Scottish Coast 500 (final leg) last day
So there I am laying in bed on Sunday morning in Ullapool thinking about the previous day and already my head space was filling up with images of great views, and I knew I had a full day ahead of me, so many little challenges I had set myself, and I was on holiday and I can treat myself when on holiday! Full english It is then, toast, cereal, fry up, coffee (see said coffee would appear again) and fruit juice…
I departed Ullapool around 9am and headed south for the southern leg of the Scottish 500. Officially thats as far south as Applecross, but I wanted to go much further and extend it onto the Inner Hebridean islands, such as Skye and Mull. Lets just see how far I get before I add anymore to a single days drive.
Turning off the main road after 10 or so miles saw the first major leg of the route which works it way around the coast to Gairloch.
Here is the view back to Ullapool in the distance, from the turn off the main road and along the coastal road.
Just because it says coastal doesn’t mean its always along the coast, its climbs over moors and around mountain groups.
The weather was holding, and apart from grey clouds in the sky cropping the tops of the snow covered peaks, it was good enough to have the sun roof open and catch some Vitamin D.
The odd golden sandy beach, a wind swept place or two, mountains of great shape and drama, mile after miles, never ending. Every turn a gasp and a Ohh.
I came across one area called “the isle of Ewe” which turns out was a fuel depot for WW2 shipping (and is still a NATO re-fulling depot) its location makes sense when looking at a map. Lots of old WW2 gun emplacements could be seen all around.
the sun came out and lite up coastal villages, the water looking so clear and blue.
I was heading south towards the Torridon area, and all climbers know of the mountains around here, Ben Eighe, Beinn Alligin and Liathach, each a formidable mountain and today covered in snow at the summits.
But onwards I drove past these mountains heading south endlessly over moors and around headlands. I stopped to look back at the mountains I had just passed.
I was now at challenge time, but the time was getting on and I knew I had 100’s of miles still to cover. So far I had covered only 150 miles in a 4 hours. should I turn along the Applecross coast road and back over the pass or cut the corner and save myself 50 miles and no doubt an endless queue of cars and campers fighting over the Applecross pass? The die was cast when a line of campers all turned up the road and I took the short cut. Applecross will have to wait for another time. I call it the short cut, I can say hand on heart the stretch of the A896 is by far the worst road (in terms of not good views, bad condition and traffic). At one point I was off the tarmac and on a dirt section for a mile or more. Getting to the end of the short cut I could see back up the Applecross pass and I was right, and endless string of vehicles nose to tail up the pass, no doubt all burning clutches and giving way for no one.
Things rolled on for 50 or more miles as the roads started to move away from the coast and more over the passes, traffic had become heavier and things were getting slower. I stopped at Loch Carron, for a drink and realised I was still those 100’s of miles away from Glasgow, this would be a marathon and a half, but after deciding to miss Applecross I was determined not to miss the other challenge I had set myself. the little ferry to Skye. Photo stops drier up at this point as I was aware the time was getting on.
Around 2pm I reached the Skye Bridge and crossed over onto the Isle of Skye, and within a few miles turned off the main road to drive the short 9 miles down to the ferry. (the most pressured road of the day) it was twists and turns everywhere, no a single bit of straight anywhere in the whole 9 miles, very narrow, steep in places and some very big drops should you get it wrong. I heard myself say “this is a more a rally stage than a road” at one point.
the ferry was interesting as well and exactly what I thought it would be, slow, old and a timetable thats more, Scottish than actual (basically it happens in its time).
We chugged across but not before we were swung around to help us unload facing the right way. Note the ferry dog, who likes to play fetch even when on the water !! he would drop his stick by every open window, I wonder what would of happened if I had thrown it out to sea?
Right so the homeward dash now, its me back onto the mainland, a 40 drive down to Fort Augustus, then the 30 or so miles to Fort William, then the 100 or so miles to Glasgow (and my hotel), its busy, its a back holiday and its now 3pm. best crack on then!
One last picture stop was made, and this was above Several 100 fete above Sheil Bridge where the ferry road takes you over the top yet again, and what a magnificent sight, the Five Sisters of Kintail.
I arrived at 7pm in Glasgow having passed all the rest of the highlands.. and slept very well, I drove home form Glasgow this morning. A total trip of 1239 miles and 57 mpg overall! Am I chilled out? Yes I am, tired yea you bet, but satisfied and happy most defiantly, what I needed.