Diary blogs: Dolphins in Scotland? Loch Ness and the Wester Ross

We spent the first days of our road trip through Scotland in the Cairngorms National Park. After a whiskey tour and a visit to the battlefield of Culloden, we are now heading towards Inverness. Read more about our Scotland experiences in this blog, this time Loch Ness and the Wester Ross!

Dolphin spotting at Chanonry Point

When we get into the car at the parking lot at Culloden, we have no idea where we will go next. We planned to go to Inverness, a city about a 20-minute drive away. However, we come to the conclusion that we both don’t feel like a busy city. After looking at WikiCamps UK, our camping app, we decide to drive to the Black Isle peninsula, an area north of Inverness. There are a few nice campsites and it is located at the seaside, which sounds great.

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An hour later we indeed park the car right on the beach. Near the village of Fortrose, we spend the night at a small campsite. It is a cloudy evening and quite fresh, but I the campsite owner told me that there are dolphins here, so we decide to take a walk along the beach hoping to spot them. We pass a golf course, one of the oldest in the world (from 1793) and with the sea view perhaps also one of the most beautiful in the world. Eventually, we walk all the way to the lighthouse, at the very tip of land that enters the bay. Unfortunately, we don’t see a single dolphin, although we do spot a few seals!

Black Isle

Visiting the Fairies

Waking up with the sound of pouring rain on our roof makes for a great excuse to sleep a little more. When we leave the campervan an hour later, we are surprised to see a clear blue sky and bright sun! This morning I want to go to the Fairy Glen Waterfalls, but first, we make some movies with the drone above the beautiful golf course. The Fairy Glen Falls do not disappoint, they are very beautiful! We are all alone and only hear the rustling of the trees, the whistling of birds and the water falling down. The sun’s rays come through the green foliage and shine on the moss and clear water. Any moment you expect a fairy or other mythical creature to appear.

Tip: we came here by car, but you can also come here by walking through the woods from Rosemarkie for an hour.

Hoping to spot some dolphins now that the tide is in, we drive back to Chanonry Point. Once there, we make tea and coffee, grab some chocolate and then continue to stare frantically at the sea. After an hour we give up, unfortunately, no dolphins for us today. So let’s go for another water creature: the Loch Ness monster.Black Isle

The monster of Loch Ness

I didn’t really know in advance what to expect of Loch Ness. Something with grey water, in a dark and rainy setting. Completely different from what Loch Ness really looks like: Clear blue water between green hills with a radiant sun above it. Loch Ness is narrow, but very long and stretched (36.6 kilometres long!). In addition, the loch is so deep and large that all the water from England and Wales fits in!

Tip: the Ness Islands, small islands in the River Ness, are nice to visit from Inverness. Perfect for a one-hour walk.Scotland Loch Ness

After a short stop for some pictures of Urquhart Castle (which we don’t visit from the inside), we drive towards the village of Drumnadrochit. Near a bridge with water, we find the perfect place to have a picnic. We take our time and prepare a big couscous salad with a glass of wine of course. Would you like to visit Urquhart Castle and take a boat trip on Loch Ness? Click here for a very nice tour!

Tip: we were driving on the relatively busy motorway north of Loch Ness. From here you have a nice view, but it is busy. On the other side of the lake, there is a small road that is a lot quieter and perhaps offers even better views.

Loch Ness

Wester Ross in Schotland

Back in the car, we drive through a very beautiful part of Scotland. We do not want to go via the highway and Inverness so now we drive via the A833 to Beauly. This runs through a rolling green landscape, with large mountains in the background. The sun is still shining, while we drive along countless streams and over dozens of bridges. In the distance we see Scottish Highlanders standing and rabbits are hopping in the meadow.

Tip: Do you have more time than we did? The area above Loch Ness through which the A833 runs is very beautiful. We didn’t have time for this ourselves but the following places are nice to visit here:

The rest of the way to Ullapool is more erratic. Eventually, we arrive at Little Loch Broom, a beautiful sea loch. Here we find a nice campsite (called Northern Lights) where we are the only guests except for another couple. When we park the campervan we see that we are just on the edge of the bay and have a fantastic view.

Little Loch Broom

The Summer Isles and no sunset

After we have installed ourselves properly, Ries goes out to explore. Delighted, he comes back a few minutes later and points to the hills behind us. It is seven o’clock in the evening and the sun is almost setting. He has heard from the camping owner that you can easily climb the hills to watch the sun go down. Oh well, a little exercise won’t hurt us and so we start walking.

All about money, expenses and prices on travelling can be found in our Scotland budget blog!

Well, you can’t really call it walking, it’s more clambering. There is no path and so we walk up the hill. Occasionally we see a goat sprinting away, they live here in the wild. Furthermore, there is nothing but heath and tall grass around us. Ries walks a lot ahead, I stay behind looking around. From here you have a beautiful view of the Summer Isles, an island group that lies here off the coast and in the bays. There are 18 islands in total, and except for one, they are all uninhabited. Five people live on the largest, Tanera Mòr. There are no roads, you have to get everything by boat from the mainland. Unbelievable!

Once we are at the top of the hill, Ries is a bit disappointed. He expected to see the sea and the sunset from here, but the view we have are even more hills and mountains, behind which we only see the red glow of the sun which went already down.

Wester Ross Scotland

The Wester Ross Coastal Route

I wake up with a beautiful view: Ries has opened the back of the car and when I open my eyes I look out at the bay with the mountains behind it. After admiring this for a moment, the smell of pancakes and coffee drives me out of bed! Unfortunately, the pancakes don’t succeed, the result: dough balls that are not really cooked. Ries doesn’t care and with some Nutella, he happily eats them.Scotland

Today the Wester Ross Coastal Route is on our itinerary. A narrow route that runs along different bays. It is a beautiful road, every bay looks different again, sometimes we see pebble beaches and dark water, moments later the water is clear turquoise along with white sandy beaches. We drive through the mountains, along lakes and we have to stop every now and then for oncoming traffic.

Delicious fish and deception in Applecross!

We make a stop at the beautiful beach of Mellon Udrigle. Here we spot dozens of sheep and newborn lambs. Then we drink a cup of coffee in the village of Gairloch, then we drive towards Mount Beinn Eighe. Here are the last original Caledonian pine trees and there are two beautiful hikes to do. We choose the shortest hike because we are already a bit hungry. An hour later we are in Kishorn at the Kishorn Seafood Bar. I have read that you can eat good fish here and well, the food is delicious! Ries goes for a plate with all kinds of different salmon preparations, I choose the crab legs. Add a glass of wine and it’s the perfect lunch!

Free guide: all you need to know about road tripping and camping in Scotland!


Afterwards, we drive via the famous Bealach na Ba pass to Applecross, a small village. The road to it is famous because it is a bit scary, but with a beautiful view. The first is indeed true, dozens of hairpin bends and everything on a one-lane road with too much oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, everything is covered in clouds and the views are therefore gone. Applecross itself is very small. There is not much to experience and with this drizzly weather, it is a bit disappointing.

Half an hour later we drive onwards. Just before sunset, we see the beautiful Eilean Donan Castle. After that, it starts pouring raining and we decide to drive onwards to the Isle of Skye. No idea what we are going to do there since the island was initially not on our schedule at all …


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