Who in their right mind would call a single track road with passing places an ‘A’ Road?! The Scots, that’s who, but more of that later.
Unfortunately on this occasion the weather forecasters had it just right, we woke to grey cloud and drizzly rain. But we weren’t going to let a bit of rain dampen our spirits, though it did mean we kept the Boxster’s roof up!
I dressed in a blue and red striped polo shirt, matching blue shorts and blue deck shoes …. well, we haven’t had a fashion update yet so I thought I’d get one in! Moving swiftly on ….
Our day started with a quick visit to the Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre just a short walk from the hotel. The presentation of differing tartan attire through the years, and the actual workshop where kilts were being hand sewn, made an interesting impression, but it was the video presentation with a rendition of ‘Donald Where’s Your Troosers?’ by Andy Stewart that stuck with us the rest of the day!
We then made a short hop (in the car) to the small but very well stocked Botanical Gardens before starting on the actual NC500 route.
We were warned it could get busy with slow moving camper vans, but again we were blessed with light traffic allowing us to speed along (legally!) at our own pace. The rain persisted so the roof stayed up.
En route we made a stop at the Glen Ord Distillery where we toured the production facilities and then sampled a wee dram of their finest 12-year-old whisky (well, Angela did, I kept mine for later). From there it was a short ride to our next stop, the Rogie Falls, where we saw salmon jumping the falls, a first for me!
I must now confess (if I don’t Angela will tell you anyway) to making a slight navigational error. There was a circular walk to the falls, so we returned by a different route, or so I thought. After 15 minutes it became clear we were heading away from the car park, so we had to retrace our steps. Not too bad you might think, but let me say the hills around there are bloody steep! So for the second day in succession we embarked on what felt like a marathon – who said this was going to be a restful holiday!
By the time we made it back to the car the rain had stopped, so we braved putting the roof down. Thirty minutes later the heavens opened and we pulled over to put the roof up; it takes an awfully long time to go up when you’re getting soaked!
So in persistent rain we drove the rest of the journey, and here’s where we found ourselves on a fairly busy A896, a sometimes very narrow single track road. Even some of the passing places weren’t that generous. So progress slowed somewhat while we stopped-started-stopped our way towards Applecross.
The final few miles took us over the famous (infamous?) Bealach na Bà road climbing to over 2,000 feet with gradients up to 1 in 5. The view from the top was fantastic, at least that’s what the guide book said – we were in thick cloud from about half way up! So with nothing to see but cloud and road (at least Angela couldn’t see the sheer drops on her side!) we descended to Applecross and our accommodation for the night. And in true Scottish tradition, just as we arrived … the sun shone brightly!
Total distance travelled today 89 miles.
LAST WORD: I though this was supposed to be a driving holiday not a walking one! He may be an Engineer and be able to navigate around the world in many modes of transport but without his gadgets and satellite connection his orienteering skills are zero. I knew we were going the wrong way from the beginning, I kept saying (and pointing) “but the car park is over there and we are walking in the opposite direction”, but he is a man and he knows what he’s doing, yep, going the wrong way mate! There are two routes marked on the map (which he didn’t take a photo of so we could refer to it) the (short) yellow one and the blue one (blue because that is the colour you will turn when you have a heart attack at the end of it!) and I did all of this dressed as a sandwich in my £2.95 Scottish ‘souvenir’ Poncho!
Now I may be able to use this walking holiday to get fit and lose some weight, however, the portions at dinner in the Applecross Walled Garden Cafe and Restaurant applecrossgarden.co.uk were generous and so delicious I had to eat loads, this is the sort of place I would love to own. More haggis and local fish, de-li-cious!
Fashion update – this week I shall mostly be wearing my Test World jacket and sandwich bag poncho!
When we get our own house I am definitely changing the conservatory to a hot house.