The morning of May 22nd showed promise of sunshine after a bit of a drizzly day in Dingwall the day before and the forecast for the west coast, where we were headed, appeared even more promising.
This leg of our 4-day adventure would take us as far as the village of Applecross. I was particularly thrilled to be taking Lindsay, a native of Scotland, to a place he had never visited before! The journey to Applecross from Dingwall is only about 60 miles and takes just a couple of hours. It’s a lovely drive that passes several lochs along the way complete with some very pretty outstanding views.
The road narrows to a single-track for quite a few miles before reaching Lochcarron, but it’s quite navigatable as long as you adhere to the courtesy of using all the available “passing places” when meeting an oncoming vehicle. Scottish drivers are so polite and patient. They always wave at the other driver who has pulled over into a passing place as an acknowledgment and “thank you” for doing so.
We drove about 3/4 of the way when we arrived at Lochcarron’s Waterside Cafe where we stopped for a latte and a butt break to enjoy the views before traveling further.
They have great coffee and some yummy looking snacks to go with it. I particularly liked the sign they also had posted on the wall!
The last 20 miles of the route from Lochcarron to Applecross takes us up and over the Beahlach Na Ba – the Pass of the Cows. The road climbs steeply and zig-zags back and forth up the canyon in the photo above. Below is a picture of a map of the road. The picture above is taken from Point 25 on the right side of the map below.
We continued along the road toward Tornapress where we turned left to cross the river and begin our ascent.
This road is part of the “North Coast 500 Route” (Scotland’s Route 66) and is very popular. Any vehicle larger than a car is prohibited due to its steep terrain, single-track roadbed and switchback turns. On the weekends it can be quite congested, but during the week it isn’t too terribly busy. It isn’t for the faint of heart or someone in a hurry, however, the views from the top and along its length are breathtaking!
Once at the top of the canyon, the ground flattens out a bit at the Beahlach na Ba viewpoint at an elevation of 2,053 feet. Don’t just drive by this viewpoint! Stop and get out of the car. It offers up some of the most outstanding views of the Isle of Skye looking south (with Raasay Island in the foreground). It’s also usually quite windy up there so hang on to your hat as you stand with your mouth agape as you take in the beauty before your eyes!
We climbed back in the car after that delightful stop and began our descent down the other side of the pass to Applecross.
When we arrived in Applecross, we drove through the village and on down the road toward the small village of Toscaig just to see what was down there. The map below shows the 5-mile route we followed.
We drove out to the tip of that little peninsula across from us where the video above ends to have a look around.
The road ended at a house near a rocky beach we could access.
The geological formations were quite interesting I thought.
That little tour to the rocky beach took us off the main road, so after we watched the sheep for a bit we continued our travels back the main track to Toscaig and then doubled back to Applecross.
We stopped at the Applecross Inn to enjoy a nice seafood lunch… (they have the best food!)
I ordered the freshly caught Langostini while Lindsay stuck with his tried and true favorite.
After that scrumptious lunch, we continued exploring the valley. There is a huge herd of “Hairy Coos” there and they are always fun to watch and there is a lovely river flowing down the canyon that is nice to spend time next to.
We also visited the Clachan church and churchyard built in 1817. There used to an early Christian monastic community founded by Saint Maelrubha on this site.
It had been a wonderful day of exploring. For a finale, we headed back to Applecross Inn to enjoy some more of their yummy food for dinner and to watch the sun slowly set in the west.
Lindsay opted for gammon steak & eggs while I enjoyed the pan-seared King Sea Scallops!
Scotland is quite far north latitude-wise. I often forget that fact when I’m there. It seemed to me that it was probably about 7 or 8 o’clock in the evening while we sat there enjoying our meal by the waters’ edge, but in reality, it was more like 9:30 or 10! The sun doesn’t set until almost 11!
By the time we finished that wonderful meal, we were ready to call it a day and we headed to our beds at the Hartfield House Hostel upriver to sleep peacefully snuggled up amongst a nice grove of trees. We could hear the cows ‘lowing’ in the fields nearby and they lulled us off to a restful sleep.
Attitude of Gratitude ~ Thank God for beautiful vistas such as we saw that day. And thank goodness for those cute little baby hairy coos too! I just can’t seem to get enough of them!