Day 5 – Driving the NC500 in winter – Durness to Achiltibuie

We’re going where…?

Ach-il-ti-buie

Oh, that’s right, ACKERZZZZ!!


Click here for… “Your Ultimate Guide to Driving the NC500 in Winter”


After our crazy rain dancing in Durness we were looking forward to a more sedate day of exploration between Durness and Achiltibuie. The rain was fairly incessant all day, leading to only a few photo opportunities unfortunately.

Again, the rock formations were stunning, particularly in the early section between Durness and Rhiconich. Rock is such a permanent and resilient material and yet here we saw folds and layers speaking to the incredible forces at play over the ages.

NC500 - Durness to Achiltibuie - The view over Loch Dubhaird Mor

NC500 – Durness to Achiltibuie – The view over Loch Dubhaird Mor

Scourie was a very pretty little town by the water. We didn’t stop, but the white washed hotel presented itself very nicely!

Kylesku was also a nice diversion of the main road. That bridge in particular is absolutely epic!!

A tip from one of our readers (thank you Stewart!) encouraged us to find a way underneath and get a different perspective on the concrete behemoth. Let’s just say that Karen’s bruised derriere does NOT thank Stewart’s suggestion… 😀

NC500 - Durness to Schiltibuie - Kylesku Bridge

NC500 – Durness to Schiltibuie – Kylesku Bridge

We also learned of an interesting Australian link to the Kylesku Bridge. Apparently the designer, Ove Arup, was the design engineer for the iconic Sydney Opera House! He clearly loves his concrete.

Following the official NC500 route, we turned right off the A894 to explore the circuitous route along the water, up hill and down dale to Drumbeg, Clashnessie, Stoer Lighthouse and Clachtoll Beach. We even had a couple of hikes lined up, just in case the weather actually took a turn for the better (it didn’t!).

This section of the NC500 was simply incredible. We can only imagine what it would like under a blue sky and yellow sun!

Dank green forest, full of dripping limbs and hanging mosses; the occasional stream burbling over rock and under bridge on its way to the cold waters of the North Atlantic.

And then, climbing higher, the road emerges into a tumbled landscape of brown hillocks and grey pools, rippled by the cold stiff breeze.

The viewpoint at Drumbeg greeted us with a sloppy kiss from the heavens, but by the time we were halfway into our sandwiches it had cleared and Andrew took the opportunity to depart the warmth of the vehicle to grab a quick shot or two.

NC500 - Durness to Achiltibuie - Drumbeg viewpoint

NC500 – Durness to Achiltibuie – Drumbeg viewpoint

Clashnessie Beach was bubbling like a cauldron as we drove past!

NC500 - Durness to Achiltibuie - Looking back along the road to Clashnessie

NC500 – Durness to Achiltibuie – Looking back along the road to Clashnessie

At Stoer Lighthouse (available for rental if you’re interested and can fork out the £200 per night!) we stopped and admired the ‘view’… aka rain, before driving back down past Clachtoll Beach (it looked great through a window).

And this is where things got interesting.

With Flossies ‘cafe’ fast receding in our rear view mirror, and sunset fast approaching, we were greeted by this…

NC500 - Durness to Achiltibuie (or NOT!!)

NC500 – Durness to Achiltibuie (or NOT!!)

NC500 - Durness to Achiltibuie (or NOT!)

NC500 – Durness to Achiltibuie (or NOT!)

Huh?

We checked our maps. Yep, we were on the right road. No, there was no other way to Lochinver than either down that road or back the way we came. No, there had been no warnings anywhere earlier.

Maybe it was a mistake?

Thankfully a local was driving through at the time so we stopped to have a chat and yep, sure enough, the road was closed until 4pm.

Are you serious?!!

We were lucky we had enough fuel and that we were confident our instructions to our accommodation in Ackerzzzz were clear enough for us to get there in the dark.

So back we went, retracing our route through Clashnessie and Dumbreg to rejoing the main highway before cruising down to Lochinver where we refueled. A good thing the scenery was so incredible and we got to see it for a second time!

NC500 - Durness to Achiltibuie - One of hundreds of passing places

NC500 – Durness to Achiltibuie – One of hundreds of passing places

Whoever looks after these types of road closures really needs to get their act together. It IS the off-season and I can understand why they would want to schedule a pipe repair now rather than in the middle of July, but surely it would make sense to at least inform anyone turning onto the B869 that you can’t get out the other end?

Weird.

It didn’t dampen our mood though. from Inverness we took the road through the old nature reserve, in the dark, to Alchitibuie where we we WERE successful in tracking down our Airbnb (thank goodness, because the conditions were horrible!!).

The forecast for tomorrow is not looking good…we’re very glad our accommodation is built like the brick proverbial!

If we don’t post again, send help!! 😀

For the adventures of Day 6 and Day 7, click here! (spoiler…there’s snow!!)


If you missed our earlier shenanigans, you’ll find them here:

NC500 - Durness to Achiltibuie

NC500 – Durness to Achiltibuie

6 Comments

  1. Absolutely loving your blog. Very informative and brilliant photos. We are doing the route in March. We’ve given ourselves 3 weeks to to it from Sheffield so we may have to review it and spend a little more time exploring ‘your very well documented and funny blog. Thank you. Hope the weather is kinder to you today 👍👍

    1. Ha! Thanks Chris but your prayers have gone unanswered! 😀 I’m writing up today’s action at the moment and will publish shortly…

      Best of luck with your planning. Three weeks sounds like the perfect amount of time to be honest. We’re struggling with two weeks, let alone the 4-5 days some people do it in. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!

  2. What a shame that the weather has turned against you AND the really hopeless roadworks. It meant you missed the chance to visit two of Scotland’s beaches regularly voted BEST EVER ( and as some of the beaches you have already seen have been so spectacular, imagine what these two must be like). Clachtoll, but especially Achmelvich are wee gems, truly beautiful.
    We regularly do ‘bits’ of the NC500 in winter and spend a week in different places as there is SO much to see. We have spent many a night sitting in cosy accomodation seeing out a storm and trying to fit in a walk somewhere, anywhere, in between the deluge of rain/hail/ sleet!! But it is indeed all part of the experience. Loving this blog.

    1. We knew what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to travel here in winter, so it’s all good 🙂 There’s still a chance we may get back to those beaches as we are here another two nights. Here’s hoping anyway!

      Thanks for following along, there’s plenty more to come 🙂

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