Tuesday 22nd April – Killin to Bunree (56 Miles)
Easter was over and so it seems was the nice sunshine, for now at least. We awoke to rain pattering on the roof and after making the morning cuppa’s I opened up the nightblind on the Heki and peered up at thick grey clouds. I was glad that I had done the necessary on-board domestics in the warmth of yesterday evenings sunshine. Whilst I went across to the facilities block Shazza baked a fresh loaf of bread ! I can’t remember the last time we actually bought a loaf of bread.
I had met Tom and Jo only yesterday evening, they were our new neighbours at ‘Maragowan’ and were travelling in their Bessecarr Motorhome, we got chatting, as you do and we discussed briefly our fulltiming adventure. Anyway, I of course just happened to mention my blog, well it would have been rude not to, and they asked me to give them the blog details which I of course did. Thankfully for Tom & Jo, it was only a short neighbourly friendship as we were now moving on to Bunree, another CC site but this one is overlooked by the famous ‘Ben Nevis’, this is certainly one of the flagship Club sites, right on the water’s edge where the sea hits the Scottish coastline and flows inland to become Loch Linnhe and is only Twelve miles from Fort William. I had stayed at this campsite once before, but it must have been a good fifteen years ago, so I wondered whether it had changed since my last visit. The journey from Killin to Bunree wouldn’t be a long one, just about one and a half hours, but from my memory of previous trips up to this part of West Scotland I knew that the scenery was going to be spectacular, even in the rain. I know that our van is reasonably large, but today ‘Big Momma’ would pale into insignificance in comparison to the mountains that would be peering down on us.
Shazza, following behind in Wuxly managed to take some photographs but the A82 is a climbing, twisting, winding road so she too had to concentrate on her driving rather than getting me some blog photographs ! There really are no words that I could use to do justifiable credit to this incredibly scenic drive. I have done it in brilliant sunshine and in conditions like today and it is beautiful in all conditions but you have to drive it yourself to really appreciate this remarkable landscape. There was one thing, early on the journey, that was making this journey a bit of a headache, quite literally !! There was a very loud rattling coming from the galley area, now there are always a few vibrations and rattles on a vehicle like this, most you can reduce or dampen either by packing out cupboards or inserting tea towels or similar and others you just learn to live with. However, this was not one of the usual rattles, perhaps Shazza had forgotten to put the tea towel in the grill pan, whatever it was I could not drive with that noise for the best part of another hour so I found a convenient lay-by and pulled in. I set about searching for the source of the irritation and Shazza joined me. It was not the grill pan, this had been dampened down in usual fashion so what could it be ? It wasn’t the oven trays they were clamped in nice and secure !! I just happened to touch the glass top hob cover and it moved, it appeared lopsided and on closer inspection I discovered that a rubber grommet was missing. The glass top hob cover sits nicely on top of two rubber grommets and this prevents any contact with the metal cooker frame, however, with one grommet missing, glass and metal were knocking together. Fortunately the wayward grommet had not been lost, it was just hiding behind one of the rear burner hobs and once re-inserted into the vacant cavity my sanity was restored and we continued with our journey. The rest of the journey was uneventful with just one more brief stop, just six miles from our destination, to top up both vehicles with fuel. After this I certainly would not now need to re-fuel ‘Big Momma’ for another four months as our final destination was only another 70 miles away and I had a full tank of fuel with a range of over four hundred miles. Our main form of transport whilst on our ‘work’ site, for shopping and sightseeing, would be ‘Wuxly’ but that would only get used twice a week at the most so the fuel budget should return a nice surplus.
Most CC sites state no arrivals prior to 12pm, that is because people vacating the site have up until then to leave. However, on most sites there are no issues with accessibility so if you did arrive prior to the allotted time, and they couldn’t let you on as there were no pitches available, you could wait in the arrivals lane. The site at Bunree had a particular issue with the access road, it was narrow in that it was just one vehicle width wide with limited passing places therefore the ‘No Arrival before 12pm’ rule was enforced. We timed our arrival to perfection, although a departing unit was pushing the latest departure time to the second !!
