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Last Updated 14/07/2010 15:42:51
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17-23 June

So, although the 17th was our designated leaving day, us being us, we didn’t roll off the AV forecourt until close to half past three in the afternoon.  Our goal for the day was simply to cross the border into Scotland and find ourselves somewhere free to camp up for the night.  Jasons shiny new 28ton tow rope arrived just in time to take with us, and at 30m long and 120mm wide is a fair size!

Our usual tactic for this is to have a look at the map and find a dead end road, typically by the coast or a lake or reservoir or lighthouse, and have a look.  Chances are there’ll be somewhere suitable, and its a theory that’s not let us down very often so far, and this time was no exception.  We headed straight up the motorway towards Glasgow and turned off at Gretna Green, finding ourselves at a little place overlooking the Solway Firth, between Rigg and Eastriggs, about 5miles away.  Technically it was a turning circle but there was still loads of room even with Moglet in place, and it seemed to be a parking area for the locals to come and wander off with their dogs, so we felt ok staying there.  Jason even took the time to fit a soundproofing sheet we’d taken away with us from AV - essentially a sticky sheet of foam, but every little helps!

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cross over since the border opened and there was a general air of confusion and uncertainty from the guards.  After siting there for several hours Kate enquired as to why they were still siting there - apparently the border guards had heard that all the big countries had delays at their borders so they decided that a 7hour delay would be a good idea!

 

 

We all sat up talking for hours but in the end had to say our goodnights - they were off to a wedding in the morning and we still had a lot of miles to cover in a relatively small amount of time.  Their parting comments to us were we should remortgage the house to carry on travelling if that’s what it took!

We took the obligatory photo the next morning of them in front of Moglet with the basket, and then parted company.  Pootling onwards we made the mistake of taking the A82 up the western shores of Loch Lomond - NOT a route to be recommended for anything bigger than a car!  We made it through without any dents or scrapes, but if the traffic had been heavier it would have been a nightmare, the road was very narrow with rocks overhanging on one side and subsidence trying to tip you down into the loch on the other.  If you can go by a different route, then take it!  Once we’d popped out the top of the waters edge it was much better, but you really cant tell form the map how bad its going to get - Jason even used the ‘C’ word once or twice and that’s very unlike him!  I just held on and kept quiet, trying not to whimper out loud and occasionally closing my eyes at the really scary bits...  We didn’t have a planned stop for the night, but happily we came across The Green Welly services just in time - an odd name but a gem of a find after lots and lots of too small laybys and a fast sinking sun.  They were more than happy for us to park up in their huge car park, and were also ok with us dumping the grey tank and filling up with fresh water from their tap, all for no charge.  Lovely people.  Next morning we were awakened by the sound of a constant stream of coaches and DofE minibuses - apparently the Green Welly isn’t a very well kept secret!  We packed up and headed on our way before we got trapped behind all the other large vehicles on the road.

And wouldn’t you just know it, within an hour or two another camper arrived!  Seems like the ‘find a dead end road’ is a common ploy...  The new arrivals were a couple called John and Kate Manley-Tucker, veteran travellers and experienced at pootling all over the world in a variety of vehicles, from a 1949 Allard (as below) on a trip to Hong Kong via Russia and China in 1990 to a tried and tested series of 2CV’s that have taken them as far afield as Moscow!  Their tales of crossing the border into China were funny - apparently they were the first tourists to

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We hadn’t decided at this point exactly how far up we were going to go, but decided to travel to Fort William and see how we felt, stopping at Fort Augustus on the way.  We got lucky with the timings as minutes after we arrived, the guys who run the five locks on the part of the Caledonian canal that goes through the town were starting a cycle of opening to let through the boat traffic, so we hung around and watched that for a bit while we ate our sandwiches.  Locking time over, we clambered back in and carried on looking for a home for the night.  We hung a right at Fort William in the end and travelled up Loch Ness.  We’d been told by Kate and John that there weren’t really any parking spots for campers, and they were pretty might right ob the button, although we did spot one place almost opposite a Tourist location road sign, about half way along.  But we only spotted it as we sped on by, so decided to carry on and see what we could find further up.  We carried on all the way to Inverness and followed yet another dead end road to a place called Fort George.  Loads of room for parking and in the morning Jason was kept amused for hours wandering around the Fort itself and then trying to get snaps of a family of weasely/stoat looking creatures that were living in the banks surrounding the fort.

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On the left is our pitch for the night.