Our a Scottish adventure continued …
Day 5: Once again we opened the blinds to find grey skies awaiting us. Would the sun of day 2 ever return?! Dressed in warm walking clothes for day ahead we headed off on our way to Achmelvich Bay via Smoo Cave. Inside it was even more amazing than I imagined and the sound of the water cascading down the waterfall was very loud. A short drive across the coast brought us to Balaneki beach, where despite the full carpark there wasn’t another soul on the beach. There was a sign on the gate requesting that all dogs remain on their lead, perplexed we obeyed and the reason soon became clear when Flo almost rolled in sheep’s faeces, crisis averted we walked on. The walk across the beautiful beach was brisk and we were tempted to join many other walkers on one of the clifftop paths but we decided against as we feared the sight of the sheep might be a little too exciting for Flo. The cloud started to lift as we walked back to the carpark and by the time we sat down outside Cocoa Mountain (http://www.cocoamountain.co.uk/) we were starting to regret our choice of clothing as the sky was almost blue. With Flo snoring under the table after her morning efforts Mr B and I were able to enjoy our refreshments. Mr B was very impressed with his latte and the hot chocolate I had was insanely good. It was so rich and velvety I daren’t think about the calorie count! The truffles were excellent too, I particularly liked the Turkish delight one and we bought some milk chocolate drops to take away with us. As we continued along the coast road we found the drive slightly easier than the previous day and made good progress to Loch Inchard where we stopped to admire the view before driving down to Kinlochbervie harbour in the hope of finding some fresh fish. How wrong could I be? All we saw was a large processing plant with lots of foreign lorries waiting to be filled with the latest catch. It’s such a shame that all of the best produce is transported abroad. Scourie was our next scheduled stop, however it was difficult not to stop at every passing place as the views were spectacular. After our morning treat we weren’t quite hungry enough for lunch in Scourie so we continued with the drive until we stumbled across a sign for the Kylescu hotel (http://www.kyleskuhotel.co.uk/), by now the sun was burning high in the sky and we choose a seat on the decking overlooking the stunning Loch. At last we got some fresh seafood! And not just any seafood, but a full shellfish platter. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and it was so nice to have a wine list to choose a glass from. The route to Achmelvich Bay was signposted shortly afterwards and the entry onto the road came with a warning about the driving conditions. The warning proved to be correct, hair pin bends, harsh hills and very narrow lanes but as a passenger I was lucky that I got to take in the breath taking views along the way, although I had to close my eyes on a few occasions. We walked around Stoer lighthouse before eventually arriving at Achmelvich bay. Once again I couldn’t believe how beautiful the beach was but unfortunately the shoreline was littered with jellyfishes so we couldn’t paddle. Lochinver seemed like a very nice place with a few cafes & restaurants but there was nowhere to camp so we decided to try and make it to Ullapool for the evening stopping in Advreck castle a quick evening walk & some photos en route. We were aiming for the campsite in Ullapool centre but ended up staying in Ardmair overlooking Loch Canaird where we enjoyed a few drinks outside whilst watching the sunset before retreating into the warmth of the campervan for a supper of cheese and biscuits.
Day 6: The sun had finally returned and we woke early to glorious sunshine. It was so nice not to have to put the heater on and for the first time the walk from the shower block wasn’t at all unpleasant with wet hair! We stopped in Ullapool where we stocked up on goodies from the West Coast Deli (http://www.westcoastdeli.co.uk/), and enjoyed a mid-morning cake & coffee, finally some good caffeine in my life! Happy with our haul we stopped to enjoy some sun at a little beach in Laide where Flo run around whilst we sat & enjoyed the view. It was very peaceful and we were the only people sat on the white sandy beach with it’s gentle turquoise blue sea. Parking in Gairloch proved difficult so we stopped for our picnic in Victoria Falls before starting the final stage of the drive to Applecross. The roads quickly started to deteriorate, we passed a German car rally but not very many other brave souls with campers! Once we had pitched up we enjoyed a celebratory beer in the Applecross Inn, the atmosphere was lovely and Mr B enjoyed the local ales in the hot afternoon sunshine before walking Flo along the beach to the walled garden (http://www.applecrossgarden.co.uk/), the menu looked very good and we were very tempted to stay for dinner but the Scottish midges were out in force so we left after one drink to and walked back to the Applecross Inn only to find out they stopped serving food @ 9pm! The reaction of the management was very disappointing given it was only 910pm and people were still receiving their meals. A little annoyed we returned to the campsite where there was no mobile signal and WIFI could only be accessed in the reception area, it was nice to be disconnected from the world and we both made good progress on our books.
