Category Archives: Travels in Hilma

Follow the tales of mishap, disasters, joys, laughs and general shenanigans of Ian & Janette on their travels in Hilma the Hymer

The Beast from the East (pt.II)

March 17th 2018

Well it has been a while folks (for those that accidentally come across this site). We were meant to be going to Cumbria without Hilma (taking our Sporting Trials Car instead for a BTRDA trial) but Hilma needed an MOT on Friday and I had an AGM meeting of the fly fishing club so it was really silly thing to try and do (especially as we had reports of another silly weather front from Putin’s way coming in again). So what did we decide to do – yes that’s right, take Hilma out for a night out (she deserves it you know – stuck in her compound with all those other vans with not a human to talk too). Where did we decide to go – right into the amber weather warning area given by the met office on Friday night. Were we bovvered – of course we were.

Off we set Saturday morning and duly arrived at Aberbran (small CC site for 24 vans) on the sight of an old railway station. Charming. Quick cup of tea and off we toddled for a quick circular walk around the valley. Six nations on the radio was beckoning so I set a stern pace, soon to be slowed as we kept stopping at most farm gates to lean on and take in the views.

A view from a farm gate

Yet another view from a farm gate!

The views over Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du were absolutely stunning and the photographs taken with my phone do not do them justice – should have brought the camera out.

The snow capped tops of Corn Du and Pen-y-Fan. Binoculars showed plenty of people up there braving the elements.

The walk was lovely – only spoilt by the England v Ireland score on return to Hilma. A cup of coffee and a whisky mac soon cheered me up (easy to please) and then looking out of the window we saw the Best from the East (part II) starting to show us what we had in store – silly us!

The beast from the East (pt.II) starts to show it’s hand

To Alsace & back – Days 10 & 11

Rocroi to Embrey – 15th October

The last of our Kugelhopf was consumed at exactly 13:55hrs today. What the heck am I going to enjoy now?
On a more sobering thought we stopped en-route today just outside Arras where there was a British Cemetery dedicated to the fallen in the First World War.

First World War British cemetery at Duisanes, nr Arras

Many, many people have visited these special sites over the years, many, many tourist, motor-homers and residents cannot help but be moved by these beautifully manicured spaces of remembrance. Although sad, they are a fitting reminder of our past and worthy of an occasional visit to show our respect, also to remind us about the horrors of war. So many, so young, so sad – I do not know of anyone in our family who fought in either the first or second world war, yet I shed a tear for these brave young men, not only British, there were boys and men from all over the commonwealth and respectfully German graves as well. More than 3000 people are buried here, this a tiny plot given by the locals as a token of their respect for helping to liberate their country.

I do not know this person or their family – I just thought it fitting to remember him. Maybe at some future date I’ll look into his history.

I hope this is not an intrusion for the family.

Nothing I can add

Onward to Embrey – today was a 150 mile drive, I’m beginning to think this is about my limit when driving in France. Janette did offer to drive for which I am very grateful, I just prefer driving than being a passenger. Embrey is a wonderful little aire, about 50 miles from Calais. We came across the first British motor-homers, David & Joyce who were on their way home after a 10 week European trip which included Croatia. Seasoned travellers.
When we left Rocroi we tried to fill up with water from the Urba Flux point – what a nonsense, two euro’s stolen from the card and still no water came out. This was the first time we had attempted to use the service point at an aire, before we came away I was worried about these things – this did not fill us with confidence, however, we had plenty of bottled water, so was not really a problem. When we arrived at Embrey there was a ‘Fot Bleu’ machine so we gave this a go – much easier, a machine to dispense ‘Jetons’ bought with our euro loaded card, pop the jeton into the machine and hey – ho, easy peasy, we had some water.

Ferry back to UK – 16th October

Because we were only about 50 miles away and our ferry was at 14:00hrs we took a slow drive along the coast from Bologne to Calais. Neither of us had driven this before and it was an absolute joy. Such a change to hammering down the ‘peage’ worrying about getting to the ferry on time.
A beautiful day – gave Hilma a last drink of French Gazole, we then topped up our tummy’s with some pain-au-raisin as we stopped overlooking La Manche in glorious sunshine. We had never stayed in this region before and were very surprised by the diversity – just inland rolling hills and valleys whilst within a few miles dunes and beaches, definitely worth a couple of days stopover in the future. There I go, planning what to do next. Well I think at the end of a holiday that is a normal thing to do. We are already thinking about Ireland, Brittany and the Camargue – how are we going to fit it all in?
We will!

