So, technically, this is still the fourth leg of our NC500 trip, but it was quite a long drive so there was a lot to do. In this post you will see the things that we did in the afternoon on our way down to Polbain. Be prepared for some more beautiful beaches and unexpected stop offs as we veered a little bit off the beaten track to the village of Drumbeg.
After fortifying ourselves with a hot chocolate from Cocoa Mountain, we hopped back in the car for some more exploring along the road to Polbain where we would be stopping for the night. We had (all too soon) reached the west coast and started our descent back south. How lucky we were then to have some more spectacular views, blue skies and generally clement weather to comfort us! Again, I am not quite sure which beach this is that we stopped by, but as you can see, there was clear water and white sand. It was a little nippier than it looks in the picture but we had a lovely time stretching our legs with a short walk along the beach.
We noticed that, on the West coast, there were a lot more people selling home made food from their houses. This was the first sign we saw for fresh, home style seafood and I couldn’t resist the siren call of oak smoked salmon. Especially as it was four pounds, which is a pretty good deal in anyone’s book. We found the house in question and – I kid you not – a little old lady answered the door, super puzzled until we explained that we wanted to buy some salmon.
Forgive the weird angle, I took the picture while I was sitting in the car! Look how fresh that salmon is! We also bought a little cup of hot smoked salmon pate which we ate with some crackers that we had been carting around in the car. It was nice to have a little car picnic (it was a bit windy to sit outside) and eat something that was fresh and local. Although, having said that, the majority of the food that we had eaten so far was fresh and local! Expect to see a lot more seafood as we travel down the West coast.
Even though we had quite a long way to drive that day, we decided to veer a little off course after our seafood stop and took a detour to the village of Drumbeg. Drumbeg is only a tiny tiny little town but it has a magnificent view out to sea. There were plenty of sheep munching on the grass and again, it was quite idyllic. This is probably the time to mention that these photos are all unedited and I haven’t amped up the colour saturation – this really is how it looked. If you haven’t booked your ticket to Scotland yet, i’m not quite sure what you’re thinking.
Drumbeg has a general store and a beautiful little shop called Assynt Aromas that sold home made soaps and did cream teas in their garden. We were super lucky because 1. It was a sunny day and 2. we had the entire garden to ourselves.
We had a delicious cream tea with a huge scone and a dollop of that fabulous clotted cream that only seems to happen properly in the UK. We were also visited by a giant bumblebee that are native to the area. Unfortunately he moved too quickly for me to photograph, so you will just have to imagine an enormous bee, buzzing from flower to flower and generally bumping into things. Although, if you have a phobia of bees, maybe don’t imagine that…
Instead, you can think about this little guy that I met in a field opposite the Drumbeg general store. He has a little bit shy at first, but then he seemed to enjoy having his nose patted.
We saw this ruined castle from the road and decided to take a short walk across to it. Again, we were the only people around and the sun was shining and really, why not?
This leg was really filled with unexpected adventures and the kind of spontaneous stumbling upon beauty and history that came to characterise our whole trip. I’m sorry that I haven’t got exact names and addresses for many of the locations that i’m sharing but, in a way, I don’t think you would want to do exactly what we did. Not because it was sub par in any way, but because I think that a road trip like the NC500 is a really personal one. You don’t feel like you’re one of a million people like you do in tourist locations like the Lakes District in England or on the way to Stone Henge. Instead, this road trip is about personal discoveries, it’s intimate, it’s special. Maybe i’m just a huge sap, but I really felt like we were the only two people on earth for most of this trip.
So, we ended up in Polbain for the night, which was probably our most spartan stop over so it doesn’t rate a huge mention and didn’t really take any photos of that one! Don’t worry, i’ve made up for it on the next leg, travelling to the beauty that is Sheildaig via Ullapool where I had some of the most delicious food i’ve ever had from a food truck. As always, if you have any questions or want to share some of your memories or tips, leave me a comment in the section below!