North Coast 500 – part #1- Inverness to Brora

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North Coast 500 is the UK’s answer to Route 66 and I am proud to say that we have covered every mile of it – with one exception. More of which later. If you decide to make this journey, you will find these two books and map invaluable. The books make great armchair reading when you’re planning your route and Charles Tait knows his subject well.

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These boots are made for walking ……

Our adventure started in Jamie’s Italian, Edinburgh where we met up with four friends to celebrate my husband Dave’s 66th birthday. Who could fail to fall in love with Auld Reekie? Although we have visited many times, it never fails to enchant and amaze.

 

 

To get ourselves into the mood, we toured the city via open-top bus and, on a separate day, visited the Jacobite exhibition at the National Museum. IMG_5970 (Edited)There we saw (shudder) the chopping block where Lord Lovat met his end on Tower Hill. That sent us on another quest, to track down the mausoleum where, allegedly, his remains were laid to rest by his family. As luck would have it, Dan Snow, the TV historian was also on Lord Lovat’s trail; here’s a wee snippet of the programme he will eventually produce. In the fictional Outlander series on TV, Lord Lovat is the hero Jamie Fraser’s grandfather.

While in Edinburgh, I met up with Nick Fiddes, owner of Clan.com. Nick, and his co-director Adele, allow me to use photographs from this site for the front cover of my books. IMG_5306[1]My published novels

Leaving Edinburgh we crossed the newly opened Queensferry Crossing and I managed to get a shot of all three bridges. Not easy from a moving camper van!

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Then we were on our way to Inverness with a stopover at Blair Atholl, where a piper IMG_5362.TRIM.MOV[2](video link) greeted us on the steps of the castle, a fitting start to our tour of the highlands.  The Duke lives in South Africa, but Dave  stood in for him on this occasion.

Unable to resist some retail therapy I spend some time at the nearby House of Bruar . The heroine of Girl in the Castle is Dr Henriette Bruar, so a pilgrimage made sense. Well, that’s my excuse, anyhoo.

At Inverness we camped at the Caravan and Motorhome’s site at Culloden. We’d visited the battlefield on two previous occasions and decided to give it a miss this time. If you’ve never visited the site, make a detour and take your tissues with you, it’s an incredibly atmospheric place, haunted by ghosts. If you’re a fan of Outlander, it’s a must. I had my fingers crossed that Outlander #3 was downloading onto Amazon Prime in our absence.

 

 

This time, we satisfied ourselves with a photograph of the Prisoners’ Stone as our objective was Chanonry Point on the Black Isle (photo below with rainbow) to watch  the dolphins chasing salmon up the Moray Firth when the tide turns.  You can just see the dorsal fin of a dolphin in the photo on the right. I don’t know why, but seeing dolphins in the wild – not jumping through hoops as part of a show, affected me almost as much as visiting Culloden.  Anyone would think I was a writer for goodness sake.

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click here to see my Youtube video of dolphins in the Moray Firth

 

Check out this website for when to see the dolphins, They can also be spotted across the firth at Fort George – well worth a visit on its own account, as is Inverness which has great shops, museums and cafes.

We planned to spend all of September touring Scotland and although we were hardly ‘roughing it’, standards had to be maintained at all times (cough cough). I started off trying to dry our clothes in the caravan, then bought a portable washing line. 

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More importantly. I also brought a variety of outdoor wear with us to cope with changes in the weather . . . including boots, gloves, long mac (previously used for playground duty!) and sunglasses – it didn’t rain all of the time.

 

 

Turning our backs on Inverness we headed for Brora and the north east of Scotland.

You can read all about that in #2 of my Coast Road 500.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post, check out my Scottish-themed novels 

Blogger and author Sharon Booth has written a moving and comprehensive review of Girl in the Castle which totally captures the mood of the novel. Thanks, Sharon. 💟

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About Lizzie Lamb

I write contemporary women's fiction mostly based in Scotland with hot heroes, feisty heroines and always a happy ending. Along with three other authors - Adrienne Vaughan, June Kearns and Margaret Cullingford - I formed the New Romantics Press under which all our books are published.

Posted on November 4, 2017, in Lizzie's Scribbles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Route 500 is on my to-do list. Looking forward to the next stage in the journey 🙂

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  2. Lizzie, if you should ever get tired of writing novels (ha-ha) you would make an excellent travel-guides’ writer! Thanks to you, this is my second visit to Scotland and I can just picture me there with your detailed and lively descriptions! So sad I had to give Edimburgh a miss, it would have been fantastic to meet you all there.
    Great photos and videos, too.
    I’m reading Sharon Booth’s latest Christmas book at the moment (Bramblewick Book 2) which has an equally charming Scottish character, while I am waiting for your number 5!

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    • Isabella, we will certainly do a return visit to Edinburgh and the next time you will be with us. That’s a promise. Sharon is a great writer and supporter and I am lucky to count her as a friend.

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  3. Love this, Lizzie! Fabulous post. The words and pictures sum up your love of the country. It shines through all your books, too.
    Roll on number 5!
    (The personal ones remind me of the story of you at five years old being hoiked off centre stage by the Salvation Army! I still see that same attitude.)

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  4. A good review here. My wife and I have also travelled part of the NC500 but, unfortunately, it is beginning to be spoiled by rich yahoos using high-powered sports cars to race along the route (this is, apparently, the latest in-thing amongst the idle rich) which can make travelling the route an interesting experience at times! We have also visited the House of Bruar many times and seen the dolphins in the Moray Firth. Of all of Scotland’s cities I think that Inverness is the prettiest – having coffee in a riverside cafe on a sunny day is a great experience.

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    • Thanks for popping by and leaving a comment Bill. Not many rich Yahoo!’s when we were up there in September, fortunately. We get our revenge and we are towing a caravan and nobody can overtake us. The plan is to return to Bonnie Scotland next year and walk the beaches at Arisaig and Morar. Oh, and to get to the Applecross inn, if we can.

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  5. Brings back happy memories. Lovely scenery. The trick is to avoid the midges. Looking forward to the next epic.

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    • Thanks Maggie – strangely enough I’ve had more midge bites in our garden in Leicester then I’ve ever had in the highlands. Go figure, as they say !!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Briliant blog yet again Lizzie. Colourful, atmospheric and fun, loved it! Loved Sharon’s review as well, totally spot on! X

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Joan Davies-Bushby

    IT was great to meet up in Edinburgh and what a fabulous time you had on your trip! Looking forward to reading your next Scottish novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Whenever I read your travelogues I end up wanting a husband and a caravan! Lovely piece.

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    • Hi Lesley, husbands certainly come in handy from time to time. And a caravan is such a wonderful thing if, like us, you want to wander free. The other reason we have a caravan is that we have to take our little parrot everywhere with us. Hadn#t better introduce him to your two cats. LOL.

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  9. Like the way you combine culture with a bit of wilderness. And I can’t believe it didn’t rain all the time!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Fantastic post, Lizzie. So detailed and informative. Your love for Scotland really shines through. Great photos too. 🙂 Xx

    Liked by 1 person

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