Updated August 2019
When you visit Scotland you will no doubt want to visit castles such as Edinburgh Castle, Dunnotar Castle and Urquhart Castle. Whether you want to find out more about your ancestry, visit castles you have seen on postcards or online or even follow in the footsteps of a certain red haired man in a kilt (Outlander fan?) you’ll want to purchase a pass in order to save yourself some cash. Without a pass costs can really mount up, especially if you have a nice long wish list of “must sees”. If you want to visit castles in Scotland the best way to save money is by buying passes in advance. Some of the most popular castles in Scotland tend to be expensive to enter, even more so when you are paying for your family too. If you buy a pass there is often some other advantages too, such as getting to the front of the queue or a discount at the gift shop.
The next section of Scotland’s North Coast 500 begins in Durness. After a full Scottish breakfast at the Smoo Cave Hotel we doubled back a bit and took a little road to the west of Durness which took us to Balnakeil Beach. Another absolutely gorgeous beach which looks over towards Cape Wrath. The bay feels abandoned, wild and remote, and the waves crashing onto the sands from the ferocious North Atlantic give it an eerie empty feeling.
The area, including Fariad Head and Gracie Island, is used by the ministry of defence to train fighter pilots and test weapons. It’s only used at certain times though and will be completely closed off while in use. There are notices up in Durness with dates on if you're in the area. Also beside the beach is the remains of Durness Old Church and graveyard where the Gaelic Poet Rob Dunn is buried, who was well known during the Jacobite years.