views are great here they are better further along the route.
Just past the pile of stones that is to your left, the path will become rougher again and you will need to watch your step to get you down to the bench, where in my opinion you get the best views of Ullapool and Lochbroom.
If it isn’t windy this is also a great spot to stop for a snack and wee rest before you head back down the hill. If you time it right with the ferry times, you may see it coming in or leaving, or if you are really lucky, you may even see one of the cruise ships that visit Ullapool.
You will see a rough path to the right, take it and it very soon returns you to the bench before the viewpoint. Take a left here and head back down the path.
Take the path on the left just beside the viewpoint, this will take you to the best view.
Keep going back down the track, a little after the left turn in the path you will see an opening that takes you down to a wooden bridge. Once over the footbridge you carry on descending till houses come into view and you come to a gate. Once through the gate follow the road and you will quickly find yourself at the back of The Royal Hotel on Shore Street.
I would recommend crossing the road here to admire the boats in the harbour. It is a great chance to get some more lovely photos before returning to your starting point and time for a well-earned Fish and Chips.
We have been going to the Red Squirrel campsite for a good few years now and it never disappoints. The campsite is located in the heart of Glencoe and a great base for exploring the area.
The site itself is suitable for tents and off grid campervans they also have a couple bell tents that can be hired too. Around the site there is shower, toilet and dish washing facilities. There are no electric hookup but you can charge small devices in the office if required. There are plenty of firepits across the site that campers can use and firewood can be bought onsite.
Down by the river there is a fantastic area for wild swimming that is usually busy on hot days with the young and old going in for a dook! When we visited there was a hot food van and an ice cream van came round at night. There is a cracking shop & petrol station called Claymore Filling station a few miles along the road that stocks everything I mean everything its like an aladins cave.
Just a short 10 minute walk from the site you will find the Clachaig Inn which is a cracking place for drinks, food and often have musicians playing in the evening.
There is also a cracking walk to Signal rock (this is said to be the place where the MacDonalds gathered when faced with danger during the Glencoe massacre). If you fancy a hike you can head up the Pap of Glencoe or explore the beautiful Glencoe Lochan.
If you are like us and you want to explore the area there is so much to do within a 10-15 mile drive.
Glencoe Visitors Centre is around a 3 mile drive where you can learn more about the history and scenery in the area, outside there is beautifully contructed turf house and amazing views of the mountains. Entry fees do apply or free to National trust members.
The Lost Valley is a fantastic walk and starts a 3.5 mile drive away. This is a beautiful walk into the lost valley where the Macdonald are said to have hid their rustled cattle. This walk isn’t just a wee walk in the park so be prepared but well worth it.
Glen Etive is around a 12 miles drive and a beautiful scenic drive with various spots that you could have a dook in the clear waters of the River Etive. You could stop of the ionic spot that James Bond stopped in Skyfall.
Kinlochleven is around a 10 mile drive and is a beautiful villiage with shops, cafes and pub. It is also home to the world’s largest artificial ice climbing wall, the Ice Factory. There is also a beautiful short along to Grey Mare tail waterfall.
There is so much more to do this is only a small selection and there are plenty of mountains to climb!
Red Squirrel is a fantastic site in beautiful surroundings wether you are a munro bagger or enjoy a chilled out holiday.
Starting off my new sections to my website with where I have spent the last 2 weeks. Barrow Campsite is an independent campsite situated in the beautiful countryside only a few miles out of Nairn. It is a relatively new site and ideal you if you want to explore the area or relax and put your feet up.
Onsite you will find a range of hardstanding and grass pitches with a semi wild area camping area. Also a couple glamping pods. In the summer months we usually park on the grass area but in the winter we prefer to have a hardstanding pitch with hookup. The facilities are clean and modern with toilets, showers, a dishwashing and laundry room.
Around the site there is a small kids playpark, it is very dog friendly with fantastic walks and an enclosed area with a good sized pond. I have done a bit of paddleboarding in the pond. There is a fantastic bothy with seating and a bbq area which is a great place to get together or shelter out the rain. Not far from the bothy you will find Hangman hill which is a well preserved bronze age barrow hence the name Barrow Campsite.
Nairn is only 3 1/2 miles away and if you are feeling energetic you could walk or cycle along the quiet country road. The town has a fantastic range of independent shops, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, takeaways and a leisure centre. You also will find a beautiful beach on the Moray Firth with excellent views across the water. If you would like to treat yourself you could book a spa day at the Golf View hotel. There are also excellent public transport links to Inverness.
If you are like us and you want to explore the area there is so much to do within a 10-15 mile drive.
Brodie Castle is around an 8.5 mile drive where you can have a guided tour, explore the grounds and have an excellent play area. Entry fees do apply or free to National trust members.
Cawdor Castle is around a 5 mile drive and open in the summer months. Although we have never visited it is renowned for its beautiful garden and grounds. Entry fees do apply
Fort George is around an 8 mile drive and is the mightist artillery fortification in Britian and was built in the 18th century following the defeat at Culloden. Entry fees do apply or free to Historic Scotland members.
