Invercaimbe Croft

Invercaimbe Caravan & Camp Site
Invercaimbe Croft
PH39 4NT

01687 450375

Open - March 15th to October 15th

Current fees - Contact site for details

Set on the coast in the west of the Highlands, close to the A830 Road To the Isles and part of a working croft, this quiet and peaceful site is in a really stunningly beautiful location. Access is down a farm track off the B8008, with the site itself being situated on the estuary of the Caimbe burn and with beaches along the side and at the end of the site. The owner, Joyce, lives on site and can often be seen mowing the grass or attending to any other jobs which need doing. She's very friendly and welcoming and quite happy to give any help and advice if needed and to impart any information about places to go and things to do while you're there. 

Most of the caravan and motorhome pitches have hook-up and on one side of the site are level and mainly hardstanding - on the other side they are on grass and could be a tad uneven so levelling blocks may be needed. There aren't many set pitches for tents because of the uneven and sloping ground so once Joyce has given you a general idea of where to go it's very much a case of 'pick your spot and pitch your tent', which can actually be to an advantage as small tents can pitch almost on the beach. There are limited hook-ups available though for those tent campers who prefer them - my tent was pitched only 10ft  from the beach along the burn, with the hook-up post just a few feet behind. 

The facilities, although basic, are spotlessly clean and are housed in a row of small individual 'bathrooms', two with shower and loo and two with basin and loo, and there's one of each for ladies and the same for men. Housed in a separate small building are the pot washing and laundry facilities with washing machine and dryer, and also a chest freezer which the owner doesn't mind campers using if they ask. The cdp is near the toilet block and housed in a separate small fenced and gated compound.

Dogs are welcome and as with any site must be kept on a lead while on the site itself, though once on the beach they can run free as much as they want. Camp fires are allowed on the beach though should be put out at night time before going to bed, and sea kayaking and fishing is possible straight from the site. The views from the site across to the small isles are breathtaking, the sunsets are fabulous, and when you wake in the mornings you'll hear nothing but birdsong and the occasional bleat from a nearby sheep.

Arisaig village is about a mile away over the hill and has a Spar shop, post office, cafe/bistro, information centre, a couple of B & Bs and a hotel/bar/restaurant. A sea kayaking centre is based at the hotel and cruises on the SS Shearwater go from the small harbour to the islands of Eigg, Muck and Rum. For anyone who likes golf Traigh nine-hole golf course is just over a mile north of Invercaimbe, and about three miles further on are the beautiful silver sands of Morar which are definitely a 'must see' for anyone with a camera. Just a bit inland is Loch Morar, the deepest body of fresh water in the British Isles. 

Another three miles or so further north is the small town and fishing port of Mallaig, which is literally the end of the road unless you get the CalMac ferry over to Skye. A couple of private operators run boat trips across to the small isles or round the coast to Inverie on the Knoydart peninsula - the village's only pub, the Old Forge Inn, is the remotest pub on mainland Britain. Trains, including the Jacobite steam locomotive which doubles as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films, run from Mallaig station down to Fort William, passing through some lovely scenery on the way. With a small Co-op supermarket, Spar shop, gift shops and several cafes and take-aways Mallaig is a pleasant little place to spend a couple of hours. Fort William is a 35-mile drive east from Invercaimbe along the A830 with plenty of places to stop for photos, including Glenfinnan with its famous monument and the 21-arch viaduct which features in the Harry Potter films.

I can only think of a couple of niggles about Invercaimbe - firstly the lane from the road into the site is only a single track and at one point has quite a sharp bend which you can't see round, so care needs to be taken when driving along as you could meet something coming the other way and there's not a lot of room to manoeuvre, especially if you're towing a caravan. Secondly the sloping and uneven ground in various places could make pitching a tent a bit of a challenge and you may find yourself sleeping uphill/downhill; because of the nature of the ground and the space allocated for tent pitches it means that tent size is restricted to 4-berth or smaller.

If you can accept the uneven ground and basic facilities this site is a little gem set in a little piece of heaven, and well worth any long journey you may make to get there. Would I personally go back? Yes, yes, and YES!!


Luss C & CC Site

Luss Camping & Caravanning Club Site
Loch Lomond
G83 8NT

01436 860658

Website - www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk

Open - April 1st to late October

Current fees - See website for details

Situated on the western shore of Loch Lomond at the southern end of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, this attractive and well laid out site makes a great stop-off point for anyone wanting to break a long journey to or from the Highlands. Backed by a pleasant tree-covered hill, and with stunning views across the loch itself it has to be in one of the nicest locations in the UK. 

The pitches are well spaced out and level and most have ehu, with many of them being underneath or close to tall trees, though there are a couple of non-ehu tent areas which are quite open. Some of the pitches are right by the loch itself and only separated from the water by either a line of well-spaced trees or a grass bank. Wooden steps set at intervals along the edge of the site lead down to the shingle beaches at the water's edge and there are great views across to the far side of the loch.

The reception area is very pleasant and has a wealth of information leaflets and magazines etc; the toilets and showers are, as you would expect, kept to the usual C & CC standards and were always spotlessly clean whenever I went in there. Along one side of the site is a designated dog walk through the trees and a small enclosed childrens play area where dogs aren't allowed.

Luss village is only a brief 5-minute walk from the site entrance; there's a large pay-and-display car and coach park which incorporates an information centre, a mobile burger bar and a small village shop/general store which sells provisions, sandwiches and cakes, various small items of camping equipment and gifts. Just along the road from the car park is the only pub and in the village itself are a couple of tea rooms, a bistro, and a couple of craft/gift shops. 

A short walk through the pretty village takes you to the lochside where there's a couple of very pleasant sand and shingle beaches and a pier from where you can take boat trips across the loch and/or around the islands. About a mile south along the road from the car park is the tiny village of Aldlochlay, which is little more than a row of cottages and a couple of detatched houses, but it's set on a really picturesque corner of the loch and is well worth the walk or short drive to get some good photos. About eight miles from Luss, at the south end of the loch, is the small town of Balloch with it's shops, cafes, information centre, petrol station, supermarket and castle, and the large Loch Lomond Shores shopping and leisure complex which, as the name suggests, is set right on the loch shore.

I can really only think of three niggles to this lovely site; firstly, the A82 runs right alongside, and as it's a main arterial road from Glasgow up to the Highlands it's therefore very busy and there's a lot of traffic noise, though it does quieten down a bit at night. This could be a problem for some people but personally I managed to shut my ears to it and ignore it most of the time. Secondly, with so many trees in and around the site it's a haven for midges so plenty of bug repellant is a must, though I can honestly say that on the first weekend in June the were hardly any and I didn't get bitten once. The third niggle is the entrance/exit barriers - these have a rope which loops over a nearby post and they must be kept closed at all times. This means you have to stop, get out of your car, open the barrier, get back in the car and drive through, then get out and go back to close the barrier before finally driving away. Personally I think it would be much better if the barriers could be operated by a push button or swipe card then you could drive straight through, but I suppose the powers-that-be at the C & CC have their reasons for the current system.

Niggles aside I found this to be a nice site in a really lovely location, and even though both my stays there were only brief I was impressed enough to want to return in the near future and stay for longer.


Lady Heyes Caravan & Camp Site

Lady Heyes Caravan & Camp Site
Kingsley Road

01928 788557

Email - enquiries@ladyheyespark.com

Website - http://www.ladyheyespark.com/

Charges per night (2014) 

Camping - Adults £8.00, children £3.00 (under 3yrs free)  Ehu - £3.00  Dogs £1.00 each

Caravan/motorhome charges - contact site for details

After hearing other people sing the praises of this camping and caravan site I was recently looking forward to meeting up there with a group of camping friends - it was their choice of site and my first time there but to be honest it was also my last as I disliked the place intensely.

The camping field is sloping with a central gravel roadway, though the 'gravel' seems to be more like ground up hardcore and builder's rubble as there were stones and small bits of brick lying in the grass. The pitches, although long, aren't very wide, and many of them are very uneven; the hook-up posts are situated at the front of the pitches rather than at the back near the hedge, so cables snaking along the ground to various tents could provide a trip hazard. 

All bar two of the pitches were occupied when I arrived and there wasn't much space in between each unit - no 6m rule here so I hope no-one ever has a tent catch fire. I couldn't get onto the pitch I'd originally booked as there was a large tent on the next pitch which encroached halfway onto mine, making putting up my own tent impossible so I had to change to another pitch. This was so uneven that the front of the tent wouldn't peg down properly, I had to put wood blocks under my kitchen stand and larder unit to level them up and my bed sloped sideways, giving me a very uncomfortable night's sleep and dreadful backache. Also, because the pitches are long and narrow, cars have to be parked at the end of each pitch, and a long line of cars at each side of the roadway makes the site look rather like a car park.

There are two fresh water taps on the camping field and these are located at the back of the pitches along the hedge separating the field from the caravan section, but with tents in front of them even using the site map provided by reception they aren't easy to find, also it means walking across other occupied pitches to get to them. The only dustbins are situated at the very top end of the field so quite a walk for anyone camping at the bottom. The facilities block is situated over on the caravan section and there's a children's play area close to it; there's also a large play barn and a soft play area in the on-site cafe/clubhouse but these are all more suited to younger kids, with nothing for older ones.

Unfortunately, what most people don't tell you is that the site is right under the flight path for Liverpool airport and from 6am for over three hours the planes were coming over more or less one after the other and quite low - under normal circumstances I don't mind a few planes but this was more than just a few and the constant drone so early in the morning was very annoying. I was also wakened by plane noise a couple of times during the night, which wasn't funny.

