After lockdown ended in Scotland, the first thing we wanted to do was just leave Glasgow and go somewhere else. We’d spent far too much time in this city and we were utterly desperate to just get away from the buildings and traffic and head away to some wide open spaces.

I decided to book a campervan for us from a lovely local small business called All Is On Campers. They have a small number of VW campers with pop tops, which with the kids up in the pop top and us adults underneath in the main part of the van was the perfect size for the 4 of us.

The road to Gairloch

The drive from Glasgow to Gairloch was the biggest drive we were going to do in one go with the kids. (It was made even longer because I forgot to put our life jackets in the campervan and we had to drive more than half an hour back to Glasgow to get them. Because there was no chance I was travelling all that way with a paddleboard and wetsuits in the van and not be able to use them!) Anyway, we just had to get to Gairloch, so we loaded the campervan up with snacks and the kids up with screens and off we set.

The road to Inverness is one we’ve done many times before. It’s not a difficult drive, even though that A9 can feel pretty long at times. The campervan was comfy though and with the epic road trip soundtrack I’d prepped we were just going to drive as far as we could until one of the kids needed us to stop for a toilet break. Remarkably that didn’t happen until we were almost at Inverness, at a random roadside parking space in what felt like the middle of nowhere. After that we just kept going. We headed through Inverness, over the Kessock Bridge and eventually passing the beautiful Loch Maree.

Our plan had originally been to stop at Loch Maree with a little walk around the Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve to stretch our legs. However we left a bit later than I’d planned and then had the whole life jacket debacle at the start of our journey, and we were were very aware that sunset was on it’s way. This was our first time in a campervan and our first night setting up, so we needed all the light we could get to get ourselves sorted. I appreciated the glimpses of Loch Maree that we got as we passed by there, and made a promise to myself that we’d be back another time to explore it more.

As we left Loch Maree behind and reached Gairloch a little while later, the landscape just opened up in front of our eyes. The road to our campground for the night ran alongside the waters of Loch Gairloch from here, twisting and turning as we gradually lost the little light we had left. I’m pretty sure we were last to arrive at Sands Caravan & Camping so we took the last remaining electric hookup spot next to the toilets. Which turned out to be the best spot because all we were doing was popping the top, setting ourselves up, heading to the toilet block to brush our teeth and going to sleep!


Gairloch is truly one of the most beautiful places in Scotland, and with its vast, outdoor open space it is super kid friendly. To be honest we would have been happy staying here for our entire trip and we wouldn’t have run out of things to do, but we were only here for a few days so we picked a few fantastic things to see and do and made the most of our time.

After our first exciting night in the camper we got up, put the beds away, popped the top of the camper back down, and headed round to the little cafe within Sands Caravan & Camping for some breakfast rolls; a quick and easy breakfast, because we had a little surprise boat trip planned that morning. A short 5-10 minute drive round the coast to the pier and we arrived at Alice, the glass bottom boat.

Skipper Steve got us settled onto the boat and took us out on a fantastic little tour of the waters and coast of Gairloch. As we happily floated along, Steve shared some local history and pointed out lots of wildlife including several species of seabird. We saw seals lazing in the sunshine, and when Steve pulled a lobster pot up into the boat, we met a velvet crab up close which delighted the kids. The kids were given the chance to steer the boat for a few minutes too. A wonderful little tour.


When we got back to shore we headed out to do a little exploring and ended up at one of the most stunning beaches we’ve ever played on: Red Sands Beach. This is a place where the sand is soft, and the sea just melts into the sky. The water was about 9ºC but we had a play in it anyway. When hunger set in we headed back towards Badachro and had some food in the Badachro Inn. Nestled in a tiny sheltered bay, the views here out over the loch are just beautiful, and the food is pretty fine too. They serve up delicious hot food varying from locally caught seafood and traditional Scottish comfort food like pies and haggis, to soups and potatoes and sandwiches. The parking can be super tight in here, so if you have a bigger vehicle I’d advise parking up the road a little and walking down.

Once our bellies were sufficiently filled, we got our walking boots on and headed out on the Fairy Lochs Walk near the Shieldaig Hotel. This was a 6km round trip, but a nice easy and interesting walk for the kids up a small hill to find some magical little fairy lochs, spread out amongst the rolling hills. We did have a little dip in one of the lochs and I can honestly say I have never been in colder water. This walk is also home to the memorial site of a fatal air crash from World War II and you will find debris scattered throughout the hillside and in the lochs.

Big Sands

Walking works up quite the appetite in a 4 year old, so food was once again the main thing on our list. We headed back to Sands Caravan & Camping and after setting up the beds in the camper for the night we grabbed some really good pizzas from the on-site restaurant. The kids spent some time playing in the playpark on the campsite and then we headed down to Big Sands Beach to play for the remainder of our evening, and to watch a stunning sunset out over the loch and sea beyond.

Our second night in the campervan was just as comfy as the first and although the kids were probably more excited the second night to climb up into the pop up roof of the camper to head to bed, they quickly fell asleep, as did us adults. We woke early and the wind was almost non-existent so we had a quick camp breakfast before inflating the SUP, sliding into our wetsuits and heading back down to the beach at Big Sands. Gairloch does have a few islands on it that you can paddle to; the island straight across from the campsite isn’t super exciting but it’s still a landmark to aim for or paddle round, and it’s pretty fun to be out on the board regardless. If I go back again I’ll probably aim to paddle inland round towards the village, the pier and the islands around there, as that’s where the seals and seabirds were that we say during our boat trip.


