You’re Hired! Roseisle Campervan Hire
Campervan Readers' Stories
Our readers hired a campervan and toured around Scotland.
The McKelvie family have an epic time on the Heart 200 driving route, enjoying everything it has to offer from river tubing and white water rafting to gorge-walking and mountain safaris…
Words & photos by Robin McKelvie
- Ch. 1 - Go wild in Scotland!
- Ch. 2 - All aboard!
- Ch. 3 - Adventure time
- Ch. 4 - At the heart of it
- Campervan Hire Details
- Campsites Visited
- About Campervan Magazine
Go wild in Scotland!
Big Tree Country
As the sun melts over the ancient forests of Scotland’s Big Tree Country we toast marshmallows and watch a wee boy tackling the mountain bike skills track in his pyjamas. Welcome to Perthshire – a glorious region of Scotland – and the new Heart 200 driving route, which has really opened up its wildly beautiful landscapes to campervanners in search of an active break.
Perthshire is ideal touring country, an epic land of hulking mountain peaks, brooding glens and shimmering lochs, not to mention a gush of burns (the Scots word for streams) and rivers.
The Heart 200 Route
This new driving route, launched in July 2019, cuts a swathe through Perthshire and also dips into Stirling and the Trossachs. It handily connects Scotland’s national parks – the Cairngorms National Park with Loch Lomond and The Trossachs.
We were tempted by the Heart 200 as it’s no mere box-ticking exercise that you rush around just to get it done. It is more about slow travel, enjoying the scenery and local activities and attractions as you go. We were also drawn by the myriad offshoots designed to encourage people to head off the main circuit.
Castles and crystal clear waters
On board are mum, Jenny, myself and wee campervan veterans, Tara (11) and Emma (eight), who’ve been promised “a holiday with as much fun and adventure as you can handle”. It doesn’t disappoint.
Our adventure doesn’t disappoint in terms of history or natural drama, either. We join the Heart 200 at Kinross, right by Loch Leven, which sports an island castle. Here, flanked by emerald green hills and the crystal-clear waters, Mary Queen of Scots hid before her eventual capture and execution in Fotheringhay Castle.
As we ramble around the ruined castle my girls discover from the info boards that Scottish heroes, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, also sailed across to the island to visit the castle.
Cutting northwest we leave the motorway behind and ease through the Ochil Hills and past Gleneagles. We eschew the cosseted world of this famous luxury hotel in search of somewhere that will let us park up and light a fire. Comrie Croft fits the bill. It only has four pitches and all have fire pits and heart-warming views. It’s best to get here early as you cannot reserve a specific spot.
Comrie Croft is one of our favourite campsites and is so much more than a site. It’s more a community where they grow their own fruit and vegetables, which grace the menu at the cosy Tea Garden café.
Comrie Croft also boasts superb mountain biking with blue, red and black trails that are a real test. Handily, you can not only hire bikes, but also take lessons. Tara spends a couple of hours honing her off-road skills before we run a blue trail together, then retreat for marshmallows by the fire. I savour a dram from Edradour, one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland. Perthshire also hosts Scotland’s oldest working distillery at Glenturret.
After two days reclining at Comrie, we reluctantly head off south on the Heart 200 into Stirlingshire via Andy Murray’s hometown of Dunblane. The main attraction in these parts is the landmark Stirling Castle.
Having been there dozens of times we instead seek out Doune Castle. It needs no introduction to the fans of TV drama Outlander as this is the fictional Castle Leoch. It also starred in Monty Python. Doune proves a brilliant castle to wander around with lots of nooks and crannies to delve into in search of ghosts.
One of the most scenic stretches of the Heart 200 follows as we burrow deep into the Trossachs across the legendary Duke’s Pass road between Aberfoyle and Callander. It’s a spectacular tarmac ribbon laced across a landscape that is much eulogised as the ‘Foothills of the Highlands’. The road was forged through the mountains and forests in the nineteenth century at the behest of the Duke of Montrose to access his country estate and then upgraded when tourism arrived in earnest in the Victorian era.
A protected wildscape
At the heart of the Trossachs, Loch Katrine is the ideal venue for getting a feel for a natural oasis that so entranced the likes of Wordsworth, Ruskin and perhaps Scotland’s greatest-ever writer, Sir Walter Scott. Here the SS Sir Walter Scott steamer eases across the national park’s waters offering a serene way to appreciate the rugged hills and thick forests of this protected wildscape.
Relaxing in Aberfeldy
Our long day in the west of the Heart 200 finishes at a relaxed campsite in Aberfeldy, the ideal base if you want to do what Perthshire is famous for in Scotland – watersports. Aberfeldy is great for just wandering around, too, with its shops and pubs, with the mighty River Tay – Scotland’s longest river – snaking scenically through town.
Getting wet and wild
We are determined to get wet and wild, and the next morning sees us don wetsuits and helmets to bash out on the Tay, white water rafting with Splash.
