July 15 & 16, 2016
We left the Ullapool area and headed north toward our next destination Durness. We had several stops planned along our route. Our first stop was a lighthouse in the village of Stoer.
In order to reach this remote westernmost point of Stoer, we had to travel about 12 miles on a single track road. There were a few turns and no signs so we were completely unsure of where we were headed. Fortunately, we found our way.
The lighthouse boasts two rooms for rent during the summer months. I imagine you would really want to enjoy some solitude if you stayed there. Nothing was nearby, but the scenery was beautiful. The kids were not too interested in hanging out there so we took a few pictures, got some coffee and took off.
We had received a strong recommendation to stop in a town called Kylesku for lunch. There is a popular, award winning hotel and restaurant there, and we made it just in time for the end of the lunch service. This place draws quite a crowd so service was slow. We also arrived just before a large crowd with lunch reservations. They were quite obnoxious and ruined what would have otherwise been a great experience. After we ate, I walked around the surrounding area to explore and snap a few pictures before we left for our final destination for the day.
Durness was about an hour from Kylesku. It's is a small village with less than 7,000 residents. We had secured a lovely, highly rated B & B in town. Once we got settled, we drove a couple of miles to explore the recommended Smoo Caves. We missed the last boat tour which was fine. I think the caves were a bit over-hyped. Michael and I found the surrounding area to be much more impressive. Maeve and Liam explored part of the cave, but would not go for a walk with us...their loss.
We were able to walk from our B & B into town for dinner. We stopped for a stroll on the beach afterwards.
In the morning, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast with our host and two other guests from Italy. We packed up and went to visit a series of shops run by local artists. Maeve and I looked at some hand made jewelery while the boys found a chocolate shop. We joined them later and enjoyed some delicious hot chocolate. It was a great stop for a few souvenirs.
We were on the road again. We were now traveling east along the northernmost part of the Highlands. The Castle of Mey was on our way to our next stop. This castle was finished in 1572 and was recently owned by the Queen Mother (It was also featured in part of the Netflix series The Crown). The Queen Mother purchased it in the early 1950s and restored it. She loved this place and visited regularly until her death in 2002. The castle and gardens were then open to the public from May through September.
It was good day to tour a castle since it was pouring outside. The tours were guided and we were not allowed to take any pictures inside. Our guide shared plenty of interesting stories and I enjoyed viewing the memorabilia throughout.
The next biggest town on our route was Wick. We were not able to find accommodations there, so we booked a B & B in a town called Keiss. There was not much around at all. We knew Wick was about 15 minutes further down the road. In order to avoid further travel at night, we decided to bring dinner with us and just eat in our room. It was a beautiful, comfy room. We enjoyed a quiet and relaxing evening. In the morning we would be off again to explore more castles.