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911Time
Monza


Joined: 25 Sep 2018
Posts: 183
Location: Staffordshire


PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:22 pm    Post subject: Highland Road Trip and Part of the NC500 Reply with quote

Hi guys, wanted to share some photos (a lot) & details (a lot) of our holiday in Scotland, including our route and accommodation, in case anyone else is interested in planning such a trip.

The Epic Tale of Our Epic Highland Fling
Grab a cuppa, a comfortable seat and read on - this could take a while...

Note: The route below is not the NC500 but my own and includes just a part of the Western half of the NC500 but the roads are stunning and unlike some parts of the official route, you won't be gritting your teeth trying to pass mobile homes on tiny single track roads Wink

In the good old days, I used to travel up to Scotland regularly on business and I fell in love with the Highlands but since falling ill, I haven't been up there in over a decade; so I was quite worried how much pain I might be in when we finally arrived. As a result, making such a journey is far more of an undertaking for me, than it would be for someone who's fit and healthy.

We planned to break up our journey North, with lots of stops and booked a self-catering place by Loch Tay (an area I'm quite familiar with), finding a beautiful apartment at Fearnan, with views over the Loch, to use as our base.



The weather leading up to our holiday was rubbish, with very heavy rain forecast for the Friday we were due to travel - so instead, we decided to postpone our departure and leave early on the Saturday morning.

Packing all our gear into the car was far less of a problem than I'd imagined and I was staggered how much you can actually fit into a 991. My other half never travels light (bless her) but the car swallowed two suitcases, shoes, jackets and odds'n'ends in the front, plus two backpacks and a tripod on the rear shelf and our first week's shopping (which we bought at Tesco Perth on the way up) sat on the folded rear seats for the last 50 miles - amazing!!

The first leg of our journey took us from home to Fearnan - some 350 miles/c6 hours but we needed plenty of stops, not due to the car, (which was extremely comfortable) but for me to stretch my legs/back and move around, so it took us more like 8 hours in total. Taking the M6 up to the A74 at Gretna - where we took a brief diversion, to Longtown and North up part of the A7, where there's a 'Welcome to Scotland' sign on the border and a lay-by you can pull into for a photo op. Grid Ref: 55.049516, -2.960519



From there we headed back to the A74/M74 towards Glasgow, stopping at Cairn Lodge services for a meal (similar to the services at Tebay and so much nicer than Abington services, which are very poor), M73/M80 towards Stirling and M80/A9 to Perth (where we stopped at Tesco to fill up and buy our first week's shopping). The Tesco petrol was a much better price than the rip-off motorway prices and only a few mins off the A9. Grid Ref: 56.407645, -3.480646

From there, we headed North on the A9 to Logierait and off on the A827 towards Aberfeldy, the lovely village of Kenmore and finally our place at Fearnan - where we stayed for the next few days, giving me chance to rest up for the next leg of our journey.



The village of Kenmore was local for minor provisions, although the Post Office and Spa shop are on the small side.



The following Tuesday, we returned to the A9 (passing Dewars distillery at Aberfeldy) and briefly dropped in to Pitlochry, to look at Fonab Castle Hotel, for another occasion - very nice!!



Then, passing by the distillery at Blair Atholl, we drove North on the A9 to Dalwhinnie, where we stopped for a rest break Wink oh and to pick up a couple of bottles of 15 year old single malt. Thumb





We returned to the A9 North, stopping at the Ralia Cafe (Grid Ref: 57.042926, -4.148303), for a coffee and comfort break before returning to the A9, up to Kingussie where we branched off onto the B9152 towards Aviemore. The B9152 runs alongside the A9 but it's a much more pleasant drive and runs past Loch Insh and Loch Alvie, before coming into Aviemore, where we stopped for lunch.

After 'refuelling' and having another rest, we returned to the A9 and drove up to Inverness, for our overnight stop - staying at Lochardil House, a very pleasant 4 star hotel, with comfortable rooms, wonderful food, excellent service and a decent car-park in which to safely leave the car.



The next day, after tanking up at Tesco Inverness, we returned to the A9, over Kessock Bridge and the Beauty Firth, before branching onto the A835 towards Ullapool - stopping at Rogie Falls and Black Water Falls for photos.

After Inchbae Lodge and Loch Glascarnoch reservoir, the scenery and road become better and better. If it's quiet, you can make good progress but if there are too many mobile homes, then it can be extremely frustrating and requires considerable restraint. Nevertheless, there are times when restraint is the only way, after all it would be a travesty if these roads ended up with fixed average speed cameras (like the Cat & Fiddle) - spoiling it for everyone!! Sorry, rant over Embarassed

Time to cue up Pink Floyd - Crazy Diamond



Anyway, from there we continued to Ullapool, where we stopped for lunch - there's a large car-park in Latheron Road, by the Tesco store and plenty of places to eat. There's also a petrol station, which are few and far between in the Highlands, so best to fuel up if needed.

