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.

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