There was no competition as to the destination for my sister’s 4oth birthday celebration. Her decision was both swift and decisive – Appplecross, Scotland. Having been there many moons ago as a child my recollection of her chosen destination was a little scratchy. Though amongst those hazy memories a really high scary road with sheer drops seemed to be the clearest recollection. Post trip, I’m so pleased to have been reacquainted with this truly magical piece of the world, thank you Em. So let’s introduce you to this wonderful little remote part of the world, so you can enjoy it too.
Between the mainland mountain masses and the Island of Skye lies the stunningly beautiful Applecross Peninsula. Home to just a couple of hundred people, and accessed by only two roads, the Bealach pass road from the South (the scary one from my memory) and the coast road from the North. Many visitors just cross the pass, stop at the bay for an ice-cream, take in the view and drive out again. We though had the pleasure of staying for just under a week which gave us time to explore and get to know all of the hidden gems that make up the Applecross community.
We live in the very south east of Scotland that I like to describe as the Cornwall of Scotland. Beside a sandy surfing cove, the landscape is open with long coastal cliff walks and views. As you travel North West towards Applecross the landscape starts to change, conifers frame the road. Travel further north through rugged mountains valleys, past Inverness, then 2 hours later and you get to ‘the road’. At this point I decided to take the steering wheel. I thought my driving would be marginally more pleasant for my husband and children than my dialogue as a passenger. Fortunately like many before us we made it over the pass and happily meandered our way down into the bay blinded by the streaming evening light. After completing the drive you have a real sensation of being in the middle of nowhere. So it’s quite a surprise when you arrive at Applecross to discover the abundance of people basking in the evening sun eating and drinking at The Applecross Inn.
The Applecross Inn
Living by the sea we have easy access to Scottish langoustine and lobster fished by locals and friends, but a part from one very good cafe, (I’m going to say it) the restaurants are a bit poor. We’re a big seafood family, it’s our thing. In fact one of my few talents is to get the langoustine claw meat out in one solid piece by cracking the claw with my teeth. OK so it’s not a good talent for a first date, but those days are long gone though my teeth still remain for now. The Applecoss Inn was one of the fundamental reasons Em’s decision was so quick and finite – it’s quite simply fantastic. A no frills authentic Scottish Inn with Langoustine in garlic butter, scallops with bacon, and monkfish seemingly on tap. The shiny airstream caters for outside orders of ice-cream, coffee and fish and chips.
We stayed at The Estate Office, a 6 bedroom house with bags of history that sleeps 12 comfortably, click here to read more.
The view from our window.
North Coast 500
Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the new scenic route showcasing the fairy-tale castles, beaches and ruins.
The Walled Garden
A wonderful walled garden, stunning wild planting, medicinal plants, veg, flowers and a lovely restaurant too. You can also enquire inside to book a foraging excursion to discover how local nature can provide. Click here
The Highland Cow – Hairy Beasties
Not seen one in years, but they are everywhere in Applecross. Black ones, ginger ones, sandy ones and baby ones. Super furry cute cows and incredibly Scottish. Llamas and Alpacas are everywhere in kids fashion, why not the highland cow?
What we got up to with the kids
So part of being in a remote spot is to get away from it all. There is virtually no mobile signal on the Peninsular, the wi-fi at the time of our visit was laughable, and because leaves had inexplicably appeared on the trees in front of our accommodation there was no television signal. So even though it would have been lovely to have sat the kids down in front of a film on the odd exhausted evening. It made for a beautiful week of converstaion, adventure, camp building and mucking around in the Scottish landscape.
- Wetsuits – we took our own which meant that we could go river walking and swimming. The kids loved it as did the passers by – lots of hilarity and conversations as we made ourselves into human poo sticks using the water currents to pull as along.
- Walking – take good gear, but there is so much to discover.
- Cards & games – go back to basics, the kids really loved playing Top Trumps and the Applecross Inn had a great collection of games for the kids.
- Forest foraging – great fun but make sure you have an expert!
- Wildlife – You don’t even have to look for it. On our first night the house was surrounded by inquisitive wild deer
- Searching for Razor clams – we failed miserably but had fun trying!
There is one negative to the West coast of Scotland (not simply to Applecross). But there is a simple reason why it’s quite so green and beautiful -the weather! Let’s be honest most people visiting Scotland pack their waterproofs and midge repellent rather than their bikini, having said that we had a couple of lovely sunny days. Best thing is to keep your fingers crossed and if it’s wet enjoy it!
Finally, The Gaelic name for Applecross is ‘a Chomraich’ which means ‘The Sanctuary’. For my sister and her family this little remote area of Scotland is their sanctuary but they are quite happy to share…
To find out more about Applecross go to the community website, here.