A82 Driving the Highlands in a Fiat

Scotland conjures up stunning mountainous scenes and romantic tales of grand castles from historic times, and for me it holds precious memories of family trips, of camping near Loch Ness and touring in my eldest son’s first car, a Fiat Cinquecento which we had borrowed from him at a time when our youngest were still little, such lovely memories of years past. Our Scottish adventures were such fun, and I am looking forward to a return visit when the opportunity arises after life returns to a kind of normality, after the days of lockdown end, maybe in the summer of the following year. For now, I reminisce about our time spent driving through the splendor of the Scottish landscapes and beside Lochs and mountains. 

Scottish mountain

We had always wanted to take a trip to Scotland and when the opportunity arose to take off for a camping trip, we took it and made the most of it. Our son’s little Fiat may have been lacking in size, but it certainly made up for that in its amazing economy, it would drive for what seemed like forever on a full tank of fuel. This little car had a lot of character too, and while my son owned it,  this little Fiat traveled hundreds of miles up and down the UK, it went to Cornwall, Dartmoor, London, Derbyshire, and Lincolnshire to name a few places, and took us on a memorable trip to Scotland.  Whilst we borrowed his beloved little car, our eldest son was back at home studying hard for his degree in science, biology with first class honours with Derby university. 

by the loch

We set off in the early hours of the morning with a full tank of fuel and an extremely basic camping set up, a couple of two-man tents, sleeping bags and a change of clothes each. We took our time in the little car and stopped a few times at service stations on our way up from Nottingham to the Scottish border. 

The drive was fun, upbeat music was playing and once daylight broke, the scenery changes were beautiful. Yorkshire was stunning in the early morning mist, another of my favorite places to visit and one of the first landscapes to appear out of the darkness that morning. Soon enough we had reached the Scottish border and were on our way through the beautiful heather landscapes and mountains a vague hint in the distance. 

Memories Of A Visit To Scotland in a Tiny Fiat Car 1
loch lomond

We had picked up some packed lunches on the way, and we stopped at Loch Lomond to relax and stretch our legs while having something to eat. The view across Loch Lomond was mesmerizing, it is such a stunning body of water and with the Scottish mountains on the horizon, it looked like a painting. Loch Lomond, (Loch Laomainn – ‘Lake of The Elms,) is a fresh water Scottish Loch that crosses the Highland boundary fault line. Some say it is the boundary of the Lowlands and Highlands, it is over 22 miles in length and 5 miles wide.   We sat with the kids here while we ate, and just took in the landscape before us. I wish I had a better camera back in the day, but I managed to capture the scene as best I could at the time. When family is young, buying expensive cameras does not come high on the priority list. 😀

boundary of the Lowlands and Highlands

Our next stop was Loch Ness in the Highlands and finding a camp site

Loch Ness, what a stunning sight to see. Our first glimpse of the Loch was a real breathtaking experience. I had never seen a more gorgeous sight, and of course we spent a lot of time searching for the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie! There has been local tales of a creature being sighted in the Loch as far back as 6th Century, and the stories passed from generation to generation. The sightings from the 1930’s made more headlines, especially that of a Mr and Mrs Spicer, who were said to have spotted a creature on the land, crossing the road ahead of them, a large Cumbersome creature. They first saw the long neck which formed arches a little thicker than an elephant’s trunk, followed by the lumbering body heading towards the loch, it then went out of sight behind bushes. As you can imagine this report drew a lot of interest from all kinds, a circus owner, Bertrum mills offered £20,000 for the creature if captured alive, for his circus. There have been lots of sightings and photos of “Nessie,” all kinds of tales have circulated and scientific research carried out, but the mystery continues to capture our imagination.

loch ness

Loch Ness is the second largest Loch by surface area, after Loch Lomond, but is indeed the largest by water volume because of it extraordinary depth, its deepest point is 230m (755ft or 126 Fathams) Can you imagine, it contains more water than all of the lakes in England Scotland and Wales put together, which makes Loch Ness the largest body of fresh water in Britain.  Our quest to find a campsite, was an easy one, we found a lovely family run site not far from the shores of Loch Ness in the Highlands. We were settled in no time at all, and the loch was just across the road from us, there was a stream running through the campsite too, the sounds of the babbling water I found so relaxing. The campsite owners had a couple of sweet natured dogs, a delightful collie and a little Staffordshire Bull Terrier who absolutely loved playing fetch, our kids enjoyed throwing the dog’s toys and sticks for them while we made some food and fished setting up camp. When we settled for the night, it was so quiet all apart from the trickling of the stream and dropping off to sleep was such bliss in this relaxing environment, apart from the midges biting of course. Our youngest son who would have been 7 years old at the time, was awoken in the night by some unexplained noises, some quite loud splashing sounds, something he still recalls to this day. I remember him waking me too, I heard the watery noises, and I’ll never know what exactly caused them.

water and mountains in scotland

One thing we did not find so much fun was the Scottish midges, they will bite through anything, they itch and annoy like nothing else, they were in the car, in the tents and in our hair. We had little red midge bites all over us for days afterwards. 😀

Clyde Sea Loch

Next morning, we showered and had a delicious breakfast cob each and some coffee, all made by the lovely family running the little campsite to the side of their home. We set off again for our drive home and we took in a few extra sights on the way home, we drove to the Clyde Sea Loch and stopped a short while to take in the area and make the most of our trip. We stopped at Fort William to buy a few souvenirs and boy is there some merchandise to choose from, I bought a Scottish Munroe clan dram glass for having a tot of whiskey in and a Munroe clan Tartan woolen scarf. We also bought a lovely Nessie plush toy and a Highland cattle plush toy memento.

bed and breakfast scottish highlands

The drive home was just as much fun, and we chatted away about our adventures in the highlands and speculated about the Loch Ness Monster. The scenery throughout our journey home was absolutely amazing, from mountains, to hills, and fields of green and of Yorkshire stone walled, sheep filled landscapes until we reached closer to home and the kids were sleeping after their busy weekend adventure, so much to dream about.

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  1. Avatar of Montague D'Silva Montague D'Silva says:

    Nice article of your travels to Scotland found it interesting about the size of Loch Ness and certainly an ideal place for the legendary Lock Ness monster.Was curious about the photograph of the Navy ship and where it was actually moored.Got to love Scotland for its natural beauty.

    1. Avatar of Janine Moore Janine Moore says:

      Hi, Thank you for such nice comments, it’s a beautiful place.
      The navy ship was moored at the Firth of Clyde where the nuclear subs are located. It’s a nice drive around there, just don’t go near the base, there’s a few roads that are out of bounds. it’s truly lovely in Scotland.
      Best regards

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