A Scottish Road Trip in my Campervan: My Solo Journey Through the Breathtaking Highlands
Updated: Mar 21
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I recently jumped into van life and transformed my Citroen Berlingo into a camper. I decided my first long trip would be to journey alone around the awe-inspiring Scottish Highlands. My trip in a campervan to Scotland was remarkable! I roamed the stunning Scottish landscape, tramped through picturesque views, and slept in my van under the stars. My Scottish escapade encompassed activities such as scaling Meal a' Beuchelle and investigating the enigmatic Loch Ness. Each day was filled to the brim with wonder and enthusiasm. This blog post will illustrate my extraordinary time spent in Scotland and provide insight into my one-of-a-kind experience.
The Planning Process
The planning process for my Scottish road trip was the first step in making it a reality, and sometimes I often feel it's one of the best bits. The thought of my first trip away in my van after converting it was so exciting, but I knew I had to research and prepare before taking off. The first thing I did was look at maps of Scotland, which I marked with all the places I wanted to go and the sights I wanted to see. Then, I figured out the route I wanted to take, mapping out what highways and roads I would use along the way. Finally, I began researching each destination I wanted to visit and the places where I could stay overnight. I booked one campsite halfway through to ensure I could fill up and empty water, charge my power station, and obviously have a shower. Around that, I planned on camping in my van. The Park4Night app helped me with this as I needed to familiarise myself with places to pull up in Scotland. Once I had my route planned and all of my preparations complete, I was ready for my Scottish road trip.
Starting the Journey in Braemar
Day 1 had arrived, and I embarked on my six-day journey to the Scottish Highlands with a trip up the A1 motorway and decided to make a detour to Holy Island, Lindisfarne, for my lunch. Holy Island is a beautiful place only accessible by a causeway, so check out the tide times if you want to visit; You don't want to get stuck there! After lunch, I set back off on my adventure. My van was packed with all the essentials, and it felt great to start my van adventure by taking in some of the breathtaking landscapes the area had to offer.
I carried on my journey and eventually got to Scotland by nightfall and I spent my first night on the banks of Clunie Water, just on the A93 of Baremar; I managed to find a great little spot by the river, and during the night, the traffic was limited, meaning I got a great first night in Dolly (the van, named after Dollywaggon Pike in The Lakes), it was a great experience to get a taste of what was to come throughout my journey.
Exploring the Cairngorms
The following day I woke, opened the door and lay in bed, admiring the stunning view outside. It was the perfect way to kick start the day - sitting and drinking coffee, looking at the views of the hills over the river, with the peaceful sounds of the water running past me. I felt so lucky to be able to experience Van Life and to witness Scotland's beautiful highlands.
After breakfast, I headed into the Cairngorms National Park, passing Balmoral, which just so happened to be the day of the Queen's funeral; I gave her a nod and felt quite humbled to be there on her day. I had planned to hike up Meall a' Bhuachaille, so I parked up at The Reinder Park and embarked on my first solo hike in Scotland. It was a beautiful morning, if not a little cloudy, but at least it wasn't raining. It took a little time to get some views, but the views of the Cairngorms were stunning. I was not disappointed.
The climb up Meall a' Bhuachaille was quite challenging, but the reward was worth it. The landscape was simply breathtaking. The clouds were rolling around, the air was fresh, and the birds were singing; thankfully, the sun made a brief appearance. I didn't see many people hanging around the top, so I got to reflect on my 810m Scottish Mountain. The hike down was a bit easier, and I spent some time exploring Ryvoan bothy and Lochan Uaine (The Green Loch); legend has it that the stunning green colour comes from the Pixies that wash their clothes there.
I was concerned about where I had decided to park up this night as it was over 500m above sea level and, therefore, up a very steep winding road. Thankfully it was ok, and my beloved Dolly managed it just fine. It turned out to be a perfect spot to enjoy the fantastic views of the Cairngorms national park. I was lucky enough to have clear skies that night while eating my dinner, I could see the stars twinkling in the dark sky above. It was one of the most memorable moments of my time in Scotland. It left me with a newfound appreciation for the beauty of the Cairngorms.
Camping at Loch Ness
On the third night, I was set to be in a campsite on Loch Ness, and to be honest, I was looking forward to it; I really wanted a shower and to be able to do the washing up properly. So, after waking up in The Cairngorms, I headed to Aviemore for resupply. Later that morning, I arrived in the little village of Foyers. I wanted to do a circular hike around the Falls of Foyers, they are a 50m drop into a gorge until they eventually meet Loch Ness. Tall trees surrounded the falls and walking in what felt like a forest was a nice change. It was a stunning walk with high and low views of the falls along with views of the loch and the nearby hills.
After my Falls hike, I was ready for my night camping at the beautiful Loch Ness campsite. My van was ideally situated on the field with views of the iconic and mesmerising loch below. I spent a reasonable amount of time admiring the view from my vantage point before I summoned up the energy to go and take a shower and do the washing up; however, afterwards, I felt thoroughly refreshed and was able to relax after a long day. Being on the campsite meant I could put my awning up, get my chair out and make the most of the space and the facilities, including the electric hook-up so I could recharge my power station. I read a bit, made dinner, and then settled down for a good night's kip.
