Day 18 – Strathy East, Tongue & Durness

The night had been very peaceful save for a short, sharp shower for a time that woke us all up. The dogs have taken to snuggling really close to me and I am forever waking up temporarily to extricate myself from an uncomfortable position. To be fair the dogs have been really well behaved so far considering they are used to two good walks a day off the lead, yet it wasn’t until yesterday that they had a good run on the beach. They rarely disturb me at night so I can’t complain.

Today we are heading for Durness and the winding road so far encountered looks set to be repeated all the way to our destination with some interesting bends to come. Rosie decided to wake us up early so we decided to do some of the journey before having breakfast. We quickly sorted the dogs and the van and were on the road by 8.30. As usual I would drive for about an hour before stopping for a break.

This time our stop brought us to the beautiful causeway across the river at Tongue near Castle Varrich. I was expecting a few more houses and shops in Tongue but was disappointed to find only a small Spar shop that was not accessible to the motorhome, which is why we pushed on a little further and parked up at a lovely picnic area right on the shore. We pitched up for breakfast and I took the dogs out for walks on the beach whilst Irene got the kettle on. It is a stunning location and very enjoyable to sit having breakfast with such a lovely view.

The occasional car and campervan pulled into the picnic area but they didn’t stay very long. Then we heard the most familiar of sounds! Was this an Ice Cream van we heard pull into the Car Park with his musical tones ringing? NO! It was a fresh fish and shellfish salesman who had spied us in passing and taken a gamble that we would buy something. As we love fish & seafood, Irene went out to see what he had and she came back all smiles with a pair of kippers for herself (or me if I fancied one) and a fresh dressed crab. The crab would be for lunch with a nice bit of salad!

After we had had breakfast I again took the dogs for a short walk and we settled down for a doze before continuing on the next part of the journey.

When we set off to our destination, Durness, according to Google Maps was about 28 miles away and should take us about 58 minutes. What it didn’t take into account was that 70% of the route was a single track road with passing places, so our progress along this road averaged about 30mph. Believe it or not we came across one motorhome travelling in the opposite direction and a few cars but no traffic of any description. We did come across some Council Highways chaps repairing the road and they even had to do a bit of ‘Stop/Go’ing’ too.

The road around Loch Eriboll was very interesting and very winding but in compensation the views were stunning. We had quite a few long ascents and appropriate descents and, although some of them I had to change into third gear and sometimes second, Bessie didn’t miss a beat and the engine temperature didn’t move from its normal driving temperature.

We arrived in Durness around noon and made straight for the Balnakeil Craft Village and Cocoa Mountain. This was one of the stops recommended to us by June at the B&B by the port in Wick, and we were not disappointed. The two steaming large mugs of hot chocolate with cream and other gooey confections dribbling down the sides was delicious, and justified their claim to provide the best Hot Chocolate in the World! After this we thought we would have a look around the craft village but we were too early in the season as the other craft shops do not open until April. Oh well, a good excuse to come back!

We left the craft village after that and went up to the main car park just off the bend of the A838. The signs clearly stated ‘No Overnight Caravans or Campervans’ se we decided we would park up for an hour or two to have some lunch and another rest. Before we left Irene popped into the local Spar and came back with a couple of goodies. She said the shop was full of every conceivable foodstuff and ‘things’ you could need whilst on your travels. Even the fuel stop opposite was available 24 hours!!

About 5 minutes drive down the coast road we pulled into another picnic area by the Kyle of Durness, where we will stay the night. It’s yet another very picturesque stop and the dogs certainly enjoyed their walk along the beach and back. It is now 6.10pm, the sun has disappeared behind the peaks, the light is fading and it will soon be dark. Yet again we are in a place with no mobile phone signal, so no chance of internet access. I might try the television tonight but I don’t hold out much hope for that either! I will have to update the blog when we next have a strong phone signal. ( and here it is in Ullapool on Friday)

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