Continuing on our SUP Safari Scotland and the final part of the NC500 we drove out of Achmelvich. Heading south to Ullapool and then on the picturesque route through Gairloch to Loch Maree. Loch Maree has been on my SUP-it List for a while now. Some time back I saw a video of a kayak camping trip there and saw how beautiful it is. What drew me to Loch Maree was the plethora of islands which have remnant ancient Caledonian Forest growing on them. There are five larger islands and over sixty smaller ones. That’s a lot of exploring to do! Some of the islands have their own Lochans or wee lochs on them – endless SUPertunities!!
The islands were really beautiful, some of them have sandy beaches and small protected coves. We were really lucky with the weather. The morning was sunny – until we got our boards inflated… Towards the end of the paddle it got nice and sunny again though as you can see in our video.
Final Leg of the NC500
After a great mornings paddle exploring some of the islands we drove through the spectacular Beinn Eighe which is the UK’s oldest national nature reserves. At just under 48 square kilometres it is also one f the largest. This nature reserve was set up to protect the largest remnant of ancient Scots Pine forests in the western highlands. In the 17th century these gorgeous trees along with oaks were used to fuel iron smelters from which cannons were made. More recently the pines were made into ammunition boxes for the Second World War. Fortunately Scottish Naural Heritage is encouraging the natural reforesting and planting native trees to restore this beautiful vital natural treasure. You may have picked up that I really love Scots pines!!
As we headed further south we decided to travel the circuit into Applecross anti clockwise. This meant that we climbed through the steepest part of the spectacular Bealach na Ba. There is a parking space where you may spend the night right at the top of the pass. It’s a great place to stop for the epic views over to Skye. I really recommend checking it out if you have a self contained camper. There were even a couple of people in tents and sleeping in their cars too. The next day we made our way down to Applecross and continued on the coastal route to Shieldaig.
A side trip not to be missed
While it’s not technically on the North Coast 500 we’d recommend a visit to Plockton. Plockton is a really cute wee town famous for it’s Scottish palm trees – yep Palm Trees!! Due to the Gulf Stream which brings tropical waters to Scotland and a mild climate to the area – Cordiline australis or Cabbage Palms as they are known back in their native home of New Zealand, can be found happily growing in the sea facing gardens on Loch Carron. This gives the town a more tropical vibe that would be at home back in Australia.
We had a ferry to catch and needed to get going. We quickly added Plockton to our SUP-it list and headed for the Isle of Skye. From there we were due to catch the ferry to the Outer Hebrides.
Keep tuned for next weeks post when we explore the Isle of Harris with a spectacular SUP. We take a trip out to the remote islands of St Kilda. Thanks for coming along on SUP Chicks SUP Safari Scotland.
If you missed part one of our SUP Safari Scotland to the Isle of Arran you can read about it here.
See you then