Monday 6th September
Destination: Inverness & Ullapool
Today we had a 105 mile journey to Ullapool ahead of us so we could take the ferry to Stornoway. Situated on the Isle of Lewis, Stornoway forms part of the Outer Hebrides which sits against the wild Atlantic Ocean.
For breakfast, we had some cereal with blackberries which we handpicked from a previous campsite. We leave our current campsite just after 12 noon and hit the road once more. In terms of fuel economy, it’s proven to be a good journey. A full tank of fuel for our campervan is 80 litres (17.5 gallons) and we travelled around 407 miles before we got to just under half a tank. That works out at an impressive 42 miles per gallon, with a 85 bhp 2 litre engine, on a 2008 VW SWB T5.
As always, we thought it would be best to check our campervan over before starting the long journey. We checked the most important components which were oil, water, screen wash, brake fluid and tyres (including the spare).
Our campervan has a leisure battery within it and we made sure it was fully charged and the power management fuses were in top shape before setting off. Upon checking, we saw our 40a fuse had blown, so this meant that the leisure battery wasn’t charging when we were hooked up at the campsite. But luckily we always carry a few sets of spare fuses.
Before we started our tour, we thoroughly checked our trusty campervan to make sure it was road worthy. We had our cambelt and water pump renewed shortly before as well as ensuring it was fully serviced too. We also had our gas system checked and found we needed a new regulator before starting our trip. Checking you have enough bottled gas in the cylinder is always a good thing to do before any trip, especially if you haven’t used your campervan for a while. You can check this by disconnecting it and moving the bottle in a circular motion. You should hear the liquid gas inside and judge what’s left by how much it’s moving around.
Another component you should check is your water bottle to make sure it’s clean and your tap pumps water properly. We only use this water for washing up or for washing hands and face. For drinking water and the kettle, we fill several large plastic bottles at home and keep re-filling these throughout our journey at campsites.
We arrived at Inverness just after 2pm, in a balmy 20 degrees heat and sunny skies nonetheless! We do a quick shop, and purchase some lunch to eat on the banks of the River Ness. 2 hours later, we’re back on the road and heading through the Scottish scenery once more.
Many of the roads in the Highlands have maximum speeds of 50mph or 60mph, but quickly realised it’s not always wise to maintain these speeds. Hazards can come at you thick and fast such as juggernauts, wide motorhomes, big coaches, pedestrians, narrow double bends, vehicles pulling out from side roads and worst of all, overtaking vehicles coming towards you. So we certainly recommend sticking to a slower speed!
We arrive at Ardmair Holiday Park just after 6pm and it’s a very scenic spot. The campsite is situated right next to the beach, just a few miles north of Ullapool. Exactly behind our pitch are more blackberry bushes, and we gather a full bowl for 2 days worth of breakfasts.
Our pre-booked pitch doesn’t have an electric hook-up, but the split charge relay from the campervan engine to the leisure battery means we have had a good battery charge – especially after driving the 105 miles from Spean Bridge!
If you find yourself without an electric hook-up, here are our couple of top tips for staying at a campsite with no electric:
- The fridge usually uses most power from the leisure battery. Be sure to keep this on a lower setting (No. 2 for example), as you will get more use before the battery needs a full charge again. If your battery level is getting quite low (going down to 11.2 or 11.1), you can always turn your fridge off, temporarily, until you get to your next electric hook-up. A pint of milk may turn sour, but if it prevents your battery level from going below 11v and reaching 10.6, then it saves a flat battery. A leisure battery won’t hold its charge if it hits 10.6v and you will need to replace it.
- Always have a torch to hand, as this is one of your most valuable items, especially after it goes dark on a campsite.