That Willie Nelson track that we played over and over in Australia has never been more welcome or apt than now. Have a listen, you’ll get what I mean. A full tank, the open road, the odd rain shower (who cares) and there you are – bliss! To be fair it was a bit wet and windy as we set off which made the Forth Bridge more than a little interesting, but we were soon picking up the NC500 signs and all that was forgotten. After some lovely loch-side twisties and then a quick coffee break at Lochcarron, we tackled some more interesting stuff.
The road most talked about is that over to Applecross – the Bealach na ba – a single track beauty rarely open in the winter months and which campervans/motor homes are advised to avoid (but they don’t). Here’s a picture of some of it which is an image rather than a photo taken by us for two reasons: 1). difficult to concentrate on the road, take in the views and find a suitable and safe spot to take a photo and 2) it was a bit on the gloomy side so you wouldn’t have actually seen much. The wet roads added a bit of frisson but after the Stelvio Pass, a piece of cake.
After all that excitement it was time for a well-earned break in the Applecross Inn. A lovely spot with a nice Guinness, snack and some nice banter with fellow travellers (albeit the 4-wheel variety). Anyway, after that it was onwards and upwards around a very blustery but sweeping coast road to Shieldaid and the mountains around Kinlochewe to reach Loch Maree. This was a lovely base with not a bad view of the SNOW topped mountains (told you it was chilly) and of course our very own hotel deer which conveniently turns up each morning at breakfast time! We took advantage of the location to explore a bit more on foot the next day with a lovely path along the side of the Loch. The silence was deafening and such a treat. After a lovely walk it was an even better treat to have a cheeky beer on the patio.
After a lovely stay and, again good banter with fellow travellers including a bunch of bikers just finishing their tour, we were uplifted by more sunshine and the prospect of more stunning vistas.
I jumped enthusiastically onto Nev (remember that’s the bike) but Tim was less sprightly onto The Colonel who had been less than keen to start the previous day. We tried to think it through logically (I know, get us!!). We knew it wasn’t the battery as we’d got a new one before leaving home, and it was only when I remembered how Nev preferred to have the electronics initiate before flicking the switch, that we wondered if the old boy might like the same treatment. It seemed like he did and he sprung into life like a spring chicken (?) and so we headed out towards Melvaig with a renewed sense of gay abandon. Mind you Tim, the now born-again mechanic, was quick to buy a can of WD40 as that’s the cure for all ills (apparently…!). Anyway, we soon found another single track road (this time without motor homes and actually hardly any traffic) to cross off another lighthouse for Tim – the Rubha Reihd – with expansive views across to the Isles of both Skye and Lewis.
Back along the single track to Gairlochand and a nice coffe and cake stop before moving on to more gorgeous roads along Loch Ewe. Interesting to note a couple of naval ships and to spot a NATO refuelling pier at Aultbea on the way. A perfectly-timed photo whilst riding through the Dundonnell Forest illustrates beautifully the empty roads and lovely views that we were enjoying and to be honest, our arrival at our next stop in Ullapool came all too quickly. Never mind. Leaves us ready and eager for more tomorrow! A liberal spraying of WD40 has been applied…. 😉