Scotland Day 6: Durness, Smoo & Tongue

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24th March: Too Many Inexperienced Motorists

The drive along the north coast of Scotland is well worth while and, at this time of year the roads are pretty empty. Roughly a third of the route – if not slightly more – is single-track road with frequent passing points. These are common in the Highlands and even further south, such as the Trossachs. There is an etiquette to driving on such routes that is based on common sense and good manners, but which seems to be lost on some drivers, presumably visitors in the main. It would also appear that a high proportion of BMW drivers seem especially prone to poor driving.

07:39 | 7ºC, blue sky but with 40% cloud, light breeze, dry.
My sunburn is feeling quite painful and my forehead feels as if it has been stretched out over my skull. I must ensure I have more of Wendy’s sunscreen. Sunburn is not something I had anticipated before leaving for Scotland – hence I was completely unprepared. Shorts would have been good too; but who would have packed such a thing for the far north in March?

Today will be a long day, with a great deal more driving than yesterday, but I am expecting the journey to be special, if only because we are hugging the coast at the far north of Britain.

09:09

Set off from Castletown and – although I had enough petrol to get there and back it was a bit too close for comfort – so I thought I would stop off at Tesco in Thurso to fill-up, only to find that the Tesco ‘superstore’ does not have a petrol station. It is not really a superstore either. Never mind, we would survive.

Tongue

10:48

Arrived at Tongue, a very small town, but we were not here for the town, but to stop at a car park on the A838. Before you think the lack of sunscreen has gone to my head, this was no ordinary car park, being halfway along a narrow strip of land with the Kyle of Tongue on either side. To the south were mountains and to the north the open sea. Well worth a stop.

The view south from the car park on the A838. Taken on iPhone 13 Pro Max with the ultra-wide camera.

However, the weather was against us so we did not get particularly good photographs. I actually managed better results on my iPhone than on the Sony A6300.

11:51

Arrived Smoo caves which is certainly well worth a visit. However, before descending down to the caves you would need to make a careful and realistic judgement regarding your ability to get back! You have been warned… A great place for taking photographs.

12:52

Arrived Durness. Actually, we were already in Durness, as that is where Smoo Caves are located. This is a strung-out village that is quite pleasant, but coffee – or a cafe for that matter – was not to be had, at least at this time of year.

I was bitterly disappointed to not get into the Smoo Cave Hotel, as they advertised ‘real ale’. Had they been open this would have been my first sight of cask beer since arriving in Scotland, but all hope was dashed when we learned the bar – the whole hotel in fact – was closed until 4pm.

It must be said that the beach at Durness – in fact all of the beaches here as there is more than one – are stunning. At this time of year they are virtually devoid of people but the locals tell me they get fairly crowded in the summer.

13:50

On the return journey, and not long after leaving Durness, we came across Ceannabeinne beach, which warranted another stop.

14:28

Yet another stop on the A838: Loch Ach’an Lochaidh and Loch Cragaidh, a very picturesque scene.

20:52

We were finally back at the hotel at 16:20 after a most enjoyable day – and plenty of stops. I am actually in bed after a very heavy but not unpleasant meal: cheese burger and chips. It was quite good and certainly good value for money but I am fed up with something and chips night after night. Right now I do not want to see another chip!

I managed to down another couple of Orkney Brewery beers; I wonder if one day I will ever see this on a hand pump? I am going to sleep well tonight.

Total driving today: 161 miles.

One response to “Scotland Day 6: Durness, Smoo & Tongue”

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