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North & East coast Route

This is a route designed by us for your motorhome holiday, and tours round the East Coast and Northern tip of Scotland and gives help and advice on where to stay overnight using our wild camp spots, what to see, and where to eat.
 

Scottish Tourer East coast and northern scotland route

In this route all the places we mention have been visited by us in a motorhome over the years, on more than one occasion. 

From our base in Perth head to Scone Palace which is only 10 minutes away, Scone Palace is where the Kings of Scotland used to be crowned and is the rightful home of the Stone of Destiny, The Stone of Scone was last used at the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II, Robert the Bruce was crowned here in 1306.

Scone palace

From Scone travel to Dundee, Via Forfar popping into Glamis Castle on the way, the Medieval Glamis Castle was the home of the Queen mother, and this is where the current queen played in the Gardens as a child, legends and myths have grown around the castle. King Malcolm II was said to have been murdered here in the 11th century, lady Janet Douglas the widow of Lord Glamis, was burned at the stake as a witch in 1540 by James V, it is also said there is a secret room where a nobleman played cards with the devil himself.

From Glamis it is a short drive to Forfar where you can treat yourself to a famous Forfar Bridie from the Bridie shop who have been baking bridies since 1893. They are said "to have been 'invented' by a Forfar baker in the 1850s". The name may refers to the fact that bridies were normal to be seen on wedding menus in the area.

From Forfar travel to Dundee’s waterfront where Captain Scott’s ship Discovery has been restored there is also a museum and you can board and walk around the ship, the ship was launched in 1901 and was designed for Artic  Ice Exploration. The expedition’s zoologist was to die with Scott on the fateful journey to the pole in 1912.

When travelling our Northern Scotland by Motorhome route, If you are interested in Golf then St Andrews is only 30 Minutes drive from Dundee , Overnight parking is allowed close to The Old course right beside the beach, (Ask us for Directions) Wild camping is available near Dundee next to the beach follow this link to view on google Earth,  http://tinyurl.com/y57w6qz

From Dundee travel to Arbroath... passing Carnoustie on the way, 
Arbroath used to be an important fishing town on the east coast, make sure you don’t leave Arbroath without sampling the world-famous Arbroath Smokey, Arbroath smokies are prepared using traditional methods dating back to the late 1800s.

The fish are first soaked in salt overnight, they are then tied in pairs using a hemp  type twine, and left  to dry overnight, after they have been salted, tied and then dried, they are hung over a triangular length of wood to smoke, a "kiln stick" fits between the pair of smokies, one  on either side, the kiln sticks are then used to hang the fish in a wooden container which contains a hardwood fire, they are absolutely Delicious.

smokies

From Arbroath (Wild camping is available overnight here only provided you arrive after 6pm and leave next morning before 10 am... ignore the no overnight camping signs as this is only to stop gipsies from setting up camp go through the farm until you come to the car park at the beach.  http://tinyurl.com/y454fao

 

Scottish tourer map

From here head up the coast towards Aberdeen if you are feeling hungry then stop in past Stonehaven and visit the Bay Fish and Chip shop on the promenade the fish is fresh caught and cooked to order, they have been awarded the UK No 1 Independent takeaway in 2013. Wild camping in Stonehaven available here, http://tinyurl.com/39ry5d6.

Dunnottar Castle.. Near Stonehaven

Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II, all visited this castle. However very famously though, it was at Dunnottar Castle that a very small garrison of men held out against the mighty Cromwell’s army for over eight months and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels from English hands, the ‘Honours of Scotland’ The Crown, sceptre and sword are now on show in Edinburgh Castle. Dunnottar Castle was originally the ancestral home of the Earls Marischal who once one of the most powerful families in Scotland.  The last Earl of the castle was charged and convicted of treason for his part in the Jacobite rising in 1715, and as a result his estates, including Dunnottar Castle , were seized by the English government. 

 Aberdeen is known locally as the silver city, as almost all of the building is built using a grey / silver granite stone. From Aberdeen take the A947 up to Macduff and Banff and stop by the Srathisla Distillery at Keith 

Nice wild camp spot beside lovely beach http://tinyurl.com/36kav92 then along the Moray Firth Coastline , Wild camping next to the sea is available near Buckpool here you can overnight right next to a colony of grey seals, the photo below is some of the seals at Buckpool.

An overnight stop is available close to the beach near Findochty the exact location is on the Sat Nav supplied with the Motorhome.

