Monday, 16 October 2017

North Coast 500 - Part One

Good morning all.

Having finally resurrected my computer from the dead, I can now document our recent road trip round the North Coast 500 in Scotland. I took both my camera (Fujifilm XF1) and iPhone 6s with me to do the photography. Sadly the camera developed a lens error on day five (third time in four years grr) and although it still worked I mainly used my phone from day six onwards.

Hubby and I have been planning a trip to John O Groats for some time now having been to Lands End about 3 years ago. After becoming aware of the North Coast 500 route we decided to combine the two and add in his birthday treat of a night in the tree house at Ackergill Tower along the way. Although we only spent one night at each destination we deliberately kept each days driving mileages low so we had plenty of time to enjoy the sights along the route. This is our story:

Day One (farewell kids)
Dunbar to Spean Bridge (approx 172 miles)
Weather showery!
 Truck packed and we headed north westerly via Stirling (with a pitstop at Tyndrum for lunch at the Real Food Cafe), and on through Glencoe and Fort William to our base for the night...The Smiddy House at Spean Bridge. Having only ever visited Glencoe in deep winter (-5 and several feet of snow), it was good to see the landscape in Autumn...twas a tad muddy underfoot though!


Our room was compact but had everything we needed. We managed a nice walk at the Killiechonate Woodland Trails before dinner in Russell's restaurant.

Spean Bridge

Day Two (Dreams do come true!)
Spean Bridge to Dornie (57 miles)
Weather showery!
A good breakfast followed by a quick look around the mill shop before we set off. We had a lovely run past Loch Lochy, through Glengarry, stopping at Kintail for refreshments before heading alongside Loch Druich to the Eilean Donan Castle.

Loch Lochy, Glengarry and Loch Duich

I grew up with a picture of the Eilean Donan Castle on the living room wall and can remember as a small girl realising it was a real place when Mum told me she'd been there. I vowed I'd go there too one day....well today was that day! It had only taken me about 50 years to realise the dream but I wasn't disappointed!

We took the tour around the castle before having lunch, then as the weather had closed in we headed for the Dornie Hotel which was home for the night. The room was a little tired but clean and comfortable. After dinner in the hotel (and because it was now dry) we walked back along the lochside to see the castle with the tide in, then walked to the other side of the bridge and back before an early night.

A few of the many photos I took of the Eilean Donan Castle

Day Three (oops a daisy)
Dornie to Torridon via Applecross (70miles)
Weather - heavy showers throughout the day and night
After breakfast and another quick walk to the castle we were headed north, stopping for a walk in the Strathcarron sunshine before hitting the North Coast 500 route for real and heading over the Bealach Na Ba Pass to Applecross for lunch....with me going ass over tit at the waterfall on the way! A walk along the shoreline after lunch then we followed the coast around the peninsular to Torridon and our home for the night the Torridon Hotel. A lovely room with a huge bathroom and lovely views of the loch. We dined at the Inn and had a lovely meal...crab legs being a first for me!

The Bealach Na Ba Pass, Views to Skye from the Kyle, Loch Carron and some Heilan' Coos

Day Four (reflections)
Torridon to Poolewe (37 miles)
Weather - at last some sunshine!
After a lazy breakfast we had a walk along the lochside to the boathouse and back through the woods in glorious sunshine. A lovely drive to Gairloch where we stopped for a leisurely lunch and a walk (stopping off at the Ben Eighe visitor centre and the Victoria Falls on the way). We arrived early at the Poolewe Hotel for our nights stay, the room was tired but and cheerful! After a meal in the bar we had a walk along Loch Ewe before an early night.

Beautiful reflections in Loch Torridon, Gairloch, Victoria Falls and the Poolewe Hotel.

Day Five (once more into the sunset)
Poolewe to Lochinver (86 miles)
Weather - heavy showers with intermittent sunshine
Our wedding anniversary! A decent breakfast then once more we were headed north, stopping at the Ardessie Falls and Ullapool - here we picked up a picnic lunch which we ate in the layby at Ardveck Castle. The heavens opened so we didn't get out of the truck! We arrived at Inver Lodge, our stop for the night about 2.30pm with the weather turning very wet. However it dried up in time for us to have a walk up the hill to admire the views (and the rainbow) before getting ready for dinner. A very fishy assiette of freshly caught fish for starters (oyster, scallops, gravalax and lingostine) another first for me! The hotel is very basic looking from the outside but was very well appointed inside, including our room which had fabulous views of the loch.

Annat Bay and Ben Mor Coigach, Ardveck Castle, Ullapool, Ardessie Falls and Lochinver

Part two coming soon.

Carol x

1 comment:

Hi and thank you for your visit today. Constructive comments are always welcome...I read all comments and try to answer any queries promptly. Carol x