Inver Caravan Park, Dunbeath is 84 miles north of Inverness, Scotland. It is 38 miles south of John o’ Groats. It is, therefore, a good location from which to explore the far north and is also part of the North Coast 500 route. We arrived and were welcomed by an ‘eccentric’ couple who showed us to a nice spot for our tent, did the usual check-in and left us to it. The site had reasonable facilities but as it is also a B & B and set up for holiday caravans, the focus was less towards camping but still did the job.
Now that we were in the north of Scotland, we noticed a distinct change in the temperature along with a cold blustery wind but this trip was about the scenery, not the sunshine we had just left in south Wales.
Here are some highlights from what turned out to be a memorable adventure
The following day, after a cold night in the tent, we set off for the Orkney Islands, situated north off the coast of Caithness. To get there, we drove to Scrabster for the Northlink ferry to Stromness. ferry time around 1hr 30 minutes. Sam, our dog, and fellow adventurer was also keen to come along. So, we booked him into a ferry kennel for the trip, which didn’t go down too well as he was placed inside. Tail between his legs and big sad eyes.
Arriving in Stromness late morning and were reunited with Sam, who was very much in the huff with us! We were booked on the last ferry, back to the mainland, at 4.45 pm. So, time was not on our side. How could we possibly see everything in just a few hours? We accepted that this was going to be a whistle-stop tour of an island that deserves greater attention but it was what it was.
Luckily Aileen had a plan! She’d downloaded a copy of a bus tour itinerary and this would be our guide to some of the popular stops around the Island. As it turned out, it was a great idea and we were able to navigate to some amazing places and keep to some sort of timetable. The only slight downside was that we were just ahead of the bus tours, which resulted in the repeated pattern of us arriving at a nice quiet site, taking in the views and then trying to get the photos before all the crowds would disembark from the buses.
A bit of sunbathing at Scapa Flow
We made it back in time for the return ferry. Sam had just about forgiven us as we promptly placed him back in the kennel for the journey back to the mainland. You can guess how that went down!
As much as our trip to Orkney had been interesting, it wasn’t necessarily the most scenic of trips but our trip the following day would change all that!
We headed up the coast to the Castle of Old Wick. Probably built in the 1100s. Known as ‘The Old Man of Wick’. Its dramatic position leaves you speechless. How did they build it in such a precarious spot?
Yet this wasn’t the most spectacular castle of our day trip. That accolade went to Castle Sinclair at Noss Head. Located about five miles north of Wick the Castle is dramatically situated on a long narrow peninsula projecting into Sinclair Bay and the North Sea with perpendicular sides of between fifty and sixty feet. Well worth a visit.
Girnigoe Castle or Castle Sinclair
Then it was on to John o’ Groats for the mandatory photo opportunity standing next to the large signpost. Although be prepared to be patient as there is usually a queue waiting to get that photo with nobody else in it.
Our last stop before heading back was Dunnet Head. A peninsula in Caithness, on the north coast of Scotland. Dunnet Head includes the most northerly point of both mainland Scotland and the island of Great Britain. Untamed and spectacular views from a rugged coastline.
When we arrived back at the campsite, we had new neighbours. A small campervan was now parked up close by and occupied by 3 young Germans. They were clearly full of fun and the alcohol was beginning to flow. Just as a reassuring check, I fished out the campsite owner’s phone number, as he had given us it just in case we needed to contact him. There were also clear rules about noise levels after 11 pm. Needless to say, as the night progressed and now well after midnight, the noise was increasing. I decided to phone the owner but there was no answer. It was obvious that I would have to deal with it myself. So, I took a deep breath and bellowed out in a broad Glaswegian accent – ‘’Are yeah gonni shut the f**k up’’. Silence 😊
Then back to a now empty and much more peaceful campsite.
We didn’t appreciate it at the time but this camping adventure would be our last one in our Kampa tent – our camping journey was about to take another step forward.