2021 – 4 Caravan Club CL’s in Central Scotland.
It is good to be writing a blog post again as it seems ages since the last one. There has however been an added delay in posting this blog post as someone, somewhere in the world, thought it would be a jolly jape to somehow add 10,000 gambling / casino posts to this site which meant I had to delete the whole site and start again. Hey Ho!
I’ve taken the opportunity to add some new bells and whistles to the site and give it a bit of a makeover but it’s still a work in progress, especially to restore the correct pictures in previous blogs.
We have been busy catching up with our family and it was great to have everyone visit us in Argyll for two weeks in early July which was pretty full on keeping our granddaughters entertained. They all came for their summer holidays for 2 weeks and a great time was had by all with fantastic warm sunny weather every day. The aim was to relax and enjoy each other’s company after having been deprived of so much lost family time over the past 18 months.
Eilidh likes to rise around 6am, and Callie at 8 months, is a reluctant sleeper, so by the end of the fortnight Granny and Bampa were ready to get away in Bessie to relax, catch up on some sleep and enjoy the amazing weather.
A family lunch for my birthday at the Tayvallich Inn and lovely it was too…
This post is titled ‘4 Caravan Club CL’s in Central Scotland’ but there is a bonus location to tell you about first.
Because we have used Bessie sparingly during the Covid restrictions and lockdowns and had been taking things out to either use or store at home we were not 100% sure if everything had been put back in for this trip so we decided that we would set off on Thursday the 15th of July after watching the latest stage of the Tour de France and wild camp somewhere locally for the first night so that it would be easy to nip home if something crucial was missing. You can see from the following map that the car park at Achnabreac is only 4.8 miles and a 10 minute drive from home!
WHAT3WORDS - pines.litigate.stoops
We had a family walk at Achnabreac a few weeks earlier and at the time I noticed a new sign advertising the fact that motorhomes / camper vans could officially stay the night in the car park so this was perfect for us.
The Forestry Commission describe Achnabreac as follows…
“There’s plenty to see in the attractive open woodland here, including one of the finest set of cup and ring marked rocks in Britain. Follow the Cup and Ring Trail to marvel at these mysterious ancient symbols, take a gentle stroll around a fascinating wetland area or simply bring a picnic and relax in the peaceful forest.
Achnabreac is part of the ancient kingdom of Dalriada, the birthplace of the Scottish nation. It was centred on Dunadd, a rocky crag just to the north of Achnabreac, which was the crowning place of its kings. Explore the area to find remains of thousands of years of human occupation.”
The next morning was dry and after a long lie in we had a walk around the smaller of the 2 signposted walks before heading off to the first of the Caravan Club CL’s that we would be staying at in the next week or so…
GARTFAIRN FARM CL
WHAT3WORDS - wades.valued.zebra
With a big trip looming in September and with only 11 nights at our disposal we didn’t want to venture too far so the first port of call was to look at the Caravan & Motorhome Club website to check out last minute availability, a handy feature they have. After picking the region, Scotland, and pressing search up came a small list of campsites with limited capacity, mostly way up north but two sites did catch my eye as they had availability for at least two nights. We have been to the Ayr and Yellowcraig sites before and they would definitely be worth a re-visit but at £36 and £48 a night they were way outside the budget of these two old pensioners!
Instead, I searched for availability on the Certified Location (CL) list of sites to try and find availability for the next week or so. For those not familiar with CL’s they are small sites with a legal maximum of 5 vans, usually, but not always, on farms with basic facilities. Gartfairn Farm is very popular but had just had a cancellation so we snapped up a 3 night stay at £15 a night.
As you can see from the above drone picture this site has a fantastic view over Loch Lomond and we sat out after arriving and enjoyed the view, great weather and a dramatic sunset.
On Saturday morning we decided to cycle into Balmaha, a place we had not been to in many years and one that confused The Navigator as it was not as she remembered it. It was about a mile to cycle and it took less than ten minutes. After chaining the bikes up we had a walk about and then sat near the slipway watching people launching kayaks and paddle boards. The weather was sunny and hot and it seemed as though half of Scotland was trying to get parked here, most with no success. (We later found out that the police had set up a roadblock at Drymen and were not allowing anyone to get to Balmaha unless they were a resident)
The following statue in Balmaha commemorates the life of Tom Weir, a legend in Scotland if you are of a certain age.
In 1950 he was a member of the first post-war Himalayan expedition and, in 1952, was one of the first to explore the previously closed mountain ranges of Nepal, east of Kathmandu. Weir became a pioneering campaigner for the protection of the Scottish environment, and wrote a column for The Scots Magazine for over 50 years. From 1976–1987, he hosted the Scottish Television series Weir’s Way, meeting the people of Scotland, exploring the landscape and its natural history.
I treated The Navigator to coffee and cake and although we had forgotten our masks I was served inside without a problem. We sat outside and people watched for ages with The Navigator unaware of the trauma she was about to endure! A final walkabout around the marina was followed by the cycle back to the site where it all went wrong for The Navigator. I usually lead the way but had stopped to rub my leg as I had brushed some nettles. The Navigator carried on and stopped at the farm gate to wait on me. When we met up we headed down the few hundred yards of rough farm track and when I got to the van the Navigator was not following me. Long story short, she had fallen off her bike and landed heavily on her side with her right elbow getting scraped in the process.
I’m not First Aid trained and I haven’t watched a medical drama since E.R. but I know the basics in a situation like this.
Put the kettle on first!
