David MottonSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Tow cars’ written by David Motton
It's never too early to start planning next year's caravan holidays. While the rain was hammering on the windows this weekend I started to ponder where I'd most like to tour with a caravan in 2016.
I went touring in Scotland back in 2006, and I'm tempted to go back 10 years on. On that trip I was based at the Caravan Club site in Bunree. It's an abolutely beautiful spot, not far from Fort William.
It was a great trip, but a short one. The demands of work meant we only stayed for three of four days, sandwiched between two long days of towing either side. As much as I enjoy driving, I usually prefer a more restful ratio of travel to holiday.
Which makes me slightly daft for wanting to travel further north next time. Car manufacturers often launch new cars in the north Highlands, so I'm familiar with some of the fantastic roads up there. Compared with the roads close to home there's hardly any traffic, and I've never travelled to a more scenic part of Britain.
If I am to visit Scotland, the drive up would be a long one (it's just under 600 miles from where I live to Inverness), but if I could spare enough time for a full fortnight away I'd love to pack a caravan, take my family with me and really explore.
In 2006 I stayed in the one spot. This time I'd like to stop at different campsites, moving on every two or three days. There's a ready-made route to follow; the North Highland Initiative has devised a scenic loop called the North Coast 500. Starting and finishing in Inverness, as the name implies, the route is around 500 miles long.
On the east coast the route follows the A9 and A99, but the drive along the west coast would be a real towing challenge – for tow car and the driver. There are some very narrow stretches of road and seriously steep gradients.
I'm looking at a map of the route now, and wondering if it might be worth modifying it here and there to make it more caravan-friendly. It's been a while since I've driven around the Applecross Peninsula but I wonder if it could be that bit too challenging for a car and van. Are the passing places big enough for an outfit? Perhaps someone who has been touring in that part of the world will know.
An alternative would be to stay at a campsite nearby – indeed, the Inverewe Gardens Camping and Caravanning Club site isn't too far away – and drive around this spectacular road without a caravan in tow. I certainly wouldn't want to miss out on driving over the Bealach na Ba pass.
Or perhaps even cycling over it. Have you heard of Mark Beaumont? He used to hold the record for cycling around the world in the shortest time (194 days and 17 hours!), and earlier this year he rode the whole of the North Coast 500 in one go. That might be a bit ambitious, but there are certainly parts of the route I'd like to cycle as well as tow around.
The more I think about it, two weeks might not be enough to do the North Highlands justice. Perhaps Group Editor Clements would let me take three weeks off? I'd better fill out the holiday form now...