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Scotland. Again.

Northern Scotland NC500

sunny 28 °C

September 4, 2023

It was a very long travel day for us, but we planned it that way so as not to be stressed with short connections.
We left Coombs at 12:30 PM, flew to Vancouver on the float plane at 1:45 to have a five hour wait at the Vancouver airport. BC ferries has been so unreliable lately and we did not want to take any chances missing our flight
Air Canada left on time at 7:45 PM and it was a full flight. I had booked Doug a window seat and me the aisle leaving the middle seat open which is a gamble but especially today as there were virtually no vacant seats on the plane. Except that one! We were so happy.
I tried to sleep but only got a couple winks here and there
Arrival at Heathrow was on time, customs was a breeze and because we did not check luggage we were through in no time.
We now had to get from terminal 2 to Terminal 5, and thankfully I had done this a few times recently. It is an incredibly long walk, and with carry on luggage and little sleep it seemed longer
We now had another five hours to kill. Grabbed something to eat and then people watched for quite awhile. There are folks from all over the world so it is always an interesting show. What some people wear to travel in is quite outrageous sometimes.
Our flight on British airways to Inverness Scotland was half hour delayed and then we sat on the tarmac another hour. But once again we had the middle seat free which was great. I dozed off quite a bit on the hour and a half flight and we finally arrived on September 5 at 10 PM. Inverness airport is very small and so easy to get in and out
A short walk across the parking lot led us to the Courtyard Marriott hotel, which was our big splurge on this trip and we are so glad we did. We walked there in under 10 minutes.

It was one minute to 10, the kitchen closed at 10 but the staff said they would let us order, as we were starving. Again. Thank you.

Our room was nice, beds and pillows super comfortable and we were asleep in minutes, at around 11PM
I set up a UK SIM card on my phone to be able to use the GPS and look things up, which was great.

Up and wide awake at 5 AM but not too bad for the first night. We watched you tube videos and articles that went over the rules of the road and how to drive on the left before picking up our Enterprise rental car. The van was waiting outside the hotel to take us to the office
The rental staff, like everyone we have met here so far, we very helpful and friendly
Unfortunately however the small car I reserved was not available
“ I’ve upgraded you”
Well thank you but I don’t want a bigger car.
“ sorry this is all we have”
Apparently about 15% of the cars returned need body work and repairs done. So lots of smaller cars were not rentable. Not a good confidence builder for Doug
So we agreed ( what choice did we have?) on the Mazda SUV, about the size of our RAV4. Lovely car, we just wanted something tiny for the small roads. He set us all up and off we went
Doug has driven here before a few times, but not for a number of years. So it’s on the other side, and a stick shift. It took some getting used to but he did a great job.
Our first stop was an hour north in the the town of Tain to do some grocery shopping. We did not want to go into Inverness for this as it is too busy
The car had a built in GPS which was great. Lots of round abouts to navigate but the first part of the journey the road was one or two lanes on each side.
Grocery shopping complete and put into the insulated grocery bag I brought with us, we head north again to Dunrobin Castle
We were glad to have studied the road signs as there were a few unusual ones that came up on the way
A lunch was enjoyed in the tea room prior to visiting some of the stately rooms in the castle. Doug tried the haggis and said it was good. The gardens were very elaborate and we both enjoyed our short one and half hour visit here.









Now we continued north west on A9 and then onto A838. The highway became a one lane track for quite a few hours. Every 20 yards or so thankfully there is a small pull out so that oncoming traffic can get past or vice versa. The drivers all wave as a courtesy and take turns pulling off the road . It was a pretty nerve wracking drive at some points but Doug did a great job. I was the navigator reminding him which side to drive on and any hazards ahead, etc.

Once we got to the town of Tongue the scenery got better and better. The hills were now small mountains, and we saw lots of sheep grazing on the rolling pastures and lots of purple heather with beautiful stone houses everywhere. It is so picturesque and warm. The weather is incredible, I never expected blue skies and temps of 25C in Scotland! What a bonus.

Dunross was stunning. I wish we could have stopped but it was getting late. GPS said we’d be at the next town in half an hour, but that is based on going 60 miles per hour. We were going 30 most of the time and even that felt fast. Not sure even the locals would go 60.

There are so many caravans ( trailers and camping vans) parked at the side of the road for the night. This is allowed here in Scotland which would be a very economical way to travel as the costs here are so very high for hotels and BNBs.
The jet lag was kicking in and the narrow roads, standard gearshift and driving on the left was really taking a toll.


At 7PM we finally arrived at our AirBNB in Scourimore, and it was none too soon. The little town is gorgeous and we have a fantastic view from our tiny little room
We enjoyed some of the food we bought today and relaxed in our cute little room while planning out tomorrows adventure.


September 7.
It was so hot last night even with the fan on. And this is northern Scotland! After making ourselves some breakfast we headed out to explore some more of the north. Amazing scenery, and the roads got narrower if that was even possible.


There seems to be more sheep than people here. You have to make way for them on the road too.


Narrow one lane roads one person must use a pull out to pass
In Lochinver we walked around the small village and then popped into a shop for some coffee and a vegan haggis which was quite good.
I made some sandwiches for lunch and we found a bench overlooking the water in Coigach a few miles further on, and enjoyed our food alongside the cows and sheep

The landscape is very unique but also reminds us of Norway and Iceland as well.

