The car park at Littlemill was pretty small and we shared it with two other motor homes. We're starting to get familiar and comfortable with the campervan and every morning I'm so grateful I that we got a long wheel base van. The extra 50 or so centimetres of length is invaluable when you have four of you moving around and the bed is still out. Even for two people I'd still recommend it, ours is 5.2m long so still fits (just about) in normal parking at supermarkets etc.
Anyway today was it, the official start of our trip round the NC500 and while we're in Inverness what else could we do but take a boat ride around Loch Ness. After a small mistake with where we should be we managed to get on our boat in time. To be honest, there isn't a huge amount to see there, it's a large lake, it looks pretty much as you'd imagine it. But that's not really why you do these tours, the history and stories are what interest. From how it came to be created with a giant earthquake, the creation of the Caledonian canal, the "R for Robert" a Wellington bomber that was crashed into the loch and years later discovered by monster hunters and then recovered. Places need stories, otherwise what are they? No one knows the name of somewhere nothing happened.
We were treated to something extra on our trip today. The coastguard needs to practice their rescue maneuveres and had arranged to fly their helicopter over our boat, winch one of their crew to the deck, fly round then winch him off again. As you can imagine the children were delighted by this (I thought it was pretty awesome too tbh)
Unfortunately we didn't manage to see Nessie but we did get a nice family photo.
Back on land and after a quick lunch of cheese sandwiches and honey roasted peanuts we set off to the Falls of Shin. This is one of the rivers that salmon coming swimming up to spawn and it didn't take long until we saw large salmon futilely attempt to jump up the falls there. It's fascinating how they are driven to return from the seas to the stream they were born in to reproduce. I wonder how long the salmon we watched will attempt to get up the falls? Until it succeeds or dies?
After watching the salmon for a while we took a walk through the nearby woods, interested to note the difference in flora from the south coast; the heather, the moss, the different trees, the wild raspberries. It's amazing to see the different ways what appear to be similar niches in nature are filled. Getting back to the van just before the rain started we drove on to Golspie where we planned to spend the night. The car park in the village is welcoming to campervans and motor homes, and in fact I saw they are building at least 9 high powered electric charging points there so I assume they are planning for many electric cars to be taking this route too soon.
When we arrived there was a sign up pointing out an alternative site available and, figuring we'd rather not be in a village car park if we didn't have to, followed the signs to a lovely area with a bit more nature around us.
Tonight was the first night of attempting to cook and eat our evening meal in the van. The cooking part went fine, a very tasty corned beef hash was produced. I hadn't really thought through the eating of it, considering we have an 18 month old with us who likes to feed herself with cutlery. Too much gravy, not enough things to get a fork into and much that will spill off a spoon and go everywhere. In the end though everyone got fed and we managed to squeeze in another little walk before bed time.