Scotland North Coast 500 – Final Reflections – Just Be
North Coast 500

Scotland North Coast 500 – Final Reflections – Just Be

Our trip ends today with aa 5 hour drive south from Dunblane home..  It has been an interesting trip to this remote,  far flung land where there is a marvellous amount of nothing to do.  If you are looking for solitude, room to wander and reflect and allow yourself to " just be", then you will find plenty of it in the Scottish Highlands.

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A smooth finish – via The Kelpies
The Kelpies

A smooth finish – via The Kelpies

It took us the best part of 6 hours to drive from Shieldag to Dunblane where we decided to break the long return journey home with an overnight stay.  En route, we made a small detour to visit the Kelpies at Falkirk.

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Chasing Rainbows …
Chasing Rainbows on the North Coast 500

Chasing Rainbows …

The sunshine and rain showers meant that we were chasing many beautiful rainbows all along the remainder of the North Coast 500 road from Shieldaig through Applecross/Lochcarron.  At one point, we drove right underneath one!

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Accommodation Review – Shieldaig Lodge, Gairloch
Shieldaig Lodge Gairloch

Accommodation Review – Shieldaig Lodge, Gairloch

Shieldaig Lodge is a Victorian hunting lodge set in a 26,000 acre estate next to Loch Gairloch. It has lovely waterside views from the lounge and dining room and a massive selection of whisky and gin in the bar.

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Aultbea to Shieldaig – Inverewe Gardens Poolewe
Inverewe Gardens Poolewe

Aultbea to Shieldaig – Inverewe Gardens Poolewe

Inverewe Gardens at Poolewe - just down the road from Aultbea - provided a great place to spend half a day.  There are 54 acres of gardens to explore with interesting plants from all around the world including Japan and Africa.

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Kylesku to Aultbea
Kirkaig Falls

Kylesku to Aultbea

The journey from Kylesku to Altbea wasn't too long today, so we were able to stop at Invercircaig and walk to the Kirkaig Falls on the way.  

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Accommodation Review – Kylesku Hotel – Kylesku
Kylesku Hotel

Accommodation Review – Kylesku Hotel – Kylesku

The Kylesku Hotel is a small hotel sympathetically decorated in modern style with soft natural tones and tweed headboards.  They keep a cosy fire burning throughout the day - nice when the weather is wet.  The hotel is perfectly located on the edge of the loch with good walks all around.

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Durness to Kylesku
Kylesku

Durness to Kylesku

The drive from Durness to Kylesku only takes about an hour and a quarter, so we took a short detour.at Scourie and almost got blown into the sea the wind was so strong.

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Accommodation Review – Mackay’s Rooms Durness
Mackay's Rooms Durness Bedroom

Accommodation Review – Mackay’s Rooms Durness

Mackay's Rooms Durness is a B&B, not a hotel, so if you want an evening meal, you need to walk down the road to the Sango Sands Oasis pub or further to the Smoo Cave Hotel.  Alternatively, there is a café called the Whale Tail at Balnakeil Craft Village which offers a reasonable fish/seafood menu, but they only accept cash and close at 8pm.  There is a cashpoint at the Spa in Durness village if you need it.

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Life on the Edge – Faraid Head
Faraid Head

Life on the Edge – Faraid Head

Faraid Head - Almost like taking a walk in the sea itself! From the village in Durness, you can walk out along the edge of the cliffs at the edge…

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Life is Good on Sandwood Bay
Life is good on Sandwood Bay

Life is Good on Sandwood Bay

Sandwood Bay - One of Scotland's Most Beautiful Hidden Beaches About 20 miles from Durness, via Kinlochbervie, the road turns off to the right towards Oldshoremore and leads to a car park…

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BettyHill to Durness
Rainbow

BettyHill to Durness

En route from Bettyhill to Durness, we stopped at the Strathnaver Museum in Bettyhill (opens at 10). The museum gives excellent coverage of the Highland Clearances.

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Accommodation Review – Bettyhill Hotel
Bettyhill Hotel - Stunning view from our bedroom

Accommodation Review – Bettyhill Hotel

Bettyhill Hotel Accommodation Review A fabulous location with stunning views of the beach from the dining room and the bedroom. The restaurant has a good choice of bar type food…

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Wick to Bettyhill
Forsinard Flows

Wick to Bettyhill

Dunnet Head on the route from Wick to Bettyhill is actually the most northerly point of mainland Britain.  On a clear day, you can see the whole North Coast from Cape Wrath to Dunscansby Head.

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Accommodation Review – Mackay’s Hotel Wick
Mackay's Hotel Wick

Accommodation Review – Mackay’s Hotel Wick

The hotel was a little tired around the edges with a rickety lift, but what it lacked in swanky decor was more than made up for with the warmth and friendliness of the welcome.

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Today’s Rain is Tomorrow’s Old Pulteney …
John O'Groat's Fingerpost

Today’s Rain is Tomorrow’s Old Pulteney …

We had 2 nights in Wick, which allowed us time to tick the box of visiting John O'Groats.  We saw a family waiting to welcome back their Dad & his friend Phil - End to Enders - it is 874 miles to Land's End from here.   If you headed straight down, it is 12,875 long miles to New Zealand ...

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Durness to Wick
Rainbow over Wick Harbour

Durness to Wick

We chased rainbows all the way along the A9 from Durness to Wick and found a stunningly beautiful one in the busy little harbour in Wick when we arrived.  

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Accommodation Review – Dunblane Hydro
Dunblane Hydro

Accommodation Review – Dunblane Hydro

A really comfortable hotel with a well stocked bar offering a wide selection of whiskies to taste.  The hotel has a pool with a sauna and steam room.  Parking could be challenging when the hotel is being used as a conference centre, but we didn't have a problem during our stay.

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Dunblane
Dalwhinnie Distillery

Dunblane

We start our trip in Dunblane - best known as being Andy Murray's hometown and - say - site of the 1996 shooting of 16 Dunblane schoolchildren and their teacher.

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Scotland North Coast 500 Road Trip
Scotland North Coast 500 Road Trip

Scotland North Coast 500 Road Trip

Today, we embark on a long awaited drive around the North Coast of Scotland.  we will cover over 655 miles over the course of two weeks. The GK Chesterton quote springs to mind:  "The traveller sees what he sees; the tourist sees what he came to see."  Let the journey begin ...!

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