Adventures of Betsy Bus - Part 2
Picking up from our arrival back on the mainland, our plan was to drive the top of the NC500, next stop Applecross via the Bealach na Ba. We stopped at the Loch Carron golf club for a friendly afternoon cuppa whilst watching the clouds shroud the mountains.
It was raining and misty on the road up the Bealach, the highest road pass in the UK, needing to take a few bends in first gear due to oncoming traffic and a very brave touring cyclist. We were very pleasantly surprised to crest the pass to blue skies and downhill to the overnight stop at Applecross. Fortunately we'd booked ahead as many others were turned away from the busy site.
We walked down the hill to the Applecross Inn for dinner, sitting outside in the evening sun before a walk up the beach. Next morning, a delicious, leisurely breakfast of pancakes, blueberries and bacon at the Walled Garden tearooms - including extra bacon for Darcey and Watson.
The day's drive was glorious, heading around to Torridon, Kinlochewe and Gairloch before a late lunch and ice creams in Ullapool. We then deviated off the NC500 to take "the great wee road to Inverpolly" and onward to Lochinver - stunning views and little traffic.
Finally stopping for the day in Clachtoll for 2 nights, taking the next day to walk out to the Old Man of Stoer.
Rebecca sits in the back with the dogs, so I had Rocket the Dog keeping me company up-front enjoying the views.
Continuing north, we were able to stock-up on delicious, local produce at Drumbeg stores before heading up to the Shorehouse at Tarbert for a fresh seafood lunch, just in time to beat the twitchers returning from Handa. Once you've had fresh lobster like this, there's little need to try another.
The scenery changes quite dramatically after you pass Suilven. Leaving the mountains behind we headed to our next stop at the Sands Campsite at Durness which was noticeably busier.
Another weather front blew-in so we spent the day walking out to the sand-dunes and exploring Smoo Cave.
The original plan was not to follow the NC500 but to take the road to Lairg. However, as Rebecca hadn't been to John O'Groats I had a small hope that it had 'improved' in 30 years, but alas it hasn't. We had thought of a short jaunt to Orkney but much as we wanted to go, we simply didn't have enough time to do it justice and so headed south to Rosemarkie on the Black Isle.
The Camping and Caravanning Club site was very busy; it was noticeable that the bigger the vehicle/caravan then the lesser chance of seeing the inhabitants. It seems an odd choice to drive a big, plastic box all that way and simply sit inside watching TV.
Chanonry Point is a short walk along the beach from the campsite and well-known for the dolphins that gather as the tide turns each day, channelling the salmon barely a few metres from the shore. Crowds of dolphin watchers gathered twice-daily to watch the 'show'. There's also a nice walk up the Fairy Glen.
We'd deliberately not planned this part of the journey, but with the weather warming up we decided to head to a well-serviced campsite and there's few bigger than Glen Nevis. As the temperatures hit the high-20s we sought a pitch under the shady trees. Fortunately, it was also too early in the season for midges.
Next morning I took an early run up Ben Nevis under a blue sky before the heaving droves arrived. After lunch, a paddle in the river with the dogs provided welcome relief from the heat. We got to know our Swiss neighbours over a shared tub of ice-cream from the well-stocked shop.
Our final stop before heading south was Peebles, mainly so Rebecca could stock-up at her favourite chocolate shop, Cocoa Black as well as taking in the nice walks along the River Tweed before the long run home.