The National’s ad man Stephen McTaggart concludes his reports from the North Coast 500 – the tourism trail helping to revitalise a region
WAKING up in Applecross on the final day of our North Coast 500 journey, we were greeted by some expected atmospheric drizzle as we looked out of the window of Maggie, the motorhome that has been home to me and my wife, Claire, for the last three days.
She had kept us warm all night and thankfully kept the midges at bay. After our final breakfast, we left Applecross Campsite and headed back towards Edinburgh. The campsite was convenient and cost us a reasonable £20.
Loading article content
We stocked up with petrol at the local community fuel station and headed back along the coast. The skies cleared to give us one last glimpse of the west of Scotland before we turned back on to the road to Inverness to complete the route.
The trip has been a wonderful experience and we thoroughly enjoyed sharing it with our new friend Maggie. She was loyal, well equipped, capable and very easy to handle, albeit with a wounded right mirror.
We used the journey to make up a North Coast 500 "Oscars", featuring the highlights of our holiday in these seven categories.
Best road to drive: John O’Groats towards Sango Sands Caravan Park – great fun, spectacular views and lots of hidden corners to explore.
Best campsite: Sango Sands Caravan Park – by far the best view, it’s own beaches, fantastic food and a bar within walking distance.
Best beach: Betty Hill – there are loads of great beaches we didn’t get too, but this one provided excitement, adventure, privacy and romance all in one. Exactly what the North Coast 500 is about.
Best meal: Applecross Inn –surpassed our expectations for food. If you can swim through the vast sea of midges and don’t mind a wait, it’s well worth the drive there.
Best driving album: We discovered a band called Rant, who are a Scottish female four-piece fiddle group. Their album Reverie is well worth a listen – a combination of stunning soaring melodies, intricate harmonies and rhythmic energy.
Most terrifying moment: The drive to Drumbeg. My fondest memory and a road I’m looking forward to going back to with my new car.
We loved our trip and are delighted that something initially funded by The Princes Trust will continue to attract people to the remote parts of Scotland.
It reminded me of how lucky I am to be Scottish, to live in such a wonderful country, and to know that my family has still so much more of it still to explore.
Us Scots are a wonderful breed, welcoming, hard-working but most importantly supportive of each other. If we needed help, directions or a laugh on a steep, slippery hill, a wave on the way past, a honk on the horn to say thanks – it was offered with kindness, without any need to ask.
There are many parts of Scotland that need our support: along the road you see places where you could buy a bit of art, have a meal or spend a weekend in a B&B instead of spending the money on a cheap flight to somewhere abroad.
We met people from Cornwall, Newcastle, Greater Manchester, Ireland, America and Italy, but being Scottish doesn’t mean we can't have a holiday in Scotland, instead of going overseas.
I hope the North Coast 500 route will encourage people to invest a small part of their time in enjoying a bit of their own country, as well as attracting tourists to learn about our heritage.
Scotland is still vastly unspoilt ... it’s waiting for you to find yourself a Maggie and start your own journey of adventure.