PLAN YOUR ITINERARY
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 (kincraigcastle.co.uk; from £84). DAY 2. Invergordon–John O’Groats (98 miles) Head northeast and stop to look round Dunrobin Castle en route (dunrobincastle.co.uk), 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 (castlesinclairgirnigoe.org) 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 (naturalretreats.co.uk; 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 (captainsgalley.co.uk; 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. co.uk) and the lighthouse at Dunnet Head. Sleep in cosy Smoo Cave Hotel, just before Durness (new.smoocavehotel.co.uk; 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 (cocoamountain.co.uk). Time your lunch for the picturesque village of Lochinver, and a pie from the Lochinver Larder (piesbypost.co.uk/lochlarder) – 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 (thearchinn.co.uk; from £85). DAY 5. Ullapool–Torridon (86 miles) Hire a canoe from Hamlet Mountaineering (hamletmountaineering.com) 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. co.uk). 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 (thetorridon.com). Turn in for the night at a beautifully restored bothy on the Ben Damph Estate (bendamph.com; 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 (applecrosssmokehouse.co.uk). 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 (blackislebrewery.com) on the home straight back to Inverness.