North Coast 500

Our Elans were built to be driven and not all of us want to to use them on Track Days. If you use, or plan to use, your Elan as a Grand Tourer and have completed or are planning some great trips then inspire the rest of us with the details.

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Re: North Coast 500

Postby Rambo » Thu 21.09.2017, 21:35

What did you think of it Basher ?
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Re: North Coast 500

Postby Scott J » Thu 21.09.2017, 23:55

Did it end of August, in the Mini Clubman for camping and hiking kit. Fantastic overall. BUT there is always a BUT.

Mark, Applecross Inn now ruined. Mrs Fish admitted as much herself on the recent TV coverage , get them in, feed them get them out, no place to relax or for locals. Tourism eats itself . So i'd avoid June-Aug at least.
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Re: North Coast 500

Postby basher » Fri 22.09.2017, 22:33

I really loved it. Went off to Wales for another break when I got back so I haven't had time to post and add pictures which I will do shortly as I only got back today.
Great trip though.
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Re: North Coast 500

Postby basher » Sun 24.09.2017, 11:39

So the NC500
I really enjoyed it and I would recommend it to anyone.
First Day Colchester to Jedburgh.
We initially picked Jedburgh by basically just looking at the atlas and picking town that was just over the border so that we were just in Scotland by the end of the first day. It turned out to be a good choice as Jedburgh is a pretty little town with a castle and a beautiful church. We stayed at The Capon Tree which was quite a contemporary and modern hotel.
The journey up was pretty uneventful, heavy traffic around Cambridge and a truck driver who beeped and waved a lot as we went past. We also bought the most expensive petrol on the M1 at about £1.38 a litre.
Elan was happy to cruise at 70mph and we crossed into Scotland via the A68 and stopped to take some photos.

Day Two Jedburgh to Inverness
Started early and drove towards Inverness and a evening meet up with Andy J from the forum. Basically we were going to take the A9 up to the junction on the A86, go through Spean Bridge and then make our way up to Inverness along the side of Loch Ness. However, we wanted to see Aviemore and were quite happy to keep Uncle George onboard a bit longer so we stayed on the A9 and followed it up towards Inverness.

There were the campervans that we were warned about but there were plenty of overtaking opportunities if you needed them and I think in September the numbers were probably more reduced then earlier in the season. Aviemore was really nice and if we had more time, then we would have stayed and parked up for a bit, but we were keen to get to Inverness so that we could drop down to the Loch Ness Visitor Centre. Which we did.
OK, its a bit touristy but both Maria and I enjoyed hearing the presentation and the various evidence for but mainly against as you would expect. We also signed up for the cruise around the Loch while we were there. Afterward, it was all going so well and we were both relaxed and looking forward to the evening when I drove over the speed bump on the way out and pulled my exhaust in half!
The D-clip that hold the pipes together has always been the lowest part of the car and I think that with two people in it and a boot full of luggage, she was lower than usual and caught on the bump quite strongly. The car sounded like a dragster and having a quick look underneath I could see the pipes had been separated and need to be aligned, pulled back together and re-secured with the clamp. I had some tools and I thought that I could probably do it, but would wait until I got back to the B+B in Inverness. However, after starting to drive back, it was really loud and I was concerned that I my lose the D-Clamp, so I pulled over to a Loch Ness layby and jacked it up. I wasn't keen to get underneath it with just the jack holding it up, and on reflection, I should have put the spare underneath in case it came off the jack but I didn't and tried to manhandle the two pipes together. I had bought the car cover with me as I didn't want the car to get rained on all night uncovered and it came in handy as I laid on it while I tried to line the two pipes up. That ended up being the hardest bit- but eventually I got the pipes aligned and shook the joint until I got the joint snugly back together. From that point it wasn't difficult to tighten the clamp up again turned as much away from the road as I could. The it was just a case of putting everything back in the boot again, which Maria did mainly as my hands were filthy. It wasn't till the job was complete that I remember that I had packed some disposable gloves which I should have used!!
Anyway back at the B+B the landlady couldn't have been nicer and allowed me to go straight in and clean up. Texted Andy and arranged to meet him the next day. Went into Inverness and had dinner at an Italian Restaurant on the river which was a nice end to the day.

Day Three Inverness to Bettyhill.
The first thing we did after filling up was to visit Andy J just outside Inverness who couldn't have been friendlier for a cup of tea and a chat. After a look at both cars, Andy helped me with some spray grease to put down the runners for the passenger window which was starting to stick- I don't think it liked all of the rain which we had had up until that point. Over tea, Andy talked us through the rest of the route including a nice detour to Bonar Bridge via the B9176.
That was a great diversion and there are some lovely views over the Firth. The car was going well but the hood on the passenger side was leaking freely through the seals which are to be fair, a bit shot (weirdly the drivers side is a lot better?). I'd been prepared for this and had a towel on hand to mop it up. More worryingly it was dripping it on my feet under the dash too. As the day wore on, we started to drive out of the rain which was a relief for the roof and also allowed us to see a bit more out of the windows - by the time we hit John O' Groats it was dry.
I quite liked JOG. It is a glorified car park, ferry point with various tourist traps and restaurants but there were a lot of cars there and people taking photo's. I parked next to a green convertible TR7 and a bit further down from an old Elan with Gold Leaf paint job. I had a quick chat with the TR7 driver and he said that he had always fancied an Elan. I asked him if his hood leaked and he said no which surprised me.
I had just bought some JOG souvenirs and we were considering having Fish and Chips looking out to sea when the weather caught us up and it started to rain heavily. I would like to have stayed a bit to see what other cars turned up but we pushed on for Bettyhill.