On the plus side the toilets and showers have underfloor heating and were spotlessly clean, also there was music playing quietly whenever I went in there; I didn't use the pot washing or laundry facilities so I can't comment on those. One big minus point though is the location of the cdp, which is right next to the children's play area - not very pleasant or hygienic. There's a dog walk between the camping field and the caravan section with a small enclosed field at the end where dogs can be let off the lead, and on the wall outside the laundry room is a bike/dog shower set at a comfortable 30 degrees. The tops of the hook-up posts are all lit up at night which helps to light the way on any night time trips to the loos, and when pitching the tent the pegs all went in the ground easily.

In the site grounds there are several single storey buildings separated into different units selling antiques, collectables and gifts, crafts and shabby chic furniture, there's also a book shop, sweet shop, micro brewery, bistro and a lovely Yankee Candle shop. These shops are a popular weekend attraction for many people, and though they are separated from the camping/caravan site itself by hedges and small trees there's nothing to stop any members of the public walking through and wandering round the caravans and tents; security-wise that could be a cause for concern for some campers, although I personally didn't notice anyone there who shouldn't be. 

Unfortunately, apart from the on-site shops and eateries there's very little to see or do in the immediate area - Frodsham town centre and Morrisons are just a couple of miles away and Delamere Forest and Go Ape are only a ten minute drive down the road but anywhere else, like Chester and its zoo, is quite a distance away.

When I originally made my booking I really only wanted to stay for two nights, Saturday and Sunday, but the site 'rules' for the time of year meant I had to also book the Friday - that was no use to me as with working in the evening I couldn't get away until Saturday morning, so it meant I had to pay for a night I couldn't use, and at £13 per night it worked out expensive. On checking in at reception on arrival I was given a swipe card for access to the toilets and showers, I had to pay a £10 deposit for this which was refunded at the end of my stay. Unfortunately, for some reason I was only given £5 back which I didn't realise until I got home and by then it was too late to do anything about it. With hindsight I should have checked before I left reception but I just wanted to get away.

No doubt many people, especially those with young kids, will think this is a great site but unfortunately I don't. In sixteen years of camping this is the first site that I haven't liked - to be honest I hated every minute of my stay and if I hadn't already paid for the one night I couldn't use I would have left after the first night there. Looking round it seems that the place isn't very old and is either still being developed or is being extended - I think with a few tweaks here and there it could be a really nice site but unfortunately it's not for me. Would I go back? Definitely not!


Willow Lakes

Willow Lakes Certificated Site
Barton Street
DN37 0RU

01472 826183

Website - www.willow-lakes.co.uk
Email - info@willow-lakes.co.uk

Open all year

Current fees - £10 per night inc ehu (Feb. 2013)

Situated just by the A18 in North East Lincolnshire this basic little site is a great place for a chill-out fishing weekend or as a base for exploring further afield. The camping/caravan field itself is just a small part of a much larger area of land currently undergoing development as an equestrian and fishing site which includes holiday cottages and chalet-bungalows. Access from the main road is currently through the stable yard where several horse boxes and various bits of farm paraphernalia are kept so you would be forgiven for wondering if you were in the right place, but once on the site itself you'll find it's a little gem.

Separated from the stable yard on one side by a row of tall conifers and sheltered on the other side by various tall trees and bushes the level field has a dozen hook-up points situated in groups of three and a fresh water tap at each end. Waste bins, grey waste disposal and cdp are all in a small decked area near the entrance, and at the far end of the site is a small fishing lake; on a clear day you can see right across to the Humber estuary from there. The showers and toilets are situated at the lake end of the site, with just one single-occupancy shower/toilet for ladies and the same for men - entry is by a coded key pad which you will be given the number for when booking in. Backing onto the lake are two rows of purpose-built holiday 'cottages' which are all fully furnished and equipped and with a pleasant block-paved terrace overlooking the lake. A rough track behind the site leads down past fenced paddocks to a large and very pleasant fishing lake where there are currently three chalet-bungalows being constructed right by the water's edge. The weather was very grey when I was there but on a sunny summer's day the lake and it's surroundings will be really lovely.

Away from the site itself, about twelve miles south east is the small horse racing town of Market Rasen, and just a five minute drive from the site along the B1203 is Waltham Windmill which is open at weekends and bank holidays from Easter until the end of September; there are several little shops housed in the surrounding buildings, a cafe, Indian restaurant, small garden centre, picnic areas and a miniature railway. Another couple of minutes drive brings you to Waltham village itself where there are shops and takeaways, and the coastal resort of Cleethorpes is five miles further on.

There are only two minor niggles to Willow Lakes, the first one being the proximity to the main road. There is some traffic noise during the day, which could be a problem for some campers, but although the road is an A road it's not a major one so any noise is bearable and you may find it fades into the background after a while; anyone in a caravan probably won't hear it anyway, and there's not much noise at all at night. The second niggle is the lack of a pot washing area; this probably won't affect any caravan dwellers but any campers will need to either use disposable plates and cutlery or have their own pot washing facilities.

Niggles aside Willow Lakes is a nice compact little site in a nice countryside location situated not too far from the coast, and for anyone who likes fishing it would be well worth spending a weekend there. It wasn't initially my choice as I was meeting up with friends who had already booked, but I liked it enough to want to go back there later in the year.