Bravery, Driving and Seals

I am truly lucky.  I live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world and have a month off work to explore it.  Because of Covid I am aiming to find quiet spots in my camper, stay as self-contained as possible and be very mindful of the communities I visit.  That month started and wow, what a start!

On Sunday I packed the camper, which we had only finished converting that morning and hit the road.  The aim on this trip is to take the slow road, to explore, to stop, to breathe and to just be.  2020 has been a tough year, I have not had time off since Christmas, I need this.

I head up towards Callendar, the sun is shining, and the weather is looking good.  But on arrival it is incredibly busy.  There are many more people not wearing masks compared to the few wearing one, as they pass cheek to jowl on busy pavements. I decide it is better to head on. 

Eventually I reach Furnace, a wee village on the shore of Loch Fyne.  I look up the Forestry Commission website, during August they are allowing contained campervans to stay over night in a small number of selected sites.  Just down the road is Ardcastle Woods, my first stop.

Sunrise at Furnace

From there I then hit my proper destination, the Knapdale and the Kintyre Peninsula.  Looking back on it, I would describe the peninsula as filled It is peaceful with far fewer people and so much wildlife.  It is also a place filled with magic and mystique, locations the illicit strong feelings from the gut. 


The scenery is simply stunning.  Rugged and beautiful.  Fierce but contained.  From stunning sunsets which made you want to cry at their beauty to the views of the surrounding islands of Gigha and Islay or Arran, depending which side of the peninsula you were on.

The atmosphere changes hugely depending on where I was.  I woke with a start from disturbed dreams during a nap in Machrihanish, after which I wanted to make a quick escape but a bob or harem, depending on what you wish to call them, of seals arrived, one by one, lounging on the rocks. To the calmness of Westpost beach, with the waves crashing and the curving sanding beach.  I will never forget my night at Achnabreac.  It was one of the spookiest of my life.  One I shall write about another time, when I have had a chance to stew over it.  But then the peace and solitude of Skipness beach. 

Skipness beach

The roads could be demanding, with tight dips and single lanes. They were filled with twisty turning single track roads hugging the coast or climbing over steep valleys which run to the shore.  They required focus and concentration.  Thankfully, there are many, many places to stop and catch your breath, whilst enjoying another gorgeous beach.

But there was one place I intentionally missed out on this trip.  The Mull of Kintyre.  You see, this trip was a solo one.  Travelling solo is liberating.  You learn to rely on yourself, to make your own decisions, to control your own thoughts and feelings.  Yes, it can be scary, especially when something happens that unsettles you.  Yes, it can be tiring, there was no one to share the driving with.  And yes, it is worth all of that. 

You see, the strength you get from travelling alone, the people you meet and talk to, the confidence is worth the difficulties. 

I had a couple of people tell me I was brave going alone.  As I do every trip.  But driving in a van I am comfortable with, in a country I know, with plenty of food and drink does not feel brave to me.  It feels liberating.

So, why did I not go to Mull of Kintyre?  Well, sometimes it is nice to leave something to experience with a loved one.  This is an area I want to go back to for sure.  And with my husband.  And then, then I want us to have something to share together for the first time.  I cannot wait for then!

Carol Murdoch is an educational consultant, specialising in using the outdoors to enhance learning. She is the founder of Love Outdoor Learning. More information can be found here

She is currently travelling around Scotland and you can follow her progress here

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