The road out of Ullapool is beautiful - especially heading down towards the small village at Ardmair, with the mountains in the distance and the sea to your left. At times the road is enclosed by cut throughs and at others it's open and you can see it snake off into the distance but at all times the scenery is breath-taking. If the weather's dry and bright, there are few places better. Time to pop on Dire Straits and the theme to Local Hero.

You stay on the A835, all the way to Ledmore Junction, where you turn left onto the A837. The skies are wide and there's a grandeur to the landscape. Traffic becomes less and outside of the main holiday season, you begin to get an idea of just how isolated it is up here. Popping to the shops isn't a five minute journey!

We stopped briefly at Loch Assynt, for pictures of the ruined Ardvreck Castle before turning right onto the A894 for Unapool and Kylesku. Typically for the Highlands, the weather changed every few minutes, from bright sunshine, to dark brooding clouds, threatening a downpour at any moment.



The road, which rises from Loch Assynt is beautiful, as it twists and turns through the mountains - laid out like a ribbon on the landscape, snaking left and right, before beginning its descent, around a hairpin and on towards Unapool and Kylesku.

The car handled beautifully and with the windows wound down (apologies to my other half), the sound of the sports exhaust filled my ears and I soon had a grin as wide as a cheshire cat Very Happy

That evening we were booked at the Newton Lodge B&B, which is just up the road from Unapool. There are only two places to stay in the area, Kylesku Hotel and Newton Lodge - the former was fully booked but we were very happy with Newton Lodge, which was a perfect base, with friendly hosts, breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and a conservatory which looks out over Loch Gleann Dubh.







Ed and Lisa, who run the B&B, had kindly reserved a table for us, at the Kylesku Hotel restaurant (just 2 miles North). The views around the hotel are impressive and despite it raining off and on, I couldn't resist a photo of the car before we headed to the restaurant, where we enjoyed some wonderful locally caught seafood.



Thankfully, my other half is very understanding of my passion for cars and photography, so after we'd eaten we travelled up the road towards Scourie for some more photos and then, with the sun setting, back to a small side road, the B869 where I could get some pics of the car with Loch Unapool in the background.









The following morning, we drove over the picturesque Kylesku Bridge on the A894 and North to Scourie and Laxford Bridge, where we had decided to turn around and retrace our route. The NC500 continues North along the A838 towards Durness but after Rhiconich the road turns to single track in places and (thanks to Google's orange man) I'd already decided it wasn't a road I wanted to travel.

Instead, we returned to Kylesku Bridge and Unapool for some more photos, before heading for the mountain road back towards Loch Assynt. The route was quiet for much of the time and I enjoyed a number of passes up and down the twisting tarmac, to the tune of 3.8 litres of N/A flat six, echoing around the mountains.





That evening, we returned to Lochardil House in Inverness, with our cameras full of pictures and our heads filled with memories. I was shattered but thankful to finally have had the opportunity to enjoy such a capable Porsche, on such stunning roads.

Having slept like a log (for a change), the next morning I was quite surprised at how little I ached. We ate a hearty Full Scottish, left Inverness and headed South West on the A82, past Loch Ness (pausing for a few pics), before continuing to Fort Augustus - where we stopped for lunch.

The Caledonian Canal comes through Fort Augustus, quite literally splitting the village in two. The canal is an engineering marvel really and the bank of canal locks are definitely worth a look.

From there, we continued on the A82 South West, past Loch Oich and Loch Lochy - where we stopped again for a walk and a photo. The weather was dry and bright for the most part but there was a chill wind and the clouds sat low on the mountain tops.



Back on the road, we carried on through Spean Bridge and Fort William, over the bridge at Ballachulish (which spans the narrow straight at Loch Linnhe and Loch Leven) and onward towards Glen Coe.

I've travelled this road before but despite the passage of years, the scenery was just as stunning as I remembered and the ever changing light playing on the mountains, made the perfect backdrop for a few more pictures.





And after a while, the ever-changing weather conspired to give us a wonderful light show, with the sun's rays cutting swathes through the clouds.



Finally, with time ebbing away, we left Glen Coe and returned to our 'homeward' journey, back to the apartment at Fearnan.







