Week 9: #oneyearlate – Findhorn to Dornoch: Starting the NC500

Highland Coo?

Continuing our tour northwards, we made our way along the Aberdeenshire and Moray Coastlines to Findhorn, where we had found an overnight stop, similar to the aires in Europe. Right on the edge of the dunes, with facilities to empty and fill, we booked in for two nights. Walking along the beach, Reg loved the sand and the sea water. We followed the coastline around to the marina and through to the village. There is a fish and chip stand and a restaurant, as well as a village store and pottery. Local attractions also include the Heritage Museum and Ice Cave. Dolphins can be seen here in the sea, but we didn’t manage to see any. https://www.findhornparking.com/

Next, we drove to Inverness, the start of the NC500 is actually at the Castle so we headed up to find it. Afterwards we headed up to a Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Certified Location (CL) at the Brahan Estate https://brahan.com/ Originally the home to the Seaforths, heads of the Clan of MacKenzie, one of the first clans to surrender their arms and swear allegiance to the English Crown, in the Jacobite Uprising. There is plenty to do and see here. The campsite is located in the trees along the main roadway to the Arboretum, which was started in the late 17th Century. We met a lovely couple, with their two Border Terriers, Stan and Ted, who were there for the Sheep Mart, in Dingwall.

A walk through the Arboretum, will bring you to the Dog Memorial, where thirteen dogs are buried including an elaborate grave for Cruiser, for faithful friend and companion of Col. Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth. He accompanied the 9th Lancers throughout the Afghan Campaign 1878 – 79 – 80, including the March from Kabul to Kandahar b.1878 d.1895.

Continuing to walk down towards the river, we saw people fly fishing with a Ghillie, all available to be booked from the Estate Office and following the River Walk, we met a lot of deer in the fields adjacent. Another route through the Estate, will take you to the village of Maryburgh. This is another little site we have on our list to return to.

Our next stop and Stage 2 of our NC500 route took us from Maryburgh to Dornoch. There is an actual marked NC500 route and although we will follow it as much as we can, we’re not planning to follow it exactly.

Following the Cromarty Firth, we travelled a route we had done many years before up to Tain and our camping site at Dornoch. Before we had stopped at the Royal Hotel Tain and the Dornoch Castle Hotel, and we drove up to find them! Nothing had changed they and the towns looked the same. The campsite at Dornoch, is located on the edge of the dunes and the Royal Dornoch Golf Course. Just behind you is the local airstrip and a short walk will take you to the town itself. We walked in to the town, before letting Reg have a run on another sandy beach, where again he chases and attacks the waves!

Stage 3 of our NC500 route took us from Dornoch to a CMC CL outside Helmsdale, at a small village called Berriedale Braes. The Kings Park, https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/scotland/highlands/helmsdale/the-kings-park/ Our drive up took us along the North Sea, and at times the cloud was below the road, and stopping us from seeing the sea. When we arrived at the CL, we were met by the owners and directed to the site, through the field with a Donkey and Sheep. The views were amazing with mountains, countryside and the sea and the sun came out and the clouds disappeared.

We headed up to Wick for a drive and to clean the very dirty Nortia, we had seen a jet wash on our first trip up for shopping, but when we arrived we couldn’t find it and thought we had dreamt it’s location! We turned around and headed back, but then discovered it – visible southbound but not northbound! Having coated Nortia in a lovely mix of sorbet pink, yellow and green hot foam, and then cold rinsed, she was looking lovely again. Apologies if we made it rain for you, we were still in lovely sunshine!

We’re off on Stage 4 next… We’ll be back with another update, soon. Thank you for reading. We hope you’re safe and well and enjoying our tales.