To Alsace & back – Days 8 & 9

Eguisheim to Millery – 13th October

So we leave the beautiful autumn golden vines of the Alsace to turn our noses North for our homeward journey. We are not in a hurry though, we are going to take 4 days to get back to the ferry and enjoy the slow drive back. Climbing out of the Rhine valley was gorgeous, this time of year brings a charm all of its own, the countryside bathed in a low light with the trees glowing, each one on their own autumnal journey. At the top of the climb (a few km’s of 6% but very manageable) we stopped for a coffee and Kugelhopf in a layby.

The Kugelhopf in all it’s uneaten glory!

Today we are off to an Aire at Millery (Lat: 48.8159N / Long: 6.12701E) situated just above Nancy and on the banks of the R.Moselle. Upon arrival there were 4 vans well spaced apart, by the time darkness fell there were 14! A bit of a squeeze. We had a little wander around Millery finding the old outdoor Lavarie that had been lovingly restored along with the church. There was some signs that the older residents were not in favour of such ‘rapid’ change with a huge sign on someone’s garage asking to sign a petition against the tide of change.

Fantastic timber work in the reconstructed Millery lavoire

The dodgy duo – enjoying the setting sun on the banks of the Moselle

The Friday night youths were out on their busy little hairdriers but by 10:00pm all had quietened down.

Millery to Rocroi – 14th October

An early mist greeted us coming off the Moselle which made the aire very atmospheric, someone had already left at 6:00am, someone else had launched a boat both of which woke me early. Cup of tea in bed then!
We did get off to an early start making sure our fog lights were working – but there was a snag. Although our pull-out bike rack has lights fitted it did not have a fog light, that was fitted on the main light cluster and was hidden by the bike cover. I didn’t feel comfortable traveling without the fog light on display (I’m sure the Gendarme wouldn’t approve) so off came the bike cover and the glorious fog light could now shine through the spokes giving the French tailgaters an ample view of Hilma’s bottom (note: not Hilma’s ample bottom).
A coffee break half way (with more Kugelhopf of course – Janette is going to get the recipe) and we decided to motor on all the way to Rocroi, set up camp and then have lunch. Upon reaching the edge of town we were stunned by this pretty little aire (Lat: 49.92347N / Long: 4.51705E).

Hilma sitting pretty at Rocroi

The Rocroi Aire – just below the town fortress walls

There were already some vans ensconced on the site but there was plenty of space. In ‘All the Aires North’ book by Vicarious Books it states there are 6 spaces – but clearly there is room for more. As I write this there are 8 of us and probably more to come if last night was anything to go by.
After lunch we decided to take a walk around the old town walls which in fact is a Star-Fort built by Henri II started in 1555 and gradually added too throughout the centuries.

The manicured walls and ramparts of the Rocroi star fortress

A fascinating walk, there are circuits for bikes around the outside and fitness exercise stations to work off all that Kugelhopf!

Janette – doing an impression of Olga Korbut (for those people of a certain age who remember)

……. and in final selection training for the SAS

The real Olga Korbut – for the avoidance of doubt

To Alsace & back – Day 7

Eguisheim to Husserain-les-Chateau (circular walk) – 12th October

Today we left the bikes behind and set off on our pieds. Boots laced up, rucksack full of food, drink and coats stuffed inside, off we set into some pretty moody looking skies hanging over the Vosges Mountains. The Alsace is the second driest place in France according to most of the reports I have read. Today was no exception, despite the threatening looking skies we managed to stay dry all day.

A moody sky over Eguisheim

The walk was about 6 miles incorporating – yes you guessed, vineyards and pretty villages along with a smattering of woods. Beautiful, this is such a peaceful area despite the obvious tourism, once again I would say that I am sure it would be heaving at the height of the season. Following the map, my GPS and some obvious French signposting we wound our way up to the hillside, the view of the Rhine basin opening behind as we climbed, sunlight drifting across the land lighting up the vines with a golden glow.

