The thing about epic journeys is that sometimes they make your actual arrival a disappointment. Not so with Applecross. Certainly your gob will be truly smacked by the cliffs and lunar landscape of the Bealach na Ba (Britain's second highest mountain pass at 626 metres above sea level), your route to the site and one of the most spectacular roads in Britain.
But on getting here you’ll feel like your adventure is just starting. Snuggled behind sleepy farm buildings and shielded from the worst of the elements by a native hazel wood, the campsite reclines along a curved grassy shelf right above the village rooftops. Through the trees you’ll glimpse an awesome panorama: from high-shouldered hills on the right, across a golden-sanded bay to the far mountains of Skye and Raasay. There’s a sense of being somewhere otherworldly and the campers you share it with feel like fellow pilgrims.
The campsite has its own beautiful café, where you will be delighted to see the wooden bar area opening out into a long flower tunnel, with neat tables, a small fountain and children’s play area. Come later in the summer and you’ll see the vines that twist prettily across the roof are bearing huge bunches of grapes. It’s a magical place to come for a coffee, and the quirky, relaxed and oddly exotic atmosphere makes it feel more like a travellers’ café in South East Asia than any Scottish campsite has a right to do.
Applecross must also be the only campsite in Britain with its own broch, a round Iron Age house. The remains of this ancient stone wigwam occupy a prime spot just a few feet behind the modern wooden ones, and it’s reassuring to think that people have known this was a camping spot worth journeying to for around 2,000 years.
From here you will get some of the finest views you will ever see of Scotland’s largest island, Skye, with its world-famous and unmistakable Cuillin Mountains. The site does have a few statics, a B&B and 10 camping huts (eight wishbones and two wigwams) to go along with the space for 60 tents but, aside from the height of summer, it doesn’t usually get too crowded, mainly because of the effort required to get here.
Down in the tiny village (little more than a string of whitewashed houses clinging to the seafront) the highlight is the legendary Applecross Inn. This is the hub of the community where locals and visitors mingle over lobster and langoustines (called prawns up here) hauled ashore by the bloke sitting in the corner who now looks a bit worse for wear after a few too many celebratory pints. Yes, you can walk all around the Applecross Peninsula, go out on an adrenaline-filled RIB (rigid inflatable boat) ride and cruise around on a stately sea kayak, but most campers seem to prefer to split their time between the Inn and the campsite (where every year in late summer you can join in an archeological dig) – while their cars sit sweating away in anticipation of the nightmare trip back across the Bealach na Ba.
60 pitches (10 with hook ups), 10 camping huts. Clean washblock with 2 showers and loos each m/f (8 onsite & a further 3 in the café); more are being developed. Coin operated laundry. Bar and café serving really delicious food. No campfires.
Tents, campervans, groups, dogs – Yes. Caravans are welcome, but may have trouble on the journey.
Applecross Bay has wide, golden sands ready for adventure. There are several lovely walks leading off from the site, and you can now walk to Applecross House (01520 744440) on a new off-road track to see the Victorian walled garden. This has several walks of its own to explore and a treehouse that younger campers will enjoy. Head south out of the village for a great cycle ride to Toscaig.
Food & Drink
The Applecross Inn (01520 744262) is justly famous for its fresh-from-the-boat seafood and its other dishes are just as fabulous. Its outside tables on the shore have amazing views and a couple have migrated almost onto the beach – nobody seems to mind. The Potting Shed Café (01520 744440) is in a sublime spot in the walled garden at nearby Applecross House. Its food more than matches its location.
OpenMarch – November (although don’t even think about Bealach na Ba in snowy or icy conditions).
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