Distance: 171 Miles (524)
Weather: Windy, overcast with showers
Drop Counter: Jenny 3 (6) Ian 0 (2)
Today, although still windy, was finally dry with a few rain spells, which made a difference to the overall feel of the day. Our waterproofs didn’t become heavy with moisture and my hands and feet stayed mainly warm. We added in an extra loop, so we could ride the the road between Drumrunie and Lochinver, without missing any of the sights on the main stretch. Our first stop was Ullapool, where we chatted to John, an incredibly friendly man in the tourist information centre. After a good natter, which included swapping tales of travelling in New Zealand, we headed next door to the West Coast Deli for a second breakfast! We both tried their interesting take on sausage rolls eating a black pudding roll and a thai curry one! We also bought sandwiches here for lunch on the road.
Realising how much time we had spent, and how much riding we had to do we got back on the road in such a rush, we forgot to fill up. This resulted in both bikes being very low by the time we reached Lochinver, the next major town with a pump! Ian’s bike supposedly had a range of just 12 miles left! Sadly we missed many of the sights we had planned to see along the main road to Lochinver. The first Corrieshalloch Gorge, was closed due to maintenance, whilst others such as the bone caves, were just too far a walk, for which we didn’t have enough time.
The official NC500 map does a good job of pinpointing such interesting places; but it doesn’t give information such as the time required to reach places. Also worth noting is that most places were poorly signed, if at all from the road. The walk to the bone caves was not signposted, but merely marked as a parking spot!
One sight that is hard to miss is Ardvreck Castle, which perches on on the edge of Loch Assynt. Now in ruins, it was once home to the MacLeod family, as was the ruined house which also stands nearby. As you drive along the road to Lochinver, you will also spot several miniature islands, home to Jurassic looking trees!
If you have the time, the road between Lochinver and Drumrunie makes a fantastic addition to the day. In fact, any of the roads around here make for excellent riding! Often single track and windy, with some steep sections a suitable vehicle is advised!
On our way to Stoer Point we spotted Stoer Church, an interesting old building, now left to ruin. Some online research showed that the current owners had wanted to turn it into a holiday home, but were not granted permission after many protests from locals. Around the church, many old graves stand and the feeling within the village was that it wouldn’t be right to develop this building into a marketable property. Bizarrely there are actually three graveyards in Stoer! The lighthouse at Stoer Point is now automatically controlled, and rather than let the surrounding buildings crumble away, some enterprising person now lets them out on a weekly basis! From here you can walk to the Old Man of Stoer, a 60′ sea stack – but again, the road called us onward, leaving this walk for a future trip.
Food and Bed!
Home for the evening was in The Old Schoolhouse Restaurant and Rooms in Kinclochbervie. We had booked an evening meal in the restaurant as well. The young staff were very warm and welcoming. They even offered a rather inebriated fellow a lift home after informing him there were no taxi’s this far north! The food was gorgeous, although Ian managed to eat another customer’s starter before realising it wasn’t what he had ordered. This error, combined with the fact that Ian thought his first beer was ‘off’ meant that our meal was quite a bit cheaper than it would otherwise have been. We spent a little bit of time editing, but headed to bed fairly early, the road miles starting to catch up with us! It is only day three, but we have already gone over the 516 mile total of the official route!