Last week Elaine and I had our first road trip (as a couple, I've done several on my own) in the F25. We travelled the North Coast 500.
For some reason I can't remember, when I was doing the planning I decided to travel anti-clockwise. All the books I've seen since - and the website - suggest clockwise. I can only think that by going clockwise you travel up the "better" side of Bealach Na Baa, but as we've already done it twice before I wasn't too bothered.
Day one, we drove as far as Perth (couldn't leave home before lunchtime due to El having commitments up 'til lunchtime). Stayed overnight at the Mercure Hotel.
Day two (after Scottish breakfast), up the A9 - stopping briefly in Inverness - to our first fuel stop in Wick. Then on the A99 to John o' Groats.
Day three was the day it got interesting for us - roads neither of us had travelled before. Across the north coast, stopping at a damp, foggy Dunnet Head..........
..... to our next overnight stop here.
After a brief stop at Smoo Cave itself first thing, day four saw us heading south(ish) down the west coast, taking several detours to our right as I wanted to see as much of the coastline as possible - rather than stick to the A-roads. 100-odd (I didn't do an accurate check) miles later we arrived in Achiltibuie, at this gem.......
The following day followed the same format, ending in Poolewe. Some lesser mortal had parked an uber-scruffy Xsara Picasso right under the hotel sign, so I couldn't get a decent picture of the sign with the X3 in. I never intended this report to include recommendations or otherwise, but who ever heard of a Scottish hotel that doesn't have porridge on the breakfast menu?? :wacko:
Day six, the last day of the actual "500" was alongside Loch Maree, through Glen Torridon, then 'round the coast to Applecross, over the pass, and wave goodbye to the coast at Lochcarron. Across country, returning to the A9 at Inverness and on down to our last overnight in Carrbridge. Lashing rain put the mockers on the photo-op here.
All that was left, for day seven, was the 270 mile drive (in pouring rain again - hell! it's Scotland, after all) back to Tyneside.
Would we do it again? Ooh yeah! ;D Next time (next year?) we're going to do it the "right" way - up the west coast - but only as far as Tongue. We'd stay in a couple of different hotels. Nothing wrong with the ones we stayed in, though. Then we'll come down the middle back to Dingwall, again roads we've never travelled before.
General off-topic chat.
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