Inverness to wherever……..
We wake up to glorious sunshine, but it’s still cool. As we drove up yesterday, it clouded up and rained, but after our visit to Culloden Battlefield, the clouds parted and offered us a pleasant evening. The great part about being up this far north is the evenings are longer. It’s was still reasonably light at 10.30 last night.
So we were delighted at the clear glorious views across the Moray Firth and distant mountains which still had patches of snow on them. It was lovely. We were awake stupidly early, so have tea and biscuits in bed and relaxed. Then up, dismantle the bed and store things away. We learnt quite early last year when we hired this vehicle, that everything must be locked down – we had carelessly left coats, books, cushions around on the back seating area and after a couple of corners, most of it had slid on the floor and on The Dog who was not impressed. It looked like a seismic event had occurred in our van.
So we put everything in cupboards or stuffed away securely, did our air steward bit making sure the overhead cupboards were closed and shut properly (another one of our failings) and we were off at 8.30am.
The Scottish 500 starts at Inverness and then tracks west. We skirted Inverness via its ring road and headed towards the little town of Beauly, happy with the sunshine and the gorgeous scenery along the Beauly Firth. Beauly itself was charming enough to make us stop and have a wander around. A pleasant little town with a lovely array of independent shops and a little priory with beautiful ancient yew trees. We found a lovely little deli shop with tables and chairs outside and had breakfast – coffee with ginger and rhubarb scones. This was an excellent start to our travels and we just couldn’t believe our luck with the weather as we sunned ourselves on the pavement, watching the world go by.
We continued our travels via Muir of Ord (got slightly lost), Contin and across to Achnasheen. After pleasant fields and gentle hills, the valley widened considerably and the mountains a bit wilder, with snow upon their flanks. We stopped in a lay-by to admire – a little single gauge railway line meanders through and little 2 carriage sprinter rattled through, much to The Dog’s delight as she’s an avid barker of trains. End up chatting to a Swedish guy and fail to get the kettle boiling so forsake a cuppa.
The roads here are quite appalling – potholed, patched and of general poor condition, the whole motorhome rattled and shook. We stopped at Coulags, basically a lay-by in the middle of nowhere, as there was a footpath leading to Torridon some 9 miles away. We needed to stretch our legs (not all the way to Torridon) and wandered along the gravel path, next to a bubbling stream. We had put on light coats, but we’re soon shedding them and the jumpers as the temperature here was very warm. We spend time here with our cameras, chatting to fellow walkers and admiring the scenery. A pleasant diversion.
We jumped back into our little home on wheels and continued west. Hubby knows this area well and we drive down single track roads with passing places (these are main roads in this part of Scotland) to a scenic harbour village called Plockton. It’s quite delightful and we wander along the harbour front seeking a cafe. We find food and a great spot overlooking the Loch. It couldn’t be more perfect.
It’s time to look for a campsite for our overnight stay and retrace our steps back to Lochcarron and the one and only campsite for miles around. Sadly, they are full, though they did offer to squeeze us in, but it was a bit too cosy for our liking. We headed off to Applecross on the west coast itself, but with small, badly maintained roads it is slow going and distances on a map are much longer in real time. We also failed to realise is to get to Applecross, you have to travel over a mountain pass. Eleven miles of wild barren mountain road, with added extras: narrow strip of tarmac with passing places, hairpin bends and sheer drops on one side and drainage ditches on the other. We hoped to not meet other road users, but of course there were cars, vans and a couple of large minibuses where we had a knack of meeting at inappropriate points. It was a bit daunting to say the least and we were glad to make the summit unscathed, though then we had the downhill to contend with. But what stunning views to be had when we were brave enough to look and it was truly beautiful in the late afternoon sun.
We arrived at Applecross, a tiny village of houses overlooking the Loch and towards the Isle of Skye. I think the campsite was bigger. In celebration of surviving the tortuous journey over, we sat outside our dinky home and sipped wine taking in the glorious view. Then we wandered down to the front, finding a cafe that wouldn’t look out of place in the middle of a big city! It’s quite delightful and there’s quite a few people doing the same. The Dog is delighted to find water and have a wade.
We sauntered back to the campsite and suddenly our off lead dog takes off. Squirrels? A cat? To our horror, there are deer grazing in the trees and our dog needs to round them up. We yell to her, the deer lift their heads up to look at the kerfuffle and start to trot away before realising that they’re quite safe and resume their munching. This baffles The Dog who has slithered to a halt unsure what to do next and looks at us for advice. This isn’t in the manual – they’re suppose to run so I can chase them. Common sense takes over and she casually saunters back where she’s put on the lead. Never expected that one so close to civilisation. They’re obviously very used to humans and their four legged friends.
We decided to call it a night, but leave our curtains open. With ample space from other campers, it’s a pleasant, relaxed and attractive little site. And with the sun setting behind distance mountains, we watched her journey as we fall gently into slumber.
Tomorrow, we’re on the road again, continuing our journey north and hoping to make it to Ullapool before nightfall.