Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jolly Hols!

We have just been lucky enough to have a week's holiday. Now how does a classic car enthusiast relax? There is only one thing to be done - Road Trip! Now is the time to admit that after ten years of living in Scotland, we had never made it further north than Inverness. So we took a week and decided to head up north. The first stop was at Rosemarkie, a beautiful little camp site on the banks of the Moray Firth. The camp site is about 10 metres from the beach and was very friendly indeed! Another excellent feature of the place was the village pub the Plough. Real ales, good food and very friendly staff. Definitely recommended.

The trip up to the Black Isle caused me a little worry. The road has lots of long, high speed hills, and the flat-out up-hill travelling caused a bit of a misfire. Now my classic car symptom diagnosis had me pondering. Misfires can be down to one of two things. Ignition or fuel. Jessica has electronic points, a new distributor, coil, leads and plugs - so there's not that much to go wrong there (nothing should be ruled out though!). The other option - fuel, does fit with the symptom. When a car is travelling flat out on a motorway, and then asked to go up hill, the fuel flow rate (which is already pretty high) has to go up again. Now this will test even the best kept fuel system, and Jessica doesn't have well kept fuel system. I took a look and the fuel filter needed a clean out and it appeared that the fuel economy device (poppet valve?) might have been stuck - I say might, as I had to collect the bits of the assembly from all round the engine bay after it pinged apart after I undid the screws. Once it was all back together we went for a little test drive, and all seemed well. Of course I was extra concerned about the fuel system as there were lots of hills and not very many petrol stations on the rest of our planned journey.

After a couple of nights on the Black Isle we decided on the rest of our route, to head up north, along the coast, to John O' Groats then along the north coast and to our second camp site at Durness.

The journey north took us along the coast, past Wick, however the route took us past Helmsdale and the notorious Berriedale Braes. While planning the route, everyone I spoke to warned us about this area and I ended up being quite anxious about it. Once we got there, it really wasn't all that bad. OK I had to knock it out of overdrive once or twice ;o).

A road with a run-off lane - I'm not scared...

Once that little molehill was out of the way, we continued our journey up to the town which is furthest away from Land's End. Lots of photo opportunities and three gift shops - who could ask for more! As we were leaving, a couple of Japanese tourists were looking round the van with interest, so I got a chance to explain to them that, no Jessica isn't a VW, yes the engine is in the front and she is rear wheel drive. Oh and they now have pictures of me in front of my van!

Of course John O' Groats is the most northerly tourist attraction in the Mainland Britain but as we know, you can go further (if you don't need tartan tea towels and fridge magnets that is). If you want to go north, then Dunnet Head is the place to be. Its rather nice to stand there looking south to John O' Groats.

The rest of the journey to the second camp site at Durness was bliss. It took us along some windy single track roads, which were very relaxing. The scenery was fantastic and seemed to change round every bend. The campsite is located at the top of cliffs, looking out over two golden sanded bays with clear blue sea. The sun was shining and provided perfect weather for playing by the sea, swimming and exploring the local caves.

We spent a couple of nights there before heading south again (well there wasn't anywhere else to go!). We headed down towards Lochinver to a campsite recommended by a friend, again through some gorgeous scenery. We did have to be careful about fuel though as the last time we had filled up was in Thurso (about 120 miles previously).

Commer on the outskirts of nowhere.

The site turned out to be lovely, but the weather prevented us from exploring properly. We did get to sample the excellent fish and chips from the on-site chippy though.

Lovely campsite - not so lovely weather.

The rain became pretty relentless, so we decided to head south and back home after what, we all agreed, was one of the best holidays we had had in years. I'm really looking forward to the next big adventure!


Anonymous said...

Great to hear you went to Durness and Achmelvich, super places!!! We took our Commer to both (and Dunnet Head) two years back, loved every minute of it and cannot wait to go back. Speak soon,


Rupert said...

Hi Ruairdh,
yeah it was a wonderful holiday, we can't wait to go back either. Now we've done it once I have lots more confidence in going back.