North Coast 500 Day 2

23 October 2019

The Airbnb view was a wee bit underwhelming. Not because it wasn’t spectacular, but because we couldn’t see it. The weather was a little bit Scottish! But we are still not complaining.

Jackie, our host, showed us photos of the view looking out her window towards the Orkney Islands. She also showed us photos of the Northern Lights from the surrounding area. Absolutely stunning. Alas we did not see them either!

This is what we saw in photos
Not what we saw in real life
Thanks Google

The new tartan umbrellas came out of their covers today, only to be put back in again. The wind was blowing them inside out at John O’Groats.

J o’G most northerly town in mainland Scotland

After the obligatory selfies, we drove up to Duncansby Head lighthouse dodging the sheep as we went.

Sheep in middle o’ road

The lighthouse itself wasn’t very exciting but the ten minute hike across the field to the Duncansby sea stacks was well and truly worth it.

A bit soggy underfoot

We drove past two important houses on our way to our next stop. One was the Airbnb where we spent the night and the other was the Castle of Mey, once owned by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Camilla and Charles use it when they are in the area.

One was open and welcoming, the other was closed for the winter!

So far the route of the NC500 is pretty much hugging the coastline. There are so many pretty little inlets and coves along the way. This one caught our eye. There were seals bobbing around in the cove and one or two lolling on the rocks.

Dunnet Head is the most northerly point of mainland Scotland and Grahame was keen for a visit.

A little chilly!

The lighthouse keeper must be the eternal optimist. As if the washing would ever get dry, or not end up in Iceland!

Speaking of Iceland, this is Grahame waving to John and Jude, who are currently there.

When not hugging the coastline, our route took us past lots of little lochs, green pastures, ruined buildings and some not so ruined!

Grahame spotted a sign for a Scottish Monument and veered off onto a side road. Why not? The Monument was St Mary’s Chapel built in the 12th century. Getting to it was an adventure in itself.

That’s it ……… on the horizon

We traipsed through the paddock, past a ruin, across a bridge, and through another paddock.

Oh The irony

Grahame placed a rock on the cairn and we high tailed it cross country back to the car.

The scenery continued to amaze us and the sheep kept wandering all over the road.

Our last stop of the day was at a little place called Bettyhill. There was a tiny museum to see. It was based on the Highland Clearances, the eviction of tenant farmers by their landlords back in the early 1800s. That explains all the ruins everywhere!!

Bettyhill Museum Graveyard

It had a Pictish standing stone in the cemetery dating back from somewhere between the 6th to 9th century.

But, arguably the highlight of our day was the view from our cute little Airbnb pod just outside the village of Tongue. Imagine waking up to this every morning!!

Our view! Grahame’s pic
Our home away from home

The “pod” had underfloor heating and was as cosy and warm as can be. While the wind howled, we hunkered down for a great nights sleep!

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