The NC 500 is a ring road around the North east to North west coast of Scotland. We bagan in Inverness and decided to go clock-wise. The roads are quite varied from single track to double lane, some with curbs, some rock walls, some guard rails, all narrow.
The first few days, we ran into a few cars coming anti-clockwise around the road. Having been in Ireland, where the roads are much narrower, Chris was up to the challenge. The views from all directions are, simply put, breath-taking. The further north we go, the more small towns and single homes we pass. Mostly fishing villages. The history dates back hundreds of years.
Our first stop was in Applecross. A small town at the end of the road. There are two ways in; the first is a winding switchback road that shoots straight up into the highlands with accents and descents at 20% grades and hairpin, single track roads. This is not recommended for anything bigger that a Type T2 VW camper. The second takes off out of Shieldaig, also a single track with passing points, but is a more gradual meandering road along the coast. It is a 23 mile trek in and 23 back out. From your final destination, Applecross, you are awarded with the beautiful Isle of Skye vistas and a proper sunset, providing the clouds part. Sunset is currently at 10pm and sunrise at 4:40am and we are still a month away from the longest day.
We set our next destination as Gairloch and ventured about 4 miles outside of town to Big Sands, a camp area situated in the first and secondary dunes. The camp is spread amongst the dunes on grassy pitches, some with electric and others without. It is in this small sea that hundreds of bottle nose dolphins and basking sharks can be seen on a calm clear day…of which we had neither during our stay. We were graced with a few hours of clear skies and sun, but with a constant 10mph wind, the sea was awash with white caps, making it difficult to do any spotting.
Today we headed further north to Ullapool. This is a big port city, okay not very big city, but the port services 2 car ferries out to the Isle of Lewis. From there you can caravan around and take a ferry to Isle of Skye and back to the mainland.
In Ullapool, there isn’t much going on past 6pm. We snuck in just before closing time, to the Seafood Shack, a food truck serving only fresh and sustainable food at very reasonable prices, at least for fish and crab offerings. The ferry had just landed so the place was jammed. We placed our order, Chris got the Halibut wrap and I opted for the dungeness crab, both served with a healthy serving of green salad.
We are starting to settle I to a life of van travel again, this time without Gandaulf. I do get my share of puppy lovin’ for sure. Every dog I give scratches to, seems to know I am missing my boy. He would’ve enjoyed playing here, so much room to run, and water to swim in.
Around every turn is another gasp at the beauty, another picture postcard moment. We still have nine days left in our Scotland itinerary. Can hardly wait to see what the far north and north east has to offer. Cheers!