7 Day Campervan Tour around Scotland with Teenagers

The key to a happy holiday with teenagers is to get them out into the fresh air and give them loads of exercise and a campervan holiday around Scotland offers just that!  A trip in a campervan to explore a new country is an adventure.  The beauty in this type of holiday is the freedom it brings so make sure you include your teenagers in the process.  Let them have a say in where they want to go by browsing over the maps in advance, deciding how far to drive each day.  The tour below takes in a couple of hill walks and cycles, as well as some white water rafting in a 7 day tour around Scotland, starting and finishing at Four Seasons Campers by Loch Lomond.

Day 1 Loch Lomond to Glen Etive

We’ve all watched those ‘National Lampoon’ holiday films showing bored kids in the back of the RV driving hundreds of miles whilst Dad witters on in the front about the scenery, so it’s important at the start of your holiday to ease the teenagers gently into their driving tour with a short journey followed by a camp fire.  From Loch Lomond head north towards Glencoe and wild camp at Glen Etive making sure you pick up some firewood on route for the camp fire. (There’s a distinct lack of forestry along Glen Etive so make sure you collect some around Glen Orchy or along the shore line at Loch Lomond on route.)  The River Etive flows parallel to the road and is popular with kayakers due to its challenging white water runs but if you don’t have a kayak with you then the deep pools dotted along the river are more than deep enough to swim in if anyone is brave enough!  Towering overhead are several munro mountains (Scottish mountains over 3000 feet) and include the two popular mountains known as “the Herdsmen of Etive” which can be accessed from both Glen Etive and Glen Coe.  The long lengthy daylight of Scottish summer makes possible a wee hill climb a quarter of the way up to watch the sun set to the west and will stretch the calves ready for the rest of the week.   Alternatively you can take a small cycle down towards Loch Etive.

Things to see and do

  • Stop at pretty village of Luss on Loch Lomond
  • Get last minute supplies at Green Welly Stop at Tyndrum
  • Enjoy ‘healthy’ fish and chips from The Real Food Café in Tyndrum
  • Stretch your legs along part of the West Highland Way at Bridge of Orchy and enjoy some great pub food at The Bridge of Orchy Hotel

Camping                              Wild camp – Glen Etive

                                                Campsite – Red Squirrel Glencoe

Driving Time                      1 hour 15 mins from Gallangad Lodge and Four Seasons Campers

Day 2  Glen Etive to Achmelvic

Day 2 sees a longer drive so a wildlife competition for the day is vital to keep the kids interested!  Give a prize of no washing up for a couple of days for the winner to make sure they engage.  It’s key to add in some hype on route and a visit to Loch Ness and the mythical Loch Ness monster offers just that with an even bigger prize if someone spots her!  The drive up the A82 through Glencoe and then Fort William to Loch Ness is a memorable one.  From the foreboding and atmospheric mountains of Glencoe to the incredible engineering feat that is the Caledonian Canal, there’s plenty to see and stop at.    The Loch Ness story is told at Drumnadrochit if you’re interested to know more but I think that whether you are a believer or not, you can’t help but enjoy the tranquillity of standing on the banks of Loch Ness and watching the ripples which might just be a sign of some other life below.  From here, continue north west bypassing Inverness towards Ullapool and onto Achmelvic.  Achmelvic is one of my favourite spots in Scotland and is situated by the fishing town of Lochinver.  It  hosts a small campsite beside the most beautiful white beach in a safe and pretty cove.  A favourite with families who return year after year, it’s a lively spot and is perfect for teenagers who can enjoy paddling or swimming in the fresh clear water or scramble over the rocks to the Hermit’s Cave or the hidden beach over the hill.  The campsite does Fish and Chips or you can visit Lochinver for a choice of over 30 delicious pies.  There’s a 5mile walk over the headland to Lochinver if you fancy stretching your legs after all the driving and you can take a taxi back to the campsite afterwards.

Things to see and do

  • At Fort Augustus you can enjoy the yachts sailing through the locks that make up the Caledonian Canal
  • Enjoy the Nessie Experience at Drumnadrochit or visit Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness
  • Stop for a walk near Garve between Inverness and Ullapool https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/lochness/Silverbridge.shtml
  • Stop at Knockan Crag National Nature reserve between Ullapool and Achmelvic to view the rock formations (this is part of the North West Geopark rock route showing the story of how Scotland was formed – even if the kids aren’t into Geology – it’s really interesting!) (free)
  • Stop at Ardvreck Castle on shores of Loch Assynt and wander around the ruins (free)

Camping                              Shore Caravan site, Achmelvic – opens 1 April for season

Driving Time                      4 hours 45 mins 

Day 3         Achmelvic to Durness

A drive through Sutherland is like no other and every time I go there I feel like I’m visiting another planet in another time as I pass the crater strewn hillsides that stretch for miles interspersed with distinct detached mountains such as Suilleven and Cul Mor and surrounded by enticing heather clad lochans…it really is spectacular!  A long walk to what has to be the most beautiful beach on the Scottish mainland is a must if you are travelling this far north and the beautiful and remote Sandwood Bay is a great walk with teenagers.    Drive north through Scourie and Kinlochbervie and then on to Oldshore Beg before parking at Blairmore Car Park.  It’s a bit of a long trek across the bleak moorland track that is approximately 4 miles long but the beach at the end of it is more than worth it.  Like the drive up to Sandwood Bay, you feel like you’ve been transported into another country if not another world and the long white sandy beach that stretches north towards Cape Wrath, set against a towering 240 foot sea stack separated from the main land by raging white waves, is reminiscent of ones found in much warmer climes in the Southern Hemisphere.   At the end of the day take the short drive to Durness on the north coast of Scotland and camp at Sango Sands campsite set along the cliff tops above yet more stunning white beaches.

