Scottish Highlands: the 12 best ways to explore – Part Two

Durness Beach
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Part two of our exploration of the Scottish Highlands

  1. Drive the A87 and B roads around the top east side of The Isle of Skye

This was one of my favourite drives of the whole trip. The scenery was absolutely majestic – although of course it was constantly changing with the weather! Depending on the weather your first stop can be Quiraing – a very scenic rock formation. There is a walk to the prison but the weather was not on my side so we didn’t risk it. The Old Man of Storr is also great for photos and nearby.

12 best things to do in the Scottish Highlands
The Old Man of Storr

Driving along the coast you’ll then hit the stunning and windy Tartan Rock – so named as it does resemble a tartan print. Then head inland to the picturesque Fairy Glen. Movies have been filmed here and it does have a genuinely magical feel – and a lot of sheep!

Scottish Highlands 12 Best things to do
Tartan Rock
  1. Go back in time at Ullapool

I would not have been surprised to see a calendar in Ullapool set to 1958. It really did feel like going back in time. It’s a small sea side town – really just one street of shops, bars and a petrol station. We used this as a base for two nights and then drove south and explored.

Scottish Highlands 12 Best things to do
Ullapool
  1. Stay at some uniquely Scottish Hotels & B&Bs

I stayed at such a mix of accommodation across the Scottish Highlands on this trip!!! From the very plush to the rather basic B&B. Options were somewhat limited! There are quite a few full on 5 star options but they are very expensive (circa 3-400 pounds a night) so not really for solo or travelling with your girlfriends. Anyway it is all part of the experience to discover new and interesting places!

My first stop was Fort William. Night one I stayed at the lovely Grange guest house b&B. My hostess was charming and the service impeccable. My room was lovely – large and plus with a stunning bathroom. This so felt like home! My lovely hostess had a delicious Scottish breakfast waiting for me in the morning and even packed a sausage sandwich for me to take on my climb on Ben Nevis!

Next up was the Lime Tree also in Fort William. This was a very different type of hotel to the Grange – it has an art gallery and is much more modern with a lot of wood – almost scandanavian in feel. It was lovely. I had delicious room service here the first night and the breakfast was fab!

Then it was off to the Isle of Skye and Portree to stay at The Cuilin Hills Hotel. This hotel was much bigger than I expected – I think it is well set up for bus tours. But my room was lovely and I ate well there both nights.

Next up was Ullapool and the rather unique Ceilidh Place. This was like staying in someone’s large home. The rooms are a bit old but very comfy and there is a big lovely lounge on the top floor. The restaurant here was also excellent.

Scottish Highlands 12 Best things to do
Mr seal on a boat trip near Ullapool

We then headed to our most unique B&B – Glengolly in Durness. I was enticed by the fact that the owner is a crofter and anticipated lots of friendly dogs – there were a few but not as many as I expected. This was shall we say a rather old fashioned B&B. There are not a lot of places in this area and to be honest if it is only one night well as long as it’s clean etc. Opt out of the whiskey porridge in the morning if you’re the driver.

Thurso and Pennyland House B&B was a highlight of the trip – the hosts Carol and Raymond are so so lovely and it is a gorgeous and modern B&B. Final stop was Inverness and The Heathmount Hotel. This is also a pub which was a huge plus for us as we didn’t have to go anywhere when we got there.

Scottish Highlands 12 Best things to do
John O’Groats signpost
  1. Visit the beach at Durness

The Scottish Highlands have some stunning beaches. It is difficult to imagine that it would ever be warm enough to wear bathers and actually swim in those beaches but they are very scenic! I discovered the beach at Durness when I took a stroll from our B&B. It is literally called Durness Beach which makes it easy. There is a very picturesque dilapidated church just before you hit the beach. And then just walk and walk along the beach and into the dunes. I went at sunset and this was a fantastic time for photos.

Scottish Highlands 12 Best things to do
Durness Beach
  1. Eat seafood

There is a lot of delicious seafood to be had as you travel the Scottish Highlands. First night in Fort William my hostess recommended the Crannog seafood restaurant which sits on the Loch. The food was outstanding – I started with a seafood soup and then moved on to some freshly caught white fish.

scottish highlands 12 Best things to do
Oysters at Loch Fyne

Fish and chips was a common meal type on this trip – best enjoyed in Ullapool on the water and then at well pretty much the only spot to eat in Durness – the Sango Sands. The Ceildih Place in Ullapool has a fantastic seafood menu – head there for dinner even if you are not staying the night.

And make sure you head for dinner quite early as during the trip it appeared that the Scottish Highlands shut down by 930pm in the month of April!

  1. Don’t miss the top of the UK

So I thought that the top of the UK was John O’Groats – turns out it depends on how you define top. The most northernly part of mainland Britain (very specific) is actually Dunnet Head. So obviously that needed to be visited. However to be complete we also felt we needed to head to John O’Groats as well. They’re conveniently close together but there is a lot more going on at John O’Groats.

scottish highlands 12 Best things to do
Windy times at Dunnet Head

I’ve travelled a lot and I have to say the Scottish Highlands is one of the most stunning places I have ever visited. And the strangest thing is how often I was the only person around – it feels like there are places here that should be teaming with tourists. We can thank the Scottish weather for that! Don’t let the weather put you off though because it will change within the hour!

Check out Part One of the Best things to do in the Scottish Highlands Here

And read about my Climb of Ben Nevis Here

And check out all of my Scotland Posts Here


Also published on Medium.

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