West Coast Route with Children.

A motorhome holiday with kids can be a bit daunting initially but I can guarantee you will create precious memories of touring round Scotland in your own little home from home.  There is so much to see and do in Scotland from visiting castles or battlefield, wildlife walks, adrenaline filled activities such as quad biking or paddle boarding, visiting the many national parks to enjoy or cycle run, not to mention our beautiful beaches.  

Our west coast route is a great guide to allow you to take in some of Scotland best sites, the whole of this route as described is ideal for a 7-night holiday or if your lucky and have extra few nights you can extend this route by visiting Oban as shown on the map below.

We have over 30 years’ experience touring round Scotland, I have fond memories of being a child and getting to go away in the motorhome on holiday.  We specialise in wild camping and have plotted wild camp spots on our travels to build up a data base for you to use meaning you do not need to visit campsites at night instead you can choose your own wild camp spot.  

The map below shows you the availability of wild camps spots in Scotland, these have all been pre-programmed into the Sat Nav for you which comes as part of your hire package.

Travel up the A9 towards Inverness

If you have had a long drive then you can stop at Blair Atholl about 45 minutes from Perth, here there is a great campsite, Blair Castle Caravan Park it has a playpark so the kids can burn off some energy as you take the time to get to know the motorhome and unpack your belongings.  If you can travel further then head on to Aviemore where you again have the option to book into a campsite or wildcamp, we stay at the carpark at the Cairngorm Ski Centre, please remember to put £5 in the honesty box.


Things to do in and around Aviemore

  • There is lots of safe cycle paths in and around Aviemore one of our favourites is Loch Morlich
  • Visit Loch Morlich water sports where you can go Kayaking, paddle boarding or canoeing.
  • Go on a tree top trail at Tree Zone
  • Outside of Aviemore you will find Landmark Forest adventure park
  • Visit Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie.
  • Or why not take a short ride on the Strathspey Steam Train.

Steam train

We do not recommend visiting Loch ness the view is spoilt by the trees which line the road, this is also a very busy tourist attraction so the road tends to be busy with tour buses which can make it quite narrow for passing with the motorhome, we have lost a few wing mirrors to this road, so unless its on your bucket list we would advise you to avoid.  

If you are interested in Scottish History, then a visit to the Culloden Battlefield might be of interest to you.  Haven watched the Disney movie Brave several times with my daughter just outside the Culloden Battlefield you can visit the Clava Cairns and see some standing stones for yourself.  

From Aviemore travel to Inverness and then up to Ullapool

In Ullapool you can stay at the Broomfield Holiday Park this is a great campsite with good facilities and a playpark so the kids can let off a bit of steam, the campsite is at the edge of the water so you can spot the ferries sailing to and from the Islands.  Do not miss out on the Seafood shack whilst in Ullapool – fresh seafood cooked to order from a catering trailer so you can take it back and enjoy at the motorhome or there is some outdoor seating.  

The seafood Shack at Ullapool fantastic stop on Scottish Tourers west coast seafood shack tourtour

From Ullapool head back down towards Inverness on the A835 and then turn off to the right on the A832 heading towards Gairloch.  
If your looking for a lovely campsite try Sands Caravan park at Gairloch, the campsite has good facilities a playpark and plenty space for the kids to cycle around but the beach here is lovely for the kids to play.


   

On the way along this road look out for Inverewe Gardens near Poolewe, which was made famous for its exotic plants, this sub subtropical oasis on the Atlantic Ocean and on the banks of Loch Ewe.  If you are looking for wild camping you can stop on the sand dunes near Cove at Loch Ewe.

Head down the coast to Loch Maree

Loch Maree has an abundance of wild camping available and in our opinion is much better than loch Ness or Loch Lomond it has an abundance of peaceful locations by the waters edge and in the mountain range.  See the link below as an example of wild camping http://tinyurl.com/3xva3gh.


Continue on down this road then take the Torridon Mountain pass A896

Follow this road this road then take the Torridon Mountain pass A896 this is a single track road with plenty passing places, this is a nice drive so enjoy the spectacular views of the high mountains such as Beinn Eighe.  At Beinn Eighe there is some picnic tables if you want to stop for a snack or why not enjoy a walk in the forest, visit the centre first and find out what animals you can expect to see on your walk at the forest.

If your looking for a treat then stop off at Nannys at Shieldaig, Nanny’s, originally opened up in the 1918’s as a grocery store run by Mr Grant the father of those who fondly remember Nanny Grant, the grocery store has been transformed into a gift shop and café.  When the weather is nice you can sit outside by the bank of Loch Torridon and enjoy some freshly caught seafood, I was lucky enough to enjoy a traditional bowl of Cullen Skink when we visited, they do not just sell seafood however you can enjoy a selection of home cooked meals or homemade cakes and coffee as well as sell locally made ice cream.

