Thursday, 27 August 2015

Day7 - Tongue to The Isle of Skye

Date: Friday 21st August 2015
Route: Tongue to Staffin, Isle of Skye (via Ceannabeine, Smoo Cave, Ardvreck Castle, Ullapool and Plockton)
Our Listening Pleasure:  The Beach Boys Greatest Hits (50th Anniversary boxed set)
Miles today: 236
Total Mileage: 1,197

Today we had the longest drive of our holiday, from Tongue, down the West Coast and then over the bridge to Skye which Bing had estimated would take approximately 7 hours to cover the 260 miles . This was another drive with hairpin bends, single track road and some more stunning views through the mountains of the highlands! The drive would have been much longer had we stopped after every bend, or tip of a hill to take pictures of all of the beautiful views we saw! Once again, sheep in the road were a hazard!
Watch out for the lambs
Our mark on the beach
Heading around the North Coast 500, we spotted a sandy beach, at Ceannabeine and took an unplanned stop. Here the midgies said their first hello (the place was teaming with them) before Minty could apply the insect repellent which resulted in four bites on each arm, all in a straight line as though the little monsters had just marched along, one after another .  
Pink rocks

The beach itself was very sandy, and lined with pink rocks. This was California’s Paradise Cove without the Beach Boys or their Woody and surf board!
Ceannabeine Beach
The Beeb on the beach

Inside Smoo Cave
Smoo Cave is well worth a visit. A natural cave, with a fantastic waterfall inside, the scenery and the colours were breath taking. 

Unfortunately the next rubber dinghy tour that takes you right inside the depths of the cave was already fully booked and we didn’t really have time to hang around the extra hour or so for the next one, so unfortunately we missed this. 

Smoo Cave

Colours in the water at Smoo Cave

Smoo Cave

The Waterfall in Smoo Cave

Outside Smoo Cave

The Beeb makes the climb up from the cave

Ardvreck Castle

Driving on, we started to reach the mountain roads, and we took another unscheduled stop when we spotted another ruined castle, this one being Ardvreck Castle. Health and Safety had not reached this site yet… we were able to clamber all over the ruins. The land around it was quite spectacular too, with a stream running nearby and a lovely waterfall.

Ardvreck Castle

Where is Health & Safety???

Hugging the wall - scared of heights!

The Waterfall along from the castle

Back on the road and heading for Ullapool, at Inchnadamph, we had the great experience of a herd of deer and stags crossing the road in front of us. In all there were twenty animals, some of which just stopped in the middle of their pilgrimage across the road and stared at us as if to say “What are you looking at?”. It was a magnificent sight to see.

Deer Crossing

"You Lookin' At ME?" 
Safely in the field

The grass is greener on the other side!

View from Ullapool Harbour
Ullapool was really hot and sunny, and sea glistened. A cruise liner was in the harbour and we took a stroll along the quay. 

Lunch was from The Chippy, a chip shop that was voted best chippy in Britain in 2004. We ate whilst sitting outside by the harbour, and the chips were thick cut and really hot and crispy. 

A coffee in The Frigate Bar and Bistro to wash it all down, and then a took a wander up the hill a bit to check out the music bar, The Ceilidh Place, that Nelson Bragg and Annie Celsi played in a few years ago.

The Beeb in the sun at Ullapool

Our route from Ullapool was through more windy roads which were lined by mountains and signs warning of rock falls - indeed some of the rock faces had wire mesh running the full length to stop rockfalls hitting the roads. We reached the back of a convoy of old sports cars. It looked like it was a bit of an “old boys tour”. The cars were in great shape and looked great as we overtook them one by one! At this point the rain had arrived.
Boys on tour

Next stop was Plockton, the scene of filming for the 1990’s TV series Hamish McBeth. The town is reached by driving down extremely narrow roads, with really sharp bends and we have no idea how a BBC film crew managed to get in and out without any incident!!! 

This is another tiny coastal town with only a main street. The Beeb took the opportunity to have his picture taken outside Rory’s.

The Beeb outside "Rory's"

This town can, however boast the worst toilets in Scotland. On our tour, we had been finding that every town had public toilets (so we didn’t need to be ducking into pubs etc to use the facilities) and all so far had been very well maintained and were clean. The ones in Plockton were basically awful! 
View of Plockton Bay

We took the bridge over to the Isle of Skye and as we "landed" on Skye the heavens opened and for the hour or so to reach Staffin, where we were staying for the next three nights, the drive was accompanied with a bit of rain, and low cloud cover which obscured some of the mountains and the view. 
Skye Bridge

Old Man of Storr in the low cloud

Low cloud or just high mountains?

The roads in Skye
Chez Higgins was very welcoming. The Wee Quilter was closed for the duration and the evening was spent in the company of friends, Wendy and Gordon, a lovely vegetarian Lasagne and a few beers.

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