Our guide, Ben, quickly susses out the cheekiest, youngest member of our group. Indeed, Splash is spot on at gauging all ages and abilities, with our adventure from Aberfeldy down to Grandtully a relaxed and relatively undemanding trip. We tackle rapids, but Ben also ensures there is plenty of jumping into safe pools and game playing.
Our second overnight in Aberfeldy sees us leave our pitch in search of more sedentary adventure – something Perthshire sports lots of, too. We drive to Highland Safaris. This tourism pioneer has an impressive set-up. You can just pop in for a deer experience that lets you feed red deer stags, the UK’s largest land mammal.
Afterwards we head off on one of its Land Rover mountain safaris into the natural habitat of the deer. We spot hares and eagles under the sort of big blue skies that Perthshire is renowned for.
At sister outfit, Loch Tay Safaris, a short drive away, we embark for a fast RIB ride. Loch Tay is not only one of Scotland’s largest lochs, but also one of the deepest. Our skipper stops at one point and peers down through the aquarium-clear water before revealing that the water we are floating above is as deep as the Forth Bridge is high. En route we spot an osprey hunting for its prey, spectacular against a backdrop of towering mountains.
The human landscape of Loch Tay enthrals, too. On the south side of the loch lies a reconstructed crannog we can see from the boat. Precious little is known about these mysterious island dwellings that you can find dotted all over Scotland, but research in summer 2019 revealed they have a lineage stretching back further than Stonehenge. A boat trip really lets you appreciate how the crannogs fit into the landscape. We drive afterwards around to that reconstructed version, the Scottish Crannog Centre. Here you can learn about some theories about how the Pictish tribes eked out their life in Perthshire.
An even more adrenaline-pumping adventure awaits the next day at Nae Limits, further east on the Heart 200 by Ballinluig. This company offer a dizzying array of watersports. In the morning our gorge-walking adventure has the whole family flinging themselves off rocks and forging through burns.
It’s one thing to admire the beauty of a rushing river. It’s quite another to dive right in for an immersive experience!
The afternoon brings river tubing with Nae Limits. Again we’re kitted out in wetsuits and safety gear. Then it’s off, flashing downstream with only a rubber ring for company. Tara takes a proactive approach to racing downstream by paddling furiously, while young Emma takes things easier just admiring the trees and looking out for red squirrels as she meanders merrily along.
At the heart of it
In Perthshire there always seems to be an active and a relaxed way of doing things.
Wild camping is very much tolerated in Scotland and ’vans are allowed at many overnight spots. We spend a night in a little car park at the Den of Alyth. It proves a wise move as a walk through the woods reveals a massive free play park that the girls have all to themselves. There are myriad wild camping delights to be found on and around the Heart 200. Half the fun is striking out and finding your own.
Going Bear Grylls
Our Alyth overnight stop is comparatively rough and ready and we continue the theme the next day ‘going all Bear Grylls’.
Malcolm Handoll runs Five Senses nearby; it specialises in half-day trips that teach seriously useful survival skills. And it’s not just the kids who learn as I find out how to conjure up fire just using two pieces of wood. Malcolm stresses he is welcoming to kids and big kids alike, a spirit we find echoed right across Perthshire.
One final adventure
As we ease back down the Heart 200 south towards Edinburgh there is time for one more adventure. It’s a fitting one as we set off in kayaks right under a bridge that carries the Heart 200 across the Tay.
Piotr from Outdoor Explore is on hand to eke us upriver into a world alive with herons, kingfishers and even beavers – Scotland has plenty of those these days. Relaxing in a striking wildscape surrounded by wildlife, with the rumble of traffic in the distance, is an apt end to our exploration of Scotland’s welcome – and welcoming – newest long-distance driving route.
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Campervan Hire Details
We hired a HymerCar Yellowstone, a Fiat Ducato van conversion
It offered four berths thanks to – an increasingly popular – pop top roof that’s perfect for a couple of children during the summer holidays. It offers all the home comfort, too, with a washroom featuring a shower and toilet, and a kitchen with a fridge/freezer and has hob. You also get satnav and reversing camera, and a TV/DVD player
The campervan hire company:
Roseisle Luxury Campervans. New for the 2020 season, Roseisle has introduced dog-friendly campervans to its fleet, in case you want to bring your furry friend along. Hire cost also includes transfers to and from Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, railway stations and hotels.
Address: 34 Whitecraig Road, Edinburgh, East Lothian, EH21 8NE
- Kitchen equipment (plates, bowls, mugs and glasses)
- A kettle
- A first aid kit
- High-vis jacket
- Campsite guide
- transfers to and from Edinburgh and Glasgow airports
The price of campervan hire fluctuates throughout the year, depending on the season, and also the length of hire. Robin paid £1,268 to hire the HymerCar Yellowstone for a week in early July, 2019.
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