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Armchair Travels #1 – Leicester to Fort William

Me – wondering if I can swim over to Castle Stalker

Most of January 2020 was spent planning a six week writing/research trip to Scotland. Then Covid-19 struck and it became clear that we’d have to put our plans on hold. The first casualty was the Braemar Highland Games organised for the day before Dave’s 70th birthday. They refunded our money without a quibble. Sadly, our lunch at the Fife Arms, Braemar celebrating Dave’s BIG BIRTHDAY had to be cancelled, too.

our caravan wearing its ‘bra to protect from stone chips en route

The master plan had been to set off for Kendal on August 8th and wake up on the shores of Loch Lomond at Malarochy on August 11th – our 47th wedding anniversary. However, to quote Rabbie Burns – the well laid plans of mice and men gang aff a gley. Everything went pear/shaped and we had to cancel all our bookings. So, rather than put all that planning to waste, I thought I’d take you on a virtual tour of Scotland. In this post we’ll be travelling from Lockdown Leicester via Kendal to Loch Lomond.

So, make yourself comfortable and journey to Bonnie Scotland without leaving your favourite armchair.

I always know I’m home when I see this sign
Fancy spending the night in an old gunpowder quarry?

First stop – the Caravan and Motorhome Club site in Kendal built on the site of a 19th century gunpowder mill. Sounds horrendous, right? Wrong. It is a haven of peace and tranquility with a river running through it. There are lots of parking bays surrounded by woodland and you hardly notice the other campers because there is so much space and you park in tree-covered bays. I’d love to spend a week there writing and visiting the surrounding towns but, inevitably, Kendal is a stopping off point on the way north.

Two years ago we unexpectedly met Sharyn Farnaby and husband Rod on the campsite. Sharyn was one of the proofreaders of Take Me, I’m Yours so I was able to share the cover with her. (I’ve since changed the cover but you can read an extract of Take Me, I’m Yours/share and download here.

Although we weren’t able to wake up to a view of Bonnie Loch Lomond on August 11th, we derived great pleasure from reading the 200+ comments from friends and followers on Facebook. Forty seven years together – how did that happen? Loving’ the hairstyle, Dave, by the way.

Much as we love Loch Lomond it is another stopping off point on the way to the highlands and our all-time favourite campsite -Bioran Dhub- overlooking Castle Stalker. The thrill of waking up to a view of the castle every morning (see below) is spine chilling. If you ever rock up in Fort William check out Castle Stalker’s website and book yourself on a guided tour. Monty Python fans might recognise Stalker which featured as Castle Argh in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Visiting Castle Stalker a few years ago inspired me to write Girl in the Castle which is one of my best selling novels. Check it out here to read an extract/share/buy.

Over recent years, while staying near Fort William, we’d been keen to discover the exact location where some of SKYFALL had been filmed. Previously, it had been a closely guarded secret and we’d travelled the length of Glen Etive trying the find where the iconic shots had been taken. Last summer we found the GPS coordinates and set off bright and early to get ahead of the crowds.

Here is Dave standing by THE VERY STONE where Bond and M had posed a couple of years earlier. Dave has an electric screwdriver for raising and lowering the caravan wheels, not a Walther PPK. But a boy can dream, can’t he?

If you ever find yourself staying near Fort William, consider taking the Scotrail train to Mallaig. It crosses the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct (aka the Harry Potter Bridge) and follows the same route at the Jacobite Express for a fraction of the price. The train is only in Mallaig for a couple hours, so buy the best fish and chips you’ll ever taste and eat them sitting on the harbour wall as you watch the boats going in and out.

What next from Lizzie Lamb?

I’ve finished my sixth romance – Penhaligon”s Highland Bride – and I hope to publish it very soon. You’ll be the first to know when I do.

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