Up until recently, the idea of travelling around Scotland in a camper van, especially a Volkswagen was always just a dream that we hoped we would one day aspire to, then Pamela and her Aunt found www.thetartancamper.com and so our little dream soon became a reality, at least for one weekend anyway. And to make it better the van is tartan.
Our van was called Bruce and he is the companies “Clan Chief” he is a 2011 Volkswagen Transporter,
Here is the description:
“Complete with double fold down bed, twin burner gas hob, sink and fridge plus additional sleeping for two in the pop top roof he is a real home from home. 5 speed manual gearbox, tinted windows, CD player and twin revolving front seats this is the van for the Tartan Camper who wants to tour the country in luxury and style.”
And i can say this is pretty accurate.
The only thing i have negative to say about the van is that the seatbelts are not very long for those of us with larger bellies lol! But EVERYTHING else was amazing.
Day 1 Glasgow – Aviemore
Pamela and Caroline collected Bruce whilst Tristan was at school, and we had everything packed almost ready to go for Tristan coming home. Pamela walked him home from school, and Caroline and I waited to see his little face when he saw a TARTAN camper van outside the house, he was so adorable it was amazing.
We started out on the Friday night 6th September 2019. We started our journey from Glasgow up the A9 to Aviemore for our first nights camp. As we are avid campers already (using tents and a converted car camper) this was pure luxury, we stopped off at a favourite place of ours, Loch an Eilein in the Rothiemurchus Forest in the Cairngorms National Park, this area is very special to us as Pamela and I started our relationship in Aviemore, we also spent our Honeymoon here in the nearby Glenmore Campsite and we love to come back and visit every year if we can.
Loch an Eilein car park is used as an overflow campsite to nearby Rothiemurchus campsite, and for a small charge you can camp overnight, there is hard standing areas and a small area for tents, we parked up the top with the short walk to the loch.
At the loch itself there is a small gift shop and a toilet, the toilets are open all night and have an accessibility toilet too which i found particularity useful. Around the side of the toilet is a drain and a tap for filling up water tanks and emptying out which was very useful for our sink water after doing dishes.
As we arrived just before sunset we opted for buying a takeaway dinner from Aviemore and bringing it to the campsite in advance. It’s our tradition when camping to order Chinese takeaway on our first night. We got our food from The Snow Mountain Chinese Takeaway on Grampian Road in Aviemore. The food was awesome but the most expensive Chinese takeaway we have ever had.
Check out my review on google maps:
Bruce the van was fully equipped with plates and cutlery, cups, mugs, pots and pans. Everything you could need, there was even brown sauce in the cupboard and washing up liquid. All the small details added to this van are amazing, a usb double car charging port…. i was so happy.
After dinner we popped the roof up and settled down for our first nights sleep, Auntie Caroline, Tristan and Caroline’s dog Pip slept on the double fold down bed and Pamela and i slept in the roof.
I expected to be a little cold as we were in the roof and the temperature dropped down to 4 degrees overnight but we were lovely and toasty, good sleeping bags do help of course. I’ll add a full list of our kit at the bottom. The van has a heater which uses the diesel rather than the leisure battery, Caroline fell asleep and left this running for ages the second night and she was worried the diesel would be guzzled up, thankfully it barely dented it, major bonus if you want to winter camp.
Our first night sleep was comfortable, the pop up roof was really cosy and the mattress was a good thickness for us both. We’re used to camping mats, so this was luxury, Tristan and Caroline advised that the bed downstairs was very comfortable.
Day 2 Aviemore – Braemar – Linn of Dee
Our second day started with a fry-up brekkie and then a relaxing walk around Loch an Eilein, this is the Gaelic meaning of “Loch Of The Island”.
We have been here many times over the years and have enjoyed walking the whole circuit which is roughly 4 – 5km, it is mostly accessible with flat and even surfaces throughout, but we only walked to the best viewpoint of the Castle on the Island in the Middle. Tristan is six and has walked this circuit a couple of times, his first time was when he was four, so it’s definitely a good walk for kids.
The Castle itself is a 14th century ruin, with a good bit of history, first as a place of refuge for thieves and later there was a connection to the Jacobites in 1690. It is thought that it used to have a causeway from the main shore but it became submerged over the years.
We love to sit and relax at the loch, it has been voted many times as one of Scotland’s best picnic areas and I would totally agree. After a little walk around and a lot of pictures we decided to head to our next location.
An Lochan Uaine – Gaelic for “The Green Loch”
Folklore has it that this Lochans turquoise hue is due to the Dòmhnall Mòr, the king of faeries washing his clothes in it so it has been locally known as the “Faerie Loch”, it is believed that the colour is actually to do with algae as a result of decomposing branches, or as a result of copper from the local mountains. Either way, the Fairy story is much cooler and much more Scottish.
You can find it in the Ryvoan Pass near Aviemore. Parking is not great, we have visited three times now and have only been able to see the lochan once as there was nowhere to park on the other two occasions.
It was a great walk, only thirty minutes and was a flat and easy walk. When you arrive there is a viewpoint to look down onto the lochan or there are some steps that take you to the shore, I would not advise swimming in the lochan or allowing dogs to swim as no one is too sure that the green colour isn’t dangerous. Also it is riddled with leeches which our video below will show.
We never got to see the lochan on this occasion due to parking, but if you are cycling around the Rothiemurchus forest it’s a place you shouldn’t miss.
We left Aviemore and started our journey to the other side of the Cairngorms National Park heading to Braemar, a part of Scotland we have never visited. Of course we made a small stop off at the Clootie Dumpling Centre to pick up a new Cloot for my Christmas Dumplings.
