Showing posts with label cullen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cullen. Show all posts

Sunday 9 July 2023

Spey Bay, Cullen and a swim at Rosehearty

Sunday 9 July 2023

Nido's parked up at the Rosehearty Community Boat Club, right on the coast just a few miles west of Fraserburgh.  This is a lovely park-up with a great history.  Peter, who manages the boat club, decided a few years ago that they should take over this grassy field, which used to be a council run caravan park, but fell into disrepair.  His idea was to set it up as a motorhome aire to raise money for the boat club and local charities. He had quite a lot of opposition from local councillors (nothing new there!) but it was finally approved and just took off. Since that time they've raised thousands of pounds from the park-up fees, including £4,000 to teach the local children how to sail. There's full motorhome servicing facilities and all for just £10 for night.  EHU is extra but if you don't need it, you can park anywhere you want on the field which is about an acre. There are views of the harbour wall, the white sandy bay and sea and lovely sunsets.  If you visit this part of Scotland, I highly recommend staying here - you won't be disappointed.  Details including all the positive reviews are on Search for Sites.  I'd rung Peter a few days ago and he told me to just turn up and call him again so he could come and check us in.

We had a really peaceful night's sleep in the Torrieston Forest park up and woke early to walk Salty in the deciduous forest.  After a cup of tea sat at one of the picnic benches, we upped sticks and drove to Spey Bay.  This is a lovely day park up, right next to the point where the River Spey enters the sea.  It's also home to the Scottish Dolphin Centre.  As we arrived early we had the pick of the parking spots, so sat in the van eating soft-boiled eggs and toast and looking out over the nature reserve. We heard curlews and saw an Osprey fly off - amazing!  We took a walk along the riverbank before returning to check out the old ice house, where ice was taken from the local ponds and rivers and stored over the summer to keep the caught salmon and trout fresh.  The tide was out so we didn't see any dolphins.  Chatting to one of the locals - who visits every day with his camera and binoculars - coming up to high tide is the best time to see the dolphins, whales, otters, seals and osprey.  What an awesome nature spot.  We sat on the grassy bank by the van watching the nature with a cup of tea, but it was really hot - 26'C hot.  Salty was in his cooling coat and on this cool mat, but still it was a bit warm for him (and Cathy), so we left and spent a couple of hours in the shade of the pine trees in the Winding Walks forest, another Forest and Land Scotland park up.  

My original plan was to park up for the night at Portgordon Harbour, but soon realised it'd be too hot to stay there, so I found a nice basic quiet CL at Druim Heath only about 15 minutes drive from the forest.  I rang the owner - who was away in her caravan - and luckily there was a pitch available; £15 including EHU.  We arrived and parked up on flat and well-manicured grass.  The fridge had been playing up again so I wasn't in the best of moods, but after isolating the leisure battery for a while, I was able to switch the fridge on and it seemed to be working fine on electric hook-up (fingers crossed) - either there's an issue with the LPG supply or the PCB isn't playing fair when cooling on gas. It needs sorting!

The rest of the day was sat outside in the shade of the van.  I made halloumi burgers with a big salad and we sat outside eating until the flying ants drove us inside.  As we were on EHU, all the gadgets were charged up and we watched a couple of vanlifer YouTube videos.  By then the temperature had dropped a little and it started to rain.  We should sleep better tonight in the cooler air.

This morning I had the usual battle with the fridge, which now refuses to work even on 12V when driving.  Having said that, it's currently working OK on gas, but I know it'll eventually start to flash an error code at me, the PCB solenoid clicking away angrily as it tries to start up.  I did a bit of research and I suspect either the PCB needs replacing or there's an issue with the DC cabling or fusing - diagnosing and fixing the problem will be costly whichever route it takes.  To replace the fridge would be £900 plus the cost of installation.  Thetford Europe - if you read this blog you're sharks and your products are crap!