Day 7: Mr B woke to the discovery of 80 bites on his legs, they looked painful and we headed off in search of a pharmacy. The previous day I had been warned by the friendly fishmonger in the Ullapool smokehouse not to use the Applecross Pass, however Mr B spotted a delivery van ahead of us and decided that it shouldn’t prove an issue for us. Thankfully we didn’t pass any cars in some of the more awkward stopping places and the view from the top was one of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen. We arrived in Kishorn slightly too early for lunch but by the time we arrived in Plockton it was very busy meaning that there were no outdoor tables available. Kyle of Lochlash provided us with an ideal stopping place and we enjoyed some prawn rolls overlooking the harbour before driving across the bridge to the Isle of Skye. Our intended stop was Portree but we decided to check out Uig first and on arrival we decided to park up in the harbour campsite for the evening. Overlooking the sea and with a field of sheep behind us it was a pretty good location. Flo and I walked along the pier and explored the harbour area before walking to the The Ferry Inn (@theferryinnskye). Set back a little from the road overlooking the sea the location is perfect. We choose a bench outside before ordering drinks from the very friendly owner Gordon. I was extremely happy to have a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Mr B was very happy with his Isle of Skye cask ale (http://skyeale.com/). We sat outside enjoying the afternoon sun before walking the short distance to the Uig Hotel for dinner. The starter of scallops with local black pudding was amazing but the lamb rack main was very poor. Inside the décor was of a traditional highland style and the staff were very friendly rectifying the issue with main swiftly. It was a little chilly as we walked back to the campsite so we decided to stop in the Ferry Inn for a nightcap where I had my first introduction to the Isle of Mull gin (one of the many Scottish gins on offer) which was delicious served with pink grapefruit. A lot of care and of attention is given to the serving of each drink and if this transfers into the food when the kitchen opens then I think the Ferry Inn will become a very special venue indeed. Of all of the pubs we visited on our two weeks this was by far the best, the interior is fantastic and a lots of attention has been paid to every aspect with the modern, comfy inviting furniture complimenting the old building fantastically. There are lots of nice touches such the use of the Highland Company Soap in the toilets and pretty spring flowers on the tables and it was a treat to drink out of such tasteful glassware. I highly recommend a visit here if you’re on the Isle of Skye.
Day 8: The day started with a walk around pretty Portree, the harbour was very picturesque and we enjoyed a short stroll around the town before stopping at the Talisker distillery only to realise it was closed on Sunday’s. However, the location was great and we were both able to get a great internet connection which allowed us to catch up with progress on our ongoing kitchen renovation whilst enjoying the view. Mr B had spotted Café Sia, (http://www.cafesia.co.uk/), on our drive into Skye and was keen to stop there for lunch, luckily there was table outside and we enjoyed creamy flat white’s made with beans from the Skye roastery. I really enjoyed my berry smoothie but the fish finger bap was slightly dry. Continuing the drive to Fort William we saw some amazing scenery, the Loch’s were magnificent and the snow covered mountains provided a lovely backdrop. Luckily the rain just about held off for our walk along the Loch Eil and Flo proceeded to curl up in a ball as we ate our Indian takeaway (the only option available on a rainy evening). The rain continued well into the evening so we took the opportunity for an early night in preparation for our walk up Ben Nevis.