There’s also no right or wrong direction to drive it. There are many places to camp along the North Coast 500 route, but you should not just take up your temporary residence anywhere. Ullapool is a small seaside town on the shore of Loch Broom. However, the 'North Coast 500' is the new name given to a specific circular itinerary created by the non-profit North Highland Initiative in 2014 to foster wider awareness of this remote, rural part of Scotland as a tourist destination, boost and diversify the local economy, and to make it a little easier for people to plan their time up here. I am planning a trip to Scotland in May 2020. The hostels on the North Coast 500 are not party hostels but directed at mature travellers who are looking for short-term self-catering accommodation on a budget. However, keep in mind, that being the only car that goes against the stream can be annoying and tiring on single track roads. There are many single track roads, particularly in the far northern regions and many of the detours I suggest in this post also make use of steep single track roads. The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route along Scotland's northern coast, offering drivers rugged landscapes, sandy benches, wildlife, museums, castles, whisky distilleries, and so much more! For many, these are the highlights of the NC500. Managed by the John Muir Trust, Sandwood Bay is one of the most remote and beautiful beaches in the whole of the United Kingdom. The most popular attraction of Inverness is Loch Ness. All opinions are my own and there was no obligation to write this blog post. We’ve put together this comprehensive North Coast 500 guide to help you plan the perfect North Coast 500 road trip in Scotland. Another worthwhile detour as you make your way through West Sutherland is to the Old Man of Stoer. The biggest supermarkets can be found in Inverness, Ullapool, Thurso, Wick and more frequently as you near Inverness. Aside from stunning mountain views, it also boasts lovely views across Upper Loch Torridon. View from the top of the pass (Kav Dadfar). Home. The falls are impressive, but the highlight of your visit will be seeing the wild salmon leaping upstream (in August and September). So you have planned your dream North Coast 500 route, decided on your basic itinerary – Dundrobin Castle! There really is no shortage of beautiful beaches on the North Coast 500. The Trip Planning Workbook in my Scotland Travel Resource Library is the perfect tool to help you plan a great NC500 road trip. We stayed at Gairloch Sands Youth Hostel, which gets its name from its proximity to the beautiful beaches of the area. The entrance ticket costs £12.50 (£7.50 for children) and includes the castle and the gardens. The Moray Firth to the east of the peninsula is home to a thriving bottlenose dolphin population – to see them get aboard a dolphin cruise from Cromarty Bay or peel your eyes at Chanonry Bay. I corrected the information in my main guide for wild camping in Scotland, but clearly forgot to amend it here. Absolutely! There is a sign at the bottom stating that it is not suitable for learner drivers, caravans and very large vehicles – see photo on the article; unfortunately, many people put stickers on top of this essential warning. Inverness-Shire. YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 20 Beautiful Towns to Visit in Scotland. Beaches & Pools – There are dozens of beaches along the North Coast 500 and they are great places to stop and let the kids explore and let out some energy. I also offer trip planning services to ensure that you have a great time here and an epic itinerary. Sitting beside the tranquil Kyle of Tongue, which is dissected by a causeway, the imposing mountains of Ben Hope and the “Queen of Scottish mountains” - Ben Loyal seem to always be looming over you. Take a string of whitewashed cottages, place them next to a gorgeous loch with a backdrop of imposing mountains and you have Shieldaig. This NC500 tour includes two nights stay in an NC500 accommodation, easy level guided nature walks and the following North Coast 500 itinerary: Day 1: Inverness to Ullapool Leaving Inverness Bus Station at 8 am, the first-day route may include a stop at the National Nature Reserve , Corrieshalloch Gorge (weather permitting) with an easy walk to one of Scotland’s waterfalls. Open 10 am to 5 pm (1 April to 31 October). Well, that pretty much sums up some of our favourite photography locations on the North Coast 500! West, north, east coast – all three sides of the route have beautiful beaches with