Showing posts from 2024

Seaside Special - Heavy and light, rough and smooth: Moray, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Fife

Just six months after the uplifting tour around the exposed, wild roof of Scotland – the NC500 – I was back at its starting point. This time heading east from Inverness, rather than north, to explore a bit of Scotland’s coastline I had never been to before. And in Winter, too. I’ll be upfront. This trip wasn’t an unmitigated success. I was anticipating these few days away as eagerly as any of the previous adventures; and had route-planned, b’n’b-booked and   transport-researched accordingly. Indeed, I was on the cusp of new employment that would mean the end – at least temporarily - of my freelance, freeform, flexible career in favour of a regular 9-to-5, full-time jobby that would likely curtail such future trips. So this one would be the last for a while. A range of factors conspired to dial down the enjoyment. Sometimes these were self-inflicted, but there was also a fair old dose of external interference as well. So batten the hatches in advance of a few barbs of bellicose bel

Seaside Special - NC500 part 3: south-west Highland, Argyll and Bute

Ullapool was a real destination hub. The absence of any other settlement for miles around that could boast a ferry terminal, half a dozen pubs/restaurants and a supermarket meant that tourists, visitors and explorers (that’s me and Mrs A, obviously) made their way here in droves. For a village of only 1,500 souls, Ullapool punched above its weight. We sat with a beer in the bar of the Seaforth pub/restaurant, waiting for table to become free for dinner. This was a substantial establishment on the harbour road, and was packed. Even the outside tables under a giant awning were full. The bar was a good place to people watch. All shapes, sizes and tribes of people – adventurous families, hairy bikers, cozy motorhomers, island-hopping residents, discerning travellers (us again, obvs) and even a few small groups of lairy young adults. A cosmopolitan mix that showed how convincingly Ullapool had hit NC500 paydirt. Food quality standards remained impressively high. As a purpose-built 18 th

Seaside Special - NC500 part 2: north and north-west Highland

Day four was a dog-leg day: north from Staxigoe to Duncansby Head in the far top right of mainland Scotland before swinging west along the top of the world as far as Bettyhill. We passed close to Castle Sinclair Girnigoe again before skirting the bay beyond with its pristine yellow-white beach which we had glimpsed from the castle’s ramparts yesterday.   First stop was Duncansby Lighthouse, where we were lucky to find a park. For the first time, we had hit a populist bit of the NC500 tourist trail. Camper vans of all shapes, sizes and nationalities packed onto the verge parking. The lighthouse held a prominent view (as you would hope, to be fair) towards the Orkneys, Dunnet Head – Scotland’s most northerly point - and in the near distance John O’Groats where the sunshine glinted back from rows of yet more camper vans docked by the famous sign post. Their number was a shock at first, but we soon got used to the idea and it was really only at the most popular stops where they grouped i