Day 2: 5-days roadtrip in Scotland
Kyle of Lochalsh-Ullapool

Click the pictures to enlarge!

1 August 2018

Join us on a 800 miles (1300 km) roadtrip in the Scottish hightlands with a short story about the places we drive through and the castles we visit.
After a night at the hotel The Place, we picked up the rental car from Avis: a VW 2018 Golf with registration number GM67 JKE.


Today we will drive 166 miles (267 km) from Kyle of Lochalsh to Ullapool.

Scottish breakfast

This is typical Scottish breakfast: fried eggs, sausage, bacon, haggis, black pudding, beans, potato scone + what I choose not to have: tomato and mushrooms. I sure miss the haggis and the black pudding!
And I thought Scottish breakfast was a light breakfast. Oh, I was so wrong!

Skye Bridge


We take a short detour across the Skye Bridge (Gaelic: Drochaid an Eilein Sgitheanaich). The bridge was opened on 16 October 1995, and is 700 meters (765 yards), crossing the Loch Alsh between Kyle og Lochalsh and the island of Skye. Almost half the population of Skye speek Gaelic.

Eilean Donan Castle

We have arrived at Eilean Donan Castle (Gaelic: Eilean Donnain).
The original castle was built in the early 11th century and became a stronhold of Clan Mackenzie and their allies the Clan Macrae as defence against vikings. Back then the defence wall covered most of the island.
In the early 18th century, the Mackenzies' involment in the Jacobite rebellions led in 1719 to the castle's destruction by government ships. Today's astle is a result of reonstructions and restoration by Lt. Col. John MacRae-Gilstrap between 1919 and 1932.
The Eilean Donan Castle is regularly described as the most photographed castle in Scotland.
Eilean Donan is named after Donnán of Eigg, a Celti saint martyred in 617. Donnán is said to have established a church on the island, though no trace of this remains.


We are now on the North Coast 500, or just NC500. This scenic route in the Scottish Highland, also called "Scotland's Route 66", starts in Inverness, goes westwards to Applecross, norwards along the west coast and southwards along the east coast back to Inverness. And it's called NC500 because it's 500 miles (800 km), or to be more precise 516 miles (830 km).

The mountain road
Bealach na Bà

We are now at the junction Tornapress, 30 miles (50 km) from Kyle of Lochalsh, and we will now drive the 12 miles (19 km) mountain road Bealach na Bà to Applecross. Bealach na Bà means "Pass of the Cattle". It is a single track road and steep.
With max gradients of 20% this is the steepest road in the UK. Rising up to 2,054 feet (626 meters) it is the third highest road in Scotland. The road is often impassable in winter.
The road was built in 1822.
Up to the mid 1970s this was the only road to Applecross, as the narrow single track coastal road was built to Shieldaig and Torridon.


We did manage it to Applecross (Gaeli: A'Cromraich). This small village with around 550 inhabitants was established in the 19th century. The name is however at least 1300 years old and is not used locally to refer to the 19th century village, which is correcly called "Shore Street" or simply "The Street".
We had lunch at the very cozy Applecross Inn. Wonderful food, staff and service!


The road from Applecross to Shieldaig is a narrow single track road. But what fantastic nature!


The village Shieldaig (gælisk: Sildeag), with around 85 inhabitants was founded in 1800 with a view to training up seamen for war against Napoleon.
After Napoleon's first defeat and exile to Elba, the community found itself a new role as a fishing village. The small island just offshore had its tall pines harvested to rig warships, and has now become a nature sanctuary.
The name of the village is viking word meaning loch of herring, whid do indeed still populate the bay in some profusion.
We found the small and cozy cafeteria: "Nanny's".


We have reached today's destination: Ullapool (Gaelic: Ullapul) with around 1500 inhabitants, it is the largest town for miles around, and is an important port and tourist destination.
Ferries sail from Ullapool to Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides.
Ullapool was founded in 1788 as a herring port to the drawings of Thomas Telford. The harbour is still the edge of the town.
We spend the night in the Caledonian Hotel. And we've got the cormer room with panorama window!