NorthCoast500 Day 4 – Scourie to Brora

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This stretch of North Coast 500 took me to part of the UK I had never seen before.  I had previously visited Kinlochbervie and Thurso, but not between the two. I was going “over the top” or “the roof of the UK”.  First stop was the beach at Oldmoreshore, which is a bit of a little sister to Sandwood Bay.  It is much more accessible too – just a short 10 mile round trip detour off NC500 with parking a couple of hundred metres from the beach. Take the B801 to Kinlochbervie – it’s worth it …

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Of course, I thought I had the beach to myself – until I spotted this tiny tent on the way back …

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I loved Oldshoremore beach. It has lovely wild dunes, craggy rocks and of course a good couple of miles of glorious sand.  Access is gained via a footpath to the left of the cemetery, by  the car park.  Driving back to the main road I stopped to take a picture of this sign.  I later found out from friends that this is The Spice Route, a curry home delivery service in the area with collection points to serve more remote customers. It has to be the most remote curry house in the UK – and they also do B and B …

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Back on the road, I started to leave behind the West Coast and headed towards Durness.  After my bracing walk at Oldmoreshore, I stopped at Durness to try something I had seen on Dragons Den – a hot chocolate from Cocoa Mountain

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It was so delicious I just sat in silence and savoured every sip, with the resident cat my only distraction. Given its remote location, the cafe was surprisingly busy and was a firm favourite with the many bikers who were also touring …

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The next stretch of road was another favourite of mine – passing Laid and around Loch Eriboll.  The weather had cleared a little more to reveal the vast and remote landscape.  Finally I saw the mountains of the Norther Highlands in all their majesty, even though they were a little far off …

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Loch Eriboll is very tranquil and sheltered, which is probably why HMS HOOD used it – it was the last place she visited before her sinking enroute to protect the Atlantic convoys in 1941.  The other history associated with Loch Eriboll is its lime industry – the kilns remain on Ard Neeckle at the mouth of Loch Eriboll …

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Shortly after passing here, I spotted something I wasn’t expecting to see – a pair of stags.  By the time I stopped and got the camera ready, they had almost disappeared.  Here they are anyway ….

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After passing Tongue and Ben Loyal, I reached Bettyhill, which is famous for its wild beach …

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Two more beaches worth mentioning along this coast is Farr Beach, close to Bettyhill, and Melvich Beach.  Both looked gorgeous. It was around about this stage that I knew I was approaching civilisation again – I passed a Tesco delivery van.  Sure enough, my first sight of Thurso was Lidl.  I passed through this most northerly town on mainland UK and made my way to Dunnet Head, which is the most northerly point on the UK mainland – not John O Groats!  Dunnet Head is about a 10 mile round trip detour off NC500 and well worth visiting – those are the Orkney Islands in the background …

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Looking westwards – this is the roof of the UK  …

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The other item of notable interest on the road to Dunnet Head were real, milestones – before their name was hi-jacked by management consultants and project managers.  I had noticed their absence though out the Highlands and put it down to progress and “health and safety” on new roads.  I liked growing up with milestones on the road – they gave you that comforting feeling you were getting closer to your destination. So here is one of the milestones – escaped obliteration through progress due to its remoteness …

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As I rejoined NC500, a number of whacky vintage sportsters and various cars, including a 1960’s Ford Anglia passed me heading west. They were part of a Dutch vintage car rally called Tour Ecosse and it was fun to see them all passing and enjoying the road.  It you are a Dutch speaker, this is the Tour Ecosse website

Next stop for me was the mandatory John O Groats.  My only disappointment that there are so few signs to other parts of the world. My selfie…

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The Cabin at John O Groats must be the most northerly place on mainland UK you can buy a snack – it’s right on the harbour. I knew about it as they post wildlife sightings on Facebook.  So I went to say hello and buy my lunch- a very nice burger.  Geoffrey and Tracey run the Cabin at John O Groats and they’re very friendly.  It is the perfect place to have an “action snack” enroute…

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Before heading South, I made another quick tour to see the amazing Duncansby stacks …

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My final stop of the day is quite possibly the prettiest fishing village in the world – Lybster …

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Lybster grew around crofters who also fished to supplement their income.  Waterlines Heritage Centre down on the shore has a great display explaining the history, as well as a lovely little cafe …

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There is still fishing out of Lybster – mainly for lobsters and crabs.  These two crab fishermen were consolidating their daily catch with their weekly catch.  They informed me these crabs would likely end up in Spain, explaining “Ah, theres’ just noo a demand fer them now here in Scotland”…

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Next stop  was my B&B – it had been another long but glorious day of driving.  Clynelish Farmhouse B & B was conveniently behind the Clynelish distillery, which unfortunately and closed by the time I had got there.  I scored again with this B & B – a lovely farming couple called Victoria and Jason welcomed me into their huge house which was full of character – and had views to die for …

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I was even greeted by the chooks, so at least I knew my eggs at breakfast were free range …

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After supper in Brora at the Sutherland Arms, I settled in to a nice cosy and relaxing evening …

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It was the perfect end to a great day – my last full day driving on NC500.

2 thoughts on “NorthCoast500 Day 4 – Scourie to Brora

  1. Hi Sheena,
    Spotted this on the North Coast 500 facebook page! Pleased you had a nice stay and look forward to (enviously) reading of you other travel tales!
    Cheers, Victoria
    (Clynelish farm, Brora)

    Like

    • Hi Victoria,

      You’re more than welcome. I had a lovely stay at your B & B – which is nicely traditional with a contemporary twist – loved your breakfast with all the locally sourced produce. Thanks for making me feel so welcome and comfortable!

      Sheena

      Like

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