Glen of Torridon. Do it. Drive it, cycle it, walk it, run it, whatever your motive force, don’t miss it if you’re passing this way – it’s awesome, especially if you’re lucky enough to see it in afternoon sunshine as you head for Torridon (which itself sadly proved a bit of an anti-climax.) We didn’t stop at the impressive-looking Torridon Hotel or Bar either (as they both looked almost too grand for the likes of us lowly Knumptyers) but instead ploughed on to accidentally discover the highly-agreeable lochside village of Shieldaig, basking with its’ trouser-legs rolled up like a happy retiree in the evening sunshine.
Here we enjoyed an impromptu but bloody wonderful seafood supper (to be reported upon elsewhere) in an amiable and atmospheric bar-restaurant, where they managed to squeeze us in without a booking – and where we subsequently enjoyed lively chat with the locals in the bar – including the bloke who’d hand-dived the scallops we’d just enjoyed.
On our digestive (for which read sobering) post-dinner stroll in the gloaming along the front, we were further entertained to bump into a well-to-do senior couple wandering toward us, each respectively clutching a glass of wine and a full pint of beer. We jokingly challenged them about stealing glasses from pubs, to which they both impishly admitted with juvenile delight.
“It’s almost our bedtime,” they joked “and we’re finishing our nightcaps in the Hotel!” We duly exchanged travellers anecdotes (since their accents singled them out as visitors from well south of the Watford border), during which they beguilingly shared their top travel tip: “Keep a bar in the car-boot, old boy. Put your luggage on the back seat, don’t waste good bar space. Only way to travel!” as they boisterously returned to disrupt the peace and quiet of their residents’ lounge.
After an undisturbed and recuperative overnight parked discreetly at the side of the road, we arose with the seagulls, bought a loaf of bread from Nanny’s Coffee Shop and bade goodbye to both the seal in the bay and the (so-far) unobserved sea-eagles reputed to be nesting on the well-forested island just offshore.
Onwards. With an admission to all you NC500 Knumptyers out there who are all keen to know . . . No, we didn’t go to Applecross. Sorry to disappoint but we had already decided we needed to save some stuff for the next trip, so we can’t report on our white-knuckle, impossibly narrow, heart-stoppingly steep arrival into what seems to have become the launch-location for anyone attempting the North Coast 500 route. Next time, OK?
Instead, we took a short-cut across Skye. In fact, we took a diabolical liberty with the Summer season’s spiritual home of nose-to-tail Knumptydom and just dashed – on a wholly traffic-free road – from the bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh down to board the ferry to Mallaig; with only the barest wait-in-a-very-short-line, all in the same afternoon.
So shocking was this admission when made to an inquisitive couple we met at our subsequent (and overly expensive but necessary) camp-site stop, that we had to endure a good few seconds conversational silence as they absorbed the thought of such an heretical action against their most very favourite island in all of Scotland.
“Knumptytravel.com?” enquired the recovering gentleman, observing the discrete promotional branding stickered to the side of the van. “What’s that then? Is it on YouTube?”
“It’s just our blog” we responded. “You can follow our travels online, if you like.”
“Online?” came the bemused reply. “Oh no, we’ve only got YouTube – we don’t do online.”