Wednesday, 2 September 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: ARDVRECK CASTLE (NC 500) . . .

You know what I hate? When I have to walk for miles to see something interesting. I mean, I'll do it if I have to but sometimes it's nice to just find a little treasure at the side of the road as you're driving along.
 
 
The remains of the castle are on a peninsula on the edge of Loch Assynt. - when tides are high it can be cut off from the main land
 
On our North Coast 500 adventure, we headed North from Ullapool, passing another pretty beach on the way . . . Ardmair Beach.
 


A short drive later, we happened across the castle.

Or what's left of it.
Thought to be over 500 years old, not much remains of the original castle
 
 I have to admit, I prefer a ruined castle to its less ruined counterparts. A castle that ISN'T in ruin is really just a fancy house as far as I'm concerned. I like ones with nooks and crannies that aren't immediately obvious and ones you can climb around if you like.
 

 
As you can see, the fella enjoyed climbing around on it...
 




 

The castle ruins are thought to have two different ghosts. This is one of them... just kidding - that's just me!




And then it got better.... because there was a waterfall just across the road. Also within a very short walking distance! A bonus waterfall is always an awesome thing!

 
 
If you are driving around the North Coast 500 you can't really miss this . . . literally! Since it is on the side of the road. ;-)
 
Thank you to the lovely fella for providing some most of the pictures for this post!

Monday, 31 August 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: CORRIESHALLOCH GORGE & FALLS OF MEASACH (NC500) . . .

 
 
 
Another North Coast 500 find, Corrieshalloch Gorge and the Falls of Measach are situated just a few miles south of Ullapool and are only a short walk from the car park. Beware if you're not good with heights though... the gorge is pretty deep and standing on a slightly wobbly bridge looking down on it can be nausea inducing.
 

It's 200 feet deep, in fact. TWO HUNDRED FEET!



 


FUN FACT ALERT! The suspension bridge was built by the joint designer of the Forth Railway Bridge.
 
There was a viewing platform also. Suspended over the gorge. Although it felt slightly more stable than the bridge. Despite the scary warning sign.




I wish the pictures could do the depth justice. When I first looked out over the side of the bridge, I actually thought for a moment that I couldn't see the ground. Then I did see it, but didn't feel any less scared. It is a LONG WAY DOWN. But definitely worth a visit!

In terms of places to stay nearby, we stayed in Ullapool, at the Arch Inn, and enjoyed a lovely drink in the sunshine with a very pretty view of Loch Broom. Add delicious food and comfortable room, and it was definitely a good stay. Highly recommended.


For more information on Corrieshalloch Gorge, go here. If you want to check out the Arch Inn, pop over to this link.

If you end up visiting here, I'd love to hear your experiences.

Friday, 28 August 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: LIFE'S A BEACH (NC 500) . . .


I do love a nice beach. Especially in the sunshine. They make me think of being abroad. But let's not forget that Scotland has some fantastic beaches too, ones to rival ones in more foreign climes, despite our slightly worse weather. And, although I hear the best ones are meant to be in the Hebrides, I'd also heard there were a few gorgeous ones dotted near to the North Coast 500 route.

You might have to go SLIGHTLY off the route at times... but trust me, they're worth it.

First up, we visited Redpoint Beach, which lay between Applecross and Ullapool. It was pretty, prettier than most of your bog-standard beaches. It had a nice "glow" to it. Watch out - there's a wee bit of a walk over the dunes to get to it. Although walking in sand is definitely good for the thighs.







The fact the weather was absolutely bee-yootiful (especially for Scotland!) obviously helped, but... look how gorgeous the beach is. I couldn't resist having a wee paddle in the water. The boyfriend refrained, the big chicken.

Heading north, closer to our Ullapool destination for the night, we happened upon the Mellon Udrigle (I know - bit of a mouthful, eh?) beach and here we encountered one of those actual heavenly exotic island type beaches... It was so beautiful I just couldn't believe I was standing on it!



LOOK AT IT!!! LOOK!





It's safe to say I fell in love with that beach. At that point I was sort of wishing I'd forgone that pint large glass of vino blanco at the Applecross Inn earlier for an hour on THIS beach in the blazing sunshine... but time was pressing on and we had a hotel to get to.

Of course the weather couldn't last and as we pressed further North from Ullapool the following day, it had definitely turned. But apparently, you can still find beautiful beaches, even if the weather has decided to be utter pants.

And then we reached Clachtoll Beach. Wow.




Lovely! The little dog on the beach was very cute too.

But forget the dogs... there, on the next beach over, was a COW!!!

 
 
It has the whole beach to itself, ffs! WHAT A COW!!! (baboomTISH.)

 
 
I wonder what this beach would look like if the weather was actually good!
 
So if you DO decide to do the North Coast 500 route, I would definitely recommend trying to get to at least one of these beaches. And fingers crossed the weather holds out for you! It's Scotland though, so don't count on that...


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: BEALACH NA BA (NC500) . . .


Before I even knew about the North Coast 500, I'd watched an episode of Weir's Way with David Hayman which was set in Applecross. I'd never heard of the place before, despite the fact it's actually a full peninsula in Scotland, but I immediately wanted to visit.  I wanted to stay in the Applecross Inn (sadly I am not organised enough or forward-planning enough to actually make that one happen - maybe next time) and the boyfriend really wanted to drive the Bealach na Bà road, one of the highest roads in the UK. Winding amongst the mountains, it rises over 2000 feet above sea level at its tallest point, and features steep gradients and sharp bends.


And I was terrified. I don't particularly like heights. I was told by other people who had went over the road that I should be terrified. And people on trip advisor who claimed to have been hanging on to the edge of their seats the whole time (thankfully passengers. And how is clinging on to the edge of their seats going to help them anyway?).


However, I do like pretty scenery, and the fella is an excellent driver, so despite my fears (and the fact we had almost been squished into a wall by a speeding lorry at Loch Lomond on the drive up to Northern Scotland the day before, which hadn't helped my nerves much), and the scary sign at the start of the road, I actually kind of enjoyed it in the end.

Of course, getting to stop and pop out for some pictures and the odd poser moment also helped with matters. ..
Starting to climb . . .
 Applecross used to only be accessible via boat, once upon a time. Then this road was built, the only other option for access. Nowadays you can go via an alternative coast road - so at least you have other choices if you really can't stomach the thought of the mountain pass. 
The road is single-track with passing places... definitely not ideal for larger vehicles or drivers of a nervous disposition...




But check out these views and the road winding back behind us . . .

And once you get to near the top, the view starts to get even better!
 Once you climb higher, there is a viewpoint you can park at - just in case you missed out on the scenery due to driving. And the islands, Skye among others, stretch out in front of you to the west... it was pretty enough with a bit of cloud and mist; what would it look like on a clear day!?!


This guide at the viewpoint shows you what you're looking at... if you can see the view! ;-)


We may not have been staying there (our next stay was to be in Ullapool later that day), but we decided to have a drink at the Applecross Inn to celebrate surviving the Bealach na Bà... and then the sun came out, as if to welcome us to Applecross!It would have been rude not to, frankly.

The Applecross Inn
Cheers!
 
If you're planning on doing the North Coast 500 route, I would definitely recommend going via the Bealach na Bà - at least once! I have a feeling it won't be the last time I am on this road though, if the boyfriend has anything to do with it. It's okay though... I loved it too. And so might you!

Have you been on it? Would you go on it? And would you dare to be the driver?