   

One of our favourite places to stop overnight is Applecross if you are visiting Applecross, turn Right along the unmarked single-track road for Applecross taking the coast route this is now a one way sytem into Applecross so be careful not to miss it.  

Take care however the first 3 miles of the road is steep with lots of blind corners, persevere as after this the road opens up with stunning views of the Western isles.
There is some wild camp spots further up the coast from Applecross village with views of the Isle of Raasay and the Black Cuillin Mountain ridge of Skye. Wild camping along the beach area has been been restricted to protect the environment but if your luck enough to find a spot, the wild deer come down from the mountains every night to eat the seaweed on the shore so you are guaranteed to get very close view, a few of our customers have actually fed the deer from their hands! or there is a campsite you can book into.  

   

If you have bikes you can cycle (or walk ) into Applecross village, where you can enjoy a meal and a real ale at the Applecross Inn or the Walled Garden both are highly recommended by us, with a family friendly atmosphere and delicious food.

    

The main attraction of Applecross is its remoteness, it was only in 1822 that a road was built from Kishorn over the pass of the cattle (Bealach Na Ba) to Applecross village, up until the 1950s the road was a gravel track, and during the winter was blocked for many weeks at a time by snow, and the Village relied solely on the MacBraynes steamer service for contact with the outside world.  The views from the Applecross bay are some of the best around Scotland.

When leaving Applecross take the Bealach Na Ba to Kishorn, this stretch of road has been voted the 2nd best drive in the world next to Route 66 in the States. The Applecross pass (Bealach Na Ba)  2500 ft high straight down to sea level which on first sight appears to be more of rollercoaster ride than a road for a large motorhome however don’t be daunted as we have Motorhomes here every day during the summer months.

On reaching the top of the pass its worthwhile stopping in one of the car parks to enjoy some of the amazing views, weather permitting. 


This is also a popular start to explore the surrounding mountains as it has the benefit of being 2000 ft high to start with, please be aware it is very high up here and so don’t stray far from the car park otherwise you could land in trouble when low cloud blows in from the sea.

At the bottom of the cattle pass (Bealach Na Ba) take a right towards Kishorn and follow the road, if you are looking for brunch or a coffee.  Try the Kishorn Seafood bar.

The Kishorn seafood bar is voted in the world’s top 100 seafood restaurants and is only open during the day, great for breakfast, lunch, or an afternoon snack. Everything is freshly caught by local fisherman.


From Kishkorn, follow the road past Lochcarron take the A890 until you reach the T junction turn right for The Isle of Skye.   However we advise turning left for 4 miles to visit Scotland’s best castle “Eilean Donan” before heading to the Isle Of Skye.

    

Eilanan Donan Castle is one of Scotland most iconic and pictured castles, situated on its own Island where 3 sea lochs meet this is a stunning beautiful castle inside and out.  The children can follow a treasure hunt through the castle looking for different objects of historic interest and at the end of all that exploring there is the opportunity to take a walk through the grounds.  

From here head for Kyle Of lochalsh and over the Bridge to Isle Of Skye when you reach the Sligachan Hotel bear left A863 for 800 yards to find a nice wild camp spot (right beneath the Cullin Ridge) within walking distance of the hotel which is a climbers pub - steak pie and chips sort of establishment. There is a small campsite nearby opposite the Sligachan Hotel if you prefer a campsite. 

At the foot of the Black Cuillins Mountains at Glen brittle are the famous Fairy Pools, crystal clear blue pools of mountain water in the Brittle River. There are good parking facilities here now but it can still be busy around lunchtime in summer.  If you are feeling brave take your swimsuit and a towel and go for a dip in the cold water, these pools are deep so the children would need an adult in with them - otherwise it makes a stop for a lovely walk and a great photo stop. 


  


If you are using a campsite, we are happy to recommend Kinloch campsite at Dunvegan (inspected and recommended by us) which is right by the sea. Again, this has great facilities and the kids can get out and about to explore. Only a short walk away is the Old School House restaurant where you can enjoy a huge plate of langoustines or an excellent steak.


 
A must visit when in the Isle Of Skye is Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, the ancestral home of Clan MacLeod for over 800 years. Dunvegan is the oldest continually inhabited castle in Scotland, which has been built in the most stunning Lochside setting – which allows them to be able to offer you a boat trip to sea colony. They offer special garden and castle visitor tour and workshops for children in the school holidays so don’t forget to ask about this on arrival or phone in advance.  


