Gorges and gorgeous places.
After a peaceful night in the Corrieshalloch gorge car park we went for a stroll along the gorge. This is a National Trust for Scotland site but is free entry with just a donation for the car park.
The winding path takes you through mixed woodland with bluebells and other wild flowers dotted around.
The gorge is breathtaking with the Falls of Measach at one end and the gorge dropping to 60m below. A metal suspension bridge takes you across the gorge (don’t look down) and the footpath on the other side leads to a viewing platform. If you go back across the bridge then turn right the path winds along the side of the gorge for a short while before looping back to the car park, in total about 1km of easy walking.
There are lots of information boards along the walk and in the car park about the history, geology and wildlife of the area.
We would suggest getting here early, after about 10am the tour buses start to arrive!
After a pit stop at Ullapool for supplies and new walking boots for the Scotsman and a map for tomorrows adventure (good bookshop and good outdoor shop) we went along the A835 and A837 to Ardvreck Castle.
The castle is a ruin but the tower and cellars are still clear to see and the hill it’s on acts as a good vantage point for views of Loch Assynt.
Shortly after Ardvreck we turned left onto the A837 to Lochinver. The road to Lochinver is good but the loop of the B869 after is similar if not worse than Bealach na Ba, the advice yesterday applies here too. This bit can be avoided by taking the A894 instead.
However, for the brave at heart (or foolhardy) the rewards are amazing…
Beaches 11/10 (how can that be, it just is on a gorgeous sunny day, you have to see it)
Achmelvich, Clachtoll and Clashnessie all look like something from a holiday advert
Achmelvich has a campsite at the bottom of the road to it, right beside the beach, as does Clachtoll.
When we visited Achmelvich it was by far the busiest so we would say arrive early if possible as motor home parking space is limited. You can’t stay overnight in the car park.
Continuing up the A894 over the Kylesku bridge, after many stunning views we came to Scourie. The bay here is also lovely and Scourie has a Spar, bar/restaurant, 24 hour fuel and toilets.
We stopped here for a (non branded energy drink who also sponsor formula one) for the Scotsman after the exertion of the B869.
Carrying on we left the coast behind until we reached the Kyle of Durness and took a small road to Balnakeil.
Yet another amazing beach (see the theme of the day?) but we were now on the north coast and the wind was coming straight off the Arctic.
The ruined church and churchyard are worth a peek with inscriptions in the church back to 1619. Some of the graves of the children in the churchyard remind you of how hard life was for the Highlanders in the past.
Balnakeil has a craft village with several shops selling crafts/presents/art. The highlight for us was Cocoa Mountain chocolatier. Under a fiver for a coffee and four different handmade chocolates. They ranged from peppermint to rose Turkish delight to salted caramel to coffee and vanilla to lime, is your mouth watering yet, if not please check you have a pulse. We think this is a must do on the NC500
Full of chocolate we went to Smoo sea caves. Unfortunately we arrived too late for the boat trip into the caves with Colin the Caveman, but even just walking around the first and second caves was interesting.
Back into the sun we carried on around the beautiful Loch Eriboll to our night stop on the bridge over the Kyle of Tongue. There’s not really anywhere to park up between Smoo caves and here but it’s worth carrying on for 360 degree views over the Kyle and of Ben Loyal, tomorrow’s challenge…
Day in stats:
Hours driving: 5hrs 50mins
Top tips: don’t believe everything you read in a blog, we thought today’s driving would be easier than yesterdays! However do believe me about the chocolate.