Our next stop in Scotland was to search for the Loch Ness Monster! On check-in at the campsite the owner told Jeremy that as an initiation all Australians had to jump in. Not as a meal for Nessie but because the water temp was only about 4ºC. Oh hell NO was his response. We hesitate at home when the water is below 20!!
After a frosty night in Beryl we woke to discover we had run out of gas.
Not to worry, we thought. We’ll easily get some later in the day.
It was pouring with rain so we took Angus to Nessieland for the afternoon. It is a great little ‘museum’ set up for kids so they can scoot around and play in Nessie’s cave while it has the Nessie story on all of the walls for the parents.
We decided to head up to the Highlands after that since the weather was so bad. The fog was thick so you couldn’t see out over Loch Ness at all. The route we had mapped out involved us driving up in one afternoon then taking our time coming down the west coast over a week to 10 day period.
However, after leaving Inverness we realized we had completely forgotten about getting some gas.
Not to worry, we thought. There’ll be some on the way up.
So from Inverness we went up the guts of the Highlands bound for Durness which would take over 3 hours.
We stopped at Lairg for petrol but they didn’t have gas.
Not to worry we thought. Durness looks like a big place. There are bound to have gas there.
There was main street… and not much else. The petrol station wasn’t manned and was an automatic 24 hour card swipe one. Jeremy went to the SPAR across the road and the guy laughed and said “Ye canna get gas in the Highlands. The closest place is Inverness” ?
For those that are not familiar with motorhomes no gas means no heating and no cooking.
With 2 children. In freezing temperatures.
Cue 4 letter word.
So we decided to ditch Big Bad Beryl for the night and check in to a Bnb. If it meant the boys were comfortable and happy then we would pay the extra money. Patting ourselves on the backs for being awesome parents we drove to the nearest Bnb. Closed. Next one. Closed. The owner of that one saw me through the window and opened the door. I thought we had scored but it was just to tell me they were closed for the season just like everyone else in town. But good news; the caravan park is still open! I explained the gas situation but to no avail. So we had to scrap that idea and head to the caravan park.
It was on the top of a windy cliff so the freezing temperature was amplified somewhat. BUT! There was a pub right next door! HUZZAH! Much to the disgust of the other patrons we marched in with 2 loud boys and settled in for a few hours.
That night was definitely a cold one, especially when you have to breastfeed every 2 hours, but we dressed in thermals hardened up. In the morning we spoke to the owner of the caravan park and he told us everyone uses swappable gas bottles in Scotland not refillable. So we really didn’t have much choice but to admit defeat and make the long slow journey back to Inverness. Most of the way the roads are a single lane for both ways so it is not a quick easy drive.
On the way out of town though we stumbled across an old deserted highlander town. It was one of the towns affected by the highland clearances in the 18th and 19th century. This one happened in 1842 and the trail takes you on a 30 minute walk around the property explaining what happened. The buildings are long gone but you can still see the foundations and layout. It is called Ceannabeinne and this is as our first realization that not all of the clearances were due to the English. In this one it was the local Scottish land-owner, James Anderson. The clearance sparked unrest known as the Durness Riots.
The area is stunning. The usual rugged Scottish landscape but surrounded by crystal clear blue water and white sandy beaches. It could have easily been mistaken for the coastline of Australia… except for the fact we were dressed like we were at the snow…. Tad cold.
We wished we had gas after that to warm up with a coffee but alas, no. So we strapped the boys in and headed back down. Inverness take 2.