How good are Scottish B&Bs?!
Silky smooth porridge for entrée, a full cooked breakfast for mains and a yoghurt for dessert. This is only Day 1 and we are already seriously concerned about our waistlines!
Our B&B was located only a 2 minute drive from the famous Cullodden Battlefield, and so this was our first destination for the day. Call us what you will but history is not our strong suit. If it wasn’t for the TV series ‘Outlander’ we would have had no idea of its significance in Scotland’s history…so there you go, television IS good for you!
It was a sober start to the day, but a short time later (including more than one wrong turn) we found ourselves on the A9 heading north at a rate of knots in our Vauxhall Astra that we picked up from the fantastic Arnold Clarke in Glasgow (how many places would give you a free upgrade to a larger model when they saw how many bags you had?!).
In doing our prep for the NC500 there was one very common theme that kept popping up…apparently the east coast section is boring. High speed motorways, lots of traffic, nothing to do, no mountains, yada yada yada…
Were these people snoozing the whole way? It was fantastic!
OK, yes, the first section out of Inverness is a motorway at high speed, but if you’re NOT driving the NC500 in winter then chances are you should find a whisky distillery or three to keep you occupied.
Yet from the pretty little sea side village of Dornoch onward we found ourselves cruising through a tapestry of coastal villages, rolling hills, precipitous cliffs and pastures dotted with woolly sheep. Again, we had a very reasonable day weather-wise, with the winter sun occasionally lancing its way through the clouds to light up swathes of auburn and purple foliage on the mountainsides. Jaw dropping at times.
Being the post-Xmas/NY hiatus we also found the roads to be very quiet, with only the odd maniac desperate to overtake.
Lunch was in the tiny town of Helmsdale (no, not Helm’s Deep…that’s Lord of the Rings). Thyme and Plaice served up some very tasty sandwiches after which we explored the riverside and discovered St John’s well.
Plan 1 after lunch was to find the Whaligoe Steps.
Fail. More to come on this tomorrow though 🙂
Plan 2 was to push on to John o’Groats in Scotland’s far north east corner.
Fail. The light from the setting sun was doing some funky stuff to the coastal cliffs and meadows and Andrew couldn’t resist stopping far too often to take photos, meaning we ran out of time to visit JoG today.
No big deal though, we decided we’d come back tomorrow to do it justice. Such are your luxuries when you decide to travel slow.
With dusk upon us and streetlights reflecting off the wet bitumen, we arrived in Thurso on Scotland’s far north-eastern coast.
For Day 2 of our adventures driving the NC500 in winter, click here!
And in case you missed it, here’s our story from the previous day, driving from Glasgow to Inverness: Day 0 – Glasgow to Inverness