SCOTLAND ROAD TRIP / AUTUMN/WINTER 2016 / ISSUE FIVE / NOTES MAGAZINE
Navigating the Highlands in a thoroughbred soft-top really is a driver’s dream holiday. Caroline Lee shares her enjoyment of the Scottish Highlands in a Porsche 911
Photos courtesy of ©Mark Lee
I could drive 500 miles…
…and I could drive 500 more
After the amazing road trip we experienced in the Swiss Alps last summer (see Notes Issue 4), with perfect blue skies and wall-to-wall sunshine, I started to plan this summer’s trip with some trepidation. We wanted to try the new NC500 Road Trip - Scotland’s answer to Route 66 - but would it live up to expectations? We had heard many wonderful stories about the fantastic scenery in the Scottish Highlands - but what about the weather?
Well we weren’t blessed with sunshine every day, but driving on the near deserted single track roads through spectacular landscape was absolutely stunning. With the top down it really was exhilarating - and if it’s only drizzling as long as you keep up a certain speed you don’t get wet! Voted as the best drive ever by my husband, this is certainly one road trip not to be missed.
We met our fellow travellers, two other couples also in sports cars, just over the border in Gretna Green and with a step back in time and a nod to Elvis over lunch (you need to visit to understand this) we weren’t quite sure what to expect next! But once past Glasgow on the banks of Loch Lomond the drive really began and the landscape opened up before us.
In addition to the stunning scenery and fantastic driving this trip was also a food lover’s dream! Fortunately I had lost a few pounds before we set off so I was able to indulge in the delicious Scottish fare and only had a couple of extra pounds to shed on our return! The meals were excellent everywhere we went, but two experiences deserve a special mention.
The first is The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye, where we arrived for lunch after an exhilarating drive and ferry crossing on a dour, grey, wet, moody day! How such a stylish world-renowned restaurant with rooms thrives in such a remote location is remarkable. But this is certainly a destination restaurant worth making the trip for on its own and our only disappointment was that we hadn’t booked to stay overnight.
The second was Glenmorangie House, home of the eponymous whiskey. ‘Glenmorangie’ is Gaelic for ‘The Glen of Tranquility’ – not so much a place as a feeling, and one that certainly lifted our spirits on another rainy day! We couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome as we were met with umbrellas and entertained with wonderful stories about the house whilst we enjoyed drinks before a fabulous lunch prepared just for us! Visiting the Highland Home of this famous whiskey (now owned by Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton) was certainly a special experience together with the complimentary tour of the distillery, just a few miles away.
All very educational too – always a plus for an ex-teacher!
We couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome as we were met with umbrellas and entertained with wonderful stories about the house whilst we enjoyed drinks before a fabulous lunch prepared just for us!
A visit to the Castle of Mey (the former holiday home of the late Queen Mother and the most northerly castle on the British mainland) was another of my trip highlights. The tour of the Castle gave a fascinating insight into customs of the royal family. I especially loved the fact that amongst all the priceless antiques there were many items of ordinary ‘tourist tat’ brought as gifts for the Queen Mother by her guests!
The coastal drive around the tip of the country was spectacular - remote and awe-inspiring in its rugged beauty, enhanced by a wonderful stay at the stylish Mackay’s B&B in Durness. A visit to Smoo Caves and the Lott Glob Gallery should not be missed whilst in Durness - the experiences were both unique. Colin has been in the Caves for 28 years and Lotte’s Gallery on Loch Eriboll is amongst 14 acres of rough croft land.
Ulapool, Loch Torridon and Applecross were all idyllic places to visit and I was only disappointed that we hadn’t allowed longer to enjoy the peace and tranquility of these beautiful places. It was also a shame that we didn’t arrive at Torridon in time to indulge in a little sea kayaking. An extra night here would have been well worthwhile.
As a passenger, I was really able to appreciate the magnificence of the landscape without having to concentrate on the road – it was genuinely stunning. In fact rereading this piece I realise I almost ran out of superlatives.
And when the sun did grace us with its presence now and again I can honestly say it was just as spectacular as the Alps.
But go now before the NC500 really takes off and it gets too busy!
For more info and a look at our itinerary please visit
An Ceann Mor - one of the viewpoints on Loch Lomond where young architects have created uniquely designed artworks as part of the Scottish Scenic Routes Competition
Recipe for Glenmorangie
Original Long Zest
Whiskey tumbler, Ice
1-2 dashes Angostura Bitter
1 teaspoon brown sugar syrup (if desired)
(To make at home - heat equal amounts of water and Demerara sugar)
50ml Glenmorangie Original or Nectar d’Or
Top up with 75ml of Ginger Ale
Zest of Orange
(gently heat outside of skin over a gas lighter flame holding over the glass – take care then squeeze into the drink)