With night falling we pressed on, Dire Straits - Telegraph Road on the stereo and the A82 laid out before us. Along through Tyndrum and Crianlarich, pausing for fuel at The Green Welly Stop, before turning off onto the A85 towards Mid Lix, turning left on the A827 to Killin, over the narrow Falls of Dochart bridge (a wonderful place in the daytime, to get some photos on the rocky outcrop near the waterfalls) and finally back to our base at Fearnan, for a well earned rest.

I spent much of the next few days popping pills and falling asleep but driving a 911 along those fabulous roads and sharing the whole experience with my other half, was worth all the aches, pains and fatigue.

In two weeks, the car covered just over 2,000 miles and returned an amazing 39.4mpg avg on the motorway and just over 17mpg on my run over the mountains from Kylesku to Loch Assynt Very Happy

Now I'm off to pop a few more pills and head to bed - hope you enjoyed the epic tale Smile
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I'm not a perfectionist - I just want everything done 'Right' Wink

Current: GT Silver 991.1 C4S with a few 'special bits'. Previous: C63 Estate, BMW e92 330d Coupe (700Nm/Custom Exh/Map/BBK/Quaife/Breytons), ML63AMG, Alpina e46 B3S Coupe, Alpina e36 B3 Coupe, Lotus Excel SE, Alfasud Green Cloverleaf Ti, Lancia HPE, Capri 2.0S, Marina 1.8 (don't laugh it was my first road car) plus boring company cars. Bikes: Suzuki TL1000R and BMW R1100S AC Schnitzer.

Last edited by 911Time on Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:24 pm; edited 6 times in total
 
  
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Gazc2
Watkins Glen


Joined: 08 Nov 2003
Posts: 2020
Location: Perthshire


PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent write up Mark Thumb Fonab Castle used to be the hydro-electric control room before it was converted into a hotel which I used to frequent through work slightly different now,
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911Time
Monza


Joined: 25 Sep 2018
Posts: 183
Location: Staffordshire


PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gazc2 wrote:
Excellent write up Mark Thumb Fonab Castle used to be the hydro-electric control room before it was converted into a hotel which I used to frequent through work slightly different now,


Thanks Gaz! I didn't realise that - we were very impressed by Fonab Castle hotel and the modern scandinavian style extension and apartments in the grounds looked very nice.
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Mark


I'm not a perfectionist - I just want everything done 'Right' Wink

Current: GT Silver 991.1 C4S with a few 'special bits'. Previous: C63 Estate, BMW e92 330d Coupe (700Nm/Custom Exh/Map/BBK/Quaife/Breytons), ML63AMG, Alpina e46 B3S Coupe, Alpina e36 B3 Coupe, Lotus Excel SE, Alfasud Green Cloverleaf Ti, Lancia HPE, Capri 2.0S, Marina 1.8 (don't laugh it was my first road car) plus boring company cars. Bikes: Suzuki TL1000R and BMW R1100S AC Schnitzer.
 
  
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infrasilver
Fast & Furious
Fast & Furious


Joined: 04 Oct 2010
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2001 Porsche 996 Targa

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks or posting your trip up, some stunning pictures you have there, helped by the scenery and of course a 911 in them. Thumb
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T8
General
General


Joined: 29 Jun 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Massive thumbsup and thanks for posting such a detailed account of your trip and for the fabulous photos.

I really must do a Highland Fling sometime. Thumb
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sc650
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Joined: 24 Jul 2018
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An excellent and informative write up thumbsup
Many thanks
Steve
 
  
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911Time
Monza


Joined: 25 Sep 2018
Posts: 183
Location: Staffordshire


PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your kind words Thumb

To anyone who hasn't been, I'd say don't go - leave it deserted, just for me Very Happy

Seriously tho', you certainly won't regret it. The scenery and roads are spectacular, the locals are friendly (mostly) and they even speak the same language....unfortunately not the same one as us Sassenachs but there you go Wink
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Mark


I'm not a perfectionist - I just want everything done 'Right' Wink

Current: GT Silver 991.1 C4S with a few 'special bits'. Previous: C63 Estate, BMW e92 330d Coupe (700Nm/Custom Exh/Map/BBK/Quaife/Breytons), ML63AMG, Alpina e46 B3S Coupe, Alpina e36 B3 Coupe, Lotus Excel SE, Alfasud Green Cloverleaf Ti, Lancia HPE, Capri 2.0S, Marina 1.8 (don't laugh it was my first road car) plus boring company cars. Bikes: Suzuki TL1000R and BMW R1100S AC Schnitzer.
 