More moody skies – this time over over Les Trois Chateau. Yes they are vines all the way to the woods.

Just before midday we reached the village of Husserain-les-Chateau and managed to find a hotel above the village in the woods for our morning caffeine hit along with a ‘tarte du jour’ – I keep saying this “what’s not to like?”
This sleepy village has some wealth about it – plenty of fairly ‘newish’ properties with some magnificent views. It is well within commuting distance of both Colmar and Strasbourg, also we are pretty sure that many of the vintners earn a decent living here. If our friends back in our village can grow grapes and get about 350 bottles a year, imagine what some of these boys and girls are producing – eye watering. Prices for the Alsace wine bought direct from the producers range from £7 – £20 depending on quality, year of produce, etc.

Sun lighting up Colmar to the right

What struck us was just how clean it all is, villagers take great pride in their streets and their flowers, obviously vying for ‘best floral village’ and other such awards. A real pleasure to cycle and walk around, we would not hesitate to come back to this area again and spend more time here.

Our last look at Eguisheim before leaving

Moving on

We are off on our return journey tomorrow – we are taking 4 days to get back to the UK so again taking it as part of our holiday, not wanting to rush through this wonderful country. We have some Aires earmarked so let’s see what the next few days will bring. Goodbye Alsace!

No grapes in this one – I just loved the colours

To Alsace & back – Day 6

Open air grotto in Wettolsheim – a moving memorial to those lost in the Great War

Wettolsheim & Turckheim – 11th October

Today was our first cycle around the area – we had planned to cycle to Wettolsheim, walk around the market, buy some pain and vegetables and cycle back to Hilma. On arrival at Wettolsheim we came across a huge open air grotto – a memorial to the fallen in the great war, also something about children which we couldn’t quite make out.
On entering the ‘centre ville’ we found the market today was one stall – some ropey old veg. A quick visit to the boulangerie for our staple bread and croissants and a change of plan was needed. Looking at the map we decided to move on to Turckheim (which I remember our neighbour saying was a great place to visit). Less than half an hour later, on lovely flat and uncrowded roads following the ‘Route des Vin’ signs, we found ourselves in another walled medieval town. This one much bigger than Eguisheim and not quite so ‘twee’, yes still catering for us tourists but had a much more lived in feel.

Yet another beautiful border town street with a definite lilt to Germany. Note MORE vineyards in the background – they are everywhere!

More pretty buildings, more pretty flowers, more cobbled narrow streets and a few café’s and restaurants (what’s not to like?). A coffee was needed before we set off to explore the town on our bikes which didn’t take too long. The cleanest public loos I have ever come across – anywhere!
We decided to stop for lunch and had Tarte Flambee (thin pizza), a beer and Perrier, followed by another café before wobbling away again to find a supermarche to buy our veg. Just like at home in the UK it seems the small independent grocers are few and far between – I guess people rely more on the markets for their fresh produce.

Is it me or are the French more respectful of cyclists? They seem to be much more patient than their British counterparts and also give us more space (maybe not in Paris though?).
Finished off the day sat outside Hilma in the late sunshine, a glass of Reisling and a good book – later an end of day walk in the vineyards as the sun was setting – what a life – I want more of this!

Couldn’t resist taking yet another photo of the grapes!

Eguisheim to Turckheim cycle route (1:25,000)

To Alsace & back – Day 5

Eguisheim – 10th October

What a pretty little town – we did have a brief wander last night to get our bearings – stunningly pretty medieval town attempting to retain much of its original character (with some inevitable 21st century cheesiness).

Eguisheim – pretty as a postcard or chocolate box lid

One cannot deny though how proud the Alsacians are of the history, much of which we were to find out. This morning we went on 1.5hr self directed vineyard tour around the immediate area, what a joy, we are here in the Autumn with all the vines turning yellow, pink or red creating some very pleasant views. It is incredible to think that there is 172km of these vineyards and we were in one tiny part of them.

A beautiful morning walk – Les Trois Chateau on the hill

Pinot Gris or Noir?

