Northwest NC500

JUNE 3, 2024: If the scenery in Scotland so far has been a 10 out of 10, today it shot up to 30.

We started the day in a campground in the Kyle of Tongue. We woke up in a cold motorhome. The electricity, which powers the heating, was not working. It was cold, very cold. Mark discovered that the circuit breaker in the motorhome was down. We don’t know why.

We figured it was good practice for this evening. Tonight is the first night on this trip that we do not have reservations for a campground. There are not many campgrounds in the area where were we are going. One municipality set up a campsite with electric hook-ups on an unused pier. The campground has place for only five motorhomes, and it is first-come, first-served.  No reservations taken. Chances are we will need to wild camp for the first time.

Wild camping in Scotland is the right to stay in unenclosed land, for example at a scenic view pullout on the side of the road. As long as it does not say No Overnight Parking, you can stay there if you act responsibly – meaning you do not leave any litter behind, avoid any damage to vegetation, and do not inconvenience anyone. We see many people wild camping, but we prefer a campground with an electric hook-up so that we can recharge our computers and have heating at night. However, for one night, if we need to wild camp, we can handle it, I hope.

Last night, when we arrived at this campground at the Kyle of Tongue, it was raining and miserable outside. This morning it was cloudy with on-and-off sunshine. I walked around the campground to see the views of the Kyle of Tongue that we missed seeing yesterday.

Today we would continue driving on the NC500. If the NC500 is a rectangle, then today we will finish driving along the top and start working our way down the left side. In other words, we will drive westward across the north coast of Scotland and then turn south.

As we left the campground, we drove over a causeway that was built in 1971. Before that, you needed to drive an additional seven miles around the southern end of the Kyle of Tongue.

The weather continued to be on and off sunny. In the distance sometimes we would see rain and sometimes sun. The scenery got better and better all the time, more dramatic with high mountains and wide-open expanses. Lakes often dotted the landscape.

We came across a place that had many parked cars and we decided to also stop. The sun had come out and it was a good time to take a break from driving. Across the street was Ceannabeinne Beach. We walked down to the beach and found a large stretch of sand with many outcrops of rock, including some that had a distinctive pink hue.

We then had a very short drive to our next destination – Smoo Cave. This is a popular tourist destination, and rightfully so.

Smoo Cave is unique in that its main chamber was made by the sea, and its inner chambers by freshwater. To reach the main chamber, we would need to follow a path and climb down many steps.

Once inside the cave, there is a walkway to an inner waterfall. Amazing!

We then returned to our motorhome using the steps on the other side of the cave (107 of them). All in all, a very nice walk.

We continued the drive along the NC500, until we reached Durness Beach. On a cliff above the beach, is the Sango Sands Viewpoint. From here we had a great, but very windy, view of the stunning beaches and coastline. This is supposed to be a good place to spot dolphins, but no such luck.

The most north-westerly point on mainland UK is Cape Wrath. To get there you need to go by minibus and then take a passenger ferry, as there are no direct roads to drive there. In Cape Wrath is a lighthouse built by Robert Stevenson in 1828. I would have loved to visit there, but this was too far off the main route of the NC500 and would take at least an additional 1/2 day. Always leave something for next time.

Soon after visiting the Sango Sands Viewpoint, the NC500 turns south, and we started the drive along the western coast of Scotland. We drove along the Kyle of Durness and did a quick stop at Keoldale Green, where an ancient stone was recently erected as a monument to the Celtic people who once lived here.

As we drove further south, the scenery continued to astound. Despite the on-and-off rain, it was wow, wow, wow over and over again.

We continued onward to the Loch Clash Stopover in Kinlochbervie, the pier where we hoped to get a spot for the night. I was sure that by now, after 17:00 in the evening, that they would already be full. We arrived and there were only two motorhomes there – we have electricity for the night! Within 10 minutes of us arriving, two more motorhomes came. A few minutes later someone showed up that had to leave. All evening long, more and more campers arrived and turned around to find a place elsewhere. Good that we had gotten here relatively early.

In order to pay for the campsite at the pier, you needed to walk up the road to the small, local SPAR supermarket. Mark returned from registering us there, very happy to find kosher whole-grain bread and crackers there.

Tomorrow we continue the NC500.

2 comments on “Northwest NC500Add yours →

  1. Beautiful scenery–and it cooled me down from the heat here such to see the gray and clouds!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *