The Alexander family found it impossible to choose just one location to visit in Scotland, so opted for a motorhome road trip around Scotland’s highlands and islands. Travel blogger and mum Penny Alexander shares 11 moments from their road trip that will be etched on their minds forever.
We were unanimous on our return to Nottingham that this was our best trip to date as a family. We enjoyed roaming free in the day as we explored outdoors, then snuggling up together in the evening over local food and board games. The motorhome provided by Bunk Campers made days out a breeze; naps and tea breaks were so easy in our home on wheels. We made so many memories on our epic road trip, here are my favourites.
1. Crossing the Forth Bridge
Three centuries of bridge-building span the Firth of Forth and it’s pretty impressive to witness the difference in these three bridges. Setting off across the Forth Road Bridge was symbolic of the start of our trip. The kids’ noses were pressed to the window marveling at the construction, my heart was leaping ahead to the highlands, while my husband gripped the steering wheel of our newly rented motorhome tightly and grinned.
2. A Nessie Hunt
Lyn and Donald at Loch Ness Shores campsite gave us a welcome full of #ScotSpirit, the kids were spellbound by their stories about Nessie. Donald even organised a motorboat so we could hunt Nessie ourselves. We set off in trepidation at first, the tiny boat offered little protection in the face of a giant Nessie. What if she was swimming under us?
Nessie was kind to us and we returned to shore unscathed, but I spent quite a few minutes at Loch Ness in quiet contemplation, I felt totally awestruck as I breathed in the misty panorama of hills, water and trees.
3. A Campfire on Loch Ness
To complete our adventures on Loch Ness we enjoyed a campfire by the shore. We toasted bread to eat with local cheese from the campsite shop and cooked bananas and chocolate for pudding. The kids made another rope swing with a tyre and old rope and pottered happily by the shore.
Such a perfect day unfolded, despite the fact we had woken up on Loch Ness Shores with no plan.
4. Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan castle appears shortly before the road bridge to Skye and is Scotland’s second most photographed castle after Edinburgh. It was the perfect pitstop for the kids to run wild.
The castle was a defence against Vikings and rival clans, before it was brought to ruins in the Jacobite risings and restored in the 20th century. We especially liked handling the canon balls and hearing stories of attacks on the castle, which is set in a strategic and stunning location at the head of three great sea lochs.
5. Neist Point, Skye
“Excuse me, is there supposed to be a lighthouse here?”
Like the American tourist, we were a little baffled by Neist Point initially. The lighthouse is tucked away under a cliff on a rocky peninsula with needle like rock formations like Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, it’s a winding and breathtaking walk to reach it.
Skye has beaches to rival the Caribbean at Dunvegan, but my kids were utterly fascinated by finding bones, buoys, rope and other treasures washed up on the beach along Neist Point. Spotting a sea eagle was another highlight.
6. Chips in Portree
With limited time, we had to trust the adventures we would have on Skye would be the right ones Exploring the fairy pools by the stunning Cuillin mountains was magical. As we drove into Portree the Old Man of Storr was silhouetted against a glorious pink sky, I hadn’t expected to see this landmark, so it was a bonus moment I will always treasure.
“I love you guys, you’ve been brilliant,” said my husband as we sat eating chips in the harbour at Portree. There was a tone in his voice, we knew exactly how he felt, because we all felt it too. This epic road trip brought us closer together at every stage. Excuse me, I have something in my eye.
7. Snowball Fight on Ben Nevis Range
The Ben Nevis range cable car called to us so we leapt out of the motorhome. Moments later we were having snowball fights half way up the range, the kids screaming with glee and slipping down the mountain side as their Dad annihilated them.
We left rosy cheeked and exhilarated, a quick change of wet gear in the motorhome before heading on to Glencoe.
8. Harry Potter Hunting in Glencoe
Hagrid’s Hut and the Bridge of Sighs were set in Glencoe during filming of Harry Potter. It was fun wondering exactly where the spot might be, no idea if we guessed right, but we certainly enjoyed our pottering!
Full and satisfied after eating (veggie) haggis at The Clachaig Inn, our filmic journey through The Great Glen continued. Rob Roy, Braveheart and Harry Potter were filmed here and you can see why. All the landscapes in Scotland were breathtaking, but Glencoe is so remarkable in scale. The glen widens out west to east, revealing huge snow topped peaks, with gigantic plains on either side. You can imagine all kinds of film characters – wizards, highlanders and even dinosaurs – appearing from this otherworldly terrain.
Once again driving through Scotland reminded me of my place as a tiny speck in a gigantic chain of events on planet Earth.
9. Breakfast on Loch Lomond
Our pitch at Luss campsite was right on the shore of Loch Lomond, I will never forget the whole family dashing around to create the perfect breakfast-on-the-beach setting.
Drinking a morning cup of tea looking out across the loch, watching the kids paddle and build towers of rocks and collect pebbles and sea glass, watching the ducks as the sunset. Little everyday moments were lifted to the extraordinary by this beautiful loch.
10. Stranded on a the Uninhabited Island of Inchcailloch
You can take a boat from the pier at Luss that tours the islands in the loch, and drops you off at the uninhabited island of Inchcailloch for a few hours. The island was once a farm and had it’s own church, you can see the ruins and walk in the island’s cemetery where the gravestone of Rob Roy’s cousin lies. We loved waving off the boat and setting off into the woods.
Inchcailloch gave us a taste of real adventure, but I think we were all secretly relieved when the boat reappeared! We enjoyed a hot chocolate back on board, and a wee dram for grown ups.
11. The View from Calton Hill, Edinburgh
All too soon it was time to go home, our heads full of the images of our epic adventure, but I have to sneak in just one more moment. We stayed at the wonderful Malmaison in Edinburgh for a night to recharge before flying home. I will never forget the hearty breakfast we tucked into at the Clock Cafe in Leith which gave us one last burst of energy to climb up and take in the breathtaking views from Calton Hill.