Finishing the walk in town we bought some quiche tarts and a Kugelhopf cake. Taste and texture like a Chelsea bun but BIGGER, we only bought a small one to see if we liked it – guess what? WE DID! So we will be buying a LARGE Kugelhopf for our travels home.
Back into town late afternoon after digesting lunch and a few zzzzzz’s our next mission was to walk around the rampart sections of the town. These are not like castle ramparts but higher level streets making an elliptical shape surrounding the town. Originally there were two town entrances with people passing through two sets of gates each end (the first gate to collect your taxes before entering). A very interesting walk around with plenty of information points and pretty, pretty little dwellings. One can’t help thinking about what it must have been like to live their in the XV1th Century.

One for the door project (don’t ask)

Most of the houses have this type of magnificent floral display

Next on our shopping list was some of the Alsace wine. It’s not a wine we were familiar with so we definitely needed some tastings – I had earmarked some producers from Hugh Johnson’s little wine book and went in search.

Q: How many wine producers can you get in one town?
A: 35

Paul Ginglinger was our first stop – tasting several (hic) wines we chose 6 bottles of 3 different types and price range Reisling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris Pfersigberg . On to the next one Bruno Sorg. Janette was feeling a little light headed by the time we had tasted some of Bruno’s vino – this time we went a little more up market and bought 4 bottles of Reisling Florimont – packed with flavour. Carrying 10 bottles back to Hilma was hard work – now I’m going for a run – get rid of all those cake and wine calories. Tonight we will treat ourselves to a meal out so a prudent spending day needed tomorrow when we are planning to cycle to a local market.

More wine please

Part of the outer rampart street

To Alsace & back – Day 4

To Eguisheim – 9th October

Quite an early start for us, but before we set off the man in in his little smart car came and collected our 5 euro for the pleasure of staying overnight. The previous night was free – I think the difference here is you can stay longer than the 48hrs and there are more services (although you would be brave to use the showers)
Today was a shorter drive – a mere 120 miles to our intended destination. A small ‘deviation’ and then a stop to LeClerc for provisions (Leffe and bread – well maybe some veg and meat as well) with a lunch stop en-route all made for a pleasant journey. Whilst at the lunch we were glad we didn’t use the ‘frites’ van as the said owner take a pee behind his van – yuk!
Driving in to the Vosges mountains the rain came down quite heavily, the road gradually rising to a fantastic viewpoint, Hilma did a grand job of climbing the mountains. I must admit to being a little concerned as once or twice when stopping I have smelt a hot clutch – pas de probleme.
On arriving on the outskirts of Eguisheim Mrs. SatNav once again got us to the edge of town but wanted to take us through it’s very narrow streets, just in time we saw a sign for the campsite directing us around the outside. And a very pleasant little campsite she is. After the Aires though and our wild camping in Scotland it all does seem like they pack em in tight.
Funny, although the drive was shorter today we both felt really tired. We put it down to the ‘newness’ of being in Hilma in a foreign land and having to concentrate that much harder about everything.
Once we have this trip under our belt I’m sure we will settle into a pattern with future travels. At the moment, we can only compare it to the North Coast 500 trip – the daily mileages were less interspersed with 2 or even 3 day stops.

To Alsace & back – Day 3

8th October
Lac du Val Joly, Eppe-Sauvage

Before leaving our overnight stop we decided now that we no longer have Raggs we need to do some brisk walking (good cross-training to compliment my running). Walking down to the lake we found a mini entertainment complex rather like a smaller version of Center Parcs. Lots of activities that could be done in the high season with plenty of cycle and walking routes to suit all. A great place to stop, maybe for a couple of nights and explore the surrounding paths. That said I would think at the height of the season space would be at a premium. Even at this time of year there were 17 motorhomes on the site (could easily fit 30).
Because we were splitting the journey to the Alsace over 3 days we could choose our route without having to feel like chewed cardboard at the end of each day. The first part of today’s journey we had to negotiate our way through Verdun – Mrs. SatNav did a great job of getting us around the town, not sure we could have done it without her. Once out on the open road we revert to the Michelin regional maps at 1:200,000 (1cm = 2km) which I have to say (backed up by a road atlas) are good for getting an overview of the route whilst giving great detail. The problem with Mrs. SatNav is she wants to take us the most direct route which may not be where we want to go (or dare I say it, even suitable for Hilma’s girth).

