VanLifeDiaries: Durness to Kyle of Lochalsh

What could possibly top the amazing and rugged north coast? West coast here we come!

We took a right turn for the coastal route that takes you through Drumbeg and back around to Lochinver. This road was a long single lane road with many hills, twists and turns. Not recomended for large caravan and camper vans. Luckily Esméralda is a gun and handled the roads perfectly, maybe with some help from Mr Sam the driver.
We awed at the views as they came into focus and as we rounded the corners. It felt like such a trek as we wound our way through the forest! We pulled up at Drumbeg lookout for a lovely scenic view.

Viewpoint at Drumbeg


We took another turn off along this detour toward Achmelvich Beach. This was around 1.5 mile down this secondary detour. That’s the thing with the North Coast 500 route you actually end up doing way more than 500 miles because of the many detours! Worth it though. Achmelvich Beach surprised us with its white sands and gorgeous bay.

Back onto the main motorway we were finally in Lochinver. We took a nosy in at the Larder, famous for its pies. If you’re ready to pay £5 for 1 pie be our guest and tell us how it tastes. I bet it’s good but we were definitely not paying the much for a pie!
Onto Ullapool; we pulled up for a wild camp next to Loch Broom. The sunset was beautiful as I typed away. We were spoilt for choice with plenty of pull up spots for a wild camp along Loch Broom. Not all with a view of the Loch due to trees. We tried out a few spots before we were to find our pearler of a spot!

As Sam cooked our chicken in the fry pan the gas decided to run out. So we went a wee (Scotland is really rubbing off on me) bit hungry and couldn’t finish cooking our chicken. Luckily we had fried rice with egg!
The next morning we bought a new gas can back in Ullapool and some bakery items from Ullapool bakery. There was a small choice but we got a loaf of fresh bread and shortbread biscuits. Stocked up at Tesco and off we went on the A835 towards Inverness to turn off right towards Gailoch onto the A832. The views of the mountain ranges with the tall forests alongside are magical.
We stopped after around an hour of driving as I spotted a seal in the water around Laide on Second Coast. We noticed a few more splashing about so we trod down to the water. We went around the bend a bit and over the rocks by the seaside and found a whole family of seals lounging about. A few slid off their rock beds into the water to come and inspect us! They were so curious and cute!

When we trekked back up to Esme where we’d left her we turned around to find the family had moved closer towards us onto the rocks that were right in front of our parking spot. We made friends it seemed!
They stayed there all evening and we watched them as we ate our delicious Mediterranean Mezze platter. You have to spoil yourselves sometimes 😀

The next morning we woke up to beautiful views as only a couple of seals left frolicking. We said goodbye and continued along the road around Loch Ewe. We followed a sign for Inverasdale and the war memorial all the way to the end of the road to explore another detour! We found the memorial stone for a ship lost at sea during WWII where 64 crew members died. The old watch towers and battlements are still there but laid to ruin.

Back onto the main route we found Loch Maree. I couldn’t put the camera down. Loch Maree is one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland with its mountainous surroundings, including Beinn Eighe. We pulled into Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre for a quick bite to eat in the van. There were a couple of short walking paths and some interesting exhibits inside the centre. We had a peek and went for a walk along the “Buzzard Path”. It gave us some lovely views of the surrounding mountains and a chance to stretch our legs.

Next came the outstanding views of Loch Torridon and surrounding mountains. I learnt that the Gaelic name for mountain is “Beinn” as many of their name began with Beinn.
Our next turn off was for Applecross, this would turn out to be quite a hilly road. We found some friends blocking the road though! Cheeky Highland Cattle! As first I thought it was a yak.

The road to Applecross is another trek that I believe would be fairly tricky for a larger sized camper but would be okay nonetheless. The road is very scenic as well. We went for tea at the Applecross Inn where seafood is a speciality. The Crab salad looked great and they even do delicious looking desserts. It was a busy place as it’s the first restraunt/pub you come across for miles. We hopped on the wifi as the west coast is out of range, I suspect this is due to the mountains. It’s been nice to escape properly for a few days though. I’ve been through 2 books and onto my 3rd, haven’t had the time to do that in years!
Leaving Applecross the road of Belach Na Ba takes you literally up into the clouds. As you drive through you can barely see the next passing place in front of you let alone the next car coming that you have to maneuver out the way for on the single lane track. We had some very foggy conditions indeed but on a clear day you can tell the scenery would be fantastic. Some parts got a wee bit hairy with some of the hairpins but we got down safely from the mountain of Beinn Bhan and into Lochcarron.
Next stop is Kyle of Lochalsh, the gateway to the Isle of Skye! Sneak preview…

Sam, Kirsten and Esméralda x


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