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Family Tour 2018 Day 5-6

Category: Caravanning
14 Feb 2019
Written by Andy Hits: 8368

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Continuing on from Carrbridge, our next bit of adventure takes us up past Inverness into the middle of the Highlands, where we spend 2 nights at the Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Altnahara, beside Loch Naver

Day 5: 26/9/2018, Carrbridge to Altnaharra (125 miles) 

Having not put the awning up the night before, packing up didn't take too long, and we were soon on our way to our next stop Altnahara Club Site.

A short stop over at a Tesco filling station near Inverness ensured we had plenty of fuel for the drive up to the middle of the Highlands.  We were well aware that we were going to be quite some way from the nearest shops and fuel.  It did seem that someone there didn't appreciate us using the filling station with our caravan attached, as there was a horn beep from behind us!  But there was very little else we could do, and by using pay at pump, I'm sure we minimised the amount of time we were there.

Back on the A9, and we continued north, and from the wheel I enjoyed the impressive sight of some of the offshore platforms moored up in the Cromarty Firth.

It appeared our steady progress unnerved one car as we made our way along the A836, as it pulled to the side to let us pass.  But past Lairg I the "main" A road became the smallest ever A road I've ever been on.  I've driven plenty of small country lanes with passing places, some of which with cattle grids too, but I wasn't quite expecting an A road to do so.  Not that I was complaining. On our way through almost everyone seemed good at stopping in a passing place, and you could typically see from one passing place to the next.

At one of the many, we did pause to double check what a rattle was from behind, it turned out to be nothing to worry about, just the feet on the corner steadies, not anything jockey-wheel related.  But while we paused there, the car that had pulled in earlier passed us.  I think we passed them again at another passing place when they motioned us through, so it all seemed fair.  I hasten to add that I was not tailgating, and particularly on these small roads, even 30 mph seemed on the fast side.

Eventually we passed through the village of Altnaharra, and take the turning onto the B road leading along side Loch Naver.  We were being quite cautious along this road, as there were roadworks, and the campsite had warned of road closures.  Coming up on what looked like a possible closure, I stopped at a place that (with some effort) we could hopefully turn around and take the other (long way round) to the camp site.  Meanwhile Hannah jumped out and checked with the workmen, and although they were working on drainage beside the road, we were fine to come through.

When we reached the camp site, we pulled past the space outside the office as there wasn't a lot of spare room.  A gentleman came out and greeted us by name and gave us first refusal of the pitch he thought was best.  This was apparently because we came along at a gentle steady speed unlike the motorhome behind us, which from his comments had arrived a lot more "enthusiastically" than us.

He offered us a pitch right on the edge of the loch, with an access track for other pitches running past.  It was very tight, and much as we would have liked to have reversed in, we broke out the motormover.  Without running our wheels over the stones at the track edge (and likely getting stuck) we couldn't get the angle we needed.

The awning got put up, once fresh water was in the barrels, along with purification tablets.  Another unique thing to everywhere else we have stayed was that it uses (filtered) spring water, as it has no mains water connection!

It is an amazing camp site, and even when grey and overcast, so much to be seen

After lunch we then took the dogs for a walk up to the site of a former village of Grummore, destroyed during the Highland Clearances.  

We then attempted to find the Rosal Clearance village.  We had been warned that the new land owners had made it difficult to find, having removed all the information boards.  This turned out to be true, but it was nice exploring the area.


Day 6: 27/9/2018, Altnaharra to Bettyhill and Hope (73 miles) 

Using Altnahara as our base of operations, we then set about exploring some more of the area.  However there was a small problem to deal with.  It seemed that the repairs to the caravan following the events detailed in When it all goes wrong had added to our problems.  You see, my wardrobe had become a washing machine:

 It was only affecting one side of the caravan, but water was getting in at a joint in the roof between the rear panel and the roof or wall panel.  The water ran all the way down the wall, and was absorbed by my clothes.  Using white duct tape we tried to patch joints where we thought the gap might be, and also rather than having the caravan level front to back, made sure it was a little nose down, so hopefully water would run toward the front, rather than pool at the joint.

Washing line was then strung round the inside of the caravan so that hopefully I could have more than 1 clean and dry t-shirt on the next day.

With that done, we set out for our day out exploring the area.

First order of business was lunch at The Cafe at Bettyhill.  Getting past the sheep on the road took a bit of work:

The cafe was lovely, and my daughter was smiling sweetly enough that a number of other customers commented on her and reminding them of their grandchildren.  The other side of the road from the car park were some impressive rocky cliffs

Dodging the showers, we then took a look around the adjacent Strathnaver Museum, which explores some of the areas history, and focuses quite a bit on the clearances and some of the terrible things that were done to the people who had lived and worked the land for generations.

We then stretched both our legs and the dogs and went and found a beach near the mouth of the Naver


Unfortunately, another shower closed in while we were on the beach, so although the waves were impressive, there was no dodging the rain, and were soon soaked.

We decided to dry out in the car, and head west toward Tongue and Hope.  We were rewarded with some beautiful sunny spells and great landscapes

We traveled back to the campsite via the A road, and found that it was no better than the B road the site was on, so no point heading back to Altnahara village the next morning to get towards John O'Groats.

Back at camp, there was a lovely rainbow to greet us:

Sunset was impressive, with clouds grazing across the tops of the hills:

But what I saw after dark was even more impressive.  I went outside to get some pictures of the moon rise across the loch:

Turning behind me, I noticed a faint, misty arc rising from the ground through the sky in the drizzle.  Having seen this once before, but not having a camera to hand I immediately knew that I needed to get some good pictures, as it was a moonbow.  That is, a rainbow at night, caused by moonlight.  This requires the normal things of a rainbow, with rain falling, but the sky not overcast, and has the added variables of  the moon needing to be at the right angle in the sky, and to be bright enough too, and to have someone actually looking out carefully on a damp night!

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