Day One of North Coast 500 was not looking very good in terms of weather. It was windy and raining. Say that, it was something we’d prepared for. We were ready to start our North Coast 500 tour whatever the weather lords were going to throw at us this early April. 🙂
Inverness is a pretty little town, worth a wander around and stocking up on some last minute essentials.
We didn’t stop long as we were keen to get out into nature; the kids needed to run around.
We headed out of town on the A9. The bridge takes you out over a sea inlet: to your left is the Beauly Firth and the right is the Moray Firth. Just over the bridge at the first layby is the Black Island tourist information. Later in the season it’s possible to do some dolphin spotting from here. In April it was too early, the dolphins were still out in the North Sea where most of their meal was too.
On the other hand, it was very useful to stop: The lady at the tourist information centre was extremely helpful and helped us tie down some last details of our route, also making some extra suggestions and highlighting things that had changed from previous years’ information.
This is a great place to pick up leaflets, but also buy some Ordinance Survey maps if you plan on exploring the region more by foot.
Next stop was the Strathpeffer, where we visited the Highland Museum of Childhood. This quirky little museum is in an old Victorian railway station. It’s small, yet packed full of old toys, beautiful pictures and stories of how children used to live in the Highlands. We spent an easy hour and a bit here. The exhibits will keep kids and adults interested. For the littlest, or even older ones in our case, there are some toys to play with.
The entrance fee was just £6 for us as a family, well worth it in my opinion.
Outside, in the old railway station there are a couple of little shops. I walked into Embrace, where the shopkeeper was lovely and had such a gorgeous range of trinkets. I do recommend saving a couple of minutes to go in.
A quick cuppa and we were on to our next destination, Rogie Falls, just 14 miles up the road.
Rogie Falls was one of the places recommended by the lovely lady at the Black Island tourist office. I knew I wanted to do one of the walks in the area, afterall the area is well-known for its natural beauty, and she highlighted this as a great little family walk.
We were not disappointed! There is a well-looked after path to the gorgeous waterfall, which can be seen really well from both a lookout point and the suspension bridge. Along the side of the waterfall is a salmon ladder, to ease the migration of salmon to their spurning grounds. Later in the year this is said to be one of the best spots in Scotland to see salmon migrating upriver.
The circular walk was barely 2/3 of a mile (1 km) as measured by our GPS. We spent 50 minutes on the trail, though most of this was stopping, taking in the scenery or reading the information boards. There are lots of interesting things to discuss along the route about salmon and other fauna and flora of the area.
There are some toilets by the car park.
Make sure you don’t miss the beautiful mosaic depicting the area! If you decide not to walk this route, stop to just look at this beautiful piece of art.
The drive onwards gave us hints of what awaited us in the Highland- hills, mountains and lakes. A different view around each bend, deer and lots of sheep.
Next stop was our campsite in Kinlochewe. This is a very functional caravan and motorhome site owned and run by the Caravan Club. The site is mostly laid to gravel, not much to look at, but very practical for the changeable weather. The site accepts non-members. Make sure you arrive before 7pm and book!
The showers and facilities were clean, well-maintained and functional. There is a drying room for your wet gear if you don’t have the space inside your van.
It was good to get here and cook our dinner, get the kids to bed ready for the next day’s shenanigans.
Have you got any further tips for this stretch?