We left you last time in the village of Brora with a promise of seeing Land’s End and some single track road action. If you haven’t read part 1: Here it is
The map below covers the route for this installment. Click the top left icon for location details. Use the plus/minus to zoom in or out.
So let’s get right to it. The video below finds us in our Scottish Porsche on a single track groovin’ to Van the Man! Hopefully, it gives you a taste of what it’s like to drive the North Coast of Scotland. The unwritten rules of the single track, and you learn them quickly, are that you look ahead for any oncoming traffic and judge whether you’ll make the next pullout on the left or whether your opponent will hit their left pullout first. Hopefully, you both make the same decision resulting in no one needing to backup. What fun! It just doesn’t get any better.
Day 4 – After a brief stop at the Clynelish Distillery near Brora (see Part 1), it was time to head north via the A9 to the A89 coastal roads. This section, between Brora and John O’Groats, truly
lived up to the Harsh and Beautiful part of the title of this post with blow-me-down winds, dramatic skies, ancient farms surrounded with lush green pastures, and rolling hills that abruptly disappear into the white capped North Sea. The wind, as we learned, blows hard here nearly all the time which makes life along the coast difficult to say the least. About an hour and a half into the
drive we stopped at Badbea, a so called clearance village. During the 18th and early 19th centuries the land Barons evicted the poor folk to establish the more profitable sheep farms. The only place left to settle were the windward cliffs. They actually lasted quite awhile before finally giving in to the ferocious wind and cold. We spent maybe 30 horrendous minutes there before we gave up. There’s not much of the settlement left to see. My guess is the weather just wore it down. You can learn more here.
We continued tracing the coastline northward until reaching our lunch spot destination of John
O’Groats or Land’s End, the northern most point of Scotland’s mainland, and we were greeted with howling winds, rain, and cold temperatures.
Surprise! On the plus side it was a gorgeous landscape. We decide to head out to Duncansby Lighthouse for lunch, only a few miles from John O’Groats, which is then an easy walk to the Duncansby Stacks.
The Stacks are 2 pointy shaped rocks protruding out of the sea, in front of massive cliffs. Spectacular! The walk from the Lighthouse down towards the Slacks can be treacherous as there is
sheep poop everywhere. Stepping in sheep poop then getting into your car for another long drive can be an eye watering experience. I’m not speaking from experience, as I’m a very experienced pasture walker. Back to lunch; the weather continued to deteriorate so after a short picture shoot we galloped back to the car for another in vehicle lunch experience. This Mazda could do it all.
Bellies full we’re back on the road for the second half of our day, which will end at the Weigh Inn, in the town of Scrabster. The drive, mostly west with a bit of southwest, took twice as long as it should have because of all the photo opportunities along the way. The sun even peeked out a few times. We arrive late afternoon and find the Weigh
Inn to be an attractive hotel with a large reception area. I mention this because we’re not accustomed to stylish, modern hotels. “We would like to check in please” Carrie says to the receptionist. “Oh, I see that you’re in the annex” she says. The annex, you see, is for those of us who require a less costly room
and Carrie is really very good at finding cheap. I guess we’ll have to stay unaccustomed to the stylish, modern hotels. So we drive around to the back of the complex to find 2 trailers across from each other divided by a parking lot. Despite the outward appearance the room was very nice. The only issue was that the wifi signal didn’t reach this far back, so we had to go to the on site pub to use the wifi. The ales weren’t bad.
Day 5 – Today’s route has us going west by southwest, mostly along the coast, ending in the village of Kinlochbervie. Another drizzly day, with mostly 2 lane roads interspersed with a few single tracks. As lunch time rolls around, we get a little break in the weather and decide to take a small detour to the village of Midtown to find a grocer. The G-bitch finds the narrowest of single tracks
with a steep angle of decent steering us down to a causeway. All this to avoid going through the small village of Tongue House. Cool name, huh? Imagine this conversation: “Where you from?” “Tongue House”. “Where’s that?” “Near Tongue”. Giggling turning to gut wrenching laughter! Ending in a tongue lashing! Anyhow, we manage to locate and procure the requisite wine, cold cuts, and cheese for lunch and we head back in the direction of the causeway.
On the way up to Midtown, we had passed a dirt road leading to a cemetery right by the water. A lovely romantic spot for lunch, we thought. And we were right; the sun kept peeking its head out from behind the clouds providing for dramatic skies and incredible light. I spent my lunch time taking a sip of wine then grabbing the camera for another photo moment, then quickly swallowing a piece of cheese before another photo moment presented itself. My life is hell.
Lunch complete, we’re back on the proper road headed for Kinlochbervie. The entire North Coast 500 is incredibly beautiful, but this section between Scrabster and KinlochBervie is really special. Stay tuned for part 3 as Carrie provides insight on Kinlochbervie and the west coast of Scotland. More photos below.
Hike Drink Live Laugh -> Apero Time