Time for part two! The first part of mine and my mum’s NC500 campervan adventure finished in Clachtoll, at the top of the West coast of Scotland. This time we start heading East along the North coast, before turning South to return to Inverness…
Can you tell we’re early risers by this point? After packing up the van we drove a short distance to the tiny village of Clashnessie, where we had breakfast and walked to see the ‘falls’. Unfortunately for us Scotland had been having an unusually dry summer and there was barely a trickle of water to be seen! Undeterred, we got back in the van and drove across the distinctive Kylesku bridge to continue our northwards journey. After reaching the north coast we stopped briefly at the Balnakeil craft village on our way to the beach. This was stunning and we decided to walk along it and follow the path out to Faraid Head which was otherworldly beautiful and very interesting.
It was then a short drive to Durness and the famous Smoo Cave which was so much more impressive than we were anticipating! The beaches all along this stretch of coastline are gorgeous and would make a good place to stop for a picnic or break from driving.
That night we stayed at Kyle of Tongue where we got a hot dinner from the hostel and had the best shower of the whole trip, seriously.
After a week of early starts we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast on the campsite before heading off. Our first stop was Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of mainland Britain! Next was the more well-known John o’Groats for a picture with the iconic sign and some tea and cake in the sunshine. If we had more time we would definitely have done a day trip to Orkney from here.
Now it was time to start heading south, with the roads becoming far wider and straighter meaning our travelling times decreased significantly! After a fun maze of residential roads we made it to Castle Sinclair Girnigoe which was an unreal ruin crumbling off a cliff into clear blue waters. We attempted to visit the Whaligoe steps, however when we arrived the tiny carpark was a chaos of huge motorhomes so we carried on South. We also saw Dunbeath castle from a distance, although as it was a Sunday the grounds were closed to visitors. Our day finished at the harbour in Helmsdale, where overnight parking was free. We had a walk around the small town before a late dinner at one of the most surreal restaurants I’ve ever visited…
A very early start and breakfast on the road saw us dropping the van off back at our start point, after a slight ditch-shaped mishap! However all ended well and we were picked up by the same family friend again and driven to their beautiful home in Cromarty. After a cup of tea and some layering up we headed out on a RIB on the Cromarty Firth to spot some dolphins! We saw SO many dolphins, even some up close, and also a seal on our way back in. The trip was so much fun and I would highly recommend it! We then warmed up with some hot drinks before a walk around Cromarty and some local ice cream, before the most delicious homecooked dinner in the evening.
Another early start to be dropped back into Inverness and then we were on the train home! We got a direct train from Inverness to Kings Cross, meaning we only had to change in London to get the Thameslink back home. It was a super long day of travelling and I was sliiiightly hangry by the end of it… But this was quickly remedied by a chinese takeaway with my family when we arrived home.
Overall it was an amazing holiday, and felt so good to be travelling again after so long in lockdown!
Have you ever visited the Highlands or travelled along the NC500? Do you want to?