What an adventure!
I may have had a moment of temporary insanity when I floated the idea of hiring a campervan and touring the Hebrides for a week to my husband. As a twosome, it would have been a relaxing get-away and chance to soak up the tranquillity of these beautiful Scottish islands.
As a fivesome – two parents and three pre-school children (a five-year-old boy and four-year-old boy/girl twins) – it was going to be anything but restful.
We knew it could go one of two ways – disastrously badly or phenomenally well. Our kids were excited; we were cautiously optimistic. We live in Aberdeenshire and picked up a VW T6, our home for the week, from Big Tree Campervans in Perthshire.
We had our route planned – drive to Oban and sail to Mull (the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides after Skye), go back to the mainland and drive up to Mallaig, sail to South Uist in the Outer Hebrides and drive up through Benbecula and North Uist to Berneray (all connected by causeways), sail to Harris and drive up to Lewis before sailing back to Ullapool on the mainland and travelling down to Perthshire through the Highlands, passing through Inverness and Aviemore.
We planned to keep on the move, stopping somewhere new each night, and had a rough itinerary with a good amount of flexibility. We booked the busier ferry routes and campsite pitches for three nights, but otherwise intended to turn up at campsites we had researched in advance or found on our travels, or ‘wild’ camp.
It was phenomenal! What an adventure! The landscape was stunning and remarkably different between the islands. The kids loved exploring new places – a new beach every day come rain or shine – and sleeping in the extending roof.
Our highlights were Salar Smokehouse on South Uist where we bought smoked salmon that we cooked up for lunch the same day, Clachan Sands on North Uist where you can wild camp (there’s an honesty box suggesting £10 per night) and the standing stones at Callanish on Lewis. Harris gin is delicious and well worth tasting one, two or three times!
Bar one hairy incident when we got the van stuck up a remote dirt track – my husband jacked it up and put sticks under the tyres to gain traction and I flagged down an obliging family of Spanish motorhome holidaymakers to help push – everything went to plan.
Our must-haves were twin DVD players (well watched by the kids when we were travelling), a camping BBQ and midge repellent – plenty of it!
We returned home two tired but happy parents and three filthy but delighted free-range kids with a camera reel full of incredible pictures and a memory bank brimming to the top.