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the juddering returns

I suppose I should mention that as we rapidly approach the 10th anniversary of the BERT concept, there have been moments when things have not gone to plan. Some of them requiring recovery (I cannot emphasise enough how much breakdown recovery has saved us in the middle of nowhere on more than one occasion), others at some expense. As with everything, everyone is ok as we don't drive like psychopaths and the few problems to date have been breakages or extreme low speed lack of attention.

With that out of the way, this years trip was a blinder. The last was marred by the worst weather we'd ever had (an occupational hazard of touring in Scotland), this time we had better luck. Likewise we have honed the Scotland BERT to near perfection.

Where we understand that BERT is about driving, it is just as much about sitting around and talking shite with mates. So with our favourite roads all being in easy reach of Dornie, we get a cottage there and use it as a hub for three days. Giving us a base to stop at where we can dump stuff, it allows us to be flexible on the routes we take depending on the weather, and it has a lounge to talk shite in as we eat beans on toast and frozen pizza. From there we can easily do a loop of Skye across the bridge, or take the Applecross route up north and back, and finally the trip to Glenshee on the way back.

Removing Mull also helped as other than the first time we went there where we toured the island, ever since the weather hasn't been great and we've just gone straight to the hotel. We'll miss the ferry rides that broke up the trip, but ultimately cutting that one day out of the trip saves us so much money it's worth it.

Another thing to note from this trip is that any more than three cars is hard to manage on these roads. Two is easy, three is doable, any more becomes a problem when it comes to making progress through traffic and it is even worse on the increasingly busy single track roads. A string of cars just makes passing places awkward and no doubt frustrating for other road users too. Once we split up a bit it became easier and we'll be doing that from this point forth at least through these sections.

I suppose we need to address the popularity of Scotland for car enthusiasts now. I'm sure local businesses love the creation of the NC500, but for us it's frustrating because our nearby, idyllic driving roads are getting increasingly busy with groups of like-minded individuals. Add to that COVID appears to have created an epidemic of campervans that all gravitate north. They're everywhere and they've made the north coast roads unenjoyable now. Our new route we don't even make it to Ullapool and honestly it's so much better for it. But we all noted the increase in traffic out of the back of Applecross this time. We're so used to having the road as good as to ourselves that it getting like the north coast roads was a little disheartening.

A small rant: Scotland has started putting eye sore tarmac pay-and-display car parks in areas of outstanding natural beauty. Ugly, rampant commercialisation will ruin these places. Stop it.

Still, problems aside, I really enjoyed this trip. We're getting this down to an artform now and have pulled the costs down to a very sensible amount whilst also significantly reducing driver fatigue. As for the 10th anniversary, plans are afoot. We're trying to get back to mainland Europe for a proper BERT, but ultimately the chances are we'll be back to Scotland. I suppose we should enjoy it while we can before the campervans completely take over.

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