I was up bright and early the following day and made my way down to the shore of Loch Ness to enjoy my morning coffee. I found the perfect spot on the shore and watched as the sun rose over the hills, turning the loch a brilliant shade of blue. It was a stunning and peaceful moment, something I'll never forget. Even today, when I think about my time in the Scottish Highlands, I remember the beauty of Loch Ness and the sound of the waves lapping at the shore. I did not, however, see Nessy, unfortunately! I recommend that anyone visiting the Scottish Highlands takes some time to explore this area around Loch Ness - you won't be disappointed.
Exploring the Scottish Highlands on my six-day campervan adventure was a dream come true. One of the most breathtaking places I visited was the stunning Glencoe. The area is located in the Western Highlands of Scotland and is known for its dramatic scenery. I had the pleasure of hiking through the lost valley and felt like I was part of a fairytale. The rolling hills, bubbling streams, and rocky outcrops were mesmerising. I really felt like dinosaurs were going to be around the corner, and the Jurrasic theme tune wouldn't leave my head. The Lost Valley can be a moderate hike, the hardest part is hiking from the car park at The Three Sisters and down towards the valley; however, there are steps and bridges to assist you. I found a circular route that walked down through the valley to where you need to cross the water, however on the day I went, the water was quite fast flowing, and I didn't want to cross, so I managed to find a path that took me up the side of the valley and headed back to the van giving me views of the valley from above, which was so grateful for; I had fallen in love.
On returning to the van, the sun had made a brief appearance, and The Three Sisters had a little cloud floating around the tops with the blue sky above. I captured them at their best. With all its beauty, I quickly realised why Glencoe has been immortalised in films, books, and television shows. The valley's rugged landscape captivated me.
After exploring the area, I parked my van on the James Bond Road by the River Etive for the night. I have no words to describe the views that I had. It was just simply stunning. The weather turned as I settled down for the night, but sitting snugly in my van and hearing the rain beat down was beautiful. I slept soundly, knowing that my time in Glencoe was well spent and would be remembered forever.
What a morning on Loch Lomond
My last day of exploring Scotland had begun with an early start as I had to drive to The Trossachs National Park for my last night. I had decided to spend the last night closer to home. However, it didn't take me long to realise that I should have stayed in Glencoe and spent longer driving home on the last day; oh well, it's given me an excuse to go back quickly. The final destination was The Three Lochs Drive in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, where I had booked a permit spot to stay within the park (Permit only between March and September).
The drive from Glencoe to the National Park was gorgeous, and every mile made me not want to leave. Finally, I arrived at the park gate and had to drive for quite some time to get to my designated spot; I was pretty disappointed with my choice. When I got to the park was overgrown, and I couldn't really see over the hedge row at the view beyond. I really wished I had stayed in Glencoe. I only did this to split up my long journey home.
However, the following day I decided to drive back to Loch Lomond as it was forecast to be sunny, something I hadn't seen that much of all week, and walk up Conic Hill, hoping to finish my trip on a high. And it paid off. The sun was out, and it was such a glorious day. So I parked up in Balmaha and grabbed a coffee and butt. What a lovely place. I definitely added it to my must-return list. My walk started following the loch shore, which was so peaceful and beautiful, apart from a few fishermen. I had the shore to myself and could have sat on that beach all day. I went inland and walked through a pretty list wooded area amongst the sheep before I started walking upwards. Conic Hill is only 361m, but it gives you exceptional views of Loch Lomond and the mountains in the distance. What an excellent finish to my trip.
What did I Learn
My solo road trip around Scotland in my converted campervan was an incredible experience, and I learned a lot from it. The planning process was more extensive than anticipated and required researching the best route, places to stay, and what supplies I would need for my van life. With the help of a packing list, I was able to bring only the essentials needed for my journey. The van conversion process took a lot of hard work, but it was totally worth it! I found that there is so much you can do with a tiny space to make it functional, comfortable and homey. I also experienced how freeing and liberating it can be to live on the road and sleep under the stars.
As I travelled around Scotland, I discovered some incredible spots I would have never seen. From glens to lochs, there is nothing quite like being in nature and surrounded by the beauty of Scotland's Highlands. Lastly, I realised how important it is to be self-sufficient when you are living out of your converted campervan. To truly enjoy your van life experience, you need to be prepared for anything that comes your way. This means having enough food, fuel, and supplies and knowing how to troubleshoot any potential mechanical issues with your vehicle (I've called the RAC 3 times since getting this van, and I'm sure I didn't call them once with my car). Overall, my first solo road trip in my converted campervan around Scotland was an unforgettable experience that taught me a lot about myself and what it means to live a life of adventure solo.
Don't hesitate to get in touch with me in the comments if you want any GPX routes for any of the hikes mentioned above or anything else you would like to know about my trip.
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See The Beginners Guide to Wild Camping here
If you have any questions or comments on anything you have read, please contact me here
If you don't already use the Ordnance Survey App, you can download it here, enabling you to download GPX routes. I use this App to plan all my hikes, and as its OS, it mirrors the paper map you should always use in conjunction.