A lurcher in Germany 

This is Dresden and what a splendid skyline it has, a credit to those who rebuilt the ruins after the war. The main centre is beautiful and hard to capture on photo. Below is my favourite as the brick detail shows the restoration and use of original brick (dark) on left and speckled with new…

On the way to Dresden was Colditz and being a bank holiday the empty ex-prison and deserted town was particularly eerie.

Heading southwest for an hour we stopped the night in a countryside campsite. Half shut down, heavy rain and a vague feeling of being in Deliverance (the man was very nice, it was just the darkness, wood axes and animal skins!) 

So swiftly onto Bamberg to baroque and breweries. The small town has 13 micro brew houses apparently. Obvs a night in one was essential.

Dogs sleeping in carpark – one collie and me #hardcore 

Bruges to Germany

There are few places that live up to their hype as well as Bruges, it’s rather lovely. Even on a cold damp day in November the cobbled streets and canelside houses are wonderful to potter around. Chocolate, bars and dog friendly boats, the perfect town!

We headed eastwards through Belgium towards Germany. The roads in Belgium are quiet and the traffic polite and non-rushed. Pretty, clean towns, friendly people and an impressive cycle network. All very civilised (well the bits we saw anyway). 

Skirting the sprawl of Brussels we visited Waterloo and the famous battle site. Napoleon behind me and Wellington in front. And, yes, we did play Abba when driving off….

A few hours east and we stayed the night in a holiday park in the middle of nowhere (although it was questionable whether anyone had holidayed there since 1978). Then onwards to Germany and Cologne, home of P’s grandmother Hedwig.

There is a caravan site just down the Rhine within an easy cycle along the river. I snoozed, they viewed. Elaine was quite disappointed with the cathedral as she’d glimpsed it briefly at night when interailing and always had a romantic (ie delirious from lack of sleep) vision of it. She much prefers Litchfield.

Unfortunately it was also raining cats and dogs by now so few photos. The next day’s 4 hour drive was also wet and a little hairy, the Germans generally drive very fast, even in sleet down an 8 percent Autobahn descent!

This, however, is the dramatic Schloss (castle or any large edifice) of Kassel and it’s beautiful grounds. A very handsome town. 

Dogs on site – none as we overnighted in the Schloss car park. It’s common in German towns so not as scary for us wimps.

Ben Nevis southward…

This, obviously, is not Ben Nevis but the Falkirk Wheel. A splendid and quite eerie feat of engineering. Sadly we didn’t see it move but it is a lot larger and more impressive than you can photograph.

Ben Nevis was covered in cloud for the 3 days we were there so sadly we didn’t see that either. Apparently this is quite normal. The Nevis range (Glen being above our van) is still arresting though, and rainy… very rainy.

The drive south took us via Glencoe and it’s rolling hills and dramatic valleys. And so another beautiful commute to our next home on the shores of Loch Lomond. The loch is the largest so more like like a sea than a lake. 

Staying in Balloch allowed us a train trip to Glasgow, a gritty, artistic, cool city. Elaine had been years ago but it’s no excuse for her lack of photos, grr.

Next were the Kelpies in Falkirk….

Fabulous 30ft sculptures but as it was raining again we moved on. I was also refusing to pose. Moffat was our last stop over in Scotland before leaving. A really nice old woollen mill town.

We loved Scotland. It was hard going at times due to the weather but always friendly. The Highlands are spectacular and the coastline ragged… just needs a few more dog friendly pubs and castles! 

Then just before we zoom south to Le Shuttle here I am on duty at Hadrian’s Wall! 

Dogs on site – none as no other vans. Lots of crazy animal noises at night though *shudders* 

Scotland’s NC500

From Stonehaven we headed further north along the coast to the shores of the Moray Forth. Burghead, a small fishing port for dolphin spotting…

This was to be our last stop off before driving most of the North Coast 500 route (as the obvious road round the top of Scotland is now dubbed). Next would be more fruitless dolphin spotting at Fortrose and a few hours drive up the A9 towards Dunbeath. Caravan sites were starting to close for the season so our stops were determined by where we could spend the night. Wild camping was possible on the west but not so easy on the east or top (especially for a larger van with an unreliable security dog) 

John O’Groats was a big tick moment but there was little there bar a non dog friendly cafe and some souvenir shops. Well it was October and you could see the Orkneys at least. 

The very top of Scotland is where the route really starts to become interesting. The roads are narrower and freight free and the scenery opens out. From Dunnet Bay to Durness the craggy winding coast was spectacular. But by far the most dramatic section was to come, south from Durness to Ullapool via Loch Assynt (with Ardvreck Castle in the photos). Around 70 miles of empty roads through the beautiful Highlands. 

It was ridiculously picturesque and exactly how you would expect the highlands to be. This section also had a lot of smaller and safer wild camping points for the more adventurous than us. It’s hard going at times but so worth the effort.