Scotland Day 7: Castletown to Portree


25th March: A 5-hour drive across the Highlands

07:52 | 6ºC, grey sky with light cloud, some blue sky and sunshine, negligible breeze, dry.

Very busy this morning, and about to go down for breakfast at 8am so will have to catch up with writing this some other time. A long day of driving ahead – from Castletown to Portree on the Isle of Skye. On our final day the chef decided to cook breakfast to order, which was sensible as there were so few guests, and it was sad to see all the buffet food go to waste.

After breakfast we packed and gradually got everything down to the car, which meant quite a few trips. We finally set off at 09:58 so not at all bad all things considered.

The Castletown Hotel. Our home for 3 nights and we were sorry to leave. It may not look like much from the front but it was a actually quite a large hotel and very pleasant. Highly recommended.


Partly on a whim, and partly on the recommendation of the hotel chef, we decided to pay a visit to the harbour. We have been here in Castletown just east of Thurso for a couple of days and have not ventured out on our doorstep. This morning we rectified this misdemeanour before setting off on the long drive to Portree – and we were glad we did. We all took many photos of the old harbour and derelict buildings.

An iPhone 13 Pro Max ultra-wide lens photo, showing the approach to Castletown old harbour. You may be able to just about make out Tim judging the best shot of the remains of the wind pump tower.

Driving to Portree

As mentioned in a previous post the original plan for today was to drive from Durness down the west coast via Ullapool to Portree on the Isle of Skye, thus completing my dream of driving up the east coast from Inverness, along the top to Cape Wrath, and down the west coast.

Hotel availability and prices prevented us from doing this. Whilst the drive from Durness to Portree would have been manageable in terms of time – with photography stops along the way – the drive from Castletown would have taken far too long. The cross-country route we took was very good and we were able to make a few stops along the way.


We finally left Castletown and set off across the Highlands from north-east to south west. Our first stop – at 13:40 – was at a wind farm. Because of my background in energy and climate change I was keen to stop at a windfarm, and there are plenty of these in the Highlands. The wind turbines are, to my eye, things of enormous beauty and grace. They represent survival into the far future – and not just survival but comfortable living. Below are a few iPhone snaps of part of one of the larger wind farms.


We had been on the road for four hours and lavatorial facilities were very much needed. The brief stop at the wind farm provided no cover at all for my travelling companions, but only 20 minutes on we were in the mountains and found not only an excellent cafe, but a very photogenic mountain railway station set in stunning scenery. The place was Achnasheen.


The Midge Bite was, it must be said, an excellent cafe. It might not look like much but, believe you me, it is a truly great place to stop if ever you find yourself on the A832 at Loch a’Chuillinn.

I can heartily recommend The Midge Bite. I know what you are thinking: the sun has zapped my head and I have lost the plot. Who in their right mind would recommend midge bites I hear you scream. I haven’t lost it, this is an amusingly named magnificent cafe in the middle of nowhere – actually Achnasheen – that served excellent coffee and very nice cakes and pastries. The whole place is tasteful and stylish and a very pleasant place to rest for as long as you need. Just look at the view from the window!

The Midge Bite Cafe: highly recommended in every respect: views, decor, coffee, food, staff.
The view from my seat in the cafe. I could have stayed all day…


Arriving at our self-catering bungalow on the shores of Portree Loch was an amazing end to the day. The accommodation was very good and the views mesmerising. I had not watched any television since arriving in Scotland and I certainly felt not the slightest urge to watch any now, with the views available from the living room armchair. More of that tomorrow….

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