Culloden Battlefield is around a 9 mile drive and it is the site of the bloody battle of the Jacobite rising. Although a very eery it has an excellent visitors centre and a fascinating place to go. Entry fees to the visitors centre do apply or free to National trust members.
Brodie Countryfare is around an 8.5 miles drive and is almost next door to the Castle. This is a fantastic shop to explore their extensive range of clothing, giftware and food range and you can’t leave Brodie without visiting their fantastic restaurant.
Inverness is around a 15 mile drive but if you don’t want to venture into the city there is a large retail park on the outskirts that has a good selection of shops, a cinema and a large supermarket.
This is only a small selection of places to visit that are close by, there are many more plus Barrow is a great start/end point for the fabulous North Coast 500 route.
Barrow gets a thumbs up from us we love it here and it is definitely a home from home!!!
I had great expectations for 2022. I bought a fancy new diary and I had great plans to get myself into a better routine,write regular blog posts, lose some weight and just be the best version of myself. Little did I know what was ahead of me!!!!
We started 2022 coming home from an amazing relaxing holiday in our favourite campsite in Skye and was all set to go back to work I was all prepared to get back to the gym and get myself sorted out.
But my life was turned upside down when my mum was taken to hospital the day I was going back to work. The next couple months were spent juggling work and hospital visits she did get home for a little while but sadly at the start of March my mum passed away.
After she passed I went back to work quite soon after I did not want to stay at home and overthink. But then if things could not get any worse after 2 years avoiding it I got covid!!! So that was the first quarter of the year gone and not a single thing had been written in my diary.
Spring came and the fuel costs were rising so I spent my days off exploring my local area being careful not to go too far. Moray and Aberdeenshire has some amazing picturestic places to visit many with fantastic well marked paths. So I don’t need to travel far to find some great places.
We did manage a few weekends away to Ullapool, Nairn and the bike racing at Knockhill. We were truly blessed with some amazing weather which definitely helped my mood. I kind of failed to make any contact with my friends and avoided all social events in fear of people asking if I am ok. I must admit my husband has been a complete rock through the tough times.
Almost half way through the year had I written in my diary, stuck to a diet or went to the gym??? The simple answer was no. I did try to get motivated but my head was not in it. Instead I decided to try something new. One day we were sitting in Cullen beach carpark watching folk out paddleboarding I thought I would like to do that! By the time we were home I had ordered a board and a wetsuit. Which was one of my better ideas. Why? Because when you’re on that board all you think about is not falling off nothing else matters.
In June we went to Glencoe and we had some amazing weather so much so I did some wild swimming at the natural pool at Red Squirrel campsite which I loved.
We had such a great weekend soaking up the much needed vitamin D. I think it was the first weekend I had really enjoyed myself but I felt guilty afterwards. Looking back I should not ever have felt like that but grief does funny things to you.
Summer was spent exploring, we had several weekends in Nairn so I could paddleboard on the pond and went along to Paddlebliss for a lesson which was totally out my comfort zone and I had a amazing time. I also ventured further afield to Loch Inch one day to explore parts I had never been.
I even managed to drag my friend Gem up Ben Aigan even though she hated me when I said we were nearly at the top several times we made it eventually!
Our Summer Holidays could not come quick enough I organised them like a military operation between campsites and ferries. Visiting some of our favourite places as well as exploring some new ones. Paddleboarding and wild swimming at Arisaig was one of my highlights.
Portavadie was our little bit of luxury.
Mull and Iona were just simply amazing.
Summer sadly came to an end and we went back to work but no sooner we were back to than we ended up in Aberfeldy for a weekend with a bunch of folk we mostly only ever spoke to on Facebook. We went kayaking down the Tay which was bloody amazing. We were so proud of ourselves that day.
Autumn fast approached and finally after so long we decided for our wedding anniversary we would head to Falkirk and Stirling. We wanted to go to the Kelpies and the Falkirk wheel for ages but just never quite got there. They did not disappoint the Kelpies were amazing.
No one ever actually told me what the Falkirk wheel was. I actually thought it was some kind of hydro electric making type contraption, so when I got on the wee boat for the tour I was totally amazed. I would put it in my top 10 places to visit in Scotland.
Through most of the summer and autumn I had been suffering from regular sore heads which I had actually thought I just needed new glasses but that did not help. I did finally go to the doctors in October but I actually started back at the gym and pool at the same time, wow the headaches just disappeared. So removing some screen time and destressing at the gym was the best medicine, which I kind of already knew but putting things into practice is not always that easy.
I caught a couple of amazing sunrises in November. We also managed to get away a few times spending a night in Findhorn and took to run to Edinburgh one day so we stopped in past the Hermitage,Dunkeld on the way down and spent a night in Aviemore on the way home.
