Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Saucy Mary & the Stealth Campers

9 May
Nairn, Scotland
Just got back from the Isle Of Skye...

It's often not the big ticket attractions that catch our interest. On Skye, we were dazzled by the scenery, as you would expect on yet another couple of near perfect days, but it was Saucy Mary and the Stealth Camper that really caught our interest.
Saucy Mary first caught our eye when we pulled up for the night in the waterfront carpark in Kyleakin, just across from a Cafe and Backpackers that bore her name. We were definitely not alone on this sunny Saturday afternoon. About thirty vintage trucks (lorries) were lined up in the waterfront following their rally around the island. Classics they were! We didn't appreciate the importance of the name of the Cafe until the next night, when we returned to Kyleakin for another free night following our circumnavigation if the island. This night, we bedded down by the old ferry terminal, as our previous night's stay in the centre of the village had been a little disturbed by the revelry at one of the establishments that was even less reputable than Saucy Mary's.
From the ferry terminal we had a splendid view of the ruins of Moil Castle. The castle, an ancient seat of the Mackinnon clan, commanded the narrow strait between Skye and the mainland. According to local tradition, around 900 AD, Findaus Mackinnon married a Norse princess nicknamed Saucy Mary. Mary and Findaus ran a chain across the narrow waters and charged a toll for ships that were avoiding more dangerous passages north. No attempt has ever been made to rebuild the castle and it and the Saucy Mary Cafe and Backpackers stand as a 1000 year old memorial to a legendary wild Viking princess who, so legend says, lies buried in the mountains of Skye with her face turned towards her ancient Nordic homeland.

What about the Stealth Camper, you are thinking? Well there is absolutely no connection to Saucy Mary. Stealth Campers are inveterate 'free campers' who go as far as disguising their vans so as to avoid detection under any circumstances when camping. As you might expect, you don't spot Stealth Campers very often. For obvious reasons! But by us, as 'Sneaky', rather than Stealth Campers, they can be spotted from time to time. Such was the case on Skye today. First we spotted the Belgian number plate on a small commercial vehicle in rural Scotland. Then it was the greying 60's refugee hippies who drove it. Last clue was the dodgie advertising on the side door. Things like “Personal Haulage Contractors” or “Parking Consultant”, with non-existent contact numbers are the go. Inside, however, all the mod-cons needed by free-campers are obvious when the door slides open and the occupants emerge.
Yep, Stealth Campers.
They could camp outside Buckingham Palace. These guys are our heroes.
(NOTE - No photos of Stealth Campers are allowed!)

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