We had planned a couple more stops but once again our day took twice as long as google maps said it would because they assume we are doing 60 miles an hour, and we averaged 25.

I nodded off in the car so we missed our turn and ended up adding another 40 minutes to the trip which sucked but finally arrived in Strathcarron to check in to our little apartment for the night. There may be all of 50 people in this little town and the woman who owns our apartment lived next door and was lovely. We even have a washing machine which will be put to good use tonight
There is a hotel pub a five minute walk down the road so we decided to have dinner there and met some other travellers including two women from Calgary. Doug had a chicken curry and I had a vegan one and they were both great. The owners were a lovely couple and very friendly.

September 8.

After some oatmeal and fruit in the room we packed up and headed for the Isle of Skye but wanted to find some highland cows on the way. Naturally this took us down some very narrow one lane roads for a few hours. When we arrived we found out the cows have just calved and were all put away until the babies were a bit older. Bad luck for us. We did see a couple from a distance though

To reach the island you can do so by car ferry or a very long but modern bridge. We chose the latter. The weather was once again unusually hot, 30 C , but clear skies so we decided to do a hike up to the Old Man Of Storr. We had packed our walking poles with us and glad of it. It was an hour up very steep gravel pathway and in the heat made it quite gruelling. But the views made it all worth it. We did not do the last bit as it was very steep with lots of loose rock, but wish I had. The views from there were even more spectacular

We started from down here in the parking lot


Arriving back at the parking lot we enjoyed some sandwiches I had made this morning. We were famished so it was very welcomed.

We headed to our BnB, Thistle guest house, which was about ten minutes into the countryside from the town of Portree. The owner came out to welcome us and we had a half hour to freshen up before heading to Portree for dinner reservations that I had made on line a couple of weeks ago.
Dulce and Brose was a lovely resteraunt in town and we enjoyed a delicious dinner.
Afterwards we walked around the town and down to the seafront and took in the views before heading back to our home for the night

September 9.
Out little room included a full breakfast which was nice, seeing as how it cost $300 a night, a bargain here. Costs in Scotland are very expensive but Isle of Skye is crazy.
What a difference a day makes. Very windy and rainy today and the temperature dropped to 16c, more in line with what I thought it would be like. We have been so lucky
After packing up we headed north again to Quiraing, another hiking spot. It warns not to hike during high winds, but we were optimistic the weather would break soon. So we’re many others it seems . The road up was another single lane twisting route but wonderful views.


Should we or shouldn’t we? It’s looking pretty grim. But it will burn off right? We put on our rain coats and grabbed our walking sticks to head off. The wind was very strong and as we travelled down the path it got narrower and narrower and right at the edge of a steep drop. I don’t have photos of the worse part as I was concentrating on not falling off the cliff. If I did not have my walking pole there is no way we would have gone. Some parts the path disappeared and we were scrambling down into rock ravines and up again. Basically it was a goat trail. I was glad it had been dry for the past week as it was not too muddy. But the mist lifted, it stopped raining for a bit and the view made it all worth


The trail is a loop that takes about three hours but we were seeing quite a few people coming back the same way. They told us the wind around the corner was very strong, so we picked a spot up ahead to target as our finish point. We had hiked around a hour and a half at that point and figured we might not want to push our luck.


See the people at the top of the hill.


When we turned around the wind started to howl and the rain was pelting down, towards us. I had a hard time seeing because there was so much water pouring off my face. We were so lucky we started earlier. By the time we reached the car we were drenched and the weather was even worse, visibility was very poor.

Down the hill again to our next stop, Kilt Rocks. It is called this because the lines in the rock resemble the folds of a man’s kilt. The waterfall in front just added to the photo.


Leat Falls was the next stop, but the weather was pretty bad and I was not that impressed so we headed off. Goodbye Isle of Skye. We are now heading to Fort William area for the night. It was about a two hour drive but we stopped at this viewpoint for Eilean Donan castle from the 13th century, first built as a defence measure against the Vikings. We didn’t go in, but stopped to enjoy the view for a bit.


Our home tonight is Corran Bunkhouse, simple rooms but a communal kitchen and lounge which is great. We finished up the rest of our groceries left over as our dinner and hit the hay.

September 10, last day in Scotland
We spent a lot of time this morning packing up our suitcases as we could only carry on 10 kilos and had to check one of the bags. They never even looked at the weight in the end.
The drive towards Edinburgh took us through some beautiful landscapes especially around Glencoe. This area is very popular for hiking and walking in the hills. The parking lots were packed with people in their hiking gear and poles set for a long day of trekking.


At around one o’clock we passed this cute little hotel, bar, resteraunt church combo. A lovely lunch was enjoyed before heading off again.


The day once again got away from us, it always takes a lot longer than what Google maps says it will. We had planned on spending some time in the small town of Culross but we had to do a whirlwind tour instead. This small village is from the 6 th century and used as a set location for many movies and shows, Outlander is one of the more famous ones


The Red Lion Pub, again used in Outlander, has been around for 600 years.


We finally arrived at the airport, dropped off the car and prepared to say goodbye to Scotland. Our flight left at 9PM. We are off now to our next destination.

Posted by debbep 18:25 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged scotland

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