Tan Hill Inn

The view from the Loch side pitch at Ardlui Marina last night was breathtaking. From Helga’s cab window it looked like she was actually on Loch Lomond and the movement of the water made it feel like she was cruising.

Helga cruising Loch Lomond

Mrs Slaw used the facilities on site this morning to wash her hair. Such a disappointment! While the facilities were clean and well-maintained, the water pressure was terrible 😢 For most of the shower it was an abysmal trickle and even worse when a loo was flushed.

Cabin Crew prepare for take off! Mrs Slaw performed the pre-flight checks in the cabin while Slaw completed the outside jobs. It is a well-oiled, slick manoeuvre. Never planned or orchestrated. It has just evolved over their eight or so years of motorhoming. The final route through Scotland commenced. It was a bright, sunny but cold day. The penultimate day of the Slaw’s Scotland Road Trip, taking in the NC500. Tonight’s stopover though is in England. The road along the shores of Loch Lomond was reminiscent of the road Slaw drove our Vera down at the side of Lago Maggiore in the Italian lakes. Winding, tight and hairy in places; especially when you meet a big vehicle coming the other way! All too soon Helga crossed the border into England.

Back in England

Once Helga left the busy M6 and A66, the roads became smaller and smaller until it was just a single track road heading over the Yorkshire moors. Slaw commented on the lack of passing places. It seems England are far behind Scotland in that respect. However, the open moorland with stunning views for miles around gladdened the hearts of Slaw and the Mrs. The rugged raw beauty so familiar to Yorkshire folk. The Highland Coos now replaced by Swaledale Sheep, the emblem of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Yorkshire Dales National Park

Tonight’s motorhome stopover is the Tan Hill Inn; famed for being the highest pub in Britain. A coaching inn since the 18th century, it sits aloft the moors at a heady 1,732 feet (528 metres) above sea level. While the pub has rooms available, motorhomes are welcome to stay overnight in the car park for a fee of £10 per person. Facilities include showers and loos. There is live music Friday and Saturday nights and a new attraction is the Dome Dining Experience. Mrs Slaw booked this as a treat for the last night of the holidays.

Tan Hill Inn

The Dome was set out beautifully. Crisp white table linen and napkins, shiny silver cutlery and sparkling glassware. A heater had made it the perfect temperature. An iPad played the songs of your choice. Mrs Slaw chose Prosecco and Slaw Guinness while they perused the menu. Slight let down for Mrs Slaw, the Prosecco was not served in a fizz flute, but a bog standard bar flute glass. Mrs Slaw has a thing about glassware. It makes or breaks a drink in her opinion. However, she soldiered on so as not to spoil the special occasion. The Dome is dog friendly so Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl were in attendance.

The pooches in the Dome

The dining experience is a three course meal with a bottle of wine or Prosecco. The menu choices are fairly broad. From chicken and chips, to curry, to steak. Starters are standard; such as soup and prawn cocktail. Desserts equally standard; brownie, fudge cake, crumble, ice cream etc. The starters arrived and Mrs Slaw was delighted with her tomato soup. To say the staff had to fetch it from the kitchens, round the car park, and across the grass to the Dome it was piping hot! Homemade and rustic it is a good choice. Slaw was happy with his prawn cocktail too. A good start!

The Dome Dining Experience

The sun was beating down on the Dome. The glare from the white linen was strong. Mrs Slaw ended up wearing sunglasses! She turned the heater off as she was now the colour of the soup 🍅 This was a mistake. The sun was now hidden by big black clouds and the wind and rain were lashing the Dome. It was soon apparent that the zip on the door into the Dome was broken and it was blowing a hoolie through the gaps. The temperature dropped and the heater was turned on again. This change in weather continued all afternoon as the wind blew the clouds and showers quickly through. It made for some stunning skies though.

Slaw in the Dome

The main courses were steak for Slaw and lamb shank for the Mrs. It is always a worry when Slaw orders steak as he’s probably sent more back than he’s enjoyed 🤦🏻‍♀️ However, it was cooked to perfection. Medium rare, with just the right amount of pink. Accompanied by a tasty peppercorn sauce. Mrs Slaw was also pleased with the lamb. Things were looking good.

Lamb shank

Desserts were also very good, but Slaw and the Mrs were full to bursting and so were unable to finish them. Coffees were declined. Overall, an enjoyable experience and something different. The food was good and the staff very attentive.

Mrs Slaw and a tractor

After their allotted three hours, the Slaw’s retired to the pub and were given a table in the ‘Rustic Barn’ where Crackpot played a live set. This was very strange! Live music in a pub? Not since February have they enjoyed such a thing. The duo played a mix of Irish and Americana foot stomping sing alongs that went down well with the crowd. New covid closing times adhered to and the pub was emptied by 10pm. It should be a good night’s sleep as the pub is in the middle of nowhere. It’s a clear night and the stars are out. A perfect end to a perfect holiday!

Crackpot

A meeting with Vera on the Bonny, Bonny banks of Loch Lomond

Mrs Slaw and the pooches set off for their morning constitutional from the Ben Nevis Campsite. They happened upon an open gate right at the bottom of the site. Ever the opportunist, Mrs Slaw quickly snuck through, furtively looking over her shoulder. The other side of the gate was a bit of a workman’s site; skipping past the machinery she found a little path that ran right along the river Lochy. It had been a frosty night (this is Mrs Slaw’s summer holiday for goodness sake! Wistful memories of that lovely new bikini for St Tropez fleetingly passed by) Mrs Slaw dug her hands deep down in the pockets of her Rab down jacket and wished she’d put her gloves on. It was all worth it though as she looked out over the river through the rising mist, at the heady heights of Ben Nevis broodingly towering over her.

Ben Nevis brooding over the misty Lochy

The holiday is coming to end. The Slaw’s Scotland Road Trip taking in the NC500 is now heading south. However, this morning has a western detour. It was a quick ‘off’ as there is a train to catch! The Jacobite Steam Train runs twice daily from Fort William to Mallaig and crosses the very picturesque Glenfinnan viaduct. A location used in the 1969 film Ring of bright water, but more recently, and famously, for the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies. Mrs Slaw did her research and contacted the train operator to find out the times the Jacobite crosses the viaduct.

