Since the conception of the North Coast 500 this tiny wee area of the Highlands is now becoming a famous as London, everyone knows where it is and everyone wants to go.
Applecross is a definite stop
Being over 1,300 years old and is not used locally to name the village.
They simply call it ‘the street’. And with a population of approximately 500 it is a very fragile but a beautiful place.
It was even home to a monastery which was established by St Maelrubha, in the 7th century. A sculptured stone is the only relic of Maelrubha remaining, who built a chapel there.
Situated on a peninsula in Wester Ross, Applecross has a wonderful atmosphere, creating the impression that you are at the ‘edge of the world’, probably because of its inaccessibility.
To visit Applecross there are two ways to drive to it, via a winding coast road from Shielding, to the north on Loch Torridon, with great views all the way; and the Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle).
The Bealach na Ba road is one of the highest in Britain, reaching 2,053 ft (0.63 km), and heads into the clouds on Alpine hairpin bends, then drops to the quiet street, from where there are incredible views out across the bay to Raasay and Skye
In this area, there is plenty of great accommodation to choose from, like the highly praised Applecross B&B or the exceedingly brilliant Applecross Inn, and alternatives are great with Applecross Campsite, Hartfield House Hostel to name just two.
A Day in Paradise
At least one of your days should be spent in the Applecross area, it really is like Heaven.
Forget your car or Motorhome or Bike, get out and walk. This is a holiday and time is yours for a change, walk it stroll it, just live with it.
The Peace and tranquillity along with the superb scenery are so hard to beat.
With the wonderful Applecross Inn, you need to look no further for great food and great service and on certain nights brilliant ‘Live’ entertainment.
Take a walk, about 30minute walk to the Applecross Photographic gallery, always a great place with stunning photos and ones to purchase as a great memory. You can even get one of your own printed on to a canvas and show it off to your friends at home.
From the Heritage Centre, you can find all the info about this fascinating area and its history and culture which may well surprise you for such a small community.
The Walled Gardens and Café are really something worth a visit. The Menu looks lovely but the food taste and looks even better with much of it grown in the Gardens themselves.
A Trip Like Charlie
Whilst in the Highlands it is sometimes a shame that many regret not visiting somewhere slightly off Route. Much like visiting Inverness but not Loch Ness.
There are many places so close by as you drive around the Highlands, and that is where the advantage of staying in one place and exploring everything around and close by pays off.
To visit places like Applecross and not to go near two of the most iconic parts of Scotland would be unforgivable.
This day of driving with plenty of time to get out and about takes in a two hour to drive but much longer as you take in the views along the route.
Yes, one can argue that you can’t visit the Isle of Skye for less than a day, but we are sure that even part of a day will make you one day return to see what you missed.
This trip takes you along the Bealach Na Ba, and even if you have driven it once then if you are going the opposite way even better as it gives you a different perspective.
At the end of the Bealach Na Ba, you come to the Bealach Café which itself is worth the stop for the fab food and its own wee Gallery.
Me, I’d highly recommend their Bacon rolls….perfect for first thing in the morning.
Travelling onward as we head to the first iconic place, Eilean Donan Castle
Heading south you quickly come across the Kishorn Seafood Bar.
Hungry well stop, it is delicious… But next door is the Kinghorn Selfie Box.
This is the UK’s first selfie Phone Box when it was given a new lease of life for … so come in, take a selfie and post it online.
The Gardens are a unique garden on the south side of Lochcarron initially established by the Victorians with rhododendrons planted over the hillside.
Over the past 40 years, Nicky MacPherson has transformed these gardens with the creation of water gardens with Monet bridges and waterfalls, planted with a painter’s eye, a Japanese garden, a huge fern collection with tender ferns housed in a geodesic dome, a sunken fern garden as well as the traditional kitchen garden. It is well worth a stop at any time of the year.
The trip continues on the shores of Lochcarron towards Stromferry.
But just 10 minutes along the road is the Lochcarron viewpoint, a quick stop for a stunning photo.
Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most recognised castles in Scotland. It is, without doubt, a Scottish icon and certainly one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Highlands.
Eilean Donan is a small tidal island where three sea lochs meet, Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh. It is certainly worth every mile once you reach it and see it yourself.
Even with its large Car park, it is a very busy place at times.
From here we head along the shore of Loch Alsh on the A87 and similar to Bonnie Prince Charlie you will cross the Sea to Skye albeit over the bridge whereas Charlie had to go by boat.
The Skye bridge opened in October 1995 is actually two bridges.
The first part crosses over Loch Alsh, connecting the Isle of Skye to the island of Eilean Bàn. The name is also used for the whole Skye Crossing, which further connects Eilean Bàn to the mainland across the Carrich Viaduct.
How long you spend in the Isle of Skye is entirely up to you. Obviously a day is not long enough, but if not the visit is well worth it.
The Route as shown but you can take an alternative (Not Shown) via Plockton on the way back but be warned it is narrow and not suitable for larger vehicles.
Plockton is a small lochside village and is one of the most attractive in Scotland, an idyllic place in an idyllic setting.
A row of neatly painted cottages hugs the shoreline following the curve of the tiny harbour. Palm trees line the main street and the whole scene is framed by a landscape of islands, heather and pine.
Although Applecross is a brilliant place to stay and explore so much this area has to offer, a trip away can reap so many benefits from the Gems that await you.
This is about a 5-hour straight drive, but that’s not a problem in the summer months when daylight lasts nearly all day.
After leaving Applecross you can do this trip, either way, the choice is yours.
The idea of these road trip is like all the itineraries, they are a guide. It is up to you how you use them.
Take into account how much time you have, they are to be used for those with a whole day available. This will give you time to visit other places on the route.
Also, be aware some roads may well be single track road and the size of your vehicle may make the trip not advisable.
The bottom line is to enjoy your time in the Highlands. Take your time, it is not meant to be rushed, it is meant to be relaxed enjoyable and mostly Memorable.
Like all our itineraries feel free to use them how you like, they are intended as a guide and hopefully, the information provided will help you plan your trip and make it unforgettable.