The greeting at the office reception was as we have come to expect as long-standing club members, the happy smiling faces and a nice welcome to the site, this was ‘before‘ we mentioned that we too were CC employees on our way to our first site !! Once I had mentioned that we were on our way to our first site though the conversation flowed, useful information and tips were imparted and we were invited to stop by for a cuppa one afternoon, when we were not otherwise engaged, to gain some more useful information and insight into our future lives as an Elf & Elfette. This would be quite useful because the Assistant Wardens at this site just happened to be the Assistant Wardens, last season, at the site we were heading for. So after the usual booking in Admin and payment procedures were completed we went to select what would be our ‘temporary’ home pitch for the next six nights. The site had not changed since I was last here, it was still a perfectly manicured site and I even recognised the pitch that I had occupied all those years ago, unfortunately that pitch was already occupied, but it didn’t matter which pitch you had, the views were all spectacular. We had a good choice of pitches and selected one that was conveniently placed for conducting the essential on-board requirements but which also had Sea, Mountain and Forest views and just to put an even bigger smile on our faces than we already had the rain stopped and the sun made a brief appearance !!
Once Shazza had re-located ‘Wuxly’ from the car park to the pitch and ‘Big Momma’ had been transformed from ‘transportation’ mode to ‘home’ mode we went for a stroll around the site to admire the views.
After returning from our very scenic stroll and brief perusal of the local attractions information, in the site’s ‘Information Room’, we returned to ‘Big Momma’ and my beloved started planning an itinerary of ‘Shazza’s Expeditions’ just to keep me out of mischief for the next few days !! After a very tasty ‘Spaghetti Carbonara’, followed by the last couple of slices of Shazza’s ‘Coconut & Orange’ cake and the last two glasses of Port, well out of the first bottle at least ! we settled down for a night in front of the TV, how fortunate that it just happened to be a night when they were showing ‘live’ coverage of a Champions League Football match, Chelsea versus Atletico Madrid. The wind had picked up, as it tends to do at nights on the Western Coastline, it was whistling a little but nothing too strong to give ‘Big Momma’ the wobbles. With nothing remarkable on the NEWS we switched off the TV, batoned down the hatches, took our mugs of hot coffee to bed and sat reading our respective books.
Wednesday 23rd April – “An Drochaid” circular walk (7miles)
It is so quiet here, so much so that I was first to awake but not until 08:45am !! I guess we had better make the most of these long lay-ins as we won’t get many of those once we commence our Elf & Elfette duties in just eleven days time. I had heard it rain in the night but it had now stopped, although it was still a cloudy grey overcast sort of morning ‘we‘ (Shazza) had decided that after a ‘relaxed’ day yesterday we needed another ‘Expedition’. Personally, I think she wanted revenge for the ‘Eric Expedition’ I took her on, up that small hillock at ‘Killin’ !! Today was just a gentle stroll across the main road from the site and our first target would be the ‘Inchree Waterfall’ then on to the ‘An Drochaid’ circular walk, no major ascents, on good footpaths and a relatively easy seven mile walk with, hopefully, lots of decent views. We prepared a simple picnic lunch and the usual flask of coffee and we also decided that ‘Dave’ should accompany us too, after all this was his adventure as well.
Before we knew it we were off the footpath and back onto the main road and heading back to the campsite. I couldn’t resist taking the next photograph ……………..
Now either this walk was exceptionally easy or we are really becoming much fitter but even with stops to view the Waterfall, the lunch stop and my frequent ‘photographic’ stops !! we still completed this 7 mile walk in just three hours. We got back to ‘Big Momma’ and had just settled down with a cuppa reviewing the days Photographic efforts when there was a knock on the door. It was ‘Bill’ the site warden and he invited us to join him, his wife Linda and their Assistant Wardens ‘Mike and Pauline’ for a coffee, as we had just made one we took our mugs of coffee with us. They were all really friendly and gave us lots of information and useful ‘tips’, the sort of practical things that you don’t get told on the Training Course !! Mike and Pauline were Assistant Wardens at the site we were going to for our first season and they gave us lots of really useful information, the best places to go shopping, where to get the cheapest fuel, good places to visit as well as the practical stuff like what our ‘Assistant Wardens’ compound contained (Shower, WC, Wash Basin, Fridge Freezer and our own Washing Machine as well as the usual facilities, EHU points, fresh water tap and grey drain !!). They also have a house on the Isle of Skye, although they are in the process of selling it, but they gave us lots of information about great places on the Island to spend our days off, including distances from the site. The bridge that crosses from the mainland to the Isle of Skye is only 16 miles from the campsite !! The four of them were absolutely brilliant, really nice genuine people who repeated what all the wardens we have spoken to on our journey up here have said, basically, enjoy the stress free life working in a truly magnificent environment and as well as imparting lots of good information and answering our questions they have even managed to answer questions that we didn’t know we wanted to ask !!
As each day passes and we are getting closer to ‘our’ site, there is still a bit of nervousness, there is nothing worse than starting a new job and being the ‘Newbies’, but that is tempered with lots of excitement and we are now impatient to get started but for now we still have four days left to enjoy here at ‘Bunree’ and more places still to explore………………….