For many years I have wanted to drive off into the wilderness, with the desire to either loose myself, or perhaps find myself? Since we have the north coast of Scotland on our doorstep, my husband and I were delighted to snap up the offer of a camper van loan, from a very generous friend, and take off into the rugged and dramatic highlands.
With dog and husband up for the adventure, we planned our trip around the popular NC500! After stocking up on all the food we love, we headed off, making our first stop Applecross. Our plan was to have lunch at the Bealach cafe, before driving over the Bealach na ba. Annoyingly the Cafe was closed, good old Scotland! The weather was pretty grim and the breathtaking views from the drive over the Bealach na Ba were well hidden behind the grey mist. Our van and driver, my husband, manoverd well around the hairpin bends, and got us safely to Applecross, where we were warmly welcomed by a heavy down pour of rain, so the Applecross inn was the perfect place to grab a drink and some shelter. Finally when the rain stopped, we enjoyed stretching our legs and breathing in the fresh sea air.
We parked up for the night, on the roadside, along from the village, and enjoyed the spectacular views across to the Isle of Skye. The absolute highlight was to wake in the morning to the beauty of silence and time. Something that we seem to lack back home. Porridge was made and enjoyed, before heading off to find a river to wash in! We really were determined to stay with the wilderness experience. En route, we stopped at Nanny’s in Shieldaig, where we devoured her delicious pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, along with a raspberry and coconut slice. If I could have got away with licking the plate, I would have! A little latte to wash it down was a must, of course.
Loch Marie had the perfect spot to take a swim and freshen up, although a tad cold! We found a river further along creating the was perfect spot for hair washing! Ahhh my hair did feel clean.
We continued onto Gairloch, and arrived to the clouds beginning to clear and the sun shining. It was definitely time to stop the van and feel some heat. We headed off the beaten track towards Redpoint, stopping at a lovely little harbour to enjoy a cuppa made by ourselves and home baking. A walk with the dog along Gairloch beach was a must, followed by coffee at the rustic Mountain Coffee .
As the sun continued to shine, we decided to get a bit more excecise and do some hill walking just outside Gairloch, where the views were spectacular. This definitely couldn’t be rushed, so we lingered for a while. We finally returned to the van for a little vino, before continuing on through Poolewe. We reminisced the many holidays we had enjoyed with our kids in this quaint part of Scotland. I would loved to have stayed on, but time didn’t allow us and the campsite was full, so we parked up further along the road enjoying the stunning views across loch ewe, with a spectacular sunset!
Day 3 already! We headed towards Ullapool, stopping for a quick bite to eat in my one of my favourites, the Ceilidh place, along with more rain! However as we continued North, we took the coastal road around Achmelvich Bay, and guess what? Yes, the sun came out! We enjoyed a cuppa, made by ourselves, on the beach, catching a few rays. We then continued towards Scourie, parking in the beautiful bay, enjoying yet another spectacular sunset.
Day 4 was exciting as we were heading to unknown territory, visiting parts of Scotland I’ve longed to see. Sandwood bay was on our hit list today. Having found a beach for a quick swim, along with an attack of midges, we made it to the car park of Sandwood Bay… however we needed to hike 6.5 Km to get to the actual beach! The weather was bleak and wet, but since we had prepared for all weathers, we were well wrapped up. The dark grey clouds began to lighten to a paler shade of grey as we continued our hike. Wow, when we finally arrived, we stood amazed at the spectacular beauty of this beach! Thankful that we didn’t listen the the elements but listened to our hearts. This was well worth the 13km round trip. Having paused for a while before returning to our van, we were well ready to find a campsite and treat ourselves to dinner out.
We made our way to Durness and booked ourselves into Sango Sands Oasis. We were fortunate to get a front line view across the ocean, gracing the most spectacular beach. This really exceeded all my expectations. It was Scotland at its best. We were delighted to stay in this wonderful campsite for 2 nights, enjoying fresh fish from the campsite pub, along with a hot shower in their lovely new shower block.
Day 5 was the absolute highlight, waking up to the sun streaming into our van, and the breathtaking views from our bed. What more could you ever want or wish for? An early morning swim was a must. Like Crazy teenagers, we ran into the crashing waves, and embraced the freshness of the sea, temperature. It was bracing, but exhilarating!
The sun stayed faithful to us that day, and we blissfully enjoyed a coastal walk, coffee at Cocoa mountain, a few chocolate purchases, and then lazing around the van… another sunset lit up the sky that evening, followed by a great nights sleep!
On day 6, we were sad to say goodbye to Durness, promising to revisit very soon. We headed along the coast, stopping off at Smoo Cave, before arriving at Tongue. Much as we were tempted to enjoy a coffee at the Tongue hotel, as the views were spectacular, we had been recommended to visit Weavers cafe which definitely served the best sausage rolls and scones all round. We then continued along the stunning coastline to Strathy, enjoying a walk and coffee, made by ourselves, on the beach, before spending our final evening with friends in Wick. Oh this was luxury, enjoying a meal at their table and a real bed! Ahhhh bliss! Along with their delightful company… it was a perfect ending to a perfect week.
Breakfast was served with freshly laid eggs we had picked up from a cute little honesty box along the coast!
We finally got into our camper van for the last and final drive back to our hometown in Edinburgh. We had travelled 900 miles, door to door, experienced sun, rain, grey, mist, wind, cold, heat. Sam, our dog, loved his holiday, especially the sleeping arrangements, where he made a cosy bed between us each night. It was exhilarating to swim in the lochs, rivers and sea. We embraced what the wilderness had to offer us, and it offers much. It was our perfect holiday. We were totally abandoned to the creation, and it’s creator, loosing ourselves in it’s absolute beauty, and finding and discovering more of us.
I would love to hear from you and find out where you would like to go to discover more of you?