Things to see and do     

  • Sandwood Bay walk https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/sutherland/sandwood-bay.shtm
  • Kylesku Hotel for good food

Camping                              Campsite: Sango Sands, Durness

Driving Time                      Achmelvic to Oldshoremore 1 hour and 25 mins

                                                Oldshoremore to Durness  35min

Day 4 Durness to Achiltibuie

Ben Hope is Scotland’s most northerly munro mountain and whilst steep is not too long – so a good one for teenagers who can scramble up ahead of you as you pant to the top. Despite their reticence in your suggestion at a hill walk, I know from experience that the slog up a hill might be hard but the feeling of accomplishment and achievement when they get to the top is something that money just can’t buy.  Added to the fact that they will be able to brag to all their friends that they climbed the most northerly mountain on UK mainland.  If the weather is bad, an alternative activity is to visit the Smoo Caves in Durness.  Geodha  Smoo which runs inland for about 600 meters is the largest and most dramatic coastline cave in Britain and has  a rich archaeological history.   After your hard day’s activity, drive south from Durness to the little village of Achiltibuie for some well -deserved pub grub at the lovely Summer Isles Hotel.    

Things to see and do  

  • Ben Hope – most northerly Munro
  • Smoo Caves in Durness
  • Summer Isles Hotel for excellent food
  • Boat trip to Handa island http://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/reserve/handa-island/

Camping                              Wild Camping: By Achnahaird Beach

                                                Campsite: Ullapool or Port a bhaigh at Achiltibuie

Driving Time                      Durness to Achiltibuie  2 hours

 

 

 

Day 5 Achiltibuie to Ullapool

 The road from Achiltibuie to Ullapool offers several other great hill walks including one of my favourites, Stac Pollaidh.  Great for small children or tired teenagers, Stac Pollaidh at 612metres offers stunning views over the lochans of Assynt.  Alternatively, continue to Achnahaird Beach a few miles north of Achiltibuie for a walk across the sands. 

Things to do

  • A boat trip around the summer isles http://www.summerisles-seatours.co.uk/
  • Climb Stac Pollaidh
  • Walk along beach at Ullapool and climb on old shipwreck
  • A cycle over to Rhue Lighthouse by Ullapool near Ardmair
  • A swim at the local swimming pool in Ullapool
  • Visit Ullapool’s award winning Fish and Chip café for a supper on the seafront with the seagulls
  • Check out what’s on at The Ceilidh Place and listen to some great Scottish music or dine in their lovely restaurant
  • Visit Ullapool’s book store and buy a history or geology book about the area

Camping                              Campsite: Ullapool Campsite                                                                              

Driving Time                      Achiltibuie to Ullapool 45 mins

Day 6         Ullapool to Aviemore

Drive south through Inverness towards Aviemore – Scotland’s outdoor capital.  Just south of Inverness, stop on route for a bit of history at The National Trust for Scotland’s interactive 3D Culloden experience then continue south to Aviemore, stopping at The Osprey Centre on your way at Boat of Garten if you’ve time. 

Things to do

 Camping                              Wild camping:  Beside Loch Garten and listen out for the call of the ospreys as you sleep

                                                Campsite:  Glenmore Campsite

Driving Time                      Ullapool to Aviemore 2 hours 30 mins

Scottish Loch Loch-an-Eilein

Loch-an-Eilein

Day 7         Aviemore to Loch Lomond

The last day of your trip needs to be something really special and with several hill walks and cycles under their belt , the teenagers will probably not be up for any more so head south down the A9 from Aviemore to Aberfeldy and ride the rapids with a white water ride!  This small highland village offers lovely shops and a great butcher for a celebration BBQ on your last night.  Continue south down the A85 along Loch Tay and then south down the A84 to Lochearnhead and through the beautiful Trossachs where the National cycle path offers more cycle routes on the west side of Loch Lubnaig down to Callendar.  Continue to the village of Drymen and on to Balmaha and the 2 campsites on the banks of Loch Lomond.

Things to do                      

  • White water rafting at Splash at Aberfeldy
  • Cycle along Loch Lubnaig to Calendar
  • Take the steam boat along Loch Katrine
  • Visit Go Ape at Aberfoyle for some rope climbing amongst the trees

Camping                              Campsites: Milarrochy Bay or Cashel Campsites                

Driving Time                      From Aviemore to Loch Lomond 2 hours 45 mins

Day 8

Wave goodbye to your campervan and start planning next year’s tours around Scotland’s islands for some kayaking and surfing!         

Driving Time                      30 minutes to Gallangad Lodge and Four Seasons Campers

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