After a picnic lunch by the beach it was time to head towards our next campsite for the night down near Plockton. We took the road towards Torridon, which winds through the hills and alongside the sea, with stops at some unnamed beaches and for some beautiful views. We made a stop at Strome Castle where we saw sheep being herded by dogs into a field, and we had a clamber around the beach and explored the ruins of the castle.

We drove straight past Plockton to get checked into our campsite and then headed back out again to the Coral Beach in Kyle of Lochalsh. Following google maps took us to a tiny car park with a big angry bull just next to it. He didn’t seem to enjoy our company so we left him alone and took the short path along towards the beach where we found the most stunning little bay with turquoise waters and pink sands made up almost entirely of tiny, and not so tiny bits of coral. We played for a few hours here until, once again led by our bellies, it was time to head into Plockton for some dinner.

We had planned on eating at Plockton Shores but our timings were totally off and we couldn’t get a table. So instead we opted for the easiest of dinners and I was sent to get fish and chips from The Harbour Fish Bar while the kids and my husband played down on the beach in the harbour. They waded a few metres in ankle deep water across to the little island, but 10 minutes later when I got back with dinner, the tide had sped in and my husband had to now wade through thigh deep water carrying the kids as it’d have been over their heads. (Note: always watch the tide when you’re playing on little islands!) We sat on a bench down by the harbour watching the tide come in while we munched on those delicious chips.

Everyone was pretty knackered after a long day, so it was time to head back to Reraig Campsite in Balmacara for the night. This was another really good campsite with great facilities. We did have to run through clouds of midgies to get to the toilet block but it’s a small campsite so it was only a short run…

Kyle of Lochalsh

We had a big walk planned near Fort William in the afternoon so we got dressed, packed the van up and left as soon as we were ready in the morning. A quick 5 minute drive away and we arrived at Eileen Donan Castle, a beautifully picturesque castle. We parked the van, made some tea, warmed our croissants and sat on a wee bench to have our breakfast with one of the best views in Scotland.

After a play on the beach here we headed back on the road again towards Fort William, taking in the Loch Duich and Ratagan Pass viewpoints en route. When we arrived in Fort William we headed along the Old Military Road towards Steall Falls, stopping in a parking spot for a picnic lunch in Nevis Glen, nestled amongst the mountains.

Fort William & Glen Nevis

With our bellies full we jumped back in the van and drove a few minutes round to the parking spot for the Steall Waterfall walk. This is one of the most enjoyable walks we’ve ever done with the kids. It’s not a really long walk so it’s perfectly doable for younger kids, but between wading across the (shallow) Water of Nevis, the rope bridge and the huge waterfall itself, it really is a fantastic walk. We spent quite a few hours here and by the time we got back to the van it was definitely dinner time, so we headed back into Fort William for some grub. If I’m completely honest, I expected it to be easier to find somewhere decent to eat in Fort William. We ended up at an Italian restaurant in a hotel that, honestly, wasn’t great. I have since researched more and will be going checking out different places next time!

The kids were exhausted and after a quick wander round Fort William we drove a few minutes round to where we were staying at Linnhe Lochside Campsite, a pretty big campsite situated right on the banks of Loch Linnhe.

We could have spent a few days exploring Glen Nevis because there’s so much to do there, but we only had one night at Linnhe Lochside before the camper van was due back and we had to keep moving. So the following morning we had a camp breakfast, got ourselves packed up and off we set towards Glasgow.

The Road Home

We decided to stop at Ballachuilish for a walk in the morning at the An Torr & Signal Rock walk. This is a gentle walk up a hill through ancient woodland and across rivers. Legend tells that Signal Rock was the gathering place for the MacDonalds of Glencoe when faced with danger. Beacons would be lit at Signal Rock to signal a threat was near. It is even said that beacons were lit to signal the beginnings of the Glencoe massacre.

Parking for the walk is right next to the River Coe, and you have to cross a bridge over the river to begin the walk. The weather was perfectly warm and sunny the day we ended up here, and the river was crystal clear and cool, with stunning views all around. Naturally the kids wanted to play in the river, so we got our water shoes and had a good splash for an hour before we headed off again.

The road back to Glasgow took us past Callander and so we had to stop at the iconic Green Welly Stop for some lunch. Then it was time to head to Loch Lubnaig, which was to be our last stop before home. The wind was low and the weather was warm, so we pumped up the board and headed out onto the loch for a late afternoon paddle. Loch Lubnaig is one of the most stunning settings for a paddle. Part of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, this 5km long loch is nested between Ben Ledi and Ben Vorlich, and when you are in the middle of the loch you can really appreciate how huge the mountains are that surround you.

There is more than 9 miles of shore around Loch Lubnaig, so finding little beaches was not a problem. The kids had a great time splashing and swimming in the water too and we only got out the water and ready to leave when we got so hungry we had to. A stunning end to one of the best holidays we’ve ever had with the kids.