We popped into Buckie to do a quick Tesco food top-up then drove to Cullen.  The village is probably best known as the place where Cullen Skink originated.  If you've never had this, you've missed a treat.  It's a soup made with potatoes, cream and smoked haddock and it's delicious.  We parked up overlooking the beach and took Salty off for some beach and zoomie time, before walking up to the Ice Cream Shop.  We chatted to two locals yesterday and both recommended this ice cream shop.  It didn't disappoint.  Cathy had the Biscotti and I had the birthday cake flavour ice cream...more about that later.  We took a wander around the lovely little fishermen's cottages in the old part of Cullen, known as Seatown.  There was little space between the tiny single story cottages, many of them now holiday homes.  It was hard not to think we weren't in a seaside village in Portugal.  After another beach walk we left and drove to the next harbour village of Portsoy, with the intent of having fish and chips - or a 'fish supper' as it's called in Scotland.  We parked up overlooking the harbour and I walked up to the 'Hook, Line and Sinker' fish and chip shop, having checked online that it would be open (open from midday to 9pm on a Sunday).  But, you guessed, it was closed!  So we decided to return the 5 miles to Cullen, where we knew Linda's Fish and Chips was definitely open, as we passed it on the way to the ice cream shop.  I parked up and Cathy stayed in the van while I walked up and ordered 'two haddock suppers, curry sauce and mushy peas'. Supplied with these we drove down to the harbour and enjoyed the most delicious fish and chips - I mean haddock supper - overlooking the sea.  Da iawn Cullen!

The drive to Rosehearty took about an hour, along an undulating coastal road that in places was 20% steep, both up and down.  We drove into the field by the boat club and I rang Peter to let him know we'd arrived. He and his wife - and his lovely dog - came over and booked us in.  It's then that he told me the history of the aire.  Clearly proud of his community, he pointed out the local hotel/pub, the combined post office/butcher and the mini-mart.  Peter - you're a star and thanks for all you've done to support your community and us van lifers, who have benefitted from staying in this lovely place.

Having already eaten, we sat in the strong sunshine with a cup of tea.  I took Salty for a walk while Cathy had a snooze. About 7pm we left him in the van, and went down to the bay for a swim.  The curving bay is covered in fine white sand, with a very calm sea; it really did remind me of the Caribbean.  The only difference was the temperature of the water - man it was CHILLY!  We've become used to the effect of the Gulf Stream on our sea water temperature at home.  I'd forgotten how cold the North Sea can be.  A distant memory from holidays in Lincolnshire and Norfolk returned as I recalled the shock of entering such cold water.  But we waded in all the same.  Cathy was very quickly and bravely up to her neck and swimming off.  It took me a while longer to 'adjust'.  I love sea swimming but the cold really does hit me, particularly in my hands and feet.  But after about ten minutes it was 'fine' and we enjoyed our swim, fizzing and buzzing with the euphoria of swimming in the sea so far north; no wetsuits for us!  Back at the van, dried and changed, we sat outside with a cup of tea and watched the sun start to set over the harbour.  

It's now nearly 11pm and still light outside. The wind has dropped and the few clouds have turned various shades of purple.  I can hear the seagulls calling to each other. Salty's curled up next to me on the van bench, but I know he'll jump up once I'm done, ready for his final walkies of the evening.  Tomorrow forecasts thunderstorms most of the day.  If that happens - fine - we have a great viewpoint to watch it over the sea.  If there are any breaks in the weather, we'll have a wander around the harbour and village that Peter sold to us so well.  For the rest of this evening, I might just sit here a while and watch darkness descend.  Apparently this is a very popular place to park up in the winter and witness the Aurora Borealis - the Northern Lights.

As the day comes to an end I have a bit of a confession - I have a little secret to share with you.  If I live through the night, I'll be 60 years old tomorrow!!! More about how I feel about that in my next blog post.  Hopefully I'll see you on the other side!

Spey Bay

Respite from the 26'C heat

Cullen harbour

Salty learning to fly!

Cullen 'seatown'

We could live here!

Loved this tap sign outside the Cullen beach loos

Our fish and chips scoffing view

Rosehearty Community Boat Club

Looks like the Caribbean - feels like the Baltic!