The road to Braemar was absolutely stunning, some of the most spectacular views we have seen in Scotland and we’ve been to a lot of places. But this place is definitely somewhere we will visit time and time again.
Part of the road to Braemar joined the new North East 250 route which spans around the Cairngorms and then Aberdeenshire Coast. We plan to travel this in Spring next year.
The road was stunning and we had a beautiful sunny day for it. At one point there where wild horses/Highland Ponies grazing on top of a hill. Totally worth stopping to watch.
As we got closer to the Linn Of Dee the views of the River Dee were amazing, it looked like something out of the African Plains, I actually expected to see giraffes and elephants wandering around.
The Linn of Dee itself was gorgeous and was where we stopped for our Second nights sleep.We slept in the car park in the middle of a Caledonian Pine Forest, I’ll be honest, I couldn’t really tell you the difference between a Caledonian Pine and any other pine until we came here, the bark on the trees actually look like Dragons Scales and there is a red tint under the scales. I still don’t know the names of other Pines, but I’ll certainly remember these ones now.
The car park is great, there is a whole line of porta-cabin toilets, one of which is an accessibility one which was helpful. Obviously there are no lights so a torch is a handy idea if you need to go visit the toilets in the dark.
Pamela decided to make us some chilli Nachos for dinner which was awesome, and then we cosied down for our second nights sleep, it was chilly outside so we used the heater for bits and it was toasty.
Before dark we took a walk down to see the Linn itself (Linn is Gaelic for Waterfall/pool) I would highly recommend keeping dogs on a leash and young children close as there is a large drop into the water off of the rocks which is particularly dangerous. If you stick to the path and don’t wander off you should be safe. The linn is gorgeous, the water has cut through the rocks in such a way it’s like a sharp shallow gorge, and absolutely stunning at sunset.
Check out Pamela’s Photography Vlog of the day.
Day 3 Braemar – Isle Of Cumbrae
Waking up in a Scottish Pine Forest is pretty epic, especially from inside a tartan camper van. The car park was fairly busy with vans overnight and the road all down the side of the Dee was full of vans and tents pulled in wild camping, there were millions of awesome spots to pull into, which I wish we found first. One lay-by in particular was stunning, you pulled in behind trees blocking you off from the road and on the other side you had a view from above the area that i thought looked like the African Plains.
This is not a place we are likely to ever forget as I received a call here advising that my gran had passed away after her battle with Dementia, this was definitely a sad day for us all, but in our families style we kept going, my grandparent’s were avid campers, I don’t think there was much of the UK they hadn’t been to, having toured with their caravans for fifty years and more, camping was one of the things that defined them and they spoke fondly of all of their adventures, and had many stories to tell. My grandad always said that life is for Making Memories and not to forget that, they didn’t have to be glamorous memories, or expensive memories, just memories of having fun, and camping and travelling helped them to do that and it was one of the major things we had in common. In the last ten years my grandparents became parents to me, they stepped up and took over as my parents were not around and they were the best parents anyone could ask for, and my Uncle and his family and us and our little family will always cherish the memories we made with them for the time they were with us.
With a heavy heart we left our little spot with the promise that we would return and continued on our adventure. Our next stop was Faskally wood for lunch and a little stroll. Some of the wood was closed off in preparations for the Enchanted Forest that happens here every year and I hear is a must see.
As we had two people with accessibility needs with us we took the shortest walk available around a little pond, there were plenty of little seats to rest on around the way and plenty of stunning pine trees all around the path. Little Pip the dog loved the walk, and I thought it was a great addition at the beginning of the walk that there were poopy bags included attached to a sign, reminding you to clean up after your dog. I think these would be awesome in all of our forest walks in Scotland.
We spent a while exploring this area and even found a freshly fallen pine cone from a Scots Pine which I fully intend to harvest seeds from and plant at home in honour of my gran.
After a Pot Noodle we travelled for hours along some gorgeous scenic Roads and found ourselves in Largs. And after a short ferry crossing we were on the Isle of Cumbrae…and it started to rain. Caroline had packed a fold away toilet, with biodegradable bags and a little pop up toilet tent which was amazing giving the rain.
We spent our last night having another Chinese Takeway and toasting my granny with a bottle of Corona that Caroline had managed to get the local pub to sell her. We had a view of the mainland and a choppy rainy sea. It was a much warmer sleep as we had moved down the country and we didn’t need the heater on this occasion. I was happy to wake up still dry in the morning, no leaks and no condensation in the pop up roof in spite of the heavy rain which was an absolute bonus.
Check out Pamela’s vlog of the day below.
We packed up and drove the van back to the tartan camper company.
We would definitely recommend this company for hiring a van in Scotland, travelling in any camper van is fun but you certainly attract attention and turn heads when it’s tartan. It’s definitely travelling Scotland in style.
We are on google maps as a local guide, feel free to check us out there too.
As promised at the beginning here is a list of the kit our little trio take camping.
Family size: we have a regatta 6 Man tent, not sure the exact model.
Small size: Vango Hydra 200 plus, we’ve had this for years, it’s amazing. It’s practically bomb proof, great for heavy winds. It’s geodesic and pretty sturdy on its own without pegs.
Serina – Vango MP350
Pamela – Vango Nitestar 300
Tristan – HI-Gear Spirit Junior 300
Pamela and Serina Generic HI-Gear
Tristan Gelert Mini
Lantern: Vango Spectrum 530, Vango 12 LED
Stove: Campingaz Camp Bistro
We use our pillows from our beds, we have a spare trespass blanket to keep us warm under our mats as a layer on top of the groundsheet.
And we generally wear base layers to bed.
Feel free to ask me any questions, and don’t forget to follow us on instagram and Facebook.