i fall in love with every place we visit and scotland was no exception.
okay, so we also had a sweet van (1) to cruise around in, and some stunning weather that really did show us the highlands at their finest.
about an hour after we left the pick-up point in our van florence, i realised there was no way we would be able to stick to the original itinerary. the old vw just can’t be hurried (top speed was about 55mph – that’s downhill with a tailwind – cruising speed about 40mph) and so plans had to be changed in order to adopt a slow travelling style. slow travel turned out to be the theme for the week!
first stop: food. and (thanks to the power of teh internets) we found a great farm shop (2) not far from our starting point. we picked up some locally smoked salmon, fresh trout pate, scottish cheese, oatcakes and two loaves of freshly baked (still warm) bread. so delicious that we ate almost half a loaf straight away.
this railway journey has been voted best in the world a couple of years running now and is the journey that the hogwarts express train takes in the harry potter movies. it crosses the beautiful glenfinnian viaduct (pictured above) as part of the journey. have a look out for it next time you watch one of the movies…
arriving at mallaig, we wandered out to the harbour where the skyline bristles with fishing boat masts and colourful reflections dance on the water.
the next part of our journey took us over one of the most amazing roads i’ve ever travelled: the bealach nam bo, or bealach na ba (depending on who you ask). all my photographs from this road were taken out the window as nic navigated the steep and windy roads – no places to stop and far too steep to coax florence into a hill start!
The Bealach nam Bo (the pass of the cattle) is an old drove road used in past times to take cattle to the market. The coast road was completed in 1975, and prior to this, the coastal townships were only accessible by foot path or by sea. The Bealach nam Bo is the highest pass in Scotland at 626m (2053 feet) above sea level. The road incorporates a number of hairpin bends and is unsuitable for learner drivers, caravans or those of a nervous disposition. (4)
we ended up at the campsite at applecross (5), where plans changed again as we realised it was far too beautiful there to stay only one night and our second full day was full of exploring the applecross area on foot.
tuesday we packed up again and took the low road around the coast from applecross to the tiny northern lights campsite (6) overlooking little loch broom.
then following day, after a hearty breakfast of porridge with cream & brown sugar (in honour of my maternal grandmother), we trundled on again to the summer isles located on the Coigach Peninsula. here, i could have stayed forever.
it’s a tiny part of scotland with only about 80-100 residents all year round. according to the chap who runs the polbain stores (7), when the tourists are away, the locals get rowdy down at the local hall and have been known to have quite the party in the off-season. guess they have to do something to keep warm!
we had dinner booked at the local summer isles hotel (8): it boasts lovely views across the summer isles, a michelin starred restaurant and a whisky nook. we thought we’d give florence a night off, and managed to get a great deal on the last room they had available – in the annex, with a nest of baby swallows just outside the door. perfect!
thursday morning, we hopped on a boat at Badentarbat Bay (9) that took us on a leisurely ride around the summer isles, stopping to look at seals and caves along the way, before landing on the only inhabited island called tanera mor for lunch. the place has its own stamps, so i purchased some to send the postcards i’d written to family & friends along the way.
friday was our last day in the camper and i have to say that, after the summer isles, our night on the shores of loch ness was pretty average. the glens are beautiful but the lake itself didn’t really appeal. plus we didn’t see nessie, so there’s not really anything to show from there.
with love to you wherever you are,
p.s. more photos up on flickr. comments welcome and appreciated.
- cheers to mr. petherick for this phrase. the van mentioned was rented from escape campers
- fencebay farm shop. go there! well worth a visit. delicious smoked fish, pate, cheeses and BREAD. try the bread.
- the jacobite
- Source: The Applecross Peninsula; A tour of the peninsula
- applecross campsite
- northern lights campsite
- polbain stores
- summer isles hotel
- summer isles cruises