Day Four Bettyhill to Kyle of Lochalsh
We stayed at the Bettyhill Hotel which is a great choice and is recommended on the NC500 literature. It does nice food and has a large bar area that you can sit in and chat to the various other customers who in general are doing the same route as you. It is also perched right on the coast with the road running out the front of it, so it has some stunning sea views that you can see from your room or the lounge. Chatting to the barman on the night before he said that one of the light pods had a problem when I pulled up earlier that evening. I was a bit surprised as I have refurbed them and had them apart more times than I care to remember, but I assumed that one of them hadn't popped up fully and just needed a tap. I had put the cover on for that evening so I didn't investigate further.
The next morning I had a look and noticed that the drivers inside pivot bolt had come out and the pod was therefore opening strangely. I didn't have a spare so I decided not to use the lights that day and run on the sides all day where necessary whilst I gave some thought where I would could buy or pinch another from.
This was probably one of the better days for weather and we were able to have the roof of for long periods during the day. From Bettyhill, the road becomes single track for large portions, which was wasn't as bad as it sounds as there are plentiful passing places and the traffic was light and everyone seemed to be pretty courteous when you wait or are waiting for. We were by this point topping up with fuel at every chance that we got although the Elan seeming pretty economical whilst pottering around these roads. Stopped at Smoo Cave which was well worth a visit although there were no tours going on whilst we there, but you could go in a short way and essentially have a shower in your clothes!!
This was perhaps the longest days worth of driving and in retrospect we could have put a stop in amongst this as it was a lot to do in one day, especially as the scenery became stunning over the West coast and into Wester Ross.

Unfortunately, once we had completed this section, the weather had caught us up again and it was getting pretty dark again, so we sacrificed Applecross, in order that we could get straight to Kyle of Lochalsh in daylight and hopefully fix the light pod.
On arrival, once we go the luggage away I had a look at the pod and found that miraculously, the bolt had jammed in the pod and all I had to do was to put it back in. Unfortunately, I didn't have an Allen key of that size to do the job. The landlord at the hotel said he would dig his tools out for me in the morning so I wrapped the car up in its cover and had a comfortable evening in the hotel.

Day Five Kyle of Lochalsh to Fort William.
First thing in the morning the landlord dug out his tools and I was able to fit the bolt back in the pod and the mount and get it nice and tight. I was grateful but I would say that he had bought the worlds worst socket set and the sockets barely fitted onto the ratchet or the extension attachments you had to force them- give Silverline a wide berth.
This was a short day, but the time constraint was that we had to reach Fort William by 2.30pm to catch the Jacobite train from Fort William to Mallaig which we had booked long ago.
We had some spare time so we drove down from KOL to Skye to have a quick long around there. Skye was again beautiful and we drove up the North Coast road for several miles essentially driving up the side of a mountain pass before turning around and coming back.
We drove past Eilean Donan Castle and pulled in for photos and a quick visit. I challenge anyone to take a bad photo of this place. It is amazingly picturesque a really beautiful spot.
After that was more scenic roads as we began the long descent into Fort William. This was one area where campers did hold us up a bit.
We arrived in Fort William in ample time and were able to park up and make our way to the train. We need not have hurried as much as unfortunately there was a problem with the electrics on the steam train?? and as a result we had a delay and ultimately lost the steam train and had to be pulled by diesel power instead. It was a big disappointment but happens perhaps once every three months..
Mallaig was Ok, but not much do apart from have a quick look around the harbour and then have something to eat. I can imagine it being a bit desolate in the winter.

Day Six Fort William to Moffet
First call of today was to drop back to Spean Bridge and sprinkle my uncles ashes at the Commando Memorial.
It is a really beautiful spot and a fantastic memorial, so thanks John for the suggestion. After reading some of the memorials and doing what we came to do, we pushed on South.
The next stretch was probably my favourite part of the trip. Glencoe was an absolutely beautiful part of the country. I would like to have got some better pictures but it seemed that whenever I pulled into a layby to take a location shot with the Elan, a camper would pull in directly behind. By the time I got the hang of it and pulled in at the very end so no-one could get in behind, I had missed some of the good stuff!!
Once that is complete then we were straight into Loch Lomond and the Trossochs which also seems to me to be a another beautiful part of the world. We were once again roof of for this bit as the weather cleared up and managed to pick a lovely spot to have lunch by the side of Loch Lomond.
After going around the outside of Glasgow we again headed south on the M74 towards Moffat where we were overtaken by an blue original Lotus Elan. The reason I mention it was that he was the only, solitary Lotus that we encountered on the entire trip who didn't give us a friendly wave as we passed. Maria was unimpressed by this and, as she was driving, overtook him back, blanked him and then dropped him to teach him a lesson!
Moffat was a nice place to spend an evening and was notable for two reasons. One, we ate in the Black Bull Bar which specialises in serving pies and very nice they are too- I would recommend popping in if you were passing. Secondly, it has apparently the worlds narrowest hotel which we popped into for a drink afterward. It may be narrow, but appears to go back a fair way and have several floors so its not as limiting as that title would suggest. I won't be giving that the same recommendation as I would the pie restaurant!!