  
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coullstar
Albert Park


Joined: 15 Sep 2015
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always love hearing people describing these trips as Ive done it many times and everytime its still blows me away how amazing the scenery and roads are.
This time of year is brilliant, leaves are turning on the tree's and you get so many different lights during the day plus most of the caravan and campervans have gone for the year.

I favourite of mine is from Ullapool round past Gairloch then Kinlochewe and back along the Achansheen road or up and over to Kyle of Lochlasch road then back along Clunie and then Invergarry. Makes me just want to go now!!!

Car looks great by the way.
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Luddite
Nürburgring


Joined: 18 Dec 2018
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing your trip in such detail Mark, I really enjoyed your pics too. The last time I was up Ullapool way was before the road took on it`s new identity as the NC 500, so camper vans were no problem.. (-: I even managed to scramble up Stac Polly (incorrect spelling for correct pronunciation) which I suspect I could not manage now.. shrug! Happy memories indeed revived reading your post.. THANKS.
 
  
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easternjets
Watkins Glen


Joined: 29 Apr 2016
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent write up and really good photo's. I lived in that area for 20 yrs and did those roads on bikes and in cars, they are all brilliant and when you get to know them they just get better.
The Inverness to Fort Augustus road is epic at night or early in the morning with little or no traffic thumbsup
Just shows you don't need to follow the crowd and do the actual NC500, turn off onto other roads and as you've seen your never disappointed.
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ch3tman
Imola


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sc650 wrote:
An excellent and informative write up thumbsup
Many thanks
Steve

+1 thanks for such an informative write up.
NC500 has been on the list for a while and your post will most definitely come in handy when planning it.

Nice car Cool ; great pics! thumbsup
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Brucey1
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent write up , some great pictures, beautiful car !
 
  
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pzero
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great thread OP thumbsup

Reminds me of my own road trips in the NW of Scotland.
Worth visiting, and not far from the major marquee roads is the charming village of Plockton. Sheltered inlet, eye catching backdrop.

Thanks for posting.
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Y2K
Montreal


Joined: 08 Mar 2016
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Were you at the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge on Monday 23rd Sept? There was a 991 there similar to yours when we stopped by.

Great write up and pictures Thumb
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911Time
Monza


Joined: 25 Sep 2018
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Location: Staffordshire


PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all for your kind words - much appreciated!!

For those who are familiar with the area, it's great to hear of your experiences and I'm glad it's helped to revive some of your own memories - for those who are yet to make the journey, you have to, it's wonderful and definitely worth the drive North.

Mrs PDK and I will be reminiscing about it for quite while yet.

Y2K - No mate it wasn't me at the Commando Memorial, we were back home by then. Hope you had a good trip!?
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I'm not a perfectionist - I just want everything done 'Right' Wink

Current: GT Silver 991.1 C4S with a few 'special bits'. Previous: C63 Estate, BMW e92 330d Coupe (700Nm/Custom Exh/Map/BBK/Quaife/Breytons), ML63AMG, Alpina e46 B3S Coupe, Alpina e36 B3 Coupe, Lotus Excel SE, Alfasud Green Cloverleaf Ti, Lancia HPE, Capri 2.0S, Marina 1.8 (don't laugh it was my first road car) plus boring company cars. Bikes: Suzuki TL1000R and BMW R1100S AC Schnitzer.
 
  
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me&my997
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Enjoyed reading that with my coffee & toast , the GT silver 991 looks great in the Scottish scenery Thumb
Done many similar trips & always use Aberfeldy / Tay to overnight as the start /end . Can recommend this place to anyone considering a trip north of the border & looking for great food / rooms on the side of the river Tay
http://theinnonthetay.co.uk/
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997 Coast
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2019 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A most enjoyable and informative post.
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C4Silver
Monza


Joined: 14 Aug 2019
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank You for posting your Journey and i will never tire of looking at pics of your car,

I am soon picking up a car from Aberdeen and plan on driving back down some real driving roads, Wouldn't mind General Wade's Military road, Brother lives in Duffton so will prrob head across there to see him, head back from there.
 
  
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Gorsh
Silverstone


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2019 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Mark for a wonderful account of your holiday and lots of great photos! Great reading and very informative.

I too love the Highlands and we were based near Beauly and included a day out in the area North of Ullapool last June in my Boxster GTS, lovely driving roof down with temp in the high 20's, we were very lucky with the weather.

Hope you are well enough to do many more trips in the coming years!
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Counter Of Beans
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Joined: 10 May 2018
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for taking the time to post all that; it's great to have the detail, and some wonderful photos too.

Question: what time of year is best to go, in order to avoid the tourist hordes but also avoid the clouds of midges? I was thinking perhaps early May?
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