Thankfully the wound was scraped and not cut so there wasn’t a lot of blood to deal with, although it was painful (not for me) as I cleaned it up. Lashings of Savlon and the application of an out of date (10 years out of date!) bandage ended my involvement and I left The Navigator to come too as she was a bit traumatised by the experience.
As I type this a few days later I can report that the bandage is now off and the patient is off the critical list!
Another BBQ with a side serving of paracetamol was the highlight of The Navigators evening.
Sunday was, as you might imagine, a lazy day with no more cycling. The days entertainment was provided by the couple next to us packing up their awning and caravan! It was a bit grey and overcast and not suitable to sit out for too long.
BARBETH FARM CL
WHAT3WORDS - deserved.kickers.shoulders
We were in no hurry to get to our next location and so took the longer route through Glasgow but it was easier to drive than going cross country. We were really lucky as there was an accident on the other carriageway near Dumbarton and the queue of traffic was back over the Erskine Bridge and past Glasgow Airport!
Monday was back to being warm and sunny and we packed up and headed to Barbeth Farm near Cumbernauld. Again this was quite a large working farm but the CL is separate and fenced off from the farm and overlooks fields of cows and there’s a huge Irn Bru factory a short distance away, recently visited by the Queen! It was scorching hot and we sat out in the shade of the van after lunch and enjoyed the warmth.
In the evening the elderly gentleman in a motorhome facing us came across for a chat and it turned out that he and The Navigator were born near each other and went to the same primary school, albeit ten years apart. It was his first trip out in his motorhome since Covid struck and it was quite sad to think of the pleasure he and his wife have been denied having spent so much money on a lovely van and even this tentative trip was only about ten miles from their home.
We had 2 very relaxing days here and never left the site. It is a well kept CL but there is nothing to walk to or cycle to, mind you, The Navigator was not for getting on her bike again just yet!
While flying the drone to take some pictures of our location I took a picture of Bessie’s roof and unfortunately it looks as though I will have to get up there and clean it!
BLAIR MAINS FARM CL
WHAT3WORDS - alert.loud.grub
On late Wednesday morning we headed further east to Blair Mains Farm near Culross (pronounced Coo-ross).
This was the third Caravan & Motorhome CL on a working farm and was no where near as well set up as the two previous sites as it had no electricity, but this was reflected in the price of only £7 per night. It is a mixed farm with both crops and a dairy herd and they have their own brand of ice cream made on the premises. When booking in with the owner The Navigator bought 4 pots so our two nights cost in total £20, a bargain! It was scorching hot and we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sunshine.
After lunch on Thursday we set off for the half hour walk into Culross and it was really enjoyable as the final half of the walk is on the tarmaced Fife coastal path right on the shore of the Firth of Forth with views across the water to Grangemouth and Bo’ness. If you squint your eyes almost tight shut the industry of Grangemouth looks less of a blot on the landscape!
Culross is a stunningly beautiful village with most of the historic houses surviving from the 1500s and 1600s thanks to The National Trust For Scotland. Because of the look and feel of the place several films have used Culross as a filming location, including Kidnapped (1971), The Little Vampire (2000), A Dying Breed (2007), The 39 Steps (2008), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).
I have mentioned in previous blogs that a claim to fame I have is that I have never watched a Star Wars film or read a word of a Harry Potter book. To update that small list I can now confess to never having watched a second of Game of Thrones or Outlander and the reason I mention this now is that if you are a fan of Outlander you should visit Culross as some of it is filmed here.
Tea and cake followed by a leisurely stroll back to the CL and another delicious BBQ followed by strawberries and the farm’s ice cream…
UNDERWOOD FARM CL
WHAT3WORDS - household.wink.purse
Friday saw us heading for our final stopover on this 4CL trip and where else to finish off the trip but Underwood Farm CL at Longcroft near Bonnybridge.
After a stop for lunch and some shopping to see us through the weekend we arrived at Underwood Farm to find the owner, Helen, cutting the grass, as ever. We were here in late March and you can see our review HERE so no need to take any time describing the site, safe to say it is one of the best we have been on, although the first CL of this trip beats it for the stunning view of Loch Lomond, if nothing else.
At this stage The Navigator was still recovering from her tumble off her bike but I need to report a medical emergency at 2.24am on Saturday morning when I was bitten by something, sight unseen, which resulted in a really itchy bite mark and slight swelling on my left leg and a swelling the size of an egg on top of my right shoulder. I thought, through feeling it, that it was the size of an ostrich egg but The Navigator said I was “over egging” it (boom boom) so settled for a hen’s egg sized swelling!
So, to briefly sum up the few days at Underwood Farm…
Friday – arrived, chatted to Helen, did nothing, had a BBQ.
Saturday – very lazy day with another delicious Chinese takeaway from the nearby Cotton House.
Sunday – very lazy day.
Monday – headed home after visiting our relatives as we had important commitments for the rest of the week, like getting our hair cut!
Otherwise we would loved to have stayed away longer to enjoy the glorious weather…
PS – Helen if you read this, we did stop for shopping on the way back at the Robroyston Shopping Centre and guess what The Navigator bought?
900 tea bags!!
It’s always difficult to head for home when the weather is so good but we had commitments in Argyll. Bessie performed well and is in great condition (apart from the aforementioned roof) so there are only a few little things to do before we set off in September again.
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COMING UP NEXT…
The family are coming for another week with us this weekend then it’s time to get Bessie ready for a long overdue road trip taking two weeks to meander down to Portsmouth then the ferry to Spain for just short of 3 months…