“I haven’t been there yet but its on my list”.
We took some time off work for a bit of a break. We had no official plan in terms of where we were heading due to the weather being all over the place but we were heading somewhere.
The only plan we did have was to follow any decent weather there might be and head North…so it was a case of let’s wait and see where that may take us.
I was also very excited at the prospect of just driving. As off the 1st August 2021 we purchased our very own van which will enable us to broaden our travel experiences in Scotland, the rest of the UK, Ireland and Europe.
We have spoken about this van for at least 6 years now but never took the leap as we were always planning far away epic adventures which didn’t necessary involve van life as such. This year we finally did it.
Our van is currently an empty shell, our choice, as we plan to build our very own ‘camper style van’ based on our need and our personalities…which is really exciting for us.
I think ‘van life’ is going to suit me immensly as I already like this idea of having nothing set in stone and just heading to somewhere, anywhere and taking opportunities as they appear, being open to whatever comes our way. That in itself being our adventure and destined route.
And so we were off. We left late in the day because we could. We now had the freedom to drive until we wanted to stop, and we didnt have a destination to be at at any given time.
We chose to stop off at Braemar which is in a very scenic location. Braemar is probably best known for its highland games, the annual Braemar Gathering which takes place on the first Saturday in September. The games date back over 900 years and are watched by the Kings and Queens of the land. Balmoral Estate sits nearby and the current royals have maintained this tradition and love coming to watch from their royal box situated in the field!
From here we ended up at the Linn of Dee, just slightly on the outskirts of Braemar, it was 6pm.
We stopped, made some dinner, which involved using camping equipment at the minute as our van is still not set up with a ‘kitchen’ as yet but hopefully it will be some time soon.
After dinner we went for a beautiful low level walk through a very beautiful heather infested valley before returning to our van and getting settled for the evening.
At present we have made a raised makeshift bed with an air mattress to sleep on…all things considering its definitely a step up from our small tent even being in its current state with nothing in it. As I snuggle in for the night I’ve already fallen in love with our van.
After leaving Linn of Dee we were heading to Aberdeen. We stopped off at Balmoral on the passing and realised 11.30am service at Crathie Church was just about to start and guess who was in residence at Balmoral.
Groups of photographers and tourists were flocking the area hoping for a glimpse of someone royal but unfortunately for them due to COVID no royals were attending mass today.
The drive up to Aberdeen was lovely, and once we had reached our destination we parked along the seafront and went for a long wander.
After coming back later in the day we decided we would park up by the sea for the night and fall asleep listening to the ocean as it was so beautiful.
Next day we were up and away early heading towards Peterhead, then Fraserborough, never having been to either before.
From here we headed to a place that I have wanted to visit now for such a long time and the wait was worth it.
Nestled between sea and cliffs is this tiny fishing village of Crovie (pronounced Crivie). Its beautiful, its quaint and its full of rustic charm.
The coastal strip is so tightly squeezed between cliff and sea that sufficient land remains only for the provision of a footpath along the sea wall to give access to the houses. This means villagers have only a small car park at the west end of the village and have to transport their shopping by wheelbarrow from the car park. Pretty amazing!
Access to Crovie is by a very steep hill and there’s nowhere else on earth quite like this enchanting village – it truly is a spellbinding place.
This village was established by families who were cleared from the land to make way for livestock grazing following the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745.
The original buildings are those which gable the sea, so that like a boat riding out the storm they present the area of least resistance to the gales which sweep this part of the coast during the winter months.
Crovie has the narrowest space between shore and cliff of any Scottish village….so when the sea comes a knocking at your door, beware!
Crovie is considered to be better preserved than any fishing village of comparable size in Europe…and once you see it you will know why!
We did a circular walk from Crovie to Gardenstown, firstly taking the high road and then back along the low road which took us right along the sea front.
Gardenstown is another small coastal village with a charming seaside harbour situated 50 miles north of Aberdeen, bigger than Crovie but still very pretty.
We stayed the night above the cliffs looking down on Crovie and reluctantly left this area the next day.
Then from here we headed towards Inverness passing through Macduff, Banff, Cullen, Fochabers, Elgin, Forres and Nairn. Some of these places we have stopped in previously others we have not.
From Inverness we decided to then keep on moving as we have been here numerous times before and go straight to Aviemore for the night.
We dined out in style on a lovely evening from the luxury of our van surrounded by the mountains…it can’t get much better than this.
Next day we decided to head up the mountains for a bit of a wander. We have undertaken most of the Cairngorm mountains now (apart from 2 which have to be accessed from the Linn of Dee area) so we were on to well known territory, but beautiful all the same.
These past few days have given us the opportunity of visiting some areas in the North East of Scotland that we were still to tick off whilst also providing us with the opportunity of testing out our van getting our minds thinking about where best to place things inside.
Even although we have lived very basic over the past days we have enjoyed every minute. Bring on more journeys, and exciting times ahead!
A simple life is a happy life!