Those of you who are longtime sufferers of this blog will remember that last year we took an epic road trip around Scotland and had the most amazing time. So it won’t come as much of a surprise to you that we just couldn’t wait to go back!
We set off from our home on the south coast of England with cupboards packed full of clothes for every weather and an excitement similar to that of Christmas morning.
Being almost 500 miles just to the border we stopped off for one night in the Midlands then once again just after we were greeted by the blue and white flag at the border. The following day we headed towards The Highlands and the further north we drove the more the landscape changed around us. It felt like we had been shrunken down into a model village as the roads became surrounded by vast mountains with patches of pine tree forests scattered all over them. Passing numerous glistening lochs it was impossible not to stop and take in the view before continuing our journey.
Eventually we made it to Oban Camping and Caravanning Club site and after three solid days of travelling we were pleased to be settling down for more than just one night. Once we had unhitched and set up in a cosy area nestled between two trees, we wandered around the site and bumped into one of the friendly wardens who gave us a lot of useful information about the area and introduced us to her pet tortoises and excitable dog!
Although we were both ready to crash by this point, when we found out that there was a woodland walk from the site we couldn’t resist going to explore! Sutherland’s Grove Forest has a number of different walking routes but we opted for the one most suitable for wheelchairs, and it was beautiful! The pathway lead through hundreds of gigantic fir trees and along a glistening stream, and the scent that the trees were giving off was almost overpowering. We found a break in the trees and I was able to get right down to the waters edge, where we just sat for a minute, enjoying the fresh air and the views of the water tumbling over the rocks beneath it.
It was a moment of tranquility after a busy few days and a very long journey. We could have happily stayed there all evening, but time was getting on so we made our way back for some dinner and a well earned sleep.
According to the forecast our time in Oban was supposed to be full of constant rain, so we were delighted when we woke up the following morning to bright blue skies and not a single cloud!
Still recovering from our long journey we had a lazy morning on site soaking up the rays, before heading out for supplies and enjoying a “fish supper” in the early evening.
On the way back Stephen said to me “I wonder where we’ll end up if we just keep going along this road”. My response? “Let’s do it!” This turned out to be one of the best on-the-spot decisions we’ve ever made. Driving straight past the campsite entrance we carried on up the A828, taking in the views of Scotland’s rugged west coast as we sailed along the long and winding road, stopping at shimmering lochs and peaceful harbours along the way. After a while we realised how close we were to the Glen Coe mountains so there was no way we were turning back just yet, and continuing our intentional detour we found ourselves gliding along the A82 with humongous mountains towering over us from every direction. If I didn’t need a ventilator before, I do now, it was breathtaking!
We stopped at lots of stunning places on this drive but one that stands out most to me is when we found ourselves down a little road with lots of people wild camping. At the end there was a smooth footpath leading to the unknown, and following our spontaneous theme of the evening we got out for a stroll. Heading towards the sound of flowing water we soon found ourselves at a bridge with a picture-perfect view of a wild gushing river, framed perfectly by the surrounding mountains.
70 miles later and we were back at the campsite and ready to go to bed. If we learnt anything from that evening it was to just go for it, whatever it may be you never know what’s around the corner unless you try.
Waking up on our last day in Oban we were blessed with more lovely weather, and after another relaxed morning we took the 20 minute drive into Oban town centre for a wander. Parking on the street alongside the port (free for blue badge holders) we had fantastic views out to sea and catching a glimpse of the CalMac ferry returning from the islands just made us even more excited for what’s still to come on this adventure. Looking back towards the town, McCaig’s Tower stood tall above the high streets and many seafood restaurants, resembling a colosseum. Wanting to take a closer look we made our way up the narrow, windy and extremely steep roads, my chair occasionally scrambled for grip but as always, it just about managed. To our delight, when we reached the top we realised there was a car park and we could have easily driven up, but where’s the fun in that?! We had made it and it was worth it, the building itself was very intriguing, it had a wonderfully calm atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle below and gave gorgeous sweeping views down over Oban bay.
The way down was much easier for both my wheelchair motors and Stephens legs, and we were back at ground level in no time. As we trundled back to the car we popped into a couple of independent shops selling cute little trinkets and souvenirs but opted not to get anything yet. We still had plenty of time, our adventure was really only just beginning, and we couldn’t wait for what was still to come!