Friday, June 30, 2017

500 - 250 = 890

Some very clever person sitting in the Scottish tourist board decided that Scotland should have an iconic drive like the Sur highway or route 66.  As they were thinking this, they might have been whistling the Proclaimers tune about the 500 miles and how they would walk 500 more.
And then they looked at a map. I would presume at this point that the person who did it was not a driver, so they  worked out vaguely, that if you go from Fort William to Inverness by going all the way round the top of Scotland that would be about 500 miles (And nearly 500 more) The drive is called the North Coast 500.
You buy t-shirts, hats, key rings, special road maps. You can join the North Coast 500 society. It has been a tremendous success everybody is being encouraged to do it. The two things we don’t have are decent roads and decent toilets.  After driving on some of these roads the one thing you need is a toilet.
The Drive become tremendously successful, probably far too quickly. The infrastructure is simply not there and the locals are really getting hacked off with it and I can understand why. Most of the roads are the infamous single track passing places - often with 1 in 5 gradients and soft edges...and a huge drop down, a hairpin bend and a HIghland cow standing in the middle of the cracked tarmac with a look on her face that says she knows how big her horns are, and how puny the front of your vehicle is. Pictures  will follow.
The next 4 blogs will be about our journey where Alan and I drove the first 250 miles of the North Coast 500 in a motorhome. When we returned to base the ‘mileometer’ had clocked up 873 miles, and apart from 80 miles at the start, we did not diverge from the route. It was an adventure, something that was endured, at times enjoyed and at other times was scary. I still have a sore wrist where I had to hold onto a pole to stop myself being blow off my feet in Durness ( a bit right at the top). 
Here is a pictorial  tour of day one - the day we had sunshine. THE day we had sunshine....
We had to drive from  our house out to Edinburgh  to collect the motorhome and then up to Tyndrum to get on the start of the 500. This was day one. We set off at 1pm.

This is the one piece of sunshine we had. By 7pm we were parked in  Tyndrum within 20 minutes the midges joined us and chased us back into the van.  The van had a midge screen. Tyndrum is a starting and finishing kind of place. It has a campsite, three houses and a café called the Green Welly that does not sell wellies.

Tranquil river bubbling through campsite.

I bet they had a lovely view as they ate their breakfast.

This sign said danger - crocodiles.
The midges were more dangerous.

The camp shop's two best sellers- ice cream and midge repellent.

This (above) was the very European toilet block ie it had a door, was clean, the showers worked! The owner explained they had to do that as walkers on the west highland way kept using the showers. The West Highland way is a 155k walk from Glasgow to Fort William, on wee mountain paths, now as busy as the cookie counter at Walmart.

Tiny sleep only lodges for walkers. (It had a kettle)

Slightly bigger lodges for two walkers

Brave walkers in tents- they wore midge face nets 24/7 which gave them the look of an orienteering bank robber.

I love the variation on the camper van theme... this was Norwegian I think, covered in moose/elk stickers
I thought this camper must be very dark, then I realised it was the midge repellent delivery van

And the next day we were up and off on our adventure,

driving on slow roads that seem to go no where....

Caro Ramsay 30th June 2017


  1. Well, the FIRST problem I see is that they painted the SLOW message upside down. How do they expect drivers coming the other way on the right side of the road to read the message when it's upside down?

    I tell ya, those Scottish folks have a midge or two loose in their bonnets.

    1. It's a cunning trap to aid
      Confused foreigners. forces them to slow down before they bump into the Highland cow/crocodile / cloud of midges on the far side. We may be mad but we are considerate.

    2. It's a cunning trap to aid
      Confused foreigners. forces them to slow down before they bump into the Highland cow/crocodile / cloud of midges on the far side. We may be mad but we are considerate.

  2. I like your and Alan's math, photos, and adventuresome spirits--especially driving a camper along those single track roads. But what really fascinated me was the reference to crocodiles. I thought Scotland only had Nessie...but then again, she is reputed to be a I figured you were blowing smoke up my kilt.

    Still, you'd caught my interest, and I did a quick Internet search. Lo and behold I found this piece on dangerous critters licensed to Scots.

    Why in the world sane folks would have any desire to be close to many on the list (it appearing that politicians present more than enough perils to our households) I leave to the imaginations of Scottish mystery writers. I did notice, though, that midges are conspicuously absent from the list.

    1. Math ? I really will do a blog about England as it should be spoked....

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  3. Hmmm. I have my doubts. I recognize that sign from Australian warning signs in Queensland (where they DO have crocodiles). I wonder about who 'borrowed' it and brought it home to Scotland.
    Somehow I can't see crocodiles being very happy in Scotland. They like to spend their days basking in the sun...

    1. Admittedly, Michael, my experience with crocs is confined to the shoes I wear on a boat, but in the presence of such a sign I generally follow the old adage, "Better Safe than Swallowed."

    2. I hope it was a crocodile joke Michael as that water was a degree above freezing. I think jeff is making spurious allegations. ..and we all know what alligators lawyers are....

    3. Sounds like a croc to me, Ms. R.

      But I could have sworn I read somewhere that crocodiles are being bred in very cold waters so that their skins will better withstand cracking in the freezing climes frequented by Hermes Burkin bag customers. Hmmm, could fake news be lurking out there amid the lochs?

  4. Marvelous, Caro! I just want you to know that, even in Africa, I am more afraid of the insects than of the crocodiles. Those north country places all seem to have horrifying clouds of vampire bugs that want to drink my blood. In Alaska the mosquitoes are big enough to ride bicycles. I am so glad I get to travel the North Coast 500 vicariously from the safety of my own home. But don't worry. I do have repellant handy, just in case.

    1. The scenery was spectacular. ..when we could see it for the clouds. Memories of my dad putting the tent up as we sat on it to stop it blowing away. Things may come and go but the weather remains challenging !