Eppe-Sauvage aire

The view from Hilma – first night in France

Lac du Madine, Heudicourt-sous-les-Cotes

We aim for Lac du Madine (Lat: 48.93533N / Long: 5.71557) our 2nd overnight stop in France. Driving through some beautiful countryside with the maple trees turning a warm golden yellow also gave us a warm glow inside. The Aire is large, again near a lake which is an obvious magnet for holiday destinations. Although this site could easily take 50 vans there were only 5 vans spread around the site – all looks a little tired, beware the showers & toilets – better off in the van I reckon.

Dusk over Lac du Madine

Before supper went off for a 3 mile run near the lake on grass, through woods and good paths. Afterwards we both went for our constitutional walk with the bins, spotting a Great White Egret, hundreds of Mute Swans, Coots galore and the odd Gadwall. Slept like a log!

To Alsace & back – Day 2


The Ferry – 7th October

Today was an early start – this was to be our first foray onto a ferry (sounds like a good soundbite – foray onto a ferry – I think I’ll copyright it and then the BBC can buy it off me for some exhorbitant fee and make some cheap ‘fly on the ferry’ documentary – or has that already been done?) with Hilma and to foreign lands not so far. France was calling.

Hilma waiting patiently at Dover – note the Euro light stickers in the wrong place!!

Nearly every motorhome blog one reads tells of how the French have got it sorted regarding motorhoming. Last year we bought the ‘All the Aires France’ books by Vicarious Books so was able to plan 2 stops en-route to Eguisheim in the Alsace, our planned destination.
There has been many a time we have previously driven through France (without a motorhome of course) and got caught out with driving times, ending up like chewed cardboard by the time we arrive. Not this time – we plan to travel a mere 140 miles to our first night stop at Eppe-Sauvage (Free) next to Lac du Val Joly (Lat: 50.11965N / Long: 4.13925E). No tolls for us, just motorways and D roads (still haven’t mastered the map roads to reality numbering yet).
We hugged the Belgian border most of the way making good time and the aire proved just what was described on the tin. We have not tackled a ‘Fot Bleu’ (water, waste and electricity unit) yet and just looked at the machine wondering what the heck to do. As we are travelling we don’t need hook up yet and our batteries are getting topped up either whilst driving or by the 100w solar panel installed earlier in the year. Hardly used any water so no need to fill up yet. I’m hoping we can make it to Eguisheim without servicing Hilma with the necessaries!

Eppe-Sauvage aire

Hilma at rest after her epic first journey to France (with us anyway – who knows where her previous owners took her)

Eppe-Sauvage aire

The view from Hilma – first night in France

To Alsace and back – Day 1

Vive la France

6th October
We are on our way to France.

Now that is not such an earth shattering statement – but – it is our first ever trip abroad in Hilma! Excited and nervous after lots of planning, trying to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s we are finally on our way. We initially tried to look at going through ‘le chunnel‘ but Hilma (close your ears now Hilma) is too big and heavy! Despite being a B544 she weighs in at a hefty 4 tonne gross weight (previous owners had it rated at this weight in order to carry a motorbike on the rear) and therefore she would have to travel with all those huge, commercial, smelly lorries. Well we weren’t having that! So ferry it is – 7 hours later we arrive just outside Dover for our trip tomorrow morning.
And so we ended up at Black Horse Farm CC site, booked in advance, about 20 mins from Dover ferry port. As this was our first time venturing abroad we wanted to make our first day or two as easy as possible – you know what you are going to get with a Caravan Club site.
Off we tootle to the pub for an early meal (making it easy again) washed down with a pint of Cornwall’s Doom Bar ale. The fish & chips were magnificent at the Black Horse Inn 5 minutes from the site. On the way we met ‘Molly’ the border terrier, a smaller version of our sadly missed Raggs, making us think we need to get another one. We probably will, we just wanted some time in Hilma without having to worry about a four legged companion for a while.
Let’s see how we get on in France first.
Early start, early to bed and I’ll update this tomorrow.