December finally arrived which filled me with dread so we decided we would go away for Christmas and just chill out, watch Netflix and enjoy our time off. So no plans have been made to visit anywhere or do anything. This will be my first Christmas without my mum and honestly I still can’t quite believe she is no longer here and this is just a bad dream.
With only 11 days of 2022 left have I written in my posh diary???? Have I hell!!! Have I lost any weight???? Not a single pound!!! But I have not wasted the year we have had lots of good times, I have tried some new things. It certainly has not turned out the way I thought but life is too short and it is time to write my 2023 bucket list!
Am I buying a 2023 diary??? No I don’t think I will bother!!!!
In October we made the decision to take off on Christmas day and head to Skye. I booked our favourite campsite so we was all set. Due to the current situation we wasn’t even sure if it would go ahead but we took our chances and kept everything crossed.
By Christmas eve was pretty much organised just had a few bits and pieces to pack. We had our festive dinner with the family opened presents so we was ready to get up the next day and head off.
On Christmas morning it was lovely weather so we took off up the road. The van was loaded with food from the leftover dinner from the night before and I had picked up a large cheese board from the Ugie house hotel.
The road was pretty quiet just a few cars on the go so it turned out to be a rather enjoyable drive up the road. I did get a bit car sick but that was my own fault for not eating in the morning before leaving. We did make a fresh air stop that sorted me out. When we got to Dornie we couldn’t resist a wee stop at Eilean Douan Castle for a quick photo.
We didn’t far to go after that once we was over the bridge Camping Skye at Broadford is only few miles along the road.
We arrived just after lunch time the campsite was quite full with a few campers with their Christmas lights on.
So we got all set up then got our cheeseboard out I was starving by then.
Then it was feet up put on a film and chill out for a while. Just as the sun was setting we took a wee walk up the woods so the dogs could get a run about. The weather was lovely all though it was pretty chilly.
Back at the van we watched more films and enjoyed the peace of a alternate Christmas day.
We spent Boxing day the way Boxing day was ment to be spent! Being lazy watching tv and eating snacks. We did make some plans for the next day though!
Twixmas began so thought we would motivate ourselves and go for a walk with the dogs. We took a wander along to the old pier and Irishmans point the weather was great and the dogs love that wee walk.
The 28th of December was my day cause well it was my 44th birthday I had it planned for ages that I wanted to go to the fairy pools. I got up in the morning opened all my presents realised that everyone thinks I smell cause I got a load of smelling stuff from Dove shower gel, perfume and a Boots voucher.
Thank you to my amazing husband who got me a pair of dream Fjaraven leggings that are totally lush and super comfy. Once we were dressed we headed off moving the van for the first time since we arrived.
The weather was amazing although a little frosty we couldn’t have asked for a better day. We was about 30 miles from Glenbrittle so it didnt take too long to get there although we did take our time as the road was a little icy but least it was quiet. The carpark wasnt too busy so knew we had picked a good time to come.
It still as spectacular as I remember and the dogs just loved it we had a great time exploring. It isnt a massively long walk but enough to feel like you have done something.
We took a run in the van to Glenbrittle bay for a wee look after the Fairy pools it is stunning and we will definitely go back in the summer.
We was hungry after all that but wasnt sure if anything would be open. At the turn off we thought we had a wee look along at Carbost see if anything was open there and found a wee pub called the Old Inn. They didnt have a huge menu but the food was good and the view was excellent think this is one my favourite photos of the year.
The rest of my birthday was spent chilling out watching films and ended it with a couple gins which I regretted the next day now I know why I dont drink more than 2 gins!
On the 29th we woke up and the weather was pretty horrible so we binged watched all the soaps in bed till late morning. We got up, ate brunch and watched more soaps. Once the weather improved I took a walk into the wee market square for a look around the shops. There were plenty of lovely items in the shops but I didn’t purchase anything.
We finally motivated ourselves at tea time to go out for something to eat at Cafesia which was lovely as usual. We have been there many times and never been disapointed.
It rained most of the night and into the next day so it was just a chill out day for us just watching films on Netflix and just enjoying chilling out. We woke up on the 31st with yet more rain but we decided we needed to get out today. Once the rain went off a bit we took a walk up the woodland trail up the back of the campsite.
There is a lovely spot with a bench about a mile or so into the walk which usually has great views. Unfortunately there was nothing to see! The dogs had fun though and it was nice to get out for a wee bit! Later on we took in New Year watching the fireworks that were being set off down in the village and listening to the loan piper on the tv it was perfect!
Before we knew it, it was the 2nd and it was time to head home or was it! Well I hate going home so another night away maybe. So we headed back to Aviemore and got lunch at Ballavoulin which was lush before going up to the Cairngorm centre.
We came back down to the Coire na ciste carpark for the night. They have a great facility there for campervans there was a few parked up but it was very windy which did not bother me but at about 2am my husband got up and moved the position of the van so it wasnt getting such a battering. I was delighted to waken up in the morning so a lovely covering of snow! Which was the perfect end to the perfect holiday we had!