Helga arrived in plenty of time at the Glenfinnan visitor centre and a good job too! By 9.45am the car park was full. Slaw had made his plans to fly the drone over the viaduct to film the steam train. However, Mrs Slaw spotted the sign; ‘No drones’ 😢 Under the sign was another one though, that said ‘Permissions ring Alistair’ and a phone number. The call was made and a meeting arranged. Slaw was sweating a bit now as time was ticking by. Alistair arrived in his cow-muck green Landrover, dressed like a Scottish Laird in checked flannel shirt, green jumper and plaid knee breeches. Licence shown, insurance checked and questions from the drone code of conduct correctly answered. £10 admin fee duly paid and Alistair directed Slaw up the Glenfinnan Estate road to a large field from where to fly his drone. Whether Alistair is the Laird or the game keeper, someone is onto a good racket!

There were hoards of people climbed high up the hillside overlooking the viaduct for that ‘perfect’ shot. Looking backwards to the viewpoint from the visitor centre it was also packed. No pressure Slaw then to get that ‘perfect’ shot! The train was heard in the distance chugging as only steam trains can and a melancholy whistle sounded, echoing down the Glen. All around, the air was electric. The anticipation palpable. The Jacobite came into view from the right hand side; beautiful, shiny black engine and sleek red carriages. Snow white plumes of steam billowing from the engine perfectly suspended parallel to the carriages. It was majestic and stunningly framed in the nook of the Glen.

Jacobite steam train on the Glenfinnan viaduct

The Glenfinnan monument is on the Loch side of the road. An imposing structure at the head of Loch Shiel to commemorate Bonnie Prince Charlie. ‘Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing…’ (as we sung in school) On this site he raised his standard to recover the throne for his exiled Stuart ancestors in an arduous and unfortunate enterprise that ended at Culloden.

The Glenfinnan monument

Prince William had obviously had a veritable feast while mummy was taking photos. As Helga was travelling along the shores of Loch Linnhe, the Cottingham Cowgirl started crying. Mrs Slaw looked behind to the dog shelf, where the pooches travel in style in their harnesses and usually on a velvet blankie (currently travelling on a yellow and pink beach towel as Prince William puked on the velvet blankie 🤦🏻‍♀️) Prince William was looking very sorry for himself with something green and slimy hanging from his beard 🤮 The Cottingham Cowgirl had had enough and had jumped down away from her disgusting big brother (technically 1st cousin once removed 😜) Mrs Slaw set forth whilst Helga was still travelling. Her years as a coach hostess came into play as she held her own walking down the aisle looking for baby wipes, while Slaw looked for a suitable place to park. Mrs Slaw dealt with the offending item on the bench seat that Prince William had feasted upon. Some sort of tree nut? When will he learn? Mrs Slaw spends a fortune on grain free dog food with 65% animal ingredients for his delicate little tummy and he delights in filling his boots with cr*p then deposits it all over Helga 🤦🏻‍♀️

The incident dealt with, Helga continued on her route south. The drive through Glen Coe was stunning; reminiscent of the Slaw’s USA road trip through the canyons.

Glen Coe heading south.

The destination was reached; the Ardlui Resort at the head of Loch Lomond. Helga missed the entrance to the touring site and pulled into the hotel car park to be greeted by her predecessor! Our Vera! Would you believe it? These blogs have mentioned the Slaw’s beads and barefoot days many times and they regularly fondly reminisce about ‘our Vera’. She was reluctantly sold six years ago for a bigger van. She served the Slaw’s well. Taking them to France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Italy. Visiting the F1 GP in Spa and twice to Monza. Mrs Slaw was practically in tears! So emotional. What was even better was that the current owners love her just as much.

Our Vera

Helga parked up in her Loch side pitch. The most expensive pitch of the holiday. £35 per night, but the views of Loch Lomond are to die for!

Ardlui Loch side pitch

A few aperitifs in the hotel were consumed. Mrs Slaw was still quite emotional after reconnecting with V. The rosè was flowing! The conservatory was the second choice of seating as the recommended decking with views over the Loch was sodden from the lashing down rain. Not forecast on Mrs Slaw’s app 😡 The conservatory was cold with a through draught. So Slaw asked for our table this evening to be in the bar area. As expected the carpet was a tartan check. What was confusing though was the eclectic mix of decor. Quite fitting was a wall of taxidermy. A fox, an eagle, a large fish, and a stag. There was a wall of local history with old photos of the hotel. Then, seemingly out of sync two walls of Art Deco esque with striped wallpaper and mirror plaques with leaded flowers. Make your mind up Ardlui!

Mrs Slaw perused the menu. Mussels in a white wine, cream and garlic sauce. Ooh! Her favourite ❤️ But, after last night’s debacle with Mussel-gate in Banavie, Slaw was very happy when Mrs Slaw chose the Cullen Skink. Mrs Slaw was happy. Slaw was happy. When ordering, there was a wobble though. Mrs Slaw ordered the lamb and asked for it pink. The waiter said, he hasn’t got that option. It’s either medium, medium rare or rare. Mrs Slaw tried to explain those are steak options. She wants the lamb ‘pink’. In previous establishments she’s asked for it pink and the chef has sent it crozzled because those who ask for it pink send it back when it’s pink because it’s got blood in it 🤦🏻‍♀️ Mrs Slaw quite happily eats steak tartare so when she asks for rare or pink she means it! The main course arrived. It looked good and was beautifully pink. Sadly the meat was cold though. Mrs Slaw dare not sent it back for fear of it coming back crozzled. Very strangely it was served with onion rings, field mushrooms and a tomato. Not what Mrs Slaw is used to!

Heading South from the NC500

It was a clear night last night and Mrs Slaw was stargazing through Helga’s bedroom roof light. A myriad of twinkling lights shining hues of blue and pink that lulled her to sleep. It was night 12 of the Slaw’s Scotland road trip in the motorhome taking in the NC500.

Day 13 was a lovely sunny start in Dornoch. Mrs Slaw, Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl enjoyed a pleasant morning constitutional to the beach. Only a 10 minute walk from the Dornoch Caravan and Camping Park. Today is tinged with sadness though as it is the day the NC500 is completed. However, there are still four days left of the holiday and the weather forecast is promising.

Dornoch beach.

The drive south from Dornoch takes you over the Dornoch Firth. There are very pretty views to the right, of mountains in the distance and to the left looking back you see the full vista of the miles and miles of sandy beaches. It’s a fairly unremarkable stretch of road along the Cromarty Firth to Dingwall. However, a very fast road compared to those of late. A crumpled shell of a car, tied up like a birthday present in police tape, had its resting place in the ditch as a reminder to other travellers. One lady did not take heed and performed a very dangerous manoeuvre behind Helga, which very nearly resulted in her making a garage out of Helga’s bedroom! Slaw gestured rudely to her out of the window as she sped past 🤬

Helga turned off the drag strip just before the Cromarty bridge and took the Moray Firth Tourist Route to Dingwall. This is the official NC500 route. Mrs Slaw had identified a picnic table icon on the map just out of Dingwall and earmarked it for a brunch stop. Sadly, although there is a very pretty picnic area at the end of Ferry Road, it’s not really suitable for large motorhomes. Back on the road to find a better place, Mrs Slaw directed Slaw to a Forestry car park. Slaw declined as he thought it was a bus stop 🤦🏻‍♀️ Helga ended up parked in the services at Tore for Slaw to make sausage and egg butties. Mrs Slaw was quite happy observing two very buff loggers attending to their flat bed trucks 😜 All too soon, Helga crossed the bridge in Inverness with a view of the castle and the NC500 was complete! Helga had covered 575 miles. The official route is 516, but Helga had a few additions to Badachro, Firemore, Sheigra etc.

Inverness, the end of the NC500

Wester Ross is definitely a place that the Slaw’s will return to. The North and East did not hold the same delights for the Slaw’s and it’s a case of ‘been there done that’; however, the elusive NC500 T-shirt in a size less than large is still to be found 😉

The final leg of the holiday has now commenced. Wending our way down through the Highlands and Lowlands and back to God’s own county, Yorkshire. Helga hugged the shores of Loch Ness, seemingly not wanting to leave this beautiful area. The route passed through Drumnadroicht; a hive of activity with bars and cafes with their outside tables full of holiday makers enjoying the sunshine. Loch Ness’ waters are a deep cobalt blue. Stare at them for a time and who knows what you will see? The Loch follows the Great Glen Fault that was formed around 430 – 390 million years ago and cuts diagonally from Fort William to Inverness. Loch Oich was the next Loch en route. The waters were so still and tranquil. The images reflected in perfect symmetry. The waters so clear, Mrs Slaw was tempted to go for a swim.

Loch Oich

Fort William is the stop for the night. The Ben Nevis Holiday Park is aptly named with superb views of the Nevis Range, including oor Ben. All facilities are open at the time of the visit. It’s a very well set out site with hardstandings, lush green grass and pretty trees affording shade. There was a conundrum though, Mrs Slaw was directed to pitch 15. Pitch 15 was duly located, with a marker for pitch 15 and also a marker for pitch 16 on the same pitch? It was also the last pitch on the row, but the leaflet showed 15 and 16 as separate?? After a bit of head scratching, Slaw decided that as the pitch was next door to 14, it must be 15. God help the poor beggar who arrives to pitch on 16. It’s seems it’s like platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross. Everyone knows it’s there, but no one can find it 🤣

Helga in the shadow of Ben Nevis

This stop was chosen for the Neptune staircase locks on the Caledonian Canal. The lady on reception told Slaw it was a 15 minute walk to the locks. She lied. It’s 30 minutes. Mrs Slaw knows because she timed it! The locks were not as photogenic as the locks at Fort Augustus according to Mrs Slaw. But there was some interesting artwork lockside. Mrs Slaw thought it was a urinal from afar 🤣🤣

Neptune’s Lock artwork

Slaw had done his research for the area and booked a table at The Moorings Hotel next to the locks. Mrs Slaw chose mussels and Prosecco and Slaw steak and San Miguel. Mrs Slaw waited, just waited, for the complaints from Slaw. It started. A disdainful look. A smacking of the lips. A sniff of the drink. Oh no, here we go! Slaw even argued with Italians about how Peroni should taste (see my blog Tre Laghi in un giorno) how will a Scots lady serving Spanish beer fare? He had his drink replaced and seemed content. Oh dear, Mrs Slaw’s food arrived. It looked magnificent. However, no receptacle was brought for the shells. Mrs Slaw had to ask. A bad sign. A few mouthfuls in and it wasn’t good. Mussels served in a white wine and cream sauce should have garlic as a flavouring in the opinion of Mrs Slaw, and believe me she is a bit of a seafood connoisseur. These were flavoured with tarragon! Yes, really 😱 In addition, the pancetta (yes, really!) was fatty and the baguette extremely dry. Mrs Slaw is an expert mussel eater. Using a shell to extricate the others. Wait! No finger bowl had been brought. Even worse. Mrs Slaw had to ask again (take cover!! The pocket rocket could be about to launch!) Luckily for the hotel, no one came to ask how the food was, and when the plates were cleared, no one asked how the food had been. Slaw ushered Mrs Slaw out very quickly and The Moorings Hotel lived for another day!

Mussels served with no shell receptacle or finger bowl.

The turning tides of the NC500

The day dawned with driving, horizontal rain. Mrs Slaw and the pooches got very wet on their morning constitutional. Helga was parked in the Seaview Hotel car park at John O Groats. A motorhome stopover on the NC500. A much preferable option to sleeping in the public car park at JOG. The evening meal had been very nice. Both Slaw and the Mrs had chicken and haggis with a whisky sauce. Mrs Slaw followed hers with an ice cream sundae with Orkney fudge. Delicious! She felt sick afterwards; her own greedy fault 🤦🏻‍♀️

After seeing the negative local signs on the North Coast yesterday, Slaw checked out the most up-to-date online reviews for tomorrow night’s free camp. The car park at the Neptune Locks at Banavie had previously had good reviews. However, September had a new review – ‘Definitely not allowed to stay overnight’. Mrs Slaw started hyperventilating and having visions of flaming torches and pitchforks again. Slaw was on it! He found a campsite near enough so he can still walk to the famous staircase locks on the Caledonian canal. But that is tomorrow, back to today.

It’s a cold, wet and grey day. Manky weather according to Mrs Slaw. Ever the good Girl Scout, Mrs Slaw referred to the pre-planned colour coordinated folder. The oracle of the Slaw’s Scotland Road Trip 2020. Mrs Slaw’s pride and joy. First activity is a visit to Duncansby Head to see the stacks of Duncansby. Helga parked in the car park among the overnight free campers and bales of rotting hay, dumped by locals trying to prevent and discourage the free campers. Feelings are running high at the moment and Mrs Slaw cannot understand why the campers feel the need to camp in the car park that clearly states ‘No overnight parking’ when the John O Groats car park allows 12 hours in a day for £2 (making an overnight stop just £4), the Seaview Hotel offers motorhome stopover free when you have a meal, and the Lobster Co. only charge £10 per night to park in their car park. Plenty of alternative choices without creating animosity.