clear water and the finest sand. Corrieshalloch Gorge is up to 60 m deep and 1.5 km (1 mile) long. But after spending a weekend there he left, never to return. Today, the Battlefield is a historic site and memorial ground for the many people who have lost their lives here. North Coast 500 – Places to stay. The gorgeous crescent shape beach wouldn’t look a miss in the Mediterranean and the surrounding areas make for wonderful walks. He was taken to Edinburgh and executed a few days later. A handy map you can save to your Google Maps. Hi June, thanks for pointing out this error in the article! From here, the route leads south back towards Inverness. You can maximise your time on the North Coast 500 by flying in and out of Inverness airport. This article may contain affiliate links that provide us with a small income. Sign up today for free and be the first to get notified of new articles, new competitions, new events and more. The beach has some of the whitest sand I have seen in Scotland and is well-sheltered from the wind. Named after the Dutchman who ran a ferry to Orkney, Jan de Groot, this is an area teeming with wildlife and offers plenty of activities. The Ultimate Roadtrip! I drove the NC500 as part of a paid project with Hostelling Scotland. The castle dates from the late 16th/early 17th century. You can return the same way or take the slightly longer ¾ mile route back to the car park. The most common off-road walking route is even longer – 1,900 km (1,200 miles). Hi Dave, I stand by my advice 100%. How many days for the North Coast 500 road trip? This delightful village sits along the shore of Loch Shieldaig and Loch Torridon and might be the most picturesque you will come across on the NC500. Find out more here. Online Shop. It’s a treasure trove! A clear track leads from Blairmore car park near Kinlochbervie all the way to Sandwood Bay. The North Coast 500 (short NC500) offers a once-in-a-lifetime road trip through pristine Scottish landscapes and scenery. A sign at the beginning of the road warns drivers of the notorious single-track road that climbs up to 626 metres (2,054 ft) above sea level and has several hairpin bends. On the first day, we drove from Edinburgh to Inverness with a few stops along the way. While the beaches are truly stunning, the main reasons people flock to the island during the summer is its wildlife. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and had to head on to our next accommodation, but this zip line will not get away that easy – I will be back! 5 Day North Coast 500 Itinerary. I highly recommend adding an additional day in the area between Ullapool and Durness to make time for the hike to the beach! Home Blog North Coast 500 Highlights (The Best Places to Eat on the NC500 Route) Blog Scotland. Sturdy hiking boots are an absolute must and so is a general comfort with light scrambling. The NC 500 offers a little bit of everything that makes Scotland such a wonderful place to visit. Dunrobin Castle is one of the oldest, biggest, and most iconic castles in Scotland. Needing some local tips? If you get a nice evening, spend it on the beach watching the sunset over the ocean. Indeed, the east coast is not as mountainous as the west and since you drive on a much larger road (the A9) it looks like there is not much to do. There is a train from Inverness to Thurso and some bus routes along the major roads connecting the bigger towns and villages. Experience it on our small guided tour from Inverness. YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: My Top 20 Places to Visit in Scotland. Buy my Scotland Travel Guides and Resource Library. The site is recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the cliffs of the headland offer plenty of nesting space to thousands of sea birds. It is not difficult or antisocial to drive them here. Overlooking Moray Firth, it was once the home of the Earls and later Dukes of Sutherland – one of the most powerful families in Scotland. I recommend you do the same. Hi, I’m Kathi! There are a few shops and restaurants – I recommend Stacks Bistro for vegan options – and several boat tours leaving from the little harbour. But regardless, the views from the unofficial peak are awe-inspiring. The North Coast ranges from one extreme to another. The cafe offers a variety of refreshments and snacks as well as cakes, teas and coffees in a quirky setting among model gondolas, national park stickers and shelves filled with adventure books. Write down which places are highest on your bucket list for you and work out an itinerary based on