After a good night's sleep I woke to another gloriously sunny morning, and as long as the good weather was the same everywhere else as it was at Invercaimbe I planned on making another attempt at going to Fort William, followed by a drive up to Fort Augustus. I expected it to be a long day so for once I didn't linger too long over breakfast in spite of the lovely view from the tent; having taken the dogs for a good walk along the beach I put them in the back of the van, collected what I needed from the tent, topped up their water container, and set off on my day of exploration. It seemed the weather gods were being kind to me too as there was wall-to-wall blue sky and sunshine all the way along the A830; just before I got to Fort William itself I saw the sign for Neptune's Staircase so I turned off the road, found the car park and made my first stop of the day.
Neptune's Staircase is a set of eight locks, one above the other, which bring the Caledonian Canal down to the level of nearby Loch Linnhe, and the main road at that point is actually a swing bridge; I was able to witness this in action as just after I got there the traffic was stopped and the bridge opened to allow a yacht to sail through. I spent almost an hour wandering round and taking photos from both above and below the locks but I just couldn't get one which showed the 'staircase' properly - I really needed to be somewhere high up and looking down but unless I took drastic action and hired a helicopter I didn't see how it was possible. The canal up above the locks looked lovely though with a towpath running along each side, and if I'd had my bike with me it would have been nice to pootle along with the dogs running beside me - maybe that's a thought for the future.
When I'd got all the photos I could I returned to the van and after giving the dogs a drink - the day was getting hotter by the minute - I left the car park and drove the couple of miles into Fort William itself. As I'd driven through on my way to Arisaig earlier in the week I'd noticed a large car park just off the main road along the lochside so that's where I headed; there were plenty of spaces so I picked one overlooking the water. I was just about to get a ticket from the nearby machine when a couple in a small motorhome gave me theirs - it was paid up till midnight and they were on the point of leaving so they said I may as well use it. The car park fee wouldn't have cost that much anyway for the length of time I wanted so I thought that was really nice of them, and I said I'd return the favour by passing the ticket on to someone else when I'd finished with it.
A look round the town centre came first, which didn't take long as it was mainly just one long partially-pedestrianised street, and as I had the dogs with me I couldn't really go in any of the shops so my wanderings were concentrated along the lochside promenade and the gardens at the far side of the car park. At one point I came across the strange-looking metal sculpture of a man, which was apparently 'Ben Mhor' and was made mainly out of recycled mountain bike parts - very ingeniously done but to be honest I thought it looked a bit out of place stuck there like that.
When I'd got enough photos I returned to the van and gave the dogs another drink; I was ready to leave for the next part of my day but first I had to find someone to pass the car park ticket on to. It wasn't long before a car pulled up nearby and a young woman with a small child got out, she was quite surprised and pleased when I gave her the ticket. After chatting to her for a couple of minutes I got in the van and set off, my first port of call being Morrisons petrol station, then with the tank topped up and the windows wound down I pulled onto the A82 and headed in the direction of Fort Augustus.
- Hi! I'm Eunice and I live in Bolton, Lancashire, with my two dogs Sophie and Sugar and an assortment of cats - well it used to be Sophie and Sugar, now it's Sophie and Poppie. I first began camping back in 1997 when my then partner took me to Anglesey for my birthday weekend. We slept in the back of the car - a hatchback - using the cushions off the settee at home as a mattress, and cooked and brewed up on a single burner camping stove. The site was good, the views were great, the weather fantastic and I was completely hooked. Following that weekend we got a two-man tent and some proper accessories and returned to Anglesey two weeks later, then over time we progressed to a three-man tent followed by an old trailer tent, then a new trailer tent, a campervan and finally a caravan. When my partner decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the street - literally - in April 2009 and I suddenly found myself alone after fifteen years, I decided there was no way I was going to give up camping and caravanning if I could cope on my own. This blog is the story of my travels, trials and tribulations since becoming a solo camper - I hope you like it