North Coast 500 Tour 2020 – Part 5 – Ullapool to Arrochar

And so to the last official day of the tour and the end of our NC500 drive. We set off early (well compared to other mornings) in the pouring rain. Whilst checking our car in the hotel car park we noticed a group of cyclists getting ready for the day. They must have been mad to head out in that wind and rain but fair play to them. As Cheryl said one day, have you ever seen a happy looking cyclist on the road:)

The highlight of the days drive was the road in and out of Applecross. We decided to get there via the coastal road, which was a lot of fun and was where we bumped into our first Heilan Coo (Highland Cow) At that point, our cameraman Phil had jumped into the Mini with Nick and were the first to encounter them. It was all smiles and laughter at first until Nick decided to try and give it a cuddle. Fair to say it didn’t enjoy that and got up and walked off. 

It was a little busy at Applecross when we arrived but we managed to park up OK and stretch our legs. It was then on to the main event, back to the A896 via Bealach Na Ba (Pass of the Cattle). As soon as you drive out of the car park at the Applecross you start climbing, shortly afterwards you get first sight of the road to the summit. 

The road was built in the 1820’s and the engineers based it on how roads were built in the Swiss Alps. Having done many events in the Alps, including the Furka, Stelvio and Great St Bernard passes we were not expecting this road to compare very well. How wrong we were. The road is challenging, being just wide enough for one car adds to the experience and with gradients of up to 20% it challenges you as a driver.

It’s the steepest ascent of any road in the UK and at 626m, it’s also the 3rd highest road. We all made it to the summit OK, Borise did get a little warm and had it been a hot day it might have been a different story!

 

 

With still a lot of miles to cover, we headed south down through Lochcarron to Auchtertyre. At this point we decided on a small detour to visit the Isle of Skye, so we took a right and headed on through Kyle of Lochalsh and over the Skye Bridge. We didn’t have the time to explore Skye (something for another tour maybe) Instead we invaded a community centre car park for some photos of the cars with the bridge in the background.

Continuing south we passed through Invergarry, Fort William and down to Glencoe. It was at this point that one of the funniest moments of the trip happened. We pulled over for a rest stop and a few of the guys headed into the heather to find their golf balls. We were keen to get going again as soon as possible, so after 5 minutes or so and a quick radio check that everyone was ready to leave we pulled away. A few seconds later, Gavin turned to me and said…where’s Phil! Yes, we had driven off and left our cameraman on the side of the mountain!

Fortunately, Andrew and Ged were able to retrieve him and once we’d recovered from laughing we hit the road again.

Where's Phil?

At about 7 pm we arrived at our final stop, our hotel in Arrochar which overlooked Loch Long., a beautiful setting. Over dinner, we talked about how great the last few days away had been and talk about what tours we should do next (stay tuned for more about that)

Finally, I’d like to say a huge thanks to Graham, Chris, Nick, Cheryl, Andrew, Ged, David, James, Gavin…oh and nearly forgot…Phil!

If you fancy the challenge of the NC500 in 2021, get in touch. We have two tours running in the spring and one in early Autumn.

Driving Tours

 

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