Free at last…

Free at last…

Sunshine at Annandale Services

Finally, we managed our first nights away in Absinthe, albeit not to a campsite, but to our daughter’s house, in the village of Roy Bridge in the Highlands of Scotland. We set off on Tuesday morning at around 10am, having hastily arranged things for a contractor coming to do some work on our garden. He decided to ring at 4pm on Monday to say he wanted to start work on Tuesday, so we had to move lots of stuff out of the way, throwing our laid back van packing plans into disarray. Still, you should never say no to a contractor when they want to start work – who knows when they’d turn up again?

The drive up to the Highlands is straight forward enough (particularly when your super wife is driving), but it was extremely windy once we got into Scotland. Our first stop was at Annandale Water Services for a toilet break (for us and for Ralf!) and to eat our sandwiches in the van. We were soon on our way and let the SatNav set the route. It took us towards Perth which was a new direction for us (we usually pass by Loch Lomond) so we had the opportunity to have another stop in Pitlochry.

We walked Ralf up to the Fish Ladder at the hydro-electric dam, but the viewing area was closed due to Covid-19, so we headed into town and bought fish and chips to eat in Absinthe. To be honest, they weren’t great, but filled a hole ahead of the rest of the journey.


We arrived at Jodie and Simon’s around 7pm and pitched up next to the house they’re renting, whilst their house sale is completed. The views are slightly better than their previous house just outside Accrington.

What a view
Look at those hills

It was good to see them all after 6 months, especially young Issy, who’s grown so much now. We had a lovely evening catching up (and more wine than I’d drunk for months – we really should have set the van up for sleeping before the drink and not after). It was Ralf’s first sleep in Absinthe and he shared the bed with us, but, apart from a bit of wandering around in the night, he was fantastic, so that’s another box ticked.

After breakfast on Wednesday, we all set off to Loch Laggan beach, which is just down the road from Roy Bridge. We’d never have found it without local knowledge, but I’m so glad we did. Ralf spent his time on the beach running after Rupert and Heidi (Jodie’s two German Pointers) – if it was possible he’d have grinned himself to death or wagged his tail off, I think!

Trip, trap over the bridge

What a place for a log cabin
The way to Laggan Beach

Life’s a balancing act sometimes…
Who needs France? This reminded Jodie and me of the Vendee and her childhood holidays.

From the beach, we headed to a local nature reseve for a picnic then a long walk in the hills. I’ve been suffering lately with this fella but being in the open air seems to have sent him on his way.

The Black Dog, before he ran away in the hills

The countryside is spectacular and the weather improved, to give us sunshine and fluffy white clouds – a perfect afternoon. Ralf was so tired he even went to sleep on Issy’s lap in the car on the journey back.

Creag Meagaidh Nature Reserve

Compulsory arty stop motion iPhone shot
A child at rest…
Alison, Simon, Ralf, Rupert and Heidi
Ther are no Black Dogs here…
Cornflowers (I think)

Fun-time Granny and Isabella
Thistle do
Smiles all round with this black dog and his friends
Fantastic walking country

Ralf and a new friend, Flo

Tired dog

In the evening we had a meal out at the Old Station in Spean Bridge, but not before we’d paid a visit to J & S’s new house. The lady who’s selling it has a penchant for joss sticks and the smell will take some getting rid of, but it’s a lovely property with potential for an AirBnb at some point.

The view’s not bad either!

The meal was lovely, although after I’d paid, we realised that the bill looked too small. For all 5 of us, including starters and drinks, it only came to £50, which we knew couldn’t be right. Fortunately, we were able to point it out to the waitress, who realised that drinks hadn’t been included, so we paid another £25 – the last thing businesses need at the moment is to undercharge.

After another night of chatting and drinks, we settled down in the van for a lovely night’s sleep – Ralf didn’t move all night, he was super contented and worn out.

We left about 10am to drive home, opting for the Glencoe, Rannoch Moor route, which was as spectacular as ever. The weather was rainy until we were out of Scotland, and it seemed to take forever to get past Loch Lomond. We stopped briefly at Luss for toilets and to let Ralf stretch his legs and were home for just after 6pm.

Approaching Glencoe
In the rain at Luss
Parked at Luss
A different scene at Annandale Services on the way back

We’d had a great couple of days and can’t wait to do it again in October.

There’s a full set of photos here: FLICKR

Things We’ve Learned

Sometimes a long journey is well worth it

Ralf can live with children, after all

Scotland is, and always will be, a great country – she deserves her independence

If you put your mind to it, you can achieve your dreams (good on you, Jodie and Simon)








  1. Geoff

    Aah, Monarch of the Glen country, fantastic. We’ll be following in your tyre tracks in a couple of weeks.


    1. Martin Bellamy

      There’s a local Monarch of the Glen tour map I think. Enjoy your trip, it was just what we needed.


  2. wheatypetesworld

    Thanks for sharing – lovely photes and a fab sense of family. OK, it rains a lot, but look at the views!


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