We’ve been living in Van Heilan since May, and since May, I’ve experienced campsites… I’d never been to a campsite when I was a kid, more just fancy statics on the South coast of England. I’m nae a snob or anything, well, you probably know that by now, my family just weren’t the camping type. And it turns out, neither am I really. Or at least, not yet. And that’s cause of the 50-foot walls of my comfort zone. I am trying to embrace new things and be one of those folk who takes everything in their stride. I feel it’s important for me to tell you this before I get on with this review, because, I think it gives Speyside Gardens good clout.
Van Heilan vs Campsites vs Me
I’m getting used to Van Heilan, cause Van Heilan is a wee bit of a legend, and as far as living in a tradesman van, it’s pretty luxurious. But I’ve stuck out like a sore thumb at campsites cause a lot of campsite folk are very “get up and go” whereas I’m more “lie down and no.” And honestly, after being locked down on top of a hill for over a year in our old house, this new lifestyle is pushing me well out of my comfort zone. Miles and miles out of my comfort zone. I like it, it’s testing me, and I’m learning a lot about myself. But one of the things I’m also learning is that I’m not yet at ease with going to a shower block with all ma crap in a Tesco bag and walking back to Van Heilan like a wet sheep. Until Speyside Gardens (which has basically restored my faith), every site we’d stayed in so far had involved some kind of “bad luck Victoria” situation with Scott quickly reassuring me with, “that was just bad luck, they aren’t all like that I promise.” So when we arrived at Speyside Gardens the first time on a Moray Speyside trip with VisitScotland, I was fairly dubious.I think it’s also important to say that not once (until I arrived at Speyside Gardens) had I had the time to do the stuff you do at campsites, like singing Sweet Home Alabama round a fire, eating smores and drinking beer with ma buddies. Every time we’d been to a campsite until then it was just to do a full service. Because we live in our van. So it’s washing done, van cleaned, water topped up or topped down depending on its purpose, stripping the bed (and the dogs bed), and showering.
But Speyside Gardens is a VIBE
I can’t tell you the relief and hope for the future (lol) that I felt when we checked in to Speyside Gardens camping and caravan park. It was everything I needed a caravan and campsite to be; immaculate, clean, easy-going. It also had a wee shop at reception selling local whisky and gin. It was ideal. Speyside Gardens is in Aberlour in whisky country, Speyside. I felt a weight off when we parked in amongst the huge trees because trees are friends, and we even saw a wee red squirrel jumping from branch to branch.One of the absolute no brainer best bits for me was the bathrooms. Alongside the normal shower cubicles, there were a few super clean family bathrooms that were more or less just like the bathrooms you’d have in a house. When it was quiet at night, I went up for a shower in an actual bathroom (which was only like a 10-second walk from Van Heilan). I can’t tell you how long I stayed in there, it was absolute bliss. A rainfall shower with toasty warm water – you don’t realise how much you take these things for granted when they aren’t at your disposal.
After my shower, I got dressed with heaps of space around me. I wasn’t crammed into a tiny wee soaking cubicle, I could have done star jumps and maybe I did. It was amazing to be at a campsite but to be experiencing a wee touch of home comfort. After being so busy on the road, you have no idea how grateful I was for this.
Under the stars
Once I was done showering and had my jammies on, I walked back to the van. It was dark, peaceful and the path back to Van Heilan was lit with solar lights. I don’t know what it was about that moment, but I felt so chilled out and relaxed, for the first time in a while. In fact, I’d say it was the best I’d felt at a campsite (so far, anyway). I don’t think I’d ever been so grateful for a good shower and a nice wee walk. It was easy, and you just can’t knock that.
Stay in Speyside
Speyside Gardens is a caravan and camping park which has motorhome, touring, tent and long term static pitches. There are also 2 and 4 bedroom static holiday vans for rental and a luxury 3 bedroom, a self-catering house called The Salmon Hut. We need to try that out sometime too! The whole site is set within a Victorian walled garden and is home to lots of wildlife, including red squirrels which you will more than likely see during your visit. Speyside Caravan Park is a fantastic place to base yourself for experiencing the best of Moray Speyside.
Thank you so much to the team for having us (and for restoring my faith).