The walk to see the stacks of Duncansby is across a few fields. Mrs Slaw was chuntering to herself. ‘So, what did you do on holiday Mrs Slaw?’ ‘Well, I tramped across a field in driving, stinging, eye-watering, horizontal rain to go and look at some lumps of stone stuck out o’t’sea!’ There’s a laugh around every corner with Slaw though. He stepped on a wooden walkway and just as Mrs Slaw said ‘be careful, that looks slippery …..’ Slaw set off like Wayne Sleep performing an ungainly glissade! He made a superb recovery! Only his pride was dented 🤣

Stacks of Duncansby

Next stop was not an activity, but a necessity. Wick is a big town with all the usuals, Tesco, Argos, Pets at home. Mrs Slaw went shopping for the items not easily sourced in the Highland Crofter’s local shops. Soya milk and gluten free bread for Slaw. Back on the road again; still raining, but a glimpse of brighter skies ahead. Mrs Slaw wistfully thought of sunnier climes, usually experienced on her two-week summer holiday. Not to be this year. Hey-ho! An executive decision was made to do an Alastair Griffin aka ‘Just drive’. Sky Sports F1 theme tune. Next stop Dunrobin Castle approx 50 miles south.

The most interesting part of this section of the NC500, according to Mrs Slaw, was the wind farms and oil rigs out to sea and the grass roofed sheep huts. Good insulation in all weathers perhaps? Mrs Slaw picked up a theme in place names along the way. Ulbster, Occumster, Lybster. Intrigued, she looked into the meaning of ‘ster’. Apparently, according to forum.caithness.org it means ‘stead’ as in homestead or farmstead and is an old Norse word.

Past Berridale, driving through the Langwell Forest, you are reminded of the beautiful scenery of the West Coast. Winding roads, herds of deer, mountains silhouetted on the right hand side. It has finally stopped raining! Mrs Slaw feels like she is on holiday again. Looking out to sea, you can make out Tarbet Ness over the Dornoch Firth. There are glimpses of blue skies ahead! Helga passed the Clynelish Distillery at Brora but amazingly didn’t stop 🤣 Brora is a pretty little town with higgeldy piggledy houses and brightly painted shops.

Dunrobin Castle is the home of the Dukes and Earls of Sutherland. Mrs Slaw knew from research that neither the castle nor the grounds are dog friendly. However, there is a woodland walk that you can take dogs on that takes you across the beach in front of the castle where you can get the perfect insta photo with the castle in the background. Slaw, Mrs Slaw, Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl set forth into the woods. They came across the fenced off burial ground of the Dukes and Earls in a clearing with a magnificent stone memorial and then headed onto the beach track. Alas! The tide was in. Thwarted of the perfect insta photo the only one available today was the rear of the castle.

The rear of Dunrobin Castle

Next on the activity list was the Loch Fleet nature reserve. According to Mrs Slaw’s research, this is full of sand banks with seals posing for the tourists. Mrs Slaw knows this because she’s seen the photos on social media. Guess what? The tide that was in at Dunrobin, was also in at Loch Fleet 🤦🏻‍♀️ No visible sand banks, just a solitary seal bobbing about in the middle of the Loch. The ruined Skelbo Castle sits just above the south shore car park. A toothless relic of days gone by,

Skelbo Castle

Tonight’s campsite is Dornoch Camping and Caravanning Site. Not a CCC site as Mrs Slaw thought! A very friendly welcome and Helga was soon pitched. Time to explore the town. Mrs Slaw was fascinated by the Witches Stone in someone’s front garden. Dornoch is famed for the last recorded execution of a person convicted of witchcraft by stripping, tarring and burning alive. The stone marks the site of Janet Horne’s execution in 1727.

The Witches Stone

Dornoch has other interesting places to explore, such as the old jail, now a maze of independent retailers setting out their wares in the cells. Mrs Slaw purchased her favourite Sea Kelp hand soap and conditioner on a stylish white porcelain stand. In the back streets there were photo opportunities in abundance. Mrs slaw found a picture perfect house and car. Heartbeat-esque!

However, Dornoch is not dog friendly. The first two establishments where Slaw tried to spend money over the bar refused the pooches entry 😱 Finally, they were allowed in the Coach House bar and restaurant. A very pleasant evening was spent chatting to fellow travellers. In fact, it seemed that without tourists, the bar would be empty. Tomorrow we finish our amazing NC500 route and head further south through Scotland. We will definitely return to the Highlands.

The North Coast of the NC500

Oh what a night! Late September, in the motorhome. Not as The Four Seasons sung, and a night to remember for all the wrong reasons. It was windy and rainy when Slaw and the Mrs left the bar on the Sango Sands campsite last night. They were camped at Durness on the 10th night of their Scotland road trip taking in the NC500. Mrs Slaw retired to bed with Nick Dawes and Slaw stayed up uploading his vlogs (really good 4G in Durness). Now, if Mrs Dawes is reading this, she’ll know Mrs Slaw wasn’t physically in bed with Nick, but had in fact taken a copy of his book to bed. ‘Calling the fat pillock’s bluff’. The story of Nick’s ride from Lands End to John O Groats ‘Cycling Britain on a twenty five quid bike’. It’s a really good read. The inevitable happened though (sorry Nick) and Mrs Slaw fell asleep.

Mrs Slaw was rudely awakened by Slaw about 2am just coming to bed. She was not amused 😡 Even less amused to hear Prince William baying like a banshee in the wind when he was let out for a last wee 🤬 It was mighty windy out there now. The wind had really got up and was not just buffeting Helga, but thumping the hell out of her. 50mph gusts threatening to knock her over, or so Mrs Slaw thought 😱 Slaw was soon snoring like a goods train and Mrs Slaw had no chance of sleeping 😢 Then at 3.30am there was a massive crash! The wind had blown over the campsite bins and glass recycling. Although it nearly jolted Mrs Slaw into next week, Slaw slept the sleep of the dead 💤 Ear plugs in and Mrs Slaw managed a fitful sleep until morning came around all too quickly.

The sunrise over Sango Sands was lovely. A lone surfer rode on magnificent breakers, disappearing every so often like a bath toy in a bubble bath. Mrs Slaw walked back through the campsite and witnessed the devastation that the wind had wrought. Tents were ripped into shreds and waved gaily in the morning breeze like Morris Men’s handkerchiefs. Forlorn tenters looked on in despair; cold and dejected. Mrs Slaw is glad her days of tenting are well behind her.

The first activity in the colour coordinated trip folder, Mrs Slaw’s pride and joy, is a visit to the Rock Rose gin distillery in Dunnet. An 80 mile ish drive from Durness. Not long into the journey and Slaw was really wound up. Helga had only travelled five miles and had already lost 15 minutes of travel time. Slaw was following two motorhomes who were obviously, and in no way to be condemned, enjoying the drive and pootling along at 25 mile an hour around Loch Eriboll. What they failed to do was take notice that Slaw, who was right behind them, was travelling faster than them. The single track roads are very clearly signed ‘Use passing places to permit overtaking’. Eventually, they did pull over and allow Slaw through. Calm was restored!

