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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
A small loch-side Highland hotel ideally positioned between Ullapool and Gairloch . Great food, comfortable rooms, beautiful views and a lively bar.
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.
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.
Oldeshoremore and Loch Gleann Dubh The day started fine, so we headed over to the beaches at Oldshoremore that we had driven past in our haste to reach Sandwood Bay.…
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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…
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.
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.
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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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 ...!