The next day, we took on a section of the West Coast 500 not recommended for larger vans, certainly for novices. However, by this time, with in excess of 4000 minutes of motorhoming experience (most of it parked up), we felt that we could handle it. A little while later, we were experiencing an hour of the most exciting driving we’ve had (bar maybe La Gomera, though the screaming from the passengers came close). I don’t recall more than a handful of passing places, the road was barely wider than the van, and the 30cm wall protecting us from certain death in the bouldery surf at the bottom of the rocky embankments would have been no match for the monster wheels of our van. Reversing half a mile to the last passing place would have been awkward, but luckily we saw not a soul. When we got to the end, there were some giant motorhomes that presumably had, or were about to, drive the same road. Lucky timing. When we returned our van later in the week the owner said that road had completely defeated a lorry driver, who, after totally destroying his lorry, abandoned it and was never seen again. The terror was worth it for the views though (I’m told: I was driving and saw nothing but road, trying very hard not to kill the whole family). That night we camped at Altandhu, on the shore of a beautiful sand and boulder beach.
The next day we decided to take a more main road to the next site, Achmelvic, thinking we’d probably used up all our motorhome driving lives the previous day. Another beautiful sandy beach awaited us, and on some rocky outcrops Megan and I failed miserably to catch any fish for our dinner, so we went to the on-site chip shop instead.
The following day was a drive up the rest of the west coast to Durness, close to a lifelong ambition of mine, Cape Wrath. Durness campsite was busy, but in a beautiful location, and with the temperature now down to 12°C, overcast skies, and plenty of wind, my determination to stay in shorts and sandals for the whole holiday was beginning to look unwise, but I’m not a quitter, so I put on a down jacket and a brave face. The penultimate day dawned, and it was time for some last ditch half marathon training, the hard way. Having always wanted to join the Cape Wrath Fellowship, I decided to run to Cape Wrath (after crossing the sound in a boat of course), while the others went in the minibus. Annoyingly, I’m still not a member, as it turns out you have to do it on a bike! In disappointingly warm conditions (I mean, Cape Wrath is meant to be unpleasant, right? Wrong: it comes from Old Norse hvarf, which means turning point; it was when they knew to turn south to reach the lands they wanted to ransack), I set off on the 11 mile stony track, mostly into a vicious headwind, and seemingly mostly uphill (with a few descents to almost sea-level on the way to make it extra hard). I arrived at Cape Wrath… just… to find a 24 hour cafe. I asked the owner what happens if someone turns up at 3am. "They get a cup of tea and abuse." was the gruff reply.
After Cape Wrath, we drove east in search of a campsite, and eventually found a tiny field run by a monosyllabic owner, though it did have a hot shower (at least, the little water that came out was hot). The next day, now experts at packing away the bed, making breakfast, emptying the toilet (ok, I managed to get myself wet), etc., we drove the barren road back to Dornoch, and got into our comically close-to-the-ground car and drove home, bums scraping along the road, or so it seemed, having spent the week piloting a tank.