Day 4: Finally entering Scotland (Cairngorms National Park)

Date1st July 2016

Day 4 Destination: Spey Bridge campsite, Newtonmore on the western edge of the Cairngorms National Park (was supposed to be Galloway Forest Park). My 1st Scotland destination of many.

Day 4 Travel Map

day4Map

Costs£179.70 (Spirit of Scotland 15 day pass) + £14.50 (WDM-GLC trail tix) + £13.16 (4x Boots meal deals) + £6 (campsite) = £213.36 ($275)

Lessons Learnt

  • The Spirit of Scotland travel pass is a pretty horrible deal on it’s 4 day/£134 offer & is a bad deal on the 8 day/£179.70 offer (which I bought twice). I am going to write a full blog post on why it should be avoided but the TL;DR is that even though I travelled like a crazy person (took 3 trains on some days), I barely made back the money that the pass cost me. Just buy public transit tickets as you need & you should spend lesser than what this pass cost me. Here is a picture of the 2 passes I bought on my trip to show that I know what I’m talking about 😛

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    Month of July spent using the Spirit of Scotland pass, alas

  • Conversly, the Boots meal deal is pretty amazing for calories bought per £ spent & a godsend for camping trips on a budget. For people who don’t know what I’m talking about, most supermarkets & pharmacy stores in Britain sell “meal deals” which consist of 1 main (sandwich/salad) + 1 side (choc/sweets/snacks) + 1 drink (Innocent smoothies all the way) for £3.xx where xx ranges from 00-79. Boots pharmacy (£3.29) is my favourite meal deal (will share some specifics in the full lessons learnt blogpost).
  • A single sleeping bag + mat, no matter how large, won’t be able to fit 2 people in Scotland where it gets real cold at night in a tent comfortably. Yoda joined me on this leg of the trip & we both got a cold that lasted 3 weeks. Buying a 2nd mat to cover the whole base of the tent helped a lot but eventually buying a double sleeping bag has solved our camping issues.
  • I knew by this day that I’d be waking up by 5:30 AM every day of the trip due to bird calls that happen at sunrise. No complaints though, early morning is very picturesque.
  • I had planned to meet my friends & go to Galloway forest park but the weather forecast turned on its head & predicted heavy rain all 3 days. So we switched out the destination to Cairngorms National Park & it worked out well. Learnt to not buy any tickets before hand & finalize a destination in Scotland 24 hours before travelling.

Ramblings

The day began with my 1st tent pack of this trip, which takes far more time than pitching a tent. Furthermore, I needed to take the 1st bus out (like I generally do) so there was added time pressure. But while pitching my tent, a very friendly bird started hovering near me. The bird knew there are crumbs to be had when folk pack their tents up & enjoyed some bread & biscuit crumbs

birdie

Birdie

I did manage to catch my 1st bus on time & hence all future connections. It was a big day as my partner in crime Yoda was visiting me for this 1st leg of the trip along with two more friends. I had spent a great part of the previous day poring over weather reports & the map of Scotland & changed our destination for the long weekend from Galloway Forest Park to Cairngorms National Park on account of rain in the SW of Scotland. We all met up at Glasgow Central station, bought tickets & boarded a train to Newtonmore.

Our friends are bloggers par excellence so I don’t really have much to ramble about. Our experiences can be read here (from their point of view) & here (our writeup & technical details). My favourite part of the day was the smiles of amazement from my friends when our train entered the Scottish Highlands with hills on both sides. It always gets us too, very beautiful.

Spent the rest of the day pitching up tents, walking by the river Spey which was literally right behind our campground, chatting, playing board games (Cards Against Humanity & King of Tokyo) & having a fun time in general.

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River Spey

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Tranquil

A post shared by shaneGirish (@shanegirish) on

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