As our previous night’s camp was just up the road from Lochinver, the first stop of the day was to visit the Lochinver Larder – a legendary pie shop which has been featured in various BBC radio and TV programmes as well as in numerous magazines. In fact the place is much more than just “a pie shop” being also a restaurant, riverside bistro and coffee shop. The crowning glory of the place however is that you don’t actually have to travel hundreds of miles to sample their wares as you can actually order them by post! Having sampled their lamb and apple pies (two separate ones) we can certainly vouch for the fact that they live up to the hype: absolutely, hands down, without doubt, the best pies we have ever eaten.
From here the journey continued onwards towards Ullapool stopping briefly to admire, well, look at, Ardvreck Castle. As castles go, Ardvreck is a bit of an oddity. Normally, a castle is built either as a fortification to defend the surrounding territory or as a dwelling; a symbol of wealth and power. In both respects poor old Ardvreck falls a bit short. As a fortification it could probably only hold a garrison large enough to defend something the size of a football pitch and in terms of stately piles it’s about as impressive as a garden shed.
On the opposite side of the road however was a slightly more impressive waterfall which made up for Ardvreck’s shortcomings.
As ever, the scenery along the way lived up to – in fact, exceeded – expectations and we could see why people travel hundreds of miles (us included) just to experience driving on such a picturesque route.
The charming seaside town of Ullapool was up next where we lunched on some amazing mackerel pâté from the Seafood Shack, another well-documented foodie haven, before continuing on to our final destination for the day, and campsite for the night at Gairloch.
The route from Ullapool to Gairloch passes alongside the eastern shores of Loch Ewe – famous for the Arctic Convoys of World War 2 and still housing a military presence today with a large warship in dock and two more out on manoeuvres in the loch. An impressive sight, even at a distance. To avoid being inadvertently shot we decided not to hang around and continued onwards to the campsite.
The site we’d chosen was a couple of miles outside of Gairloch near a place called, appropriately, Big Sands. The site itself was simply called “Sands” (well, Sands Caravan & Camping Park actually) and it too lived up to its name sporting a fantastic beach and a mixture of pitches set amongst the dunes. We chose a slightly elevated pitch giving a wonderful view down Loch Gairloch and across The Minch to Skye in the distance. The weather had also picked up tremendously so it was not only sunny but actually WARM for the first time on the trip and necessitated the shorts being woken from hibernation and given the first airing of the season.
Later that evening we took a stroll along the beach and were treated to a most magnificent sunset. Happiness prevailed and we decided the next morning to take a break from driving and stay on at the site for another day which allowed us to just sit back and enjoy the place. One of the unexpected highlights of the site, for Annie at least, was the fantastic laundry, which we utilised to the full! Unfortunately, everyday chores such as washing are still prevalent when touring, so finding such a well equipped laundry, at a very reasonable cost, was a delight. Who says life on the road can become boring? We had industrial tumble-dryers to play with!