Lonely Planet (UK) - - Best Travel 2019 -

DAY 1. In­ver­ness–In­ver­gor­don (25 miles) Pick up your car in In­ver­ness and drive north for lunch at the Store­house of Foulis (the­store­house. scot). Use the rest of your af­ter­noon to walk the cir­cuit round Fyr­ish Mon­u­ment, near Evan­ton – about one hour’s stroll each way, with views of the Black Isle and Easter Ross. Stay at tran­quil Kin­craig Cas­tle Ho­tel near In­ver­gor­don, and dine on re­worked Scot­tish spe­cial­i­ties such as cullen skink risotto (kin­craig­cas­; from £84). DAY 2. In­ver­gor­don–John O’Groats (98 miles) Head north­east and stop to look round Dun­robin Cas­tle en route (dun­robin­cas­, with a pause for soup, a sand­wich or some­thing more sub­stan­tial in its tea­room be­fore con­tin­u­ing un­til you reach Whali­goe Steps in the ham­let of Ulb­ster. Here you can de­scend the steps and ex­plore a nat­u­ral har­bour at the bot­tom. In the af­ter­noon, drive to Cas­tle Sin­clair Girni­goe (castlesin­clair­girni­ and take in the views of it perched on a small sand­stone stack. Aim to reach John O’Groats by early evening and check in at Nat­u­ral Re­treats for the night. You should be in time to gawp at panoramic views of the sun­set through im­mense wall-to-wall win­dows (nat­u­ral­re­; from £165). If there’s time, drive 35 min­utes west for a seafood din­ner in the vaulted stone din­ing room at the Cap­tain’s Gal­ley (cap­tains­gal­; Thu–Sat). DAY 3. John O’Groats–Dur­ness (90 miles) Grab photos at the iconic John O’Groats sign and by Dun­cansby Head’s sea stacks be­fore get­ting back in the driv­ing seat to fol­low signs for Thurso. Stop by Dun­net Bay Dis­tillers (dun­net­bay­dis­tillers. and the light­house at Dun­net Head. Sleep in cosy Smoo Cave Ho­tel, just be­fore Dur­ness (new.smoocave­ho­; from £110 en suite). DAY 4. Dur­ness–Ul­lapool (94 miles) Spend the morn­ing ex­plor­ing Dur­ness, in­clud­ing white-sand Bal­nakeil Beach and a hot-choco­late stop at Co­coa Moun­tain (co­coamoun­ Time your lunch for the pic­turesque vil­lage of Lochin­ver, and a pie from the Lochin­ver Larder (pies­by­ – chicken and ham or poached sal­mon. Eleven miles east, the road passes by the eerie ru­ins of Ard­vreck Cas­tle. In Ul­lapool, the Arch Inn has un­fussy rooms over a har­bourfront pub (; from £85). DAY 5. Ul­lapool–Tor­ri­don (86 miles) Hire a ca­noe from Ham­let Moun­taineer­ing (ham­let­moun­taineer­ and give a morn­ing to pad­dling the sil­ver lochs around Stac Pol­laidh. Re­fuel af­ter­wards with lunch (pic­tured right) at the Seafood Shack in Ul­lapool (seafood­shack. On your way to Tor­ri­don, go for a walk in the Beinn Eighe Na­ture Re­serve. Keep your eyes peeled for golden ea­gles. When you ar­rive, have a tra­di­tional pub din­ner at the Tor­ri­don Inn (thetor­ri­ Turn in for the night at a beau­ti­fully re­stored bothy on the Ben Damph Es­tate (ben­; from £70). DAY 6. Tor­ri­don–In­ver­ness (62 miles) Make for the Ap­ple­cross Smoke­house on your fi­nal stage to try its hot smoked sal­mon, sea trout, pâtés and cheeses (ap­ple­crosssmoke­ Spend the re­main­der of the day ex­plor­ing the Ap­ple­cross Penin­sula – drive the hair-rais­ing Bealach na Bà (‘Pass of the Cat­tle’) be­fore vis­it­ing the Black Isle Brew­ery (black­isle­brew­ on the home straight back to In­ver­ness.

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