Day Seven Moffat to Colchester
This was basically a fairly boring long drive home. The only high point was dropping in on Gretna Green shortly before crossing back into England.
Again, its a little bit of a tourist trap, but I liked it for that and there was plenty to see and buy along with numerous photo opportunities and a piper who would play if you give him some cash. Its quite well presented too and not just some dump after your money and really you have to experience it if you are doing this sort of tour. More practically the Mrs bought me a woollen snood in there, because by that point the lid was off the car and I was finding it a little nippy around the neck and this proved to be just the job. Someone ought to do a group buy on woollen snoods!
Beyond that, we got home safe and I loved the trip. From door to door the Elan did 1710 miles and aside from those couple of little points above which were mainly self inflicted (lets face it, it was probably me who didn't tighten up the light pod in the first place) she didn't miss a beat.
Granted the roof leaks a bit and I need to look at that. The doors have started clicking on the wings again, but I put that down to the car being shaken for several hundred miles on the rougher road surfaces that the NC500 gives you and hopefully they will just need a slight adjustment. The windscreen squirts maddeningly gave up at certain points and then worked beautifully in others and I know when I try to get it to work in my garage, it will every time!!
I have also found that my fingers ache the next morning after the drive as you are hanging on to the wheel tight and guiding the car all the time in a way you wouldn't do with a modern road car. But that's part of the fun and on the parts of the route where you are alone (and there is a surprising amount of them at this time of the year) you can really let the Elan loose.
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Re: North Coast 500

Postby Steve A » Sun 24.09.2017, 12:00

:clap: Respect ! :bowdown: and a great write up, well done :clap:
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Re: North Coast 500

Postby Rambo » Sun 24.09.2017, 13:08

It sounds a good trip and the photos do Scotland justice. Shame you missed one of the nicest bits ie Torridon, Sheildag, Atlantic coast drive to Applecross, Bealach na Ba...... Next time :wink:
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Re: North Coast 500

Postby basher » Sun 24.09.2017, 21:00

Fairly sure we did Torridon and Sheildag just didn't turn off for Applecross via the 'Pass of Cattle'.
Like I say, time was getting on, the exhaust was hanging low and I couldn't use the headlights so we decided against it. We did discuss returning the next day, but it took long enough to get from there to Kyle of Localsh that we didn't fancy the backtrack..
We haven't ruled out a return visit or 'second lap' at some point so that would definitely be on the list for next time.
If there was one thing that we perhaps missed it was some other company would have been nice. We saw a few of the car clubs up there in convoy and we have done banger rallies in Europe where there are lots of others with you doing the same thing which is a great experience- we weren't part of the camper club!
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Re: North Coast 500

Postby Rambo » Sun 24.09.2017, 21:10

That's probably right. You would have gone through Torridon and Sheildaig and then carried on to Loch Carton rather than turn right for the coastal drive to Mrs Fish's at Applecross and then the Bealach back to Loch Carron

So much to do and see in Scotland, so many empty roads......

Next time stay in the Borders for a few days. We have the best scenery and fastest, windiest roads in Scotland and the boys in blue are non existent :burnout:
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Re: North Coast 500

Postby Andy_J » Mon 25.09.2017, 18:29

It was good of you to pop in for tea/coffee on Saturday morning. Nice to have a chat with another Elan owner and to get a look over your Elan.

Glad you enjoyed the diversion over the Struie, the views are even better when you get a clear day and the road is much more interesting that the A9.

Can't believe you had another wee problem with the Elan, but at least you managed to fix it.

You will need to come back and do the run over to Applecross. I may even have my Elan back on the road by then.
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Re: North Coast 500

Postby Rambo » Mon 25.09.2017, 20:09

Team trip to Mrs Fish's at the Applecross Inn ??? The freshly caught, hand dived scallops, wild rice and bacon are worth the long drive up and over the pass of the cattle :burnout: :cheers:
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Re: North Coast 500

Postby basher » Tue 26.09.2017, 22:27

Sounds like a plan to me, when we next go I'll give plenty of notice on here and get a few of us together on the road.
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Re: North Coast 500

Postby Jamie N » Wed 27.09.2017, 08:59

Rambo wrote:Team trip to Mrs Fish's at the Applecross Inn ??? The freshly caught, hand dived scallops, wild rice and bacon are worth the long drive up and over the pass of the cattle :burnout: :cheers:


The self caught Codling and Plaice off the pier at Toscaig are even better!, or maybe a nice Pollack if you scramble down the rocks a bit further along :wink: .
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Re: North Coast 500

Postby Rambo » Wed 27.09.2017, 15:49

A lot cheaper too than Mrs Fish's fish :shock:
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