Miss Scotland discovers the NC500
Guest Blogger Nicole Treacy, winner of Miss Scotland, recently completed the NC500. Scotlands answer to Route 66. The North Coast 500 is a scenic route showcasing the best of what Scotland has to offer and is being added to bucket lists everywhere.
Wherever you go you always get the same reaction when you mention your home country is Scotland. having traveled around the world whilst competing in Miss World, I have always nodded in agreement when people ‘oo’ and ‘ah’ at the magnificent countryside, mention fairy tale castles, or brooding vistas. However it recently dawned on me that I have never really explored my country, never been to the highlands, or experienced the most popular destinations. I was ashamed of my lack of exploration and decided to right this wrong; it was time to explore my homeland!
After a bit of research and discussion it looked like hiring a motorhome was going to be the best way to see as much of the country as possible. When we picked up the camper van from Rockin Vans we were thrilled, it was massive and was real luxury inside!
We started in Glasgow and headed up the West coast past Loch Lomond and Fort William. The aim for the first night was to reach Gairloch and spend the night there. We really hit the jackpot with the weather and the drive was nothing short of stunning! By the time we got there it had started to get dark so we pulled into a bay; we were all excited for our first night of wild camping! The sky was so clear that the view of the stars was breathtaking, we were even lucky enough to see some shooting starts!
The next morning we got up before sunrise and headed to Corrieshalloch Gorge before heading to Ullapool. The drive to the gorge once again beautiful, the sun was rising above the Loch, with the 46m plunging waterfall looking spectacular. Ullapool was a quaint little town with a few independent shops and cafés, a stark contrast to the breathtaking views across the loch out towards the Munros.
Our next destination was the award-winning beach Achmelvich. Hands down one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. With its green waters and white sands, you could have easily been mistaken into thinking you were in the Bahamas, for us this was the highlight of our motorhoming holiday!
We decided to drive on a bit further up to settle for the night and ended up at Culkein Stoer slipway. This was an isolated bay with a little beach, looking across the water. With the sun setting and a slight chill in the air we grasped the moment to set up camp for the night. After building a campfire, we settled in with white wine and toasted marshmallows, a beautiful end to a stunning day.
Our cloudy heads the morning after were soon lifted by a full Scottish breakfast, enjoyed while looking over the morning Loch. This peaceful moment was only interrupted by a seal having its morning wash a few meters in front of us.
On our penultimate day we knew we were going to have to rack up the miles to complete the NC500. We headed for Durness for the famous Smoo Cave. The vastness of the cave was overwhelming; this dramatic cave is 200 ft long and 50 ft high in the entrance. We then had a spot of lunch in Durness looking over the cliffs onto the third stunning beach of the trip!
Making tracks we headed to John O’Groats. We stopped for a few pictures to document our achievement, before carrying on down the East Coast. Just before sunset we parked up for the night in Wick where we had dinner and visited the local pub. We met a very knowledgeable character known locally as “The Silver Fox.” He was a great laugh and also hugely informed on the local area, telling us that we were parked close to the shortest street in the world, which is in the Guinness world record books (Ebenezer Place, measuring just 6 feet 9 inches)
This was a great last night. We felt fulfilled heading home knowing the experiences we had will be memories we will never forget. After completing the NC500, I will be able to ‘oo’ and ‘ah’ with confidence. Scotland really is breathtaking. The motorhome allowed us to truly explore, from the culture, food and the stunning scenery we really got our teeth into our beautiful country.