 
Move up the western coast through Uig.

Visit the Skye Museum to learn the history of how the Islanders lived and earned a living 100 years ago, the islanders could not afford to important materials so had to live off the land the township has been set up with cottages which you can go in and visit and see how different life is now – no electric for lighting, tv’s or Wi-Fi.  

Continue for around two miles to a fantastic wild camp spot at Duntulm. Sitting next to the Sea overlooking the Western Islands of The Outer Hebrides you can stay overnight with a nice glass of wine and have a BBQ, just sit back, and enjoy the most spectacular sunset over the sea. We did, look at our photo below!

You can stop off at the Kilt Rock waterfall, the rock cliffs look like the neat folds you find on a gentleman’s kilt hence the name. Then head on and visit the Old man of Storr, the walk is about 3.5 km and will probably take you about an hour or so.  The “Old Man” is a large pinnacle of rock that protrudes high which is seen for many miles around, it is part of Trotternish ridge and was created by a huge ancient landside.


 
 
Head to Armadale A851.

Take the Ferry to Mallaig on the mainland, its much quicker and easier taking the ferry rather than driving round the ferry is approximately £20 so is not over expensive neither. My kids love taking the motorhome on the ferry its just something a bit different from driving.   During the summer the Ferries run every hour or so and normally there is no need to book. You could also consider visiting Sea Safari in Mallaig on arrival from the ferry, they offer one hour whale and dolphin-watching boat trips. 


 
If you’re looking for a campsite then don’t miss the beachside campsites at Arisaig; Sunnyside Croft is one of our favourites. The owners Ian and Julie have brought camping into the 21st century; everything is immaculately clean and modern with under floor heating in the toilets – they have a dedicated children’s bathroom, with a bath to make it easier. Each pitch has an elevated position with views over the bay and the beach is just a short walk away and beautifully clean.


 


From Arsiaig heading towards fort william for any Harry potter fans, I would recommend a stop at Glenfinnan Viaduct – it’s definitely worth checking the times of the Jacobite steam train which runs across the Bridge travelling between Fort William and the seaside town of Mallaig to see if you can catch a glimpse of the train making the crossing. Please note, you can book to have a trip of the Jacobite Steam Train but this needs to be booked many months in advance to avoid disappointment.  

The Jacobite steam train is known as one of the world’s best train journeys. The 84-mile round trip enjoys a fantastic list of impressive views passing through Fort William close to Britain’s highest Mountain Ben Nevis, Britain’s deepest freshwater loch Loch Morar, and deepest seawater loch Loch Nevis.


 


At Banvie a small village just 4 miles before Fort William, its worth stopping and visiting Neptume’s staircase.  Neptune's Staircase is on the Caledonian canal near Fort William. It comprises eight locks, built between 1803 and 1822 by Tomas Telford and is the longest lock staircase in the UK. The original system was hand powered and has been converted to an electric hydraulic system in recent years. It lifts boats 64 feet up, the eight locks are 180 feet by 40 feet and takes about 90 minutes to pass through.


   
 
Fort william is known as Scotland’s outdoor capital, there is plenty outdoor adventures to be had here from exploring the national park, water sports, hillwalking, mountain biking so there will be something here for everyone.  

From fort william make you way through Glen Coe, there is overnight parking available at Glen Coe ski centre where for a fee you can park overnight.  There is also some summer activities on offer here such as tubing or taking the ski lift and having a walk following the paths so you can explore a little bit of the mountains for yourself.

  
       
From Glen Coe follow the A82 to Crainlarich the view through the mountain range is quite spectacular and there is wild camping spots available at various points as you drive on.

At Crainlarich take the A85 towards Lochearnhead where you turn off and follow the A84 towards Stirling.  
Driving past Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park – to wild camp overnight you will need to obtain a permit they are only a few pounds and is designed to deter irresponsible wild camping and protect the surrounding environment – you will also find water sports and other activities on offer around loch Lomond.  

My children and I like to visit Blair Drummond safari Park on our last day, driving through the various enclosures with the motorhome is a bit of a novelty.  As well as the drive through area there is also a seal lion show, variety of other animals to visit and fun fair type rides.  The outdoor park has a Picnic/BBQ area which will amuse the kids allowing you to enjoy some rest - so don’t forget to pack a picnic or take a disposable BBQ with you.  After the safari park we would come home but I would recommend you stay the night at Noahs Ark campsite which is only 15 minutes from our depot making the trip back to our depot easier in the morning.