Wednesday, 27 December 2017

North Coast 500 honeymoon roadtrip - Gairloch, Big Sands, Gruinard Bay & Ullapool

Posts 1 & 2 of my Scottish honeymoon road trip series focussed on the the long journey from South Wales to Scotland. After a few days on the road and stop offs in the lower highlands we finally reached the official North Coast 500. Hurrah! We thought the views were spectacular in the Nevis range but nothing prepared us for the the drama of the landscape as we headed closer to the north coast. 

The drive from Fort William to Gairloch was simply stunning but you'll have to take my word for it because I didn't manage to get any photos other than this one. I was so engrossed in the changing scenery and holding Coco still on my lap in the camper van that I didn't get my camera out. Some tips for this drive would be to fill up on petrol in Fort William and pack a lunch as there are some beautiful stops and view points along the way. 

On our way to Gairloch we drove past the beautiful Loch Maree which contains over 60 wooded islands. The area has a long history which dates back to the Druids and 8th Century monks and loch even has it's own monster - Muc-sheilche.


A picture of Gairloch with big sands beach

Upon arrival in Gairloch we checked in at Sands campsite which boasted excellent coastal views. You could camp in the sheltered dunes or higher up like we did for a perfect sunset viewpoint. This was another great site on our trip. The site had a well stocked shop with fresh baked bread, local produce and camping equipment and a fantastic cafe open until the evening for takeaways (dog friendly too). 

The big draw of staying at Sands campsite is the Big Sand beach which the site overlooks. The beach has great views of the mountains of Skye and Torridon. Coco absolutely loved the beach, running around and skidding in the sand and he could go as crazy as he liked because there was only one other person on the beach. As with much of our trip I wished we had longer in each location and I would have loved to stay here for another night and spent more time on the beach and exploring the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve. We had to push on as there was so much more to cram in to our 11 day trip.


this is a picture of sands campsite in gairloch overlooking big sands beach

this is a picture of big sands beach on a sunny evening



this is a picture of Gruinard Bay on the NC500 route in Scotland

After a short-but-sweet stay in Gairloch we headed back on the NC500 route to move on to our next stop, Ullapool. The views along the drive were amazing again and a highlight was Gruinard Bay which has three pink sand beaches with views of An Teallach and the northern Highlands. There are also lots of interesting rocks and things to see for geology buffs out there - I just thought it looked very pretty. 

this is a picture of Gruinard Bay on  sunny day



this is a picture of ullapool harbour with boats

Ullapool is a picturesque town nestled on the shores of Lochbroom. It's a great place to stop off in its own right but it is also a gateway to the Isle of Lewis with a ferry port in the town. We stayed at Ardmair Point which was a rather basic site but had pitches with a view over Loch Broom and out to the Summer Isles and a curved pebble beach.



The culinary highlight of our trip to Scotland was definitely the lobster and dill potato salad and crab linguine we got from the Seafood Shack in Ullapool. It was on my must visit list months before we set off and it didn't disappoint. The shack has won a BBC Food Award for the Best Street food and serves top quality seafood which was caught and landed locally. The lobster was well worth battling with the cold and windy weather, holding the tray down with one hand and trying to stab at the lobster with a fork to stop it from blowing away. If you ever visit Ullapool you have to make a pit stop at the Seafood Shack. 

this is a picture of lobster served fresh at the seafood shack in ullapool

There are still a couple of Scottish adventure posts left for me to type up. I am really enjoying reminiscing about my honeymoon back in September and I hope you come back to check out my next post about the final stages of my journey to Durness and Eilean Donan castle.


Our North Coast 500 route - you can find all of our stops and campsites here. 

Gemma
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10 comments:

  1. My boyfriend's Aunt has a caravan at Sands which we stayed in back in September, such a great base for walks and views!

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  2. Woah- seafood shack looks delicious! We also did a Scottish road trip for our honeymoon!

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  3. Wow this does look like a beautiful trip. I've been married four years and am yet to go on a honeymoon. Your dog is super cute too!

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  4. This looks like a great trip. That lobster looks particularly delicious. I think Scotland does food very well

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  5. We had a scottish road trip with the kids earlier this year and fell in love with the country. We didn't get as far north as you but would love to one day

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  6. The street food looks absolutely amazing and not what i expected at all. This sounds like a wonderful trip and your dog looks in its element :) x

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  7. I knew about the loch ness monster but I had never heard of the 'Muc-sheilche' I have to do some more research as I love learning about folklore and what not.I have to say you had a beautiful honeymoon and the street food looks wonderful.

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  8. I just love Scotland! We've just come back from Lochawe :) I shall be bookmarking all of your honeymoon posts for future holiday ideas.

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  9. This place looks amazing, and super cute. I would love to visit and see the sights. That water looks so calm!!!

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  10. Oh my goodness, the views and scenery is so beautiful. I haven't been to Scotland for a number of years but reading this is making me want to plan a trip.

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