North Coast 500 – in conclusion

I guess the big question is not necessarily “Did we enjoy it” (I think the blog does an effective job of proving that), the question we should be asking is “Would we do it again?”.
The answer is an affirmative “Yes”.
We may not follow exactly the same route, we may pass through some places that we stopped at this time and see what other adventures await us. The great thing that Janette and I have taken from this trip is the utter beauty that lies within our reach. OK – it may be a long haul up there for those that like to motorhome a little closer but it is worth the effort – and one does have to say it is an effort. The driving can be a little ‘tight’ at times, single track roads with passing places – but you know what – those actually create an element of respect with the majority of drivers we came across. Pull in (because you and everybody else has no choice) and a wave and a smile was the ‘norm’. Perhaps we can learn something from this, courtesy on the roads is something that is sadly lacking – I think a mandatory 2 days driving on Scottish single track roads should form part of the driving test!
The sense of freedom we experienced when wild camping was also something that surprised us both – we definitely want to experience more of that. Being able to pull up late afternoon loch side with a stunning view, wake up in the morning with no cars, nobody, just the wildlife will be something very simple that we take away from this trip.

A room with a view – what price? (actually it was free)

Favourite spots?

In the words of Arnie “We’ll be back”.

North Coast 500 tour – Days 19-20

23rd May (day 19)
Having sampled the delights of the Oban Distillery single malt last night (plus a pint or two!) I was now regretting ringing Neil from the Coulin Estate last night to book a morning’s trout fishing on Loch Bharranch. I had arranged to meet Simon one of the estate workers at 10:00am Lochside. It turns out his wife was the chef at the Kinlochewe Hotel, good job the food was excellent. Before going on, just a note about Kinlochewe CC site if you stay there – don’t park under the trees, as these are like Picadilly Circus for midges. Try and get in the open. T’internet is non-existent really and whilst I thought the Kinlochewe Hotel was a good idea after finishing our meal to go and get the laptop to update the blog, it was not a good idea. Everybody had the same idea! Could have written a letter and posted it and it would have got wherever quicker. I tried to upload images etc. but just ended up wasting battery time (which I forgot to replenish back at the site after the beer and whisky!). Lesson learned. Might look into a spare laptop battery if we are going to do more wild camping.
More information on the Kinlochewe site – just before we set off a butcher, baker and candlestick maker van arrived on site tooting his horn, Janette shot off like she was competing in the 100mtr olympic dash, and won! Fresh veg, fresh meat, bread, milk and even the obligatory ‘Tunnocks’ caramel biscuits (which must be eaten on this tour) could all be purchased off the van. We saw him later in the week in another village or two showing off his wares so if you are in this area ask around for when the ‘Kenneth Morrison’ van will be around.
Anyway, I ramble. On to the fishing. The wind was starting to rise so I knew I had to get going, Simon pointed out the best spots but really they would be governed by the wind. Working my way around the small loch the best was early on, had two small trout when the wind was not so strong and was behind me. Both trout took a Greenwell’s wet on the dropper and pretty quick on the take after the flies hit the water (dry fly on the point). Nothing else, and 2 hours later was back in Hilma warming up with some minestrone soup.

A little treat for Ian as he is driving.

We were now heading in the direction of Applecross made famous by Monty Hall’s BBC2 television programme. I remember a week ago whilst we were proud of ourselves for negotiating the Kyle of Tongue loch side road (not part of the NC 500) someone saying that he has no fear of ‘any road’ now having negotiated the Applecross route. What were we in for? We have not read any guides, we had looked at the North Coast 500 website but mostly just doing this on the fly so to speak.
Getting to Applecross coming down from Kinlochewe was a piece of cake. Yes, single track roads with passing places (as are lots on this route – more on that later) but nothing to write home about. About 4:00pm we started to look for a spot to park up before Applecross as we thought it might be ‘rammed’ judging by all the other campervans and motorhomes we were passing. We found a lovely spot overlooking the ‘Inner Sound’ across to the Isle of Rona and the Isle of Rassay with the Isle of Skye behind them (N 57.27 853, W 5.51 745). Low cloud across the sound gave it an eerie feel.

Hilma looking across to the Islands with envy. Not now Hilma, another time!