that. Like most places, the summertime is going to be the ideal time to travel the North Coast 500 in terms of weather. If you are on a budget – or simply don’t have the time to tour that many rooms, you can walk down a road on the right side of the castle and take photos of it from the seaside. Then do the detour to visit Dunnet Head Lighthouse! The kitchen garden of the Highlands! Along the way, he pointed out local wildlife, shows us sea urchins and sea stars, deep-sea anemones which we could see thanks to the low tide and several seabirds like fulmars, shags and guillemots. What is certain is that the views of the Kyle of Tongue are magnificent from here. After a walk through the centre – visit Leakey’s Bookshop – and a stroll along the River Ness, make your way up to Inverness Castle. Beautifully set on Loch Assynt to a backdrop of Ben More Assynt, Ardvreck Castle dates to the late 14th century. Best Places for Shopping Along the North Coast 500 Shopping around the north coast of Scotland can prove to be an expensive affair if not done properly. Next to the lighthouse, you can walk along the cliffs and spot sea birds nesting at these soaring heights. North Coast 500 Highlights (The Best Places to Eat on the NC500 Route) by Ivana December 10, 2018. North Coast Discover the stunning beauty, native animals, excellent fishing and surfing heritage that make the North Coast of NSW one of the world’s top holiday destinations. Then we spent 7 days on the road trip. Salt Rock is situated just north of Shaka's Rock and Ballito - a gem of a holiday resort which creates a relaxed holiday atmosphere and even for the locals.The name Salt Rock originates from King Shaka's days when his handmaidens used to collect dried salt off the rocks at low tide. If you are looking for stunning landscapes, fascinating history, endless horizons, ancient castles, golden beaches and crystal-clear water, all wrapped up in a 500-mile road trip, then the NC500 is for you. It stretches from Loch Maree over the peaks of Beinn Eighe towards Liatach and Torridon. and never miss out again. I love zip lining and the idea of flying high above one of Scotland’s beautiful beaches while looking out over the sea was just too much to handle for me. Hence, walking barefoot on … Join my Facebook group "Wild Adventures Scotland" to find inspiration for big & small adventures. An ultimate guide on where you have to stop and eat along the North Coast 500 route. Wildlife watching at Chanonry Point. As you make your way along the A835 west, be sure to stop at Rogie Falls. As well as stunning scenery along the North Coast 500 you will find foodie heaven. Check out my Covid-19 page for updates, travel tips and advice for your itinerary. Neither will you be able to explore independently or stop at multiple sites each day, as bus services might not be frequent enough. Hillbillies Bookstore and the adjacent cafe Mountain Coffee Company are a must-see on the North Coast 500. Top seafood experiences around the route! See map North Coast Map NSW - Mid North Coast Map NSW - Far North Coast Map NSW.. Inverness Castle Viewpoint; Chisholms Highland Dress; Dolphin Watch; Castle Gallery; Inverness Day Tours; Happy Tours; Inverness Bike Tours; Inverness … For the serious walker, the 12.5-mile hike to the summit at 731 meters will provide spectacular views. There is also the historic town of Dornoch itself with its beautiful cathedral and stone houses. Wild Camping Essentials – A Complete Guide to Wild Camping . My wife and I, with a friend (all in 60's) plan to drive the North Coast 500. Get a detailed trail description here. 10 minutes, £15 per person) where they are greeted by a welcome committee of volunteer guides. The North Coast 500 is a roughly 500-mile road trip around the far north-west of Scotland. Our trip to Rogie Falls was fairly brief as arguably, the main attraction for our day, would be driving across the famous North Coast 500. Imagine riding across this beautiful beach! As you begin to make your way east from Durness on the north coast of Scotland, you will eventually reach the charming village of Tongue. Drive slowly or stop your motorhome altogether to avoid spooking them. Stac Pollaidh and Loch Lurgainn (Kav Dadfar). From exploring the castle or a taking a riverside stroll to trying out the city’s mouth-watering Scottish cuisine, make this the first highlight of your NC500 road trip. In terms of activities and walks, a lot of the walks we did, such as the Mountain Trail at Beinn Eighe, Handa Island or the coastal walk to the Duncansby Stacks were not paved or