Weekend in Gairloch Part 1

17 August 2012

In a final, last of the school summer holidays fling, we spent the weekend in Gairloch. The car was packed and ready to go the night before, I fed the minxes and had them in their pyjamas from 1700hrs, so we only had to wait on the The Boss arriving half an hour later and off we zoomed!

4 year old navigator

The rain stopped and the clouds parted as we left Inverness and headed west. The road was absolutely empty, so I enjoyed being Mondeo Mummy (like Mondeo Man but with more hormones). We inherited the car from my brother when he gave us Foster Cat to look after, and he always raved about the ride. Throwing it around the single track lanes to Gairloch*, I saw what he meant – even the minxes were comfy in the back. (*though I have to stress [this being a family show ‘n’ all] that I didn’t speed and was a courteous driver to other road users at all times. Even the biffs. Honest).

Highland clouds lifting on the A835

The view down to Loch Maree through Glen Docharty. Go on, click to see it larger!

The scenery got more and more jaw-dropping as we drove west. I found it hard to keep driving and not pull up at every parking place to gawp at the mountains. I caught sight of Slioch out the side window and exclaimed, “Oh wow, look at that bee-YOO-tiful mountain!”

Maxi looked up from her book: “Where? They’re just hills. I mean, they’re high hills, but they’re not that…OH WOW! LOOK at THAT!”

I love our big old Vango Maritsa 500 tent, but my God I cannot be arsed putting it up and taking it down every time I want to nip away for the weekend. That’s a half hour and an hour respectively when the minxes aren’t properly tethered supervised. Knowing that we wouldn’t arrive at Gairloch much before 2130hrs on a Friday night tipped the balance: this time we took our ancient, trusty Vango Storm 300+. That old tent did us proud before Maxi Minx arrived, and she even camped with us till she was 1. Best of all, it can be put up in around 5 minutes.

We drove through Gairloch town itself just after 2100hrs, straight past 2 people from The Boss’ work. He did the comedy double-rub of his eyes. Had we not been on a tight time-scale I’d have pulled up and made him walk past them nonchalantly, bidding them a cheerful, “G’d evening!” as he passed. But, we had to get to the campsite. I’d no idea if it locked up for the night. And the minxes were getting tired and sleepy…

If you think we’re sleeping tonight, you’re a …. <zzzzzzzz, snore>

Well, shortly afterwards we pulled into the best UK campsite I think I’ve ever stayed at. Amazing scenery, absolutely huge, and no set pitches: so long as you keep 7m away from any other tent, you can pitch where you like. Rather than head for a pitch with a view, we aimed for the pitch that kept our noisy girls the farthest away from everyone else. The ‘calm winds’ that were forecast felt like a steady 30-40mph to me, as The Boss and I pitched our tent by headtorch light. It took 6 minutes to get it erected (we’re out of practice…), another 15 mins to stake it to the ground and do the guy-ropes (they’d never been used, in hundreds of UK and French camping trips – I guess we’d been fair-weather campers after all!), 30 seconds to sling in the self-inflating mats, pillows and sleeping bags and 10 seconds to prise the minxes out their car seats.

I took them to the toilet block to case the place out, relieve little bladders, brush teeth, etc. It was like a scene from a horror film, Revenge of the Crane-Fly. I’m not scared of Daddy Longlegs, but The Boss sure is. And when you lose count of how many of the fluttery wee beggars there are in one toilet cubicle alone, you know there are a LOT… I did the honourable thing and warned him. I think he brushed his teeth outside… We sat up for a bit while the minxes snored almost instantly (Yes!!!! At last!) and watched the ISS go past. And again, 40-odd minutes later. It got a bit cold to be sitting outside in the howling wind, so we sat in the car, him playing with his iPhone and me knitting by headtorch (it was a gift, rather than a Rainbow Knits woolly creation, so that’s allowed). When the ISS went past yet again, we headed for bed.

So, how do you fit 5 trouts into a 2-3 man tent? Well, you put Grumpy and Scared-of-Cranefly Trout head to head in the middle with their feet at each corner, like a bottomless triangle. And you let the 3 minxy trouts doss in whatever position they find themselves in at any given moment. It was surprisingly comfortable and we all slept very well.

1 thought on “Weekend in Gairloch Part 1

  1. Love your blog Jay….I am about 15 years ahead of you in the age of our 3 girls, but totally identify with all of it…especially the fisticuffs row of 3 car seats in the back….and everything you can accomplish with a headtorch, not just getting off a Scottish hill 😉 when you misjudged the 5 hours of daylight in winter!

    Take them to the Alps next, slightly bigger “hills” 😉


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