336 Hours On The NC500
MEMORIES FROM THE NC500
THE NORTH COAST 500 BRINGS TOGETHER A ROUTE OF MORE THAN 500 MILES OF STUNNING COASTAL SCENERY – 516 MILES, TO BE EXACT. NOT ONLY IS THE NC500 ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST ROAD TRIPS, IT’S ALSO ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL…
It was an epic adventure through the mountains of Scotland.
Just when you think the West Coast couldn’t be any where near as beautiful as the East, it hits you. I’d never seen anything like it
Getting to the start of the NC500 was an adventure all in its self.
We drove from the midlands up to the Lake District and spent a night camping in a sheep field.
Being the none organised pair that we are all campsites were full, but if we didn’t mind slumming it with the sheep we could have a field all to ourselves, personally I think this was a much better option.
The following day getting up at dawn, having breakfast with our newly found sheep family and dodging the sheep poo we decided to drive the rest of the day to Inverness to begin this most epic adventure.
The journey begins, on a sunny September morning on the
open road with Sally, home for the next two weeks.
‘Home’ wherever Sally takes me
Being surrounded by nature, waking up to these spectacular views. I’d had breakfast that morning down by the river with my little gas stove. Everything so still and peaceful, the mountains towering over me, a feeling of freedom and adventure in my soul
We had found DUNROBIN CASTLE , THE MOST NORTHERLY OF SCOTLAND’S GREAT HOUSES AND THE LARGEST IN THE NORTHERN HIGHLANDS WITH 189 ROOMS.
DUNROBIN CASTLE IS ONE OF BRITAIN’S OLDEST CONTINUOUSLY INHABITED HOUSES DATING BACK TO THE EARLY 1300S, HOME TO THE EARLS AND LATER, THE DUKES OF SUTHERLAND.
THE CASTLE, WHICH RESEMBLES A FRENCH CHÂTEAU WITH ITS TOWERING CONICAL SPIRES, HAS SEEN THE ARCHITECTURAL INFLUENCES OF SIR CHARLES BARRY, WHO DESIGNED LONDON’S HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT, AND SCOTLAND’S OWN SIR ROBERT LORIMER. THE CASTLE WAS USED AS A NAVAL HOSPITAL DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR AND AS A BOYS’ BOARDING SCHOOL FROM 1965 TO 1972.
DUNROBIN CASTLE IS ON THE EAST COAST OF THE NORTHERN HIGHLANDS OVERLOOKING THE MORAY FIRTH
The Castle sits on the East cost with its own little beach, the sun was in full that day with a perfect cloud halo. Every time I see this image it makes me think of hope, if I could describe what hope might look like to someone this would be it.
Hope is the one thing we always know for certain we can wake every morning with, go to bed every night holding on to and surround ourselves each day with.
It’s not always easy to hang on to, and the times we need it most seem to be when we struggle to find it. Hope though, lies in dreams, in our imaginations, in the courage of others and within ourselves.
It brings us light on the darkest of days
We spent the next few days traveling up the East Coast, stopping at anything we thought looked interesting. There were so many places I could have stayed for longer but knowing we only had a couple of weeks we made the most of the time we had.
We didn’t book any places to stay before we set off which we learnt, for us, was a blessing as there was no pressure to be anywhere at a certain time. We sort of ambled up the NC500 rather than purposely needing to be somewhere.
We finally got there on day 5, to the end of the world… or John O’Groats which doesn’t sound nearly as exciting.
I don’t know who this man is, but he was very happy to be stood under that sign
Why do we love the sea? It brings peace to the mind, a calming moment in a frantic world. The sound of the waves speaking to our soul, reminding us of far away places, adventures had and yet to be discovered.
For me it’s the memories of my childhood, of jumping waves, making castles, and reading books, with only the sound of the waves be heard.
When I think of peace this is what it looks like, nature working in harmony, the sky, the mountains, land and sea.
For people, peace seems much harder to achieve, because in-fact, peace is a feeling. It’s not something you can go out and find, if your heart and soul are not at peace with your self.
We must forgive ourselves and others who have hurt us, be grateful for all we have and only then will we find our true peace
‘Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace’ Buddha
We thought East was stunning, but then we hit the West…
And then we fell in love with Ullapool, or at least Ardmair Point. Our plan was to stay here for one night and carry on into Ullapool, we ended up staying for three nights, having BBQ’s on the beach and breakfast from our little gas stove every morning.
If there’s one place in this world I could go back to tomorrow it would be this place, and here’s why…
It was just the most perfect place, a place to have all to yourself… an entire ocean, nothing to get in your way, with only the horizon in view.
The beauty of space and time, it gives us what we need, gives us things we never knew we needed, vision of where we want to be, and most importantly, how we get there.
The next morning we decided to move on, I was more than sad to leave this place. We had spent some magical evenings on the shore, no real purpose for being there other than to sit and watch as the days drifted into evenings and the sun went down over the ocean. I left a little bit of me in Ullapool and I know ill be back to do it all again.
It was 7am in the morning when we started packing up, I went for one last walk around the Harbour. As I turned the corner through the mist I could see this little lonely boat bobbing up and down on the water, I knew I need to take its picture and capture this essence of the beautiful place.
This image will always stay with me, its my solitude
Carrying on West we visited Castles and lochs, stayed at many more campsites and pull in places along the way, this journey has been so much more than just a holiday, its reminded me of who I am, what I value and the freedom to roam.
We can’t always see the bigger picture, we don’t always understand the path we’re on and how we got there.
It’s only when we take those few extra, tentative steps, that the beauty of what lies in front of us can be seen.
We come off the NC500 with only 4 nights left of this trip and make it to the Isle of Skye, and it was breathtaking
The Cullin mountains on the Isle of Skye, the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever seen.
The walk along the fairy pools with their turquoise waters to reach the base of these mountains isn’t one I’ll forget any time soon.
I am so grateful to of seen and traveled to beautiful places, and will continue to do so again soon
As we left Skye behind us we found a small derelict Castle over looking a harbour, the sea was out so we could walk the little path to visit it.
CASTLE MOIL IS A RUINED CASTLE LOCATED NEAR THE HARBOUR OF THE VILLAGE OF KYLE AKIN, YOU CAN SEE IT JUST BEHIMD THE BOAT IN THE IMAGE ABOVE. THE CASTLE, AN ANCIENT SEAT OF THE MACKINNON CLAN, WAS A FORTRESS COMMANDING THE STRAIT OF KYLE AKIN BETWEEN SKYE AND THE MAINLAND, THROUGH WHICH ALL SHIPS HAD TO PASS OR ELSE ATTEMPT THE STORMY PASSAGE OF THE MINCH. THE PRESENT BUILDING DATES BACK TO THE 15TH CENTURY, BUT IS TRADITIONALLY REPUTED TO BE OF MUCH EARLIER ORIGIN.