At breakfast, I made what turned out to be a rookie mistake. I assumed the selection of yoghurts, cereals, fresh fruits and other snacks was our main breakfast and it wasn’t till about halfway through (I say ‘halfway through’… for most people, that would be halfway through but for me, I’d pretty much wolfed down my mountain of breakfast foods) that I realised I’d made said mistake.
^ Remember, this place?
Turns out, everything else was just to get you started – the main event was a made-to-order breakfast. We’re talking full Scottish breakfasts, pancakes, French toast and even lighter options for the less greedy (you can see all the breakfast deets here).
Even though I was pretty stuffed by this point, you’ll know by now that I’m not one to miss out on a breakfast challenge (of sorts), so I ordered the full Scottish breakfast and proceeded to wolf that down.
Breakfast over with, on the recommendation of our host, we made our way to Rogie Falls, where, if you pick the right time of the year, you can see the Salmon swimming (or rather, jumping) upstream!
When you arrive at the waterfalls though, you do wonder how in the world those salmon do the upstream swim! That thing is high even for a person! No wonder they never return downstream again after that upstream swim.
Our trip to Rogie Falls was fairly brief as arguably, the main attraction for our day, would be driving across the famous North Coast 500. The NC500 is one of the most scenic routes, not just in the Highlands but across Scotland (you can read more about it, including a full itinerary to help you travel across it in our post here).
An hour (or maybe 2? I can’t remember) after we started, we arrived at the Beinn Eighe centre, which is a great spot for a hike across one of Scotland’s most famous mountain ranges (and for getting some really great insight on some of the best places to see on the NC500 – thanks Douglas) but alas, we had the NC500 to see so there wasn’t much time to do any real hiking.
Instead, we headed down to the Loch to stretch our legs for a bit before hitting the road!
It is worth noting that as you carry on down your NC500 (our next destination for the day was Shieldaig… via Torridon), you can actually see Beinn Eighe clearly so you don’t have to worry too much about missing out on this seeing this beauty if you can’t do the hike.
The NC500, by the way, winds through some absolutely stunning scenery! Made even more spectacular and dramatic by the impending rain.
There’s just no way to do this entire drive without stopping every so often. Heads up though, you’re in the Scottish Highlands now and the roads are smaller here. Thankfully, there are passing places and car parks available from time to time which are big enough for you to stop and properly take in the beauty!
Eventually, you arrive at stunning Upper Loch Torridon, with Torridon on one side and Shieldaig on the other (albeit a bit further up). We decided to take a detour and head towards Lower Diabaign where we’d been recommended a restaurant we just knew we had to try.
^ #ThingsYouCantTellFromAPhoto – I tripped and fell after taking this photo.
What we didn’t count on was how beautiful the drive would be even after you’d veered off the famed NC500 road. This is the epitome of that whole ‘hidden Highlands’ thing I mentioned in my previous post! The most beautiful places to visit in the Highlands aren’t always the most popular ones.
The Highlands is truly an exception when it comes to that travel rule. There’s so much of it that doesn’t get the full attention it deserves which is actually great for you when you visit as you’re bound to find so many gems even if you end up taking a wrong turn or deciding to ditch a map entirely (perhaps don’t fully ditch the map though 🙂 – leave it in the car and go off-plan for a little while before you hit the main route again 😉 ).
Anyway, this route was paved with many reasons to stop and just soak in the sights so if you’re heading to Lower Diabaign from Torridon, leave some minutes extra in your plans to fully soak it all in.
By the time we arrived at the Gille Brighde Cafe & Restaurant for lunch, my tummy was grumbling and protesting loudly in hunger. We wasted no time and jumped straight into mains… well, I did anyway – Lloyd still had a starter – a delicious, food envy-inducing, seafood chowder.
Mains were fish and chips – which was just what I needed! Wholesome, absolutely delicious and totally hit the right spot. Hunger daze cleared, we spoke to the owners who are a Dutch man and his Glaswegian wife who moved here many moons ago couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
Dessert was a rather indulgent sticky toffee pudding for me and an even more indulgent chocolate cake for Lloyd – no surprises with either of these two choices, which we enjoyed immensely!
While we were there, some visitors came in for lunch too and as it turns out – they used to live here back in the day, long before the restaurant owner and his wife moved in but the way they struck up conversations about so many detailed aspects of the village and their mutual friends in it, you’d think they’d been neighbours for decades.
Communities like this are harder to find in Central London so I may have ended up soaking as much of this conversation as possible before jumping in and getting recommendations on what else to see and do around us! (To be fair, I barely jumped in – as soon as they knew we were on a road trip, the suggestions came in thick and fast).
After lunch, we headed out on a little walk around Lower Diabaign before eventually, hitting the road again this time heading over to the Torridon Hotel. We were supposed to go kayaking here (the hotel has a whole host of activities you can do here – check out the lot here) but by the time we arrived, it was far too late to do this, which if I’m honest, was kinda fine by me. I was still in such a high from just seeing this beautiful part of that I didn’t mind if I saw it from a kayak or from a car – I was in the Highlands and absolutely loving it.
Seeing as we still had a bit of daylight left, we hit the road again, this time heading to Shieldaig, a route on which you get such a great view of Torridon and the Loch.
After an hour of lazing around and getting in some much-needed cups of tea, we headed over to the promenade at Shieldaig for dinner (turned out, we’d missed quite a brilliant sunset here).
The Shieldaig Bar & Coastal Kitchen had been recommended by a local we spoke to earlier so we headed here for some delicious Scottish food – starting with local scallops, followed by local lamb for myself and a huge plateful of Scottish Salmon for Lloyd.
The Highlands not only looks great but tastes great too! Way to go Scotland!!! 🙂 😀