Day 112 The Applecross Scenic Drive

Sunday 26 July 2015

Kinlochewe to Dornie, near Kyle

Driving tour

Ardelve campsite

Another dry day, what a treat. I have new maps and no forward planning to include any walking so I just headed off down Glen Torridon with the intention of driving the Applecross scenic drive. This is a huge Valley, with big mountains on both sides. The views are more open now than they were further North, and dominated by mountains.  

Amazing lumps in Glen Torridon
 I have seen plenty of mountain hikers the last couple of days; two stayed in the bunkhouse last night. 

Looking back at Loch Torridon and the head of the Glen
  From Torridon it was up and over to Shieldaig and the start of the scenic drive. It was indeed a fun road to drive and looked like a challenging one to cycle. Following the shoreline of Lochs Torridon and Shieldaig (essentially the same piece of water but with land jutting out to provide a sort-of separation) the road went up and down very sharply.  
Achnasheen
  here were some great views of small off-shoot lochs that provide sheltered harbours for small boats.  
The light reflecting off Sheildaig Harbour
 At Fearnmore the road hits the coast proper, opposite the Island of Rona and the Isle of Skye behind it.   

Strathcarron
 No wonder Applecross is a popular place as Applecross Bay is large and enjoys the good views.  
Looking across at Skye from Applecross beach at low tide
 Yesterday was the Applecross Highland Games and so there were lots of tents everywhere, although not so many people; I guess they all had hangovers! It’s a nice looking town and is apparently well known for its music festivals. I drove on to the furthest point of the road at Toscaig and stopped at the pier. I struck up a conversation with 4 bikers, one of whom was fishing. They come here a lot for the peace and quiet (and the music festivals) and I can see why. It amazes me just how many houses I passed on this road to nowhere, smart houses with smart cars outside. I don’t know what these people do for work but they’re not short of money! 

Applecross Bay
 The bikers recommended I pop in to Applecross House Walled Garden, which has a lovely restaurant and does good breakfasts. I had the best smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on toast that I’ve ever had. I hung around for 2 hours as it was the first ok-ish wifi I had found for days.  

The lovely walled garden at Applecross House
 Eventually I left and the 2nd half of the scenic drive was the closest I’ve come to an Alpine pass in this country. The road rose from sea level to about 650m and the views were amazing. Unfortunately it was a little bit cloudy so not good for photos. I think I could see almost all of the islands of the Inner Hebrides, including Raasay, Scalpay, Skye, Mull, Rum and Eigg. Wow.  

So many islands visible from the top of the pass
 It didn’t end there because as soon as I dropped over the other side of the pass I was staring down at Loch Kishorn, Loch Carron and all of their respective small islands and inlets. The road did a couple of severe switchbacks and then dropped down a steep but wide valley that itself was really beautiful, even without the views.  

Is this an Alpine road down to Loch Kishorn?
 I passed some cyclists struggling up and felt compelled to shout encouragement at them because that would be a tough ride.  

What a beautiful valley!
 Loch Carron is beautiful. It is bordered by lots of woodland and the area around Plockton in particular is just stunning. The train line to Kyle of Lochalsh goes right along the loch and must provide great views for the passengers.  

Looking across Loch Carron from Stromeferry
 Plockton itself now seems to be a tourist Mecca and has that typical quaint feel about it. Nothing like its past when it was developed in the early 1800s as part of the Clearances. It used to be known as the “village of the poor”, but definitely no longer.  

Picturesque Plockton
 The area around Plockton is part of the Balnacara Estate, owned by the National Trust for Scotland, and developing new crofts; there are 83 on the estate.  

Several yachts in the loch around Plockton
 The next stop was Kyle of Lochalsh, the gateway to Skye. I stopped to admire the bridge, only built in 1995 and before that it was a ferry.  

The bridge to Skye
  The nearest campsite was just down the road at Ardelve, right by the Eilean Donan Castle. I hadn’t long pitched my tent when the rain finally arrived from England. I headed across the Loch Long bridge to The Clachan Arms in Dornie. It was pretty full (mostly with foreign tourists) but being on my own they could squeeze me in and I ate at the bar. Excellent food, particularly the chocolate and salted caramel torte. I really need some exercise! 

One for the oldies…a great looking car and caravan on the campsite

5 thoughts on “Day 112 The Applecross Scenic Drive

  1. Sue Cox July 30, 2015 / 10:07 pm

    Hey Locket – Better late than never….. We are all enjoying hearing ya comments on trip, as well as getting the news from friends in the know! All sounds & looks everything you’d expect & some…. good on ya! You are our very own Cheryl Strayed. Here’s to summer returning soon,
    Us lot in Melbourne xxxx

    Like

    • Lucy September 17, 2015 / 2:28 pm

      Hi Melbourne crowd. Sorry for the delayed reply. Glad you’re enjoying my adventure. I think I missed summer!!! Read Wild when I was back home – some of it is similar C

      Like

  2. Chris Frazer July 31, 2015 / 5:26 am

    More Salmon and stunning scenary what memories…….truly brilliant.

    Like

  3. Ali Smith July 31, 2015 / 6:29 am

    So you finally made it over the Bealach-na-ba, Morna says you have to come back and cycle over it with her! Stay at the campsite at Applecross and get fish &chips for tea xxx

    Like

  4. Zephyrine August 2, 2015 / 3:24 pm

    Hi Lucy – when you cross the English border, please email me – a bed for the night awaits you here in Lancaster – unless you get a better offer! – I’m a friend of Rohan’s at Todhead Lighthouse, in Aberdeenshire… Z

    Like

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