baking sunshine and sea air what more could I need — we got a campsite with bathrooms with a TV at the end of the bath !!!

After night we decided not to have breakfast until we had passed through Inverness thus missing the rush hour. Arriving at Fort George for breakfast in the car park in time to watch troops leaving for their morning exercise.

Fort George, a large fort complex built-in the wake of the 1745/46 Jacobite rising by George 11. Within a sophisticated defence there are barracks for 2000 men. However by the time of Fort Georges completion the highlands were peaceful. today the fort remains a military base.


Next on towards Lossiemouth our planned next night. Passing a memorial to 19 operational Training Unit   the base moved from this site in 1941 to become nearby RAF Kinloss. Part of the memorial is a model of a Whitworth Whitley bomber. 19 OTU lost over 100 aircraft in training accidents during war time training.


The old harbours at Findhorn and Burghead were interesting an echoed back to their fishing history.


fisher woman

Camped up in the sun at Lossiemouth under the modern RAF’s flight path, with fine views of Lossiemouth Lighthouse.

netlmANDY1049 (3)

We reached the sea

On leaving the campsite on the Rothiemurchus estate we drove up to the Cairngorm Mountain railway and took the funicular railway to the top station sited at 3,500 feet.

The weather was clear so good views. Delayed decent due to a battery issue with the carriage extra 30 minute wait for ride down ( worth knowing all was functioning as it should).


Into Inverness very busy (mad busy too many people too many cars!!) time to do a little food shopping and to take on some diesel. Then Into the Black Isle and  to Chanony point noted for on shore dolphin watching but not today only a seal when we were there. Also a Herring Gull crab fishing . Nice little lighthouse though. (now a holiday home)


Snow on a Mountain Top

Leaving Falkirk Wheel after a wet night in the car park but enjoyable due to watching the local Fox, we headed north to the Cairngorm’s stopping at   Stanley Mills. The site is managed by Historic Scotland. The mills were built in 1786 at a hairpin bend in the River Tay, where water-power was readily available. Machinery was powered initially by water wheels, and latterly by electricity generated by water-powered turbines. As markets changed and new technologies were developed, buildings were added, adapted, expanded, reconfigured. Established as a cotton mill by local merchants, with support from the Cotton Baron Richard Arkwright. Textiles were produced at the site for 200 years. Today it has been saved and is a well preserved. (some parts are now housing this supported the saving of the main mill as it is today.) The mills closed in the late 1960s. Into the mountains with snow still on some peaks even though it is almost June.July {edit must be to chilled out} Full facilities tonight in a fully serviced camp site near Aviemore.

Stocked up with anti- bite creams at Tesco’s.

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A Wheel 4 Boats

The Falkirk Wheel was our destination for night 3 in Scotland. Opened in 2002 in connects two canals (Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal).Linking these two canals for the 1st time since the 1930s.

The wheel raises boats by 24 metres (79 ft), but the Union Canal is still 11 metres (36 ft) higher than the aqueduct which meets the wheel. Boats must also pass through a pair of locks between the top of the wheel and the Union Canal. The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world, and one of two boat lifts in the United Kingdom, the other being the Anderton boat lift. From the top looking into the wheel in looked like a star gate but on checking all the boats arrive at the bottom and did not transport to another dimension.FK1 FK2 FK boat entering at top FK4 New Image

A Forgotten War

On the way to the Falkirk wheel we spotted a sign to a “Korean War Memorial” originally created by British Korean Veterans Association but now managed by West Lothian Council. The shrine is built in a traditional Korean style, it has name boards listing the names of all the 1114 British men who died in the Korean war. The shrine is surrounded by 2 mounds shaped in the sign of Ying and Yang as found on the Korean flag. On these mounds were planted 110 fir trees. I have not seen a war memorial to the Korean War before. “The Forgotten War”

korean war

Sat Nav Post Code EH484NN.

Peace and karma from Scotland

We left our overnight stop in Shropshire on Vineyard and Winery having watched hares running round the van in the evening. We headed North to a pre booked night at Kagyu Samye Ling   Buddhist Monastery and Tibetan Centre at Eskdalemuir Dumfries & Galloway. founded in 1967 it remains the largest Buddhist Monastery in the West. We enjoyed a walk around the grounds and a lentil supper but all thoughts of peace and an inner calm were lost as night fell and the mosquito’s came out. War was declared as we battened down the camper. No mobile internet hence this blog is posted Saturday at the Falkirk Wheel.

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Dudmaston Estate in Shropshire, on the way North.

We decided to start our East of Scotland trip 1/2 a day early leaving home late Thursday morning and so an extra part day to reach the Scottish coast.

Dudmaston Hall from the lake

Dudmaston Hall from the lake

Spent the afternoon at The Dudmaston Estate looking around the Hall garden and Lakes. Owned by one family for 875 years the house is still lived in by family members. Handed to the National Trust in1978. The house today feels lived in rather than a cold museum with no life. Just off now to find a stopover for tonight before heading North.


Scotland East Coast in a VW Camper (just add milk and we are ready to go)

ANDY0684Soon it will be time to continue on our planned camper van trip around the coast of the UK. Last year we travelled from Inverness North and then followed the coast South down the Scottish West coast.(posted on last years blog details at if you want to take a look).

2012 VW California SE  campervan

2012 VW California SE campervan

This year we will head for Scotland up the M6 as far as Moffat the first bit the boring bit A to B. Then the holiday adventures start cutting across East through the Cairngorms to Inverness before again following the coast South. We aim to follow the coast as close as possible visit the harbours beaches and villages on route.

House sitting sorted so the cat and the garden will get cared for.

Our VW California campervan is coming up for 3 years old and 40,000 miles on the clock so MOT and end warranty checks sorted out last week. All camping equipment checked and sorted what we are taking. Basic food larder stocked with the aim of buying local produce day to day.

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I aim to blog daily as we did last year subject to Internet connection.

SS Shieldhall, A trip on Southampton Water

SS Shieldhall

SS Shieldhall

The SS Shieldhall is an unique example of a working of steamship, typical of the cargo and passenger ships that crossed the oceans of the world from the 1870s until the mid 1960s The Shieldhall was built in the 1950’s built on the classical lines of a 1920s steamer with a traditional wheelhouse; the hull is of riveted and welded construction and this unusual feature is representative of the transitional phase in British shipbuilding when welding took over from riveted build. The hull has a slightly raked bow and cruiser stern. The decks are of teak An emergency steering position at the rear add to the classic type of ship layout. Her lines reminds me of ships you see in convoys of WW2.

SS Shieldhall Wheelhouse

Today Shieldhall is thought to be the largest working steam ship in Northern Europe. Originally built to carry treated sewage sludge down the Clyde which it dumped at sea. Today she is run as a historic steam ship and takes passengers on day trips from Southampton docks.

Although I have visited the Shieldhall in the past today’s trip was the first time I have been to sea on her. (down Southampton Water to Netley and back). The weather being good added to this pleasant trip on the water. The Shieldhall only had about 70 passengers on board but can take 200 so there was plenty of space to enjoy the trip including visits to the engine room, boiler room and wheelhouse.

Engine Room

Engine Room

Boiler Room. Oil is preheated prior to being fed into the boilers

Boiler Room. Oil is preheated prior to being fed into the boilers

full steam ahead

full steam ahead





Tonnage 1792 GT

Support the Lifeboats

Support the Lifeboats

Length     268ft

Beam     44ft 6in

Draught   10ft6in

Launched July 1954

all at seaQueen

River Police

River Police

Under tow

Under tow

under sail

under sail