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Digital escapes

We live in a fast-paced world. With a near-constant deluge of emails, meetings and deadlines, there’s rarely time to wind down and immerse yourself in the moment. Even when we do get away, technology stops us from doing so properly. To find authentic respite you need to escape it all. Monocle has teamed up with Porsche to take two new models – the 718 Cayman T and the 718 Boxster T – on roadtrips across the wild Isle of Skye and along the sublime coastline of the Highlands. Hop in.

Roadtrip one: Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye feels like a final frontier, the world’s end – and with good reason. You can drive for hours in total solitude, save for a few spectral trees and the shifting silhouette of the mountains. With the 718 Cayman T and 718 Boxster T we tour Skye in all its rugged variety, from south to north, finishing by a fireplace in a good hotel.

Route

1. Start at the Toravaig House Hotel in the south, then head northeast along the A851. The road straightens as it hugs the coast of Loch Hourn – a good stretch to enjoy the force of the powerful mid-engine of the 718 T models.

2. Soon the verdant landscape around Toravaig gives way to the bushy yellow gorse that covers much of the island. At Broadford, turn left to keep the sea on your right and shoot northwest. Café Sia, on the edge of town, is a good spot for a silky coffee and a bite to eat.

 

3. Follow signs for Sligachan and then Portree, the Isle’s major town. The route there rises, dips and snakes, with a fair share of hairpin turns to be devoured. The smooth handling of the 718 T models will make quick and exhilarating work of them all.

4. Portree marks the gateway to the island’s mountainous Trotternish Peninsula, where you’ll find some of the most impressive landscapes. Without stopping in town (yet) take the A87 so that the water is on your left. The road up to Uig runs like velvet under the wheels before beginning to weave as you circle around the coast and reach the mighty Quiraing landslide. The locals call these fortress-like formations the “navel of the world”.

5. Follow the road south along the coast, keeping the sea to your left. After about 15km you’ll reach The Storr. More fangs or claws than fortresses, these rocks rise violently to a height of more than 700 metres and can be seen from the neighbouring island of Raasay on a clear day. You can drop off the car at the carpark just before Loch Leathan and climb to the summit.

6. Back at Portree, stop for lunch at The Granary – an unassuming spot that, behind a little bakery façade, serves excellent dishes such as grilled lamb and hand-dived scallops.

7. Head west out of Portree via the B885, which cuts across the Isle through narrow forest-laden glens. You will emerge onto a small bay within Loch Harport. (Across the water in Carbost is the famed Talisker distillery – something best revisited another day by taxi – which produces a peaty and smoky whisky that is much praised across Scotland.)

8. Head north up the A863 from the bay. When the road forks at Lonmore, keep left, taking the B884 so that Loch Dunvegan appears on your right, taking you to The Three Chimneys hotel. This low-key outpost – which was founded by Eddie and Shirley Spear and is today run by their children – prides itself on understated luxury. If you’ve timed it right you can walk to the edge of the loch for a marvellous sunset and a glowing-orange view of Dunvegan Castle. The 19th-century manorial home is the seat of the chief of the clan of McLeod and is open to curious visitors; it’s a fine way to start the next morning. But for now, kick back by the cosy fire at The Three Chimneys.

 

 

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The cars

The 718 T series models are cars made for the joy of driving. The hatchback 718 Cayman T and soft-top 718 Boxster T are simple, graceful and well designed – but it’s not about fancy equipment and how fast they can go from zero to 100 (though never fear, they’re fast). These mid-engine, two-seat sports cars are pared back and boast superb handling, quick acceleration and a low perch. The results are sporty vehicles that make every minute on the road more exhilarating than the last. 

 

Roadtrip two: The NC500

The Highlands feature an eclectic topography: thick forests of Scotch pine, glens tucked between austere hills, innumerable lochs and a coastline that could easily be mistaken for California. The North Coast 500 highway, completed in 2015, made this natural blessing more accessible. We’ve picked a dramatic section that encapsulates the full variety of the NC500, as it’s known.

Route

1. Kick off proceedings at the quaint loch-side Balmacara Hotel, setting off early after a hearty breakfast. Head northwest to Stromferry on the A890 and then hug the water to your left. At New Kelso, when the road forks, take the left towards Locharron.

2. The road (A896) begins to rise and twist as you move into the mountains; at the parabolic bends, the nimbly balanced 718 Boxster T proves indispensable, gliding around each turn. This part of the route delivers unbridled driving pleasure.

3. When the road brings you to Tornapress, turn left at the junction to continue your ascent. The clouds hang low here, engulfing the tops of the mountain.

4. Pull over at the Bealach na Ba Viewpoint for a sweeping 360-degree view. From here the road dips back down past ponds and lakes, before the North Sea comes suddenly into view. The path then weaves through dense patches of trees and gorse before finally coming to the town of Applecross.

5. The Applecross Inn always has a roaring fire and fresh seafood (the langoustines are of particular note) should you need a pick-me-up.It also has some well-furnished rooms. Before you push north along the NC500, head south to Culduie where, in the bays and on the beaches, you can see seals frolicking on the rocks and bobbing their heads above the water.

6. Retrace your tracks back to Applecross and shoot north. This straight bit of road is nothing short of Scotland’s Big Sur.

7. As you round the peninsula at Fearnmore and begin to head east again along the coast, the trees become supersized and densely packed. The town of Shieldaig is just up ahead in the bay. Pull over at the Shieldaig Coastal Bar and Kitchen for lunch. Its dive-like appearance belies a laudable kitchen.

8. Continue east along the the A896 in the direction of Torridon, then Kinlochewe, where the road enters a dramatic glen. The land here is cragged and austere, save for a the ancient, solitary Caledonian pinewoods that resemble (upsized) bonsai trees.

9. At Kinlochewe head northwest on the A832 to Gairloch, so that Loch Maree is on your right. Pass Gairloch and continue to Big Sands for a picturesque finish on one of Scotland’s most beautiful beaches. A left turn off the main road after the town, into a network caravan lodges, leads you right down to the water’s edge.

10. Now to decamp for the night. Go back to Gairloch and find the A832 again, driving north. It’ll take you through the quaint village of Poolewe and then to the Aultbea Hotel in the town of the same name. It’s a well-designed 10-room outpost overlooking the Isle of Ewe, and has the welcoming feel of home.

 

To experience the new 718 T models at their best you’ve got to find the best roads nearby. With Roads by Porsche – the scenic routing community – you can browse the world’s most epic roads, record your own favourites and share them with likeminded people. Available for free on the App Store. 

For those who want to explore Scotland in style, Porsche Travel Experience is the way to go. It’s a tailor-made itinerary that includes elegant hotels and restaurants, plus a rental 718 T that’s yours to enjoy for the duration of your trip.

experience.porsche.com/scotland718T

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