Head along the coast road towards Inverness and just past Nairn( Wild camp here nice spot next to beach http://tinyurl.com/yypcm2w ) head for Fort George, after the defeat at Culloden of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746, the then king George II created the ultimate defence against any further Jacobite unrest, Fort George was the result, which is the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, if not Europe, its garrison buildings, artillery defences bristling with cannon, and superb collection of arms – including bayoneted muskets, pikes, swords and ammunition pouches – provide a fascinating insight into 18th century military life. Wild camp here next to the Fort http://tinyurl.com/y2up46r

Before reaching Inverness a Visit to the Culloden battle field and Museum is a must. Charles Stuart, also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, The Jacobite army was made up mainly of Scottish Highlanders, as well as a large number of Lowland Scots, there was also a small detachment of Englishmen from the Manchester Regiment, the Jacobite army were supported and supplied by France and French and Irish units loyal to France were also part of the Jacobite army, the government army was mostly made up of English soldiers, along with a fair number of Scottish Lowlanders and  even some Highlanders, a battalion of  Northern Irish and a few  Hessians from Germany, the battle on Culloden Moor was a blood bath, and lasted only an hour, following an unsuccessful famous Highland charge against the English lines, the Jacobite army was heavily defeated and driven off the battlefield.  

 

From Inverness take the A9 coast road towards Dornoch. The Royal Burgh of Dornoch is an historic small town on the edge of the Dornoch Firth, a designated National Scenic Area in the Highlands of Scotland the local pipe band play on summer Saturday evenings. Wild camping on beach at Golspie  http://tinyurl.com/2cb4elx

Dunrobin Castle is near Golspie and is the most northerly of Scotland's great Castles and dates back to around the 1300s, the gardens were laid out in 1850 by the architect Sir Charles Barry, it was also he who designed the Houses of Parliament, the inspiration for the castle came from the Palace of Versailles in Paris, the gardens to this day are still laid out as they  were planted in the 1300s.

Dunrobbin Castle

From Dornoch the road follows close to (wild camping available at the Lybster harbour  http://tinyurl.com/366da46) the coast up to Wick from here take the A99 to John O Groats which is the most northerly part of mainland UK , at the Harbour watch for the small fishing boats coming in where you can buy fresh caught Crabs, lobsters , scallops etc direct off the boat, we have to say we were disappointed when we last visited John O Groats (2014) as the local hotel was boarded up and the place looked run down, however we believe the Area has now (2018) been spruced up.

Ferries run between John O Groats and the Orkney Isles you can go over as a foot passenger and tour the Island on a tour bus or take the Motorhome over on the Ferry, Orkney was a base of a Royal Navy  detachment at Scapa Flow with easy access to the North sea, this base played a major role in World War One and Two. After the surrender of German forces in 1918, the whoe German High Seas Fleet sailed in its entirety to Scapa Flow, the German sailors scuttled all the ships, the remaining wrecks are now a famous place for divers exploring the wrecks for leisure, only a month into World War II, a German U-boat sank the Royal Navy Ship, HMS Royal Oak in Scapa Flow, as a result Winston Churchill organised the building of barriers between the islands to stop German U Boats from entering the bay , the barriers are wide enough to drive on creating causeways, so now travellers can drive from island to island, using the now aptly named Churchill Barriers 

The causeways were constructed using Italian prisoners of war, these prisoners also constructed the fantastic ornate Italian Chapel using waste materials, which is well worth visiting.

Skara Brae is a well reserved Neolithic Village and is the best preserved Neolithic settlement in Europe, it believed to have been inhabited from around 3100 BC, also in the area and from around the same period are the standing stones of Stenness, the ring of Brodgar, Maeshowe passage grave, along with many other standing stones.

From John O Groats follow the A836 to Thurso take a small detour up to Dunnet Head Lighthouse, which marks the most northerly point of the Scottish mainland, from here only 6.75 miles across the Pentland Firth, is the nearest point of the Orkney Islands, which is only 2.35 miles North of John O'Groats, the Queen Mother has visited the lighthouse on many occasions, the last time  was in October 1979, where the head lighthouse keeper Mr Malcolm gave her a guided tour of the station, Later the Queen Mother, after the tour had tea with Mr Malcolm and his wife.Wild camping near the lighthouse here http://tinyurl.com/3x6w8fe

Stay on the A836 which takes you along the North Coast of Scotland past Wick is the Dounray Nuclear power station The site is used by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and the Ministry of Defence, the site is well known for the five nuclear reactors stationed there, three of them are operated by the Atomic energy Authority and two owned by the Ministry of defence, the site is in the process of decommissioning and visitors are welcome.

