Love’s Long Road by Motorhome
You’ll know by now how much we love motorhome adventures in Scotland, and many of our regular customers say how perfect the Highlands are for a motorhome escape with that special someone and a pile of great reading matter. A few of them have even tied in their Scottish road-trips with tours around their favourite authors’ haunts.
We have to thank Paul and Cathy from Trowbridge for this blog, as it was a single novel, G.D. Harper’s Love’s Long Road, which influenced their motorhome adventure. Harper, one of Scotland’s rapidly rising thriller writers, struck gold with his dark, racy novel of guilt and retribution. Set against the vibrancy of 1970s urban Scotland, it follows Bobbie Sinclair’s tumble into a dark world of drugs and crime and her journey along a perilous road to redemption.
Cathy and Paul thought it gave them a great opportunity to coast through Glasgow, Fort William and up to Scoraig, taking in Ben Nevis (of course!) along the way. Why? We’ll leave Cathy to explain.
“We love Scotland. That part’s easy. A few months ago we toured the east coast as far as John O’Groats and fell in love with motorhoming. They’re so comfortable they made another winter holiday in Scotland really do-able. Then I ‘discovered’ Love’s Long Road and, being a child of the seventies, it took me right back to my teens when I lived north of the border. It was the perfect excuse to see some of my childhood haunts and tie in Bobbie’s journey with our own.”
So, did it require a tour purely through Scotland’s underbelly? Not at all.
“Don’t knock Glasgow,” warns Cathy. “It’s a beautiful city. The closest we got to a dark underbelly was the Glengoyne distillery. There are plenty of distilleries to choose from, but it was their whisky and chocolate tour that sold it for us. That’s not very dark, is it?”
They spent three days in and around Glasgow including one rainy day sampling the Riverside Museum, the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens (to see Billy Connolly’s banana boots, apparently) and shopping (of course!). With two days of full sun, they walked the Cuningar Loop, strolled through Kelvingrove Park and hit the Woodland Trail in Glasgow’s largest park, Pollok Country Park.
Hearing the call of the open highway, they followed Love’s Long Road north out of Glasgow, hugging the west coast as much as possible where the scenery can be breathtaking and the temptation to stop to take photos or stroll in the brisk sea breeze ensured it took them a full day to drive the 98 miles to their next destination, Oban.
Whilst Oban doesn’t actually feature in the novel, it holds fond memories for Cathy and is a perfect stopping point when you need a hot meal away from your motorhome. It also gave Cathy the opportunity to take Paul across the ‘Bridge Over the Atlantic’. Okay, it might not stretch all the way to the USA, but it’s a little arched bridge that spans a full 22 metres to connect the beautiful island of Seil to the Scottish mainland. But don’t worry about manoeuvring your motorhome over the bridge; almost daily you’ll see tourist coaches and 40 tonne lorries crossing it without any problems.
From Oban, the couple continued north to the tiny village of Spean Bridge. Well, it features in the novel, so why not? A ten mile hop took them back to Fort William, known as the gateway to Ben Nevis, The UK’s highest peak, where there was only one way to spend their day. Ben Nevis is a hiker’s dream and, by the autumn, the summer hordes have departed, leaving the great peak to the serious walkers and climbers.
After the obligatory post-hike tea and cake, they dropped into Fort William’s newest addition: the independent Highland Bookshop. “We missed the grand opening by Alexander McCall Smith,” says Paul. “But we were delighted to see that Fort William has an independent bookshop again, bearing in mind the confrontation in the fictional bookshop [in the novel] that triggers the climatic ending.”
Wondering how much life would imitate art, they continued their road-trip towards their next location, Scoraig, through scenery that’s exquisite for its wildness. Driving through Fort Augustus alongside the unrivalled Loch Ness all the way to Lewiston is an absolute joy. It’s not far to divert to Inverness if you feel like dropping into the capital of the Highlands, but Cathy and Paul were determined to return to the west coast, even though they opted for another short detour before their intended destination.
“We left it quite late, so we spent the night in Ullapool. It gave me a chance to buy a couple of new books from my favourite bookshop there, and then we watched some of the ships. Ullapool’s only small, but it was an important port when I was younger.”
At first light, they headed to Badluarach Jetty, where they parked up and caught a ferry to Scoraig, one of the few communities in the UK that isn’t accessible by road. Scoraig was a must for them both as, in Love’s Long Road, Bobbie’s friend, Rita, escapes London to live there amongst the hippies, some of whom remain there today, though we’re not casting any aspersions.
And after Scoraig? It was, unfortunately, a case of the long road home, albeit with a few stops off-grid to enjoy the solitude of the Highlands. There was one tempting diversion, but Paul thought better of it:
“Yes, we know Bobbie escaped to London to try to sort her life out and there were motorhome links with her at Earl’s Court because – we used to go to the shows there – but it was a bit out of our way. Can you imagine trying to take a motorhome up Carnaby Street? I’d have done it in a VW campervan back in the seventies, but now?”
If you’d like to hire a motorhome for your own G.D. Harper road-trip or have another literary trek in mind then get in touch and we’ll do our very best to help!
To check the availability of a motorhome or find out more about Scottish road-trips enquire here, email us or phone on +44 (0)117 290 9000. And don’t forget to look out for future literary motorhome holiday blogs.
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