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Old 20 Aug 20, 08:16 PM  
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mitch84
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One mad woman and her dog, NC500 Aug 2020 - day 6 Tongue to Ullapool

I wake up to my alarm at 7.30. Both of us slept really well. Think Max is getting used to hotels now.
Itís fairly wet, wild and windy this morning, but my weather app tells me it should be fairly short lived. For today anyway.

Usual dog wee, shower, and packing up of our worldly possessions.

I go down for breakfast, having packed the dog bed in the car, to find that I canít have him with me for breakfast. I decide as itís cool the car is the safer option, but I rush through breakfast as quickly as I can. I sneak a couple of bits out in a napkin to the car for him, then I pack up and check out.

We drive for the first hour on single track roads, stunningly beautiful again but thankfully quieter so I build confidence a bit.

I soon figure out the best way for me to slot in behind someone at a safe distance and almost take a tow. That way they make the call to go or stop, and I just follow.

It takes me an hour to do 28 miles, but Iím happy enough pootling along. In fact my first tow is a campervan doing 30, but then I progress later to a VW Sirvocco doing 40, go me...

Our first stop today was Smoo Cave, well what a fab stop, and Iím even able to let the little monster have a swim. Itís stunningly beautiful, and well worth the 10 minute walk back up and down. It has got very very warm, completely different to how it looked this morning when I got up.

Only a few miles away was the Balnakeil craft village. I make a pit stop first at the famous Cocoa Mountain, where I get a coffee which comes with 4 chocolates for £5.95. I was going to buy DH some chocolates to take home from here, but they are £1 a chocolate, and Iím worried theyíll end up in a soggy mess by the time I get home as itís warmer than expected. So I just sit in the sun with my coffee for a bit have a quick nosy in one of the shops, but Iím no good in a mask, so I head back to the car and get on my way.

I snap some photos of the Kylesku bridge,

then carry on, I miss the sign for the Rock shop which is recommended, this is possibly because it may be closed, and decide to do the optional detour to Lochinver. This wasnít the best call. Itís 11 miles which does take about 20 minutes each way, and I head to the pottery shop. Well itís all stunning, but at over £35 for a mug, it isnít the souvenir shop for me. I havenít had any lunch, so I stop at the Lochinver larder, a famous pie shop. Well all I want to do is buy a takeaway pie for lunch, but after 10 minutes in the queue which is just to pay, and seeing that no one who has ordered since Iíve arrived has got their lunch, I give up, I donít want to leave Max in the car for any longer. Luckily I have a spare pack of crisps and some haribo in the car.

Continuing on towards Ullapool which is my stop for the night, I spy the sign for the ruins of Ardvreck castle. Well this is a great stop and cheers us both up. He gets to swim, and I walk and clear my head. It is so beautiful, and we both really enjoy it.


Not long after another sign for the Knockan Crag geological reserve. We enjoyed this too and walk the loop above the car park reading the signs and looking at the exhibits.

Not far from here to Ullapool, so we bundle back in the car and check in. Itís motel style, and can park straight outside the door, much easier for lugging our stuff in and out. Accommodation options in Ullapool werenít cheap, this cost £95 for the room, and is 20 mins walk from the village, but it serves food and they are very nice, if a little Covid stressed.

We decide to follow their route to the village to give Max a good walk. Ullapool is smaller than expected, but itís very rugged and picturesque.

We have a quick drink in the Seaforth inn, but then the bad weather is clearly coming in, and it starts raining, Iíve come out in flip flops, and a t-shirt, so not the most sensible, but it was sunny when I left half an hour ago. We nip into the Ferry Boat inn who kindly offer us a 30 min rain respite before their table bookings, and thatís all it takes. Itís sunny again.

We wander back up the hill and order some food, goats cheese to start which is really tasty, and pepperoni pizza which is lovely but could do with 5 more mins in the oven.


The owners are lovely, and we have a good chat; then itís time for bed. Chat to DH, tv, book and bed.

Miles travelled in a car - 104
Amount spent - £61
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Old 20 Aug 20, 10:00 PM  
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Old 20 Aug 20, 10:39 PM  
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Iím happy the weather cleared up for you - it can be so changeable and make or break the day. Smoo cave looks really lovely, the water is so clear.

Ah, I feel bad for recommending Lochinver as it didnít work out for you. The pie shop can get really busy - itís such a tiny place, I donít know where all the people come from to that shop! Glad you enjoyed Ardvreck castle though, itís such a pretty stretch of road there.
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Old 20 Aug 20, 11:00 PM  
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Originally Posted by Fuellady View Post
Iím happy the weather cleared up for you - it can be so changeable and make or break the day. Smoo cave looks really lovely, the water is so clear.

Ah, I feel bad for recommending Lochinver as it didnít work out for you. The pie shop can get really busy - itís such a tiny place, I donít know where all the people come from to that shop! Glad you enjoyed Ardvreck castle though, itís such a pretty stretch of road there.
Oh no donít be silly, all the guide books/articles recommended it too, and I would have been far too early to Ullapool otherwise.

I think it just was a mix of hungry/tired/fed up of driving, and like you said, Iíve not seen that many people in one place in months: there must have been 20 people before me in the queue, then another good 15 waiting for their pies.. I was getting burnt and Max was in the car. Would have been a fab lunch if slightly quieter though x
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Old 21 Aug 20, 02:13 PM  
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Smoo Cave now on my list too and definitely stopping off for a pie😁
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Old 21 Aug 20, 07:10 PM  
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mitch84
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Originally Posted by Lell View Post
Smoo Cave now on my list too and definitely stopping off for a pie😁
Smoo cave is amazing!
Good luck with the pie, hope you have better luck than me. Just bear in mind the shop is a 40-90 min detour off the main NC500 route depending which road you take, and be prepared to queue. Based on my experience of about 2pm I think it would have taken at least 45 mins to order and get the pie warmed and delivered, and I just didnít want to leave Max in the car that long.
Lunch has been very hit and miss. Iíve either had the most amazing lucky finds, or a bag of haribo 😂
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Old 21 Aug 20, 08:10 PM  
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Originally Posted by mitch84 View Post
Smoo cave is amazing!
Good luck with the pie, hope you have better luck than me. Just bear in mind the shop is a 40-90 min detour off the main NC500 route depending which road you take, and be prepared to queue. Based on my experience of about 2pm I think it would have taken at least 45 mins to order and get the pie warmed and delivered, and I just didnít want to leave Max in the car that long.
Lunch has been very hit and miss. Iíve either had the most amazing lucky finds, or a bag of haribo 😂
Thanks, thatís quite a wait. Guess weíll see how hungry we are
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Old 21 Aug 20, 09:33 PM  
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I am absolutely loving the adventures of Mitch and Max, the scenery is stunning
and Max is such photogenic dog!
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Old 22 Aug 20, 06:21 PM  
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Originally Posted by snowbelle View Post
I am absolutely loving the adventures of Mitch and Max, the scenery is stunning
and Max is such photogenic dog!
Oh Thankyou very much for reading along x
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Old 11 Oct 20, 08:47 PM  
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Those castle ruins are lovely, what a tranquil place. Even the moody weather just adds to its beauty. Max looks very happy!
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