The road crosses a long sweeping causeway and bridge over the Kyle of Tounge, which was built in 1971, up until then travellers used to cross by ferry, which stopped in 1956, and meant travellers had a long 10-mile drive, along a narrow road which runs around the head of the Kyle. 
As can be seen in the photo below, the far northern part of Scotland, is very remote with mainly flat moorland, very unlike the Highlands and Western Coast. Wild camping here near Tounge http://tinyurl.com/y6323mq.

From Tongue after crossing the causeway turn right for Talmine you can park on the bay or up on roughish ground right by the breakwater in the picture.

By Durness and Farraid Head, came across this place by accident, at first we thought it was a bunch of hippies living in the old army barracks getting away from the rest of the world, but it is a fascinating craft village in ex-Ministry of Défense buildings, surrounded by the most beautiful windswept beaches, fantastic bookstore, cafe, pottery, horn-crafts , chocolate Factory which was featured on dragons Den, local artists etc, and not what you would expect to find in one of the most remote places in Europe.

Durness wild camp here at gorgeous spot next to deserted beach  http://tinyurl.com/2ebwv9d .

From near Durness a ferry goes across to Cape Wrath, this is a very well worthwhile trip in fine weather, first the small boat takes you across the estuary and  then you are transferred into a bit of a shabby old minibus the 11 miles across MOD ground and to the lighthouse, sometimes the RAF are practising there off shore bombing skills and the area gets shut of at Cape Wrath and you may have to wait for the road to open.

The first photo is the wild camp site on the roadside after Durness, just where you go down to the ferry to Cape Wrath, the other shows the boat which takes you across the estuary.

Scottish tourer map

From Durness start heading South on the A838 down the western coast for Ullapool ( This road is extremely remote) and you will notice the Scenery changes very dramatically from flat moorlands to high rugged mountains with forests and rivers.  
Turn off  at Laxford Bridge ( wild camp here on shore of loch http://tinyurl.com/y5gdmv7)  for Scourie on the A894 to the crofting village of Scourie, which was the stronghold of the  Clan Mackay, this area is famous for its unspoilt location untouched by modern developments, and is an area of remote rugged beauty, the village is apparently the only one in the world, where depending on the season of the year you can the Black Throated diver birds, palm trees, from the shore of the bay, Assynt has a unique mixture of mountains, glens, and moorlands dotted with lochans, this area is also famous for its brown trout fishing, the area dominated with the peaks of Mountains such as , Ben Sytack, Foinaven, Quigag, Suliven, and Ben More , Assynt is the ideal place to relax away from the stresses of modern living. 

IMORTANT... The B869 road Through Drumbeg on our, Northern Scotland by Motorhome route, is not suitable for Motorhomes. DO NOT USE.

Stop at Kylesku Bridge, there is a memorial on the north side of the bridge marking the 50th  anniversary of the X11th Submarine Flotilla which used this area for a base in 1943, this was where the Unit of X – craft miniature submarines trained around the waters of Kylesku , this is where they setoff for Norway to attack the famous German battleship Tirpitz, which was very successful as they crippled the German battleship and stopped her from leaving port. In the Bar at the Kylesku Hotel they have a presentation covering the story in more detail so pop in for a nice bar snack, and enjoy reading and viewing the many photographs from the time.

The memorial remembers those 39 men and the locals of the area who "knew so much and talked so little". Remote wild camping in the hills here  http://tinyurl.com/4gytjfc


Stop for the evening and park overnight ( wild Camp)  by Ardveck Castle ruins this is a fantastic spot with views over Loch Assyynt with the Mountains in the back ground.  

This castle was owned by the Clan MacLeod and is thought to have been built around 1590 . The MacLeod also owned Assynt and the estates and land all around from the 13 century onwards, there is a historical tale about the castle that on 30 April in 1650 the Marquis of Montrose was captured and held at the castle before being marched to Edinburgh for trial and execution, Montrose sought sanctuary at the castle with Neil MacLeod after being defeated at the battle of Carbis dale by government troops loyal to Charles 1, however Neil MacLeod was absent from the Castle on business and it is rumoured that his wife, Christine lured Montrose into the castle dungeons, and sent for the Government troops, Montrose was taken to Edinburgh, where he was executed by, hanging, drawing and quartering , which was the traditional method used for traitors at that time.

Continue from here on the A835 to Ullapool, From Ullapool and down the west coast please follow our west coast route, which covers Ullapool, Applecross, Summer Isles, Gairloch, Isle of Skye, Fort William, Glencoe, Loch Fynne, Stirling, Cairngorms. https://www.scottishtourer.co.uk/exploring/west-coast-route.