My apologies for this long overdue post! I am discovering the life of a blogger is much harder than I imagined. Writing, editing, and traveling especially with a toddler makes it harder to churn out content! The long awaited round two of our NC 500 road trip in Scotland is below. If you missed the first one be sure to read it first. Enjoy!
The next morning, we hit the road again for day two of our trek around the North Coast 500. First stop was Castle Sinclair Girnigoe. A road-to-nowhere it felt like, we drove on winding roads as we came upon a castle in ruins set in the distance. It was misty, cold, and quiet as we parked along the road. The castle looked as if it was on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the ocean. In 2002, Castle Sinclair was included in the World Monument Fund’s list of the 100 most Endangered Sites in the World. The harsh winds and rain pose as major threats to the castle remains because of the high level of erosion. We witnessed such weather that threatens this castle, so unfortunately we were not able to tour the grounds. However, the photos of the castle are absolutely amazing, and we hope to visit again someday. Restoration work has recently begun on the castle, so I am sure it will be spectacular to see when completed.
John O’Groats, the northern most village on the U.K. mainland, was a fun and popular stop for a photo-op. We walked around a bit, grabbed a coffee, and drove a few miles to the northern most point, the Duncansby Stacks. We came upon a lighthouse on the cliff, but the most striking view was still ahead. We parked our car, and ventured just up the hill to a spectacular view of the stacks. A wee bit of a walk brought us to a closer viewpoint. It was an easy, albeit muddy walk, but quite enjoyable for us and Vivienne. Stacks can be found across the world as they are a geological phenomenon created over time by wind and water erosion. These were especially stunning. Vivienne enjoyed watching the sea birds burrowing in the cliff sides. We had our eye out for puffins too, but unfortunately did not find any. We spent a little while here just enjoying the natural beauty of God’s handiwork.
Next stop was the 16th century Castle and Gardens of Mey previously belonging to the Sinclair family, the earls of Caithiness. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother purchased this property in ruins in 1952. She restored it to it original glory and used it as a holiday home until her death in 2002. It has a beautiful view of the coast and the Orkney islands in the distance.
We had plans to stop at a place known to have the best hot chocolate in the UK, but time did not allow. Smoo Caves was another stop we had hoped to make. We will have to come back because there really is so much to see!
The NC 500 from the Castle of Mey and beyond the town of Tongue felt very remote. The roads were narrow, with hairpin turns, and expansive views of green rolling hills, craggy mountaintops, and blue loch valleys. Every view is jaw-dropping. I could not help but fill my memory card up with endless photos of the mountains and sunsets on the water. All along our route we found oodles of sheep roaming freely along the road.
We arrived at our hotel for the night just when the sky turned dazzling colors of pink and orange and as the sun dipped below the mountains. Our abode for the night was in the quiet and remote town of Kylesku at the Kylesku Hotel. The hotel is a former coaching inn dating back to the 1680s and is booked solid during the high season. The owner, Tanja, was very kind and welcoming as she showed us around the quaint and cozy retreat. We took the last available attic room with our bathroom at the foot of the stairs. It was small but cute and perfect for our one night stay. We settled in our room and headed down for dinner. The restaurant was buzzing with people enjoying the sunset through the expansive windows overlooking Loch Glendhu. The hotel staff was very accommodating and friendly as we ordered our delicious meals of fish and chips and grilled haddock. Next morning’s breakfast was equally satisfying with a breakfast buffet, a Scottish breakfast, and the most heavenly blueberry pancakes! Coffee and a gorgeous view made it a perfect morning before we got back on the road. We lingered as long as we could in the cozy den with our second helping of coffee until we finally packed up and said our goodbye. Next time we will stay longer!
After leaving Kylesku, we continued our castle quest with a stop at Ardvreck Castle home of Clan McLeod in the 16th century. We strolled along the rocky shore of Loch Assynt until we came upon the ruined castle jutting out into the water. We had so much fun here as we had the whole castle to ourselves! We explored the area, climbed the ruins, and watched a fly fisherman catch his dinner.
Our third day completed our route around the North Coast 500. We made it! The route takes us back to Inverness, but we had plans to explore the Isle of Skye on the west coast for a few days before heading back to the capital of the Highlands. All in all, we hope to make the journey around the NC 500 again one day. We had such an incredible experience! Next time, we will spend more than one day in each place because there it just so much to see and enjoy. It’s an outdoors man’s paradise; lots of hiking, biking, and adventure! Our memories here will last a lifetime, and we are so happy we could make this trip around the North Coast of Scotland.
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