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Old 18 Jul 20, 05:34 PM  
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mitch84
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One mad woman and her dog, NC500 Aug 2020

Background

Iíve been working from home since Covid hit, and we had an anniversary trip to Amsterdam cancelled and a Med cruise. DH had to close his business for 12 weeks, so understandably didnít want to close again before his week off at Christmas.
When he went back to work, my job were very much encouraging me to take some annual leave, as I still have left over from last year, but as is a common theme, Iíd be solo.
I didnít really want to fly anywhere on my own in case of getting stuck, and so I posted a thread here on the Dibb for inspiration.
And the lovely Beth had it for me. Itís a bit of a mad one, but Iím going to drive the North Coast 500 route, a 500 mile round trip from Inverness. And... Iím not going entirely solo, Iím taking the dog!

So cast

Me - Mitch, 35, turning 36 the day after I get back, loves horses, dogs, reading, swimming, wine and food.

Max - 2 year old black Labrador, loves sleeping, swimming, walks, cuddles, teddies and most importantly, FOOD...





The plan

I decided to do it from Aviemore instead, and DH persuaded me to add in an extra night, so that I got a chill out day in Aviemore first, as Aviemore is 350 miles away from my home in the North West.
I ended up choosing the following itinerary after a lot of research and reading

Day 1 - Sunday 16th August - home to Aviemore
Day 2 - Aviemore
Day 3 - Aviemore to Wick (via Loch Ness)
Day 4 - Wick to Tongue (via John oíGroats)
Day 5 - Tongue to Ullapool
Day 6 - Ullapool to Lochcarron
Day 7 - Ullapool to Pitlochry
Day 8 - Pitlochry to Home

The difficulty has been finding truly dog friendly places to book for Max and I, and this has been a little tricky. A lot of hotels say you can bring your dogs into your room for a fee (but not leave them unattended) but then they arenít welcome in any of the public areas, even the bar for a quick nightcap. A lot of the cottages are too big and expensive, and I donít want to be tied to the car, a dog friendly pub I can eat at and have a drink within walking distance is key each night.

I ended up finding a tiny home in the garden of a dog loving lady on air bnb for Aviemore. It looks super cute, and is 15 mins walk out of town which is perfect for getting Max walked in and out. It seems perfect. It was £75 a night which seems ideal.

In Wick, the fancier looking hotels were either booked up, or not dog friendly, but I found an older looking hotel called the Norseman. Itís £76.95 for a big double room plus an extra £10 for Max, they seemed friendly though and it includes breakfast. I think it will be basic, but clean and central.

In Tongue I found the Ben Loyal hotel where the food is apparently very good, I have a single room with a view which looks lovely, and is £60 plus £15 for Max. I believe I might get a bottle of white in my room too, and a full breakfast. Not a bad deal.

Ullapool I found the hardest, as accommodation was very expensive, and didnít have good reviews to be honest. I ended up booking the Morefield motel 15 mins walk out of town. It cost £95 including breakfast, and whilst they donít charge for dogs, they arenít allowed in the public areas and they sent me a long list of rules. Iím going to keep my eyes open here as reviews say the rooms are quite tired. However I have found dog friendly food options, so may just use it as a base to lay my head.

On the way back to Inverness way, Iím going to stop in a village called Lochcarron. It has an inn with rooms. The reviews are mixed, but itís the cheapest at £55 a night inc breakfast, and they seem to be genuinely very dog friendly as the owner has Labradors walking around, no charge for Max either.

Instead of stopping in Inverness or Aviemore Iím going to drive a bit further to Pitlochry. This hotel is the most expensive, £99 for a small double, and £10 for Max, this hotel looks lovely though and seems genuinely dog friendly in that I can eat and drink etc with Max with me.

So thatís that. I go in 4 weeks. So lots of time to panic, and hopefully read up on dog friendly things to do.

Wish me luck

Edited at 05:35 PM.
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Old 19 Jul 20, 07:36 PM  
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Merligan
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Have been to the Inn at Lochcarron for a meal when we attempted the NC500 last year.

The food was lovely and the owners very friendly. I am assuming itís the same one as thereís not a deal else there and they had labradors roaming about along with signs telling you not to feed them!

We ended up abandoning the trip as were on motorbikes and it was a monsoon. We turned round and came back, stopping at a fab place in Pitlochry, beautiful B&B and the owners had 2 Briards which we had a huge fuss with.

Have a blast,

X
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Old 20 Jul 20, 08:24 PM  
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Originally Posted by Merligan View Post
Have been to the Inn at Lochcarron for a meal when we attempted the NC500 last year.

The food was lovely and the owners very friendly. I am assuming itís the same one as thereís not a deal else there and they had labradors roaming about along with signs telling you not to feed them!

We ended up abandoning the trip as were on motorbikes and it was a monsoon. We turned round and came back, stopping at a fab place in Pitlochry, beautiful B&B and the owners had 2 Briards which we had a huge fuss with.

Have a blast,

X
Yep I think itís the same one, glad the food was good. The man on the phone was more interested in the colour of my lab, than which room I wanted 😂
Iím really not that fussy, so am sure weíll be absolutely fine.
So sorry about your trip 😢 must have been so disappointing
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Old 20 Jul 20, 09:13 PM  
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Bought this today, £15 from the middle of Lidl. Itís great, loads of compartments, little collapsible bowls, a mat to feed them on, little bags to fill with food.



Completely unnecessary, but Iím really pleased with it 😂
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Old 20 Jul 20, 09:14 PM  
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Merligan
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The owner was from Kent if itís the same place.

Wasnít the best trip, sure itís beautiful but it literally rained every day and got steadily worse the further North we went. Not fun on a motorbike.

The people were just fab, so welcoming, would go back but would wait and book if could be sure of the weather.

😁
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Old 20 Jul 20, 09:20 PM  
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mitch84
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Originally Posted by Merligan View Post
The owner was from Kent if itís the same place.

Wasnít the best trip, sure itís beautiful but it literally rained every day and got steadily worse the further North we went. Not fun on a motorbike.

The people were just fab, so welcoming, would go back but would wait and book if could be sure of the weather.

😁
He defo didnít have a Scottish accent on the phone, will let you know when I get back.
Iím keeping fingers crossed re the weather, itís August but anything can happen. Hard as it isnít cheap so Iíd be disappointed if it was a wash out
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Old 20 Jul 20, 10:11 PM  
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Stayed at the Ben Loyal last Easter, loved our trip. Food was indeed excellent! Make sure you stop off at Durness and Smoos Cave. The road from Tongue to Durness is outstanding and Durness beaches are amazing. Hope you enjoy and the weather is kind
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Old 21 Jul 20, 09:56 AM  
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Originally Posted by christybell View Post
Stayed at the Ben Loyal last Easter, loved our trip. Food was indeed excellent! Make sure you stop off at Durness and Smoos Cave. The road from Tongue to Durness is outstanding and Durness beaches are amazing. Hope you enjoy and the weather is kind
Ooh wonderful thanks! Glad you had a good time and liked your stay there too.
The cave and Durness are indeed on my list, Max loves nothing more than a beach too so Iíll be looking for plenty if Fidoís friendly ones.
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Old 24 Jul 20, 07:42 PM  
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Iím currently just toying with whether I can keep my crackers Labrador entertained on a 2 hour Loch Ness cruise..
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Old 24 Jul 20, 08:10 PM  
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Good luck, funny thing first time I heard of the NC500 was on Tuesday, when it was mentioned in a programme about the Torridon hotel... looks amazing...
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