12 months is just too long to wait for the next road trip so this year we decided to take another jaunt to the Highlands. Our route was very similar to 2012, 4 driving days focusing on the amazing west coast from the Isle of Skye all the way up to the northernmost edge of the UK. We had a couple of newbies in 993's, a local Scotsman in his 996 GT2 and then 4 of the main hardcore regulars in 993 3.8 clubsport (myself), 430 Scuderia, 996 targa & 996 C4S.
This mini tour worked out pretty good. The start of day 1 did see a lot of traffic and way too much police presence but the roads did get better toward Skye. Day 2 was easily the best with one continuous 7 hour blast. Hundres of miles of incredible scenery and almost zero other road users. The sense of isolation, stillness and scale in this part of the world is something else. In the UK there are very few places like this where the eye takes in so much space and can see for so far. It's theraputic almost, liberating and life-affirming. Glancing out to sea and across to Lewis and Harris, the vastness and majesty of it all .... it's almost like you've travelled back in time and are witnessing the planet just moments after its birth.
Whilst the roads on day 2 were probably the best i've ever experienced in the UK, returning here 3 years later did force a new perspective. The west coast is fairly ragged and rough and the roads are also very fast and comparatively straight; much of it is actually like a narrow rural motorway. Because of this, it's actually not especially technical and is mostly very high speed corners or just 'blanchimont-esque' kinks so you spend less time expending the cars full complement of grip and enjoying the car at its outer limits. For me this means that really its the scenery that is the more impressive as opposed to the driving on offer although its easy to let the former skew one's judgement of the latter. Whilst I had a great time on this trip my feeling is it will be many many years until I return. The cameras and the police didnt' help and the bottom line is the roads in the Alps are simply a class above. Smoother, a lot more bends, more variety of bends, more elevation change and far more sections that feel like a beposke racetrack.
Day 3 & 4 were a little different. The first few hours down to Lairg were dominated by singletrack which is ok but not ideal. The old military road flanking Loch Ness was interesting but extremely undulating, narrow and very rough in places, more of a hot hatch or caterham road. The Cairngorms though were excellent. A little more technical than the west coast with lots of sweeping stuff, plenty of armco, better road surfaces and no let up in the beautiful scenery either. The ultra tight and twisty Duke's pass at the end of Day 4 in the Trossachs was a little gem but not so great in my 993. It would be a blast in something smaller like an elise or a caterham.
Route files here
DAY1 - 245 miles, Oban, Scottsburgring, the A32 to Fort Augustus and the isle of Skye
We met this stunning 991 Turbo on the way up to Helensburgh. I actually viewed this car at West London Porsche a few months back and purely by chance we bumped into its new owner here on the motorway services. The chrome trim on this turbo really sets it off, best looking 991tt I've ever seen.
Morning meet at the Helensburgh hotel. Only the 3 'southerners' hotel'd it the night before the start day. We stayed at Rosslea Hall but if i'm being honest I wouldn't recommend it.
First petrol stop on the way to Oban. We stopped here in 2012.
The radios are vital for safety and organisation.
Stunning scenery even while still relatively southerly.
Plenty of fuel stops. The GT2 looking as mean as ever.
Go pro portrait.
The Dunollie hotel in Broadford, Skye. We don't recommend this place too much. The resturant was full of about 300 chinese pensioners and the rooms were pint sized, think of a regular hotel room but literally cut in half down the middle.
Oh, and don't go here. The owner was unhelpful, objectional and basically a bit of an all round ****.
A smattering of aircooled. Setting off from Skye on day 2.
DAY2 - 254 miles, The best of the British Isles, Kinlochewe to Bettyhill
The obligatory stop at the pretty Eileen Dolean castle.
993's all in a line ....
Moving to take point.
The start of the A832, Kinlockewe to Dundonnel ... probably the best stretch of road in the British Isles.
Neverending and all to ourselves.
The Kylesku bridge.
Quick cambelt change for the Ferrai.
The beautiful beaches of Durness. Stunning part of the world.
The inlet at Bettyhill. The scale of this is hard to portray. That beach of the left is the size of Surrey.
Restuarant with a view. This was the Bettyhill hotel and I thoroughly recommend it. Great views, some fine walks, good service and some really decent food.
DAY3 - 260 miles, south to Lairg, The Old Military Road and the Cairngorms
A regroup just past the bridge of Cally and a chance to chat to a few neds.
On toward Inverness. The Scuderia proved to be a great sparring companion.
Entering the Cairgnorms.
Stunning scenery and many many good runs with the Scud.
Mile upon mile of empty bliss.
The Geln Lui hotel in Ballater. Again, this one comes highly recommended. A lovely terrace and garden and some really cracking food. Fresh scallops and the pork 3 ways went down a treat.
DAY4 - 143 miles, Ballater to Pitlochry, the Trossachs and Loch Tay
Softening dampers for the 550 mile hourney home.
Homeward bound. Until June 2016.