Eventime brought the wildlife out

24th May (day 20)
We wake up to miserable weather, drizzle and low cloud. In a funny way though it has a weird kind of beauty, I guess it is the fact that it is a different wet and drizzle from your own back garden. Breakfasted we drove to Applecross – a stunning beach estuary and in hindsight there did seem to be plenty of places to wild camp around the bay, but hey, we are always finding somewhere new and we were more than happy with where we stayed last night. Always time to come back. Applecross did seem a bit touristy but with a decent pub, nice looking café and stunning views what else could be expected. Did see another motor-homer emptying his black waste down the public loos and wasn’t really sure what to think. Never having been in that position (which could have been on of desperation, I don’t know) as we have always gone to a campsite and paid our dues for that. What really upset me though was he was using the public tap outside the loos to clean his cassette. Now I didn’t see any signs saying this was why the tap was there, there may well have been, and if so I hold up my hand and apologise. I just couldn’t help thinking about the cross contamination if walkers, cyclists, etc. needed some fresh water. Rant over, but if anyone knows that this is OK at Applecross let me know and I will correct the blog.

Applecross bay with a top hat of cloud

Not much for us to do at Applecross as we had quite a drive to get somewhere near the finish of the NC 500</a>. Little did I know the words of the chap saying he had ‘no fear of any road’ having done the Applecross section, would come back to haunt me.
Neearrrgghhh – what a nerve jangling drive, definitely not one for the faint hearted or anything longer than about 8 metres I would think. We climbed out of Applecross admiring the views and thinking what a lovely site if were driving down into the village from this side. Then we kept climbing, and climbing, the road narrowing, cloud enveloped us, and yes, we kept on climbing. A single track road with passing places has been the norm now for plenty of miles on the NC 500, but this was something else. The passing places were shorter and narrower than on the lower roads, with visibility at 50yds this was no laughing matter. Somewhere near the summit (couldn’t tell because of the cloud) I pulled in to a large layby (which made me think it was the summit) for a brief respite. I’m sure in better weather and a clearer picture of the road ahead it might not be as bad as I am making out (wimp that I am) but today was not a good day to be doing this. At one point we were on a bend, stopped 1 foot from the Armco and a very steep drop with 2 rented campervans trying to get past us, I could have swore I heard metal scraping on stones, I know it wasn’t Hilma’s. Eventually after many hairpin bends and stoppages for passing vehicles we dropped out of the cloud breathing a sigh of relief, still a way to go down on the narrow road, but at least I could see the way now and pull over in plenty of time for oncoming vehicles. At the bottom I had to get out contemplate what I had just done, actually best not too, so I quickly got back in Hilma and on we went.
We pulled over on the A896 over about 15 minutes later for lunch at the
Kishorn Seafood Bar. This is one of those memorable foody moments that will stay with me forever. I’ll always think of that exhilarating, nerve jangling drive now with the fantastic reviving food we had at the end of it. If you do the 500 you must stop here and try it (that’s if you like seafood). We shared a mixed seafood platter to die for.

Food at the Kishorn Seafood Bar

Well refreshed we continued on, planning to reach the Muir of Ord which would complete our tour of the NC 500. We came across Lochcarron which looked a place well worth visiting again at some point in the future. The road (which now seemed like a motorway) took us down a massive glen carved out by the ice age towards our final destination.

Towards the end

One final thing to do before the muir of Ord and the finish line – visit another distillery. Because the Glen Ord distillery was so close to our finish line we called in to buy a bottle to celebrate the finishing of the 500 tour.
In comparison to our recent days the countryside was now much greener and verdant, none of the peaty bogs and rough boulder strewn land we had grown accustomed to. It almost felt like a different country, like a culture shock a new beginning, which of course it was. Although the 500 tour was nearly over it really is the start of something new, just what we have yet to find out, but boy I can’t wait for what the future holds for us. We won’t be hanging up the writing just yet as we have a couple of more nights before heading home so we will write a conclusion to this wonderful event in our lives. Janette says she wants to go around again, NOW!
We feel privileged to have shared this with all others on the tour and anyone that comes across this blog, we hope you find it interesting and of value. And please, please do try the Applecross route, but perhaps leave it until the end like we did (unless of course you are a seasoned mountain motorhome driver).
Bon Voyage – enjoy, you won’t regret it😊

And what a way to finish!!