Scotland 2017

After a long interior restoration/improvement project in Cooper (Fraz’s 1992 Classic Mini Cooper) we decided it would be fun to take him on the road for a Summer adventure. #roadtrip

Someone (we can’t exactly remember who’s idea it was and any discussion around this gets a little heated) suggested the North Coast 500 – “a route of just over 500 miles of stunning coastal scenery, which naturally follows the main roads across the coastal edges of the North Highlands taking in the villages and towns of places like Ullapool, Durness, John O’Groats, Dornoch and Inverness”.

So we planned our stops, bought our camping gear, desperately tried to repair the radio in the cooper (unsuccessfully) and then hit the road. We were accompanied by our friend Wayne in his “soon-to-be-classic” (so I’m assured) Peugeot 106.

We started in Berkshire, not too far from London, and travelled up to Edinburgh via Warwick and the Lake District. Then we stayed in Edinburgh for a couple of nights and enjoyed the Fringe Festival (would highly recommend), before heading to The Cairngorms to start our North Coast 500 tour. We went up the East Coast all the way to John O’Groats, and then down the West Coast via Ullapool before crossing the bridge to the Isle of Skye. Finally we cut across to Glasgow via Glenfinnan (so I could see the Hogwarts Express), and then we headed home. Although we didn’t complete the entire North Coast 500 route we did see some absolutely stunning parts of the North Highlands over our 11 day trip. Here are some highlights:

Edinburgh

According to our bus driver, this street in Edinburgh Old Town may have been an inspiration for JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley.
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One of many brilliant shows we enjoyed as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Instagram goals. After climbing two neighbouring peaks by accident (I was fuming) I can confirm that we did manage to (eventually) ascend the 251m of Arthur’s Seat – an ancient volcano overlooking the city of Edinburgh.

The Cairngorms

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The beautiful Lazy Duck campsite.

Maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet is an important part of the travelling lifestyle. Will be posting a diet plan for followers soon.

John O’Groats

These are in Scottish petrol stations and we LOVED them. Great for cars, and shoes (spoiler alert for later).

Durness

Another beautiful campsite, which we highly recommend, Sango Sands.
Wow, such a beautiful place to paddle.
Nope, nope, nope, nope, v v v v v cold.

Ullapool

Shout out to Conor at Ewe Canoe for a great afternoon, and for helping Wayne back into his kayak after a brief swim in the fresh fresh loch.

Isle of Skye

Spoiler alert: sorry this isn’t Balamory, it’s Portree Harbour.

Glenfinnan

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My desire to capture the Hogwarts Express from the best angle led to an optimistic leap over a swamp, and was quickly followed by an abrupt landing (in said swamp).

Glasgow

An important cultural experience – my first battered Mars bar.

Miscellaneous North Coast 500

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This one, courtesy of @fraz.stuart

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This just made the cut for being an absolutely delicious apple crumble with homemade ice cream, found in a very remote Scottish seaside town.

Best Bit – Some parts of Scotland are incredibly beautiful. The North Coast 500 has been described as one of the most incredible driving roads in the world, and having spent almost a week on it I can understand why. Plus many parts of the trip we found ourselves the only people on the road, it seemed undiscovered and magical, and not like we were just up the top of the UK.

Worst Bit – Being eaten alive by the midges. Seriously, they’re bad. On one of the first nights I laughed at a man wearing a bizarre head net to protect his face from bites. Two days later and I probably would have traded the car for one.

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