Escape to the south of Portugal

We worked our way towards the Portuguese border, stopping at Bande’s Roman Thermal Pools on the Spanish side. After a soak and an overnight stay, we crossed over into Portugal and kept driving south in search of better weather. We found it, 600km later, at Praia do Queimado, about a two-hour drive south of Lisbon. We parked up next to the ocean where we stayed for four nights. The adjacent dunes were a great place to walk the dogs and enjoy the warm, sunny days. In the evenings we would sit on the beach drinking wine until our feet got cold, all the while amazed that this could even be possible. We had escaped winter. So this is what all the fuss is about!
waves crashing on rocks

Lewis and Harris

Looking back at the photos from this part of the journey I realized that I took my camera out on only one occasion. It was a memorable one though.

We were parked at Hushinish, a remote settlement of only four houses on the west coast of Harris. Gale force winds blasted our position high on the hillside for the better part of 24 hours. It was bad enough that, in the middle of the night, the couple parked next to us had to reposition their motorhome so they could get some sleep. The next morning, the coastline was heaving and frothing white. I wanted to capture this Hebridean drama, so I pulled on some rain gear and headed out with my camera. I got a few strange looks from the locals as I leaned into the wind and made my way down to the water. This is summer in Scotland.

Isle of Barra

We spent our first night on Barra at a campsite close to the ferry terminal. It was late and we had a pile of wet clothing that needed to be dried. That’s a long story but what it comes down to is that doing laundry can be a pain when you’re living in a van. It does however make you appreciate the simple things like clean clothes and hot showers! The next morning we drove up island towards Barra airport where planes land on the beach and flight times are dependent on the tides. Island life at its finest! Further up the road we found a spot to camp next to the ocean. We spent the night without any troubles but the next evening the land owner asked us to leave. It wasn’t at all obvious to us that it was private land but we learned our lesson to always ask around for permission. It was great while it lasted though, definitely in our top five favourite spots.

dog sitting next to ocean

sand dune and ocean

Isle of North Uist

Clachan Sands camping area is a small piece of paradise on North Uist. It sits between two long beaches that seem to stretch on forever. We camped on the machair just above the rocky shoreline. The dunes behind the beach provided some shelter from the wind and gave the place a cozy feeling. No signs of civilization could be seen and it was very quiet with only one other party camped there on the second night. I was really hoping to watch the lunar eclipse but the weather just didn’t cooperate. It was an incredibly relaxing experience nonetheless.

sand dunes and beach in scotland sand dunes and beach in scotland

dog sitting next to oceanwhite sand beach in scotland dog on a beach

Caledonian MacBrayne

The ferry from Oban to Castlebay takes about five hours. We would have preferred to stay in the camper for the journey but maritime safety regulations don’t allow for that. So up we went to the passenger decks, which had a very familiar B.C. Ferries vibe to them. We spent most of our time on the outside decks as the designated pet areas were quite stuffy and poorly ventilated. Once we had sailed through the Sound of Mull and past the Small Isles the horizon began to blend into the low cloud and a strange feeling of being lost at sea set in.
cal mac ferry scotland cal mac ferry scotlandcal mac ferry scotland