Helga crossed the Kyle of Tongue bridge and Castle Varrich was prominent on the hillside. Its ruin silhouetted against the brooding sky. The landscape had changed again. A flat landscape. The purple heather has almost lost its vibrancy and the muted pinks appear lost in the autumnal browns and oranges. Through the Borgie Forest Christmas trees lined the road casting bluey green hues into the light. Helga was now following the North and West Highlands Tourist Route. The moorland roads akin to Saddleworth Moor, near the home of Slaw and the Mrs. It felt comfortable and homely. Wind farms are now visible in the distance. A sign of the impending civilisation to come. Here was the first sign of negativity experienced on the NC500. Mrs Slaw had lost sleep before the trip, reading reports about the pi**ed off locals with the hoards of tourists caused by staycationers. The blog ‘St Tropez to John O Groats’ explained more of these fears. It was in Bettyhill that this was first seen. A sign at the side of the road ‘GO HOME! ISOLATE’. The first experience in 380 miles of the NC500. Mrs Slaw shook herself off, took a big breath and continued enjoying this wonderful road trip from the self-isolation of Helga.

The next section of road gives tantalising glimpses of sandy coves along the coast. Armadale, Strathy, Melvich and Sandside to name but a few. Fields of cows and sheep became more regular. Farms dotted along the road. Civilisation came back into view. Green, lush, fields and golden, spiky fields full of new bales. This is where the second negative sign was seen. A very large sign in red, on a building in Forss ‘ PLEASE RETURN TO YOUR HOMES…….’ It was passed in a flash, so Mrs Slaw was unable to read the next words. Not a bad thing really, as she now had visions of the flaming torches and pitchforks round the next corner!

Thurso appeared grey and sprawling under a visible mist. Huge, curling waves crashing into the bay, keeping the mist constant, like a 1980s smoke machine in a disco. Just along the coast came Dunnet Bay and the first of today’s activities. A visit to Rock Rose Gin distillery and a North Coast Tales and Tasting session. You are welcomed by a delightful herb garden where many of the botanicals are home grown. Mrs Slaw was drawn to catnip, evoking childhood memories of Mr Hector’s garden at Hade Edge.

Dunnet Bay distillery
Home grown botanicals

The distillery has had to diversify their tours to be Covid safe and have ingeniously created ‘boat houses’ for couples to sit in while enjoying the session. The tales encompass local history and folklore and keep you spellbound with tales of Selkies, Pictish beasts and Vikings creating the swallower in the Pentland Firth! Three tastings are included: NC500 gin, Rock Rose Navy Strength gin and a coffee vodka made with holy grass that smells like a hay meadow on a hot summer’s day.

Boat house and tastings

After the tastings, it was time for activity number two. A visit to Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the British Mainland. True to form, it rained. There weren’t many seabirds when we visited, mainly kittiwakes floating on the thermals, up and down the huge rock faces.

The final activity for today was a visit to the world famous John O Groats and the signpost. Slaw and the Mrs queued up with the other tourists like only Brits know how, for the obligatory selfie with the signpost. Not much time was spent there as it was still raining. A very short drive up the hill to the Seaview Hotel. A motorhome stopover. Helga was parked up in the car park and Slaw and the Mrs spent an enjoyable evening in the bar having a meal. Decent quality and prices. Slaw treat himself to a barrel stave printed with key places on the NC500. As this blog closes, the rain is rhythmically beating on Helga’s roof and Mrs Slaw is hopeful of a better night’s sleep!

John O Groats signpost

Chocolate, cars and a cave on the NC500

Hurrah! A West Coast sunset was achieved. Slaw and the Mrs stayed on a Crofter’s campsite last night in Sheigra, deep in the Scottish Highlands, on a clockwise NC500 road trip in Helga the motorhome. So called because she is a big German girl 😜

It was a beautiful day spent mostly sunbathing and snoozing surrounded by sheep. Slaw was feeling very smug as the day was organised by him. There was nothing in the colour coordinated folder with activity notes stuffed in plastic wallets, carefully, methodically and time consumingly compiled by Mrs Slaw in the weeks prior to their NC500 road trip. Oh no, this a manly thing. A macho ‘leave it to me’. Planning is not needed. Slaw came up trumps. Mrs Slaw was happy. This makes Slaw happy. It’s so much better when Mrs Slaw is happy!

The sun disappeared over the cliffs at Sheigra. Fellow campers trooped up the hillside to get a better view; like sheep following their heaf, staying together for protection. Mrs Slaw had another glass of wine and Slaw sent the drone up. It was beautiful!

Sunset over Sheigra

Drone put away, Slaw set up his next gadgetry (he is Mr Gadget); the camera and tripod to photograph the night sky. Oh dear. Some very inconsiderate campers arrived in the dark and started to pitch their tent with their headlights on facing straight at Slaw and his camera! A lot of chuntering, muttering, huffing and puffing, stomping and swearing took place until the offending lights were extinguished. Peace resumed. Mrs Slaw wrapped herself in a blanket and lay back in a reclining camping chair with another glass of wine (well, she is on holiday 😉) The sky was superb! Layer upon layer of twinkling stars. The harder you looked the more you saw. Shooting stars flashed across the vista and the Milky Way was clearly visible. Mrs Slaw was not Rosie Probert in the darkness of the darkness to forget she was ever born. Mrs Slaw felt reborn and revitalised, and snug under the blanket with wine.

The night sky and Milky Way over Sheigra

After yesterday’s beautiful sunshine, this morning broke with a sea fret. Mrs Slaw took Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl for their morning constitutional up the hillside to the top of the cliff. It was slippy underfoot and Mrs Slaw daren’t let the precious pooches, aka the explorers, off their leads for fear of them jumping off the cliffs like Lemmings 😱 Even with the sea fret, the raw beauty of the Crofter’s campsite was clear to see. Wild, bare; just perfect. Leaving was very difficult. More so, as it was the last stop on the magnificent West Coast.

Sheigra Crofter’s Campsite

It was only a 20 mile drive this morning from Sheigra to Durness on the North Coast. Once on the road, Mrs Slaw drew forth the colour coordinated folder and informed Slaw of today’s activities. A visit to Cocoa Mountain and Balnakeil beach, before arriving at Sango Sands campsite, then a walk to Smoo Cave. Slaw smiled good-naturedly.

The landscape has now noticeably changed. Gone are the lochs and glens. Gone is the heather and the bracken. It is now a rocky desolate landscape. Helga arrived at Cocoa Mountain. Mrs Slaw was salivating. One ginormous, famous, hot chocolate topped with molten milk and white chocolate, and a side of chocolates later, Mrs Slaw was uber happy 🥰

Cocoa Mountain’s famous hot chocolate

It’s just a ten minute walk down to Balnakeil beach from the hot chocolate shop. It was a hairy walk though as there are no footpaths, it’s a single track road with passing places and The ‘Big Ball Rally’ came through. A dozen or so supercars ‘doing’ the NC500 in a weekend and this was one of their stops. Mrs Slaw was rather taken with the Aston Martin 🤩 Slaw got talking cameras with the camera car man, who spends his time suspended in a harness from the car taking photos of the supercars 🤪

Sango Sands campsite is extremely busy. Mrs Slaw tried to book a month ago and all electric pitches were already booked for the Saturday. We could have left it to chance for a first-come-first-served non electric pitch. It was too much of a risk for Mrs Slaw, so we booked the Sunday electric pitch. Slaw got chatting to Helga’s neighbouring motorhome driver at Sheigra last night. He had experienced negativity on his anti-clockwise route on the North Coast. He had tried to free camp in one area near Durness and was moved on by a local. He ended up free camping in a car park and was rudely awoken by cars beeping their horns at 6am. Mrs Slaw is glad she spent hours researching and booking on sites in areas of hostility!

Durness doesn’t have the allure of the West Coast for Mrs Slaw. For her, it is reminiscent of a Yorkshire East Coast holiday resort. However, Mathers Shop is worth a visit. Donnie is a dog lover and always has a treat for them. He prefers dogs to humans. A good choice! Donnie has a good selection of NC500 stickers and pin badges too. The difference is the beach. Oh my! It is simply stunning.

Durness beach

It’s a nice headland walk up to Smoo cave from Sango Sands. Local farmers have placed bales of hay along the road to prevent people from free camping on the machair. This is the first place on the NC500 we have seen anything like this. It must have been bad for the locals to take this step 😢 Smoo cave is accessed via a steep descent down the cliff side on a good path with handrails. Due to Covid, the tours aren’t taking place, but you can still access a part of the cave over a quaint wooden bridge. The colours of the stone are magnificent!

Access to the inner sanctum at Smoo Cave
The inner sanctum at Smoo Cave

Mrs Slaw made full use of the facilities at Sango Sands. Another velvet blankie washed after Prince William puked again! He will eat seaweed and sheep sh*t 🤦🏻‍♀️ Only £2 a wash here, as opposed to £4.50 at Ardmair! The shower blocks are clean and plenty of hot water. The pub is open on site and a table was booked for 6.15pm. Only two-hour slots are allowed and the Covid rules are strict; but that ensures your safety. A couple of drinks later, Slaw and the Mrs got a takeaway from the Sango Sands Oasis restaurant. Surprisingly very good. Tomorrow, the route takes us across the very top of Scotland and gin is involved!

Deep in the Highlands

Saturday 19 September 2020. Prince William is 6 today! Where has the time gone? He’s celebrating his birthday deep in the Highlands of Scotland. Almost off grid. Just as Slaw likes it. No umbilical cord connecting Helga to the grid. No site facilities, such as shower and loo blocks. Also, no vehicle noise, no snoring tenters and no one partying late into the night.

Scourie bay

Last night we camped at Scourie, nestled in Scourie Bay. The hamlet boasts a filling station, shop, hotel and public toilets. Scourie campsite is managed by Highland lassies in wellies and due to Covid only self-contained units with their own facilities can camp here. Usually there is the Anchorage bar/cafe on site, and off site the Whale Tale cafe; sadly neither have re-opened this year. The night was black. Moonless, starless and bible-black. Black as a chimbley. Sloeblack, slow black, crowblack. Like Rosie Probert, Mrs Slaw thought she was going into the darkness of the darkness forever, to forget she was ever born. Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. One of Mrs Slaw’s favourite modern classics. This morning, however, dawned bright and sunny and the view from Helga’s bedroom window was picture perfection!

The view from Helga’s bedroom

Today was Slaw’s itinerary. When Mrs Slaw was planning this trip, he got tetchy about ‘too much planning’ and so he was given his own day to be ‘free and easy’. Slaw started looking on the internet for free camping. There are a few apps out there to use. Search for sites and Park4night are some of them. However, Slaw found a Crofter’s campsite at a dead end well off the NC500.

Sheigra

We only travelled 20 miles today and Slaw had no ‘activities’ planned. The Crofter’s campsite is £5 per night in an honesty box. It was pleasing to see it stuffed full with money! There are bins and a water tap near the entrance, but that’s it. It was fairly quiet when we arrived and beautiful sunshine. Sheigra or Shegra is a tiny hamlet of a handful of white painted Crofts nestled into the head of the bay. The road was surprisingly busy just before Sheigra, then we saw the car park for the 6.5k walk to the famous Sandwood Bay. That explained it. The car park was heaving, so the secluded beach would have been very busy today. Not great for those perfect insta photos. An afternoon of sunbathing and snoozing ensued instead. Once rested, Slaw had fun poking his new DJI Osmo gadget in rock pools and Mrs Slaw took the pooches on a hike. Top tip. You can get 3G at the top of the cliff 👍🏻 The bay is ruggedly beautiful with the cliffs tumbling to meet the crashing waves at high tide. The waves rising like magnificent prancing Lipizzaners.

Sheigra beach

The campsite started to fill up from about 4pm. A steady stream of tenters, campervans and motorhomes. Mrs Slaw took up her favourite pastime of people watching. The sky was a brilliant blue today and Slaw has all the gadgets ready to photograph a sunset and the night sky. This is our last night on the West Coast and we will be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves crashing into the rocks. Tomorrow we arrive on the North Coast continuing our amazing NC500 road trip 🚍🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

The explorers

Helga to the rescue on the NC500

Day 8 dawned sunny on the Slaw’s Scotland road trip taking in the NC500. The NC500 takes you 500 miles (ish) around the north coast of Scotland in a circular route from Inverness. We decided to ‘do’ it clockwise. We camped at Clachtoll Beach campsite north of Ullapool last night.

Mrs Slaw was very impressed with the campsite; the attention to detail is excellent. There are three sinks in the ladies shower block. Due to Covid, the middle one is out of bounds. Usually to be found with hazard tape across it and detritus in the bottom. Not here. It has been tastefully planted up. Genius! The ladies also has a hairdryer and straighteners for hire. Not just any old straighteners, they are ghd 👍🏻

We left Clachtoll heading further north on the B869 for Kylesku. The scenery was very different today. Rocky and barren. The headland almost completely orange now the bracken has taken on its autumnal hue. A quick pit stop at Clashnessie Beach to take a photo. Mrs Slaw was NOT impressed. People were actually ON the beach! Don’t they realise they are spoiling her photos? She NEEDS them to be perfect for her instagram page and her hashtag #mrsslawontour

The scenery just keeps on giving around every corner. Picture perfect views over Loch Poll and Loch Drumbeg. White painted crofts with sheep languishing on the lawn, instead of suburbia’s designer sprockers and cavapoos. The viewpoint at Drumbeg is an absolute must, to stop and take in the view. Many of the 35 islands of the coastal parish of Eddrachillis can be seen from here. We were lucky as the sun came out and illuminated the stunning browns, oranges and greens. It was here we met Mr Royale. A lone traveller in an old Swift Royale. Slaw and Mrs Slaw were transported back in time to their first holiday in a motorhome. A 1995 2.5 normally aspirated motorhome on a Peugeot Boxer. It did take us a long time to get to the South of France 😬

The road from Drumbeg, through Nedd and Glenleraig, is particularly narrow. There are passing places and it is doable. We did it in Helga our 7m motorhome. Take it steady and be prepared to reverse. On one downward section, we passed three consecutive passing places, all with cars parked in them while the occupants merrily took photographs of the beautiful views over Loch Nedd. Very selfish and irresponsible 😡

Remember our friend at the viewpoint in his Swift Royale? We didn’t expect our paths to cross again so soon, but they did. As we turned a corner, there was a lovely view of the Kylesku bridge. Mr Royale must have thought so too, as he had pulled off the road and stopped to take a photo. He was talking to a couple in a Sprinter van coming the other way. A lot of head shaking and scratching was going on. Mr Royale approached us and explained his predicament. He had taken his photos and reversed to set off. Unfortunately his nearside rear wheel had dropped off the road and he couldn’t get it out. Although Helga has a tow ball and the Royale a towing eye, none of the three vehicles had a tow rope. Mr Sprinter and Slaw had a quick chat and decided that there was enough muscle in the men and the Mrs’s to push him out. A rock was strategically placed under the offside front, we all pushed and Mr Royale put his foot down like Michael Schumacher! The wheels spun and the rock shot out narrowly missing Slaw! Mrs Sprinter nearly fainted and Mrs Slaw screamed at Mr Royale ‘too many revs!’ Amongst the smoke and acrid smell of a burning clutch, the men decided that attempt was not going to work. Indeed, the Royale has actually gone further back and was now on the point of losing the centre of its balance! More head scratching and then… the Cannonball boys appeared over the hill like knights in shining armour. The men looked at the Cannonball boys’ car with the jerry cans strapped to the roof, looked at each other, gave an imperceptible nod and rushed in unison into the road madly waving their arms. The Cannonball boys stopped. Did they have a tow rope? Is the pope catholic? Can a fish swim? They proudly drew it aloft from their car and brandished it like the holy grail, chests swelling with pride whilst pompously nodding to the Mrs’s like only men can 🤦🏻‍♀️ Mr Sprinter hooked up the Royale to Helga, the Cannonball boys and Mr Sprinter pushed and the Royale was pulled free! Who knew that Helga was a tow truck in disguise 😉

After all that excitement, sustenance was required and it was finally time for today’s planned activity. We had heard that the Kylesku Hotel was THE place to have lunch in the area. Now, Mrs Slaw had been pronouncing it Kyle (as in the boy’s name) -skoo, but when she was chatting to a chap at the Badachro Inn who was quite obviously much more well travelled than her 🙄 he had pronounced it Kyle-ess-koo. Also, this morning at Clachtoll a Scots guy (people are Scots and things are Scottish) was recommending Kyle-ess-koo Hotel to other travellers. So, Mrs Slaw changed her pronunciation. Until we arrived at the hotel and Mrs Slaw checked. It is Kyle-skoo. She really shouldn’t doubt herself 😜 Lunch was delightful! We sat outside in the sunshine overlooking the Loch. The hotel is dog friendly, so Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl were with us. Mrs Slaw was in heaven; they had langoustine on the menu! Served in a tower with salad and a foamed garlic butter. Slaw had fish of the day and it was cooked to perfection. Crisp white linen napkins, correct accoutrements for eating langoustine and washed down with chilled Rouvière rosé. Not cheap. Two main course and two wines was £65, but it was worth every penny. Mrs Slaw’s only comment was that Slaw should have been given a fish knife.

We arrived at our campsite at Scourie and were greeted by one of the sisters. Not sure if it was Mhairi or not, but reassuringly they were Highland lassies in their wellington boots, cutting the grass on their tractor and in total control of the site from reception. We’ve not had the pleasure of a proper Highlander since Lochcarron and The Wee campsite. Badachro Inn was a scouser. Gairloch boat trip was Cornish, Ardmair was a Lancastrian and Clachtoll, I’m sure was from South Yorkshire (I heard him talking about Penistone and Slaw heard him say gi orr ). We were ably shown to our pitch. Slaw wasn’t impressed. Although it had electric and magnificent views onto the sea, it was reminiscent of a car park. We parked up and took the pooches to the beach. On the way, Slaw spotted a lovely little grass pitch, secluded with a superb view. That was it, he was on hot bricks on the beach until we went back up to the site and he spoke with tractor sister. She was totally bemused. But it doesn’t have electric? No problem said Slaw. People usually complain when I pitch them there? Not us said Slaw. So, as I write this blog, Slaw is being all manly and cooking meat on the barbecue overlooking the sea in Scourie. Happy days.

Knockan Cragg, Ardvreck and Lochinver

Mrs Slaw was rudely awakened this morning by a gennie! Half asleep she was rattling the window blinds, peering out in all directions, trying to work out where the noise was coming from.

We are now on day 7 of our Scotland road trip, taking in the NC500. Last night we camped at Ardmair Holiday Park just north of Ullapool. It’s a big site with all facilities open. It was also full. Mrs Slaw was ready to kill whoever was running the generator before 8am! Then the generator rode past; it was a man on a motorbike. A very inconsiderate man who had run his engine, with occasional revs, for over five minutes. Mrs Slaw wished him well as he passed, with a gesticulation that could have been mistaken for an insult 🤬

Now wide awake, Mrs Slaw took Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl for their morning constitutional along the beach. It wasn’t much fun for their little paws as it’s pebbles and not sand. The sort of pebbles that are great for skimming and pebble art. The bay was calm and a Calmac ferry glided serenely into Ullapool from Stornaway. A brave campervanner, who had free camped in the lay-by outside of the site, was having a dip in the bay.

Ardmair

We left the site and headed north up the A835. We have three more days wending our way up the West Coast before heading east along the very top of Scotland. Our first activity today was a circular walk around Knockan Cragg. It’s an interpretive trail including sculptures and poetry, places to sit and admire the view and a treasure hunt for children. It was steep in places and an older couple behind us gave up and turned back. We continued and were rewarded with stunning views over Assynt.

Knockan Cragg

Next stop on today’s itinerary was Ardvrek Castle, keeping north on the A837. A haunting ruin on the shores of Loch Assynt. It is apparently haunted too 👻 It was the seat of the MacLeods and has not been occupied since 1672.

Ardvreck Castle

It was very busy with tourists and trying to get a photo without anyone in was tricky. It was also sad to see where people have camped near the ruins, flattened the machair and burnt the grass with fires. Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl had a great time exploring the ruin.

The explorers

Time for a bite to eat. We called into Lochinver and sampled the delights of the famous Lochinver Larder – pies! Slaw had lamb and Mrs Slaw the steak and ale. The short crust pastry was superb, the steak succulent and the ale very tasty in the gravy. Two more pies were duly purchased for tomorrow. All served from a converted Leyland DAF truck! Lochinver has a few shops; a butchers specialising in venison, a convenience store, gift shops and a petrol station.

Lochinver Larder

Our last stop before the campsite for tonight was Achmelvic Beach. It’s a hairy drive down from the B869. We parked in the car park (sodden with grey clay mud which is now all over the carpet in Helga 🤦🏻‍♀️) Slaw was not happy. Not with the state of the car park, but with the ‘ne’er do wells’ that were sitting in an old Hymer staring at him. If you’ve read my blog ‘To aire or not to aire’ you’ll understand. Ne’er do wells are always lurking ready to pounce! These ones were waiting for no one in the car park so they can break into Helga while we are at the beach. Bear in mind there were lots of other vehicles in the car park and none of them like Helga, lit up like a Christmas tree, flashing neon alarm lights saying ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’. So, it was a quick stroll over the machair to the beach to take some photos then back again. Wow! It is positively Maldivian with talcum powder white sand and crystal clear azure blue sea.

Achmelvic beach

Our campsite tonight is Clachtoll Beach just above Achmelvic. We received the best welcome of the whole holiday so far. Tom and Andy greeted Mrs Slaw by name and showed her round the facilities. She was giddy with excitement! An upgrade to an electric pitch! Oh joy, she can use a hairdryer and straighteners! There was visions of Chrystal Tipps making an appearance tomorrow. Also, a Wi-fi area. Even more joy! Mrs Slaw can download her new book to her kindle (a task she thought she had completed at home but obviously failed 😢) As this blog is written, the sun has set behind the clouds yet again. The famous west coast sunset alludes Slaw once more.

Firemore to Ardmair

We free camped at Firemore Beach near Inverasdale last night on Loch Ewe. Although the weather was atrocious we managed a dry walk with the pooches at sunset. There were another four vans in the lay-by with us. As we retreated to the warmth of Helga, three cars of ‘young uns’ turned up. They proceeded to pitch tents near the beach. The cold didn’t seem to bother them as they partied hard well into the night!

This morning dawned bright and sunny. Hurrah. Mrs Slaw got the shorts out for the first time this holiday! With the sun shining on the wet beach, glistening from the receding tide, we saw the stunning beauty it is famed for. Glorious deep red sand (Mrs Slaw was cursing this later in the day when cleaning Helga 😬)

Firemore Beach

Another lazy morning ensued before we set off for the next leg. We drove around the shores of Loch Ewe heading north and could clearly see Firemore Beach in the distance. We passed through Aultbea with its Russian Arctic Convoy Exhibition Centre. There is so much to see and do in this area. Our measly two weeks will not do it justice and we shall most definitely return. We enjoyed another stunning drive taking in mountains, lochs and glens. The mountain ranges looming over us, their peaks lost in the cloud. Very reminiscent of our time driving through the canyons in America (apart from the cloud) We followed Loch Broom and arrived at today’s first activity.

Mrs Slaw made good use of the website http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk when planning this trip. Today we visited Corrieshalloc Gorge; a slot gorge with an extremely narrow and steep sided chasm. We did the longer walk which took in the suspension bridge over the gorge. Mrs Slaw read the blurb to Slaw about how it was built in 1874. Slaw worryingly noted that the sign states a maximum of 6 people! The Falls of Measach were spectacular; cascading 45 metres to the river below. We visited the viewing platform a bit further along, then retraced our steps along the bridge and took the longer route back. This gave a lovely view back to Loch Broom.

Corrieshalloc Gorge

Ullapool was our next stop. It’s the biggest town we have come across on the NC500 so far. A Tesco, Boots, lots of lovely gift shops and the place of our second activity today. The Seafood Shack! Famous for being voted the 2017 best street food vendor in the UK; apparently an absolute must to visit if you are in the area. Mrs Slaw had been salivating about this since we decided to ‘do’ the NC500. We arrived about 3pm and although they had only been trading a couple of hours and were open for another five hours, they had already sold out of scallops and langoustine 😢 Mrs Slaw is a MASSIVE seafood fan. What a disappointment! Oh well, tempura haddock wrap with lemon mayo it was then. It was delicious. The batter so light and crispy and what a change from our usual fish and chips. Mrs Slaw did her usual trick; split mayo all down her shorts. Clean on and now oily stains on the front 🤦🏻‍♀️ We finished off our sojourn in Ullapool with a walk around the harbour and an ice cream before the last leg up to the campsite.

Tonight is our first ‘proper’ campsite. We’re not classing The Wee Campsite as a ‘proper’ one due to being sardined in and no facilities for motorhomes other than electric on the pitch. We’re staying at Ardmair just north of Ullapool. Last night there was an amazing sunset! Mrs Slaw saw it all over Facebook. Mr and Mrs Slaw settled into their comfy reclining chairs with a Moretti outside Helga. The temperature started to drop. Shorts changed to long trousers. It dropped further. Coats on. Next, out came the fleece blankets. We gave in and took Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl for a stroll on the beach in the hope that the sun might just appear out of the clouds and give us a sunset. No such luck; the sun stayed firmly behind the clouds. Oh well, the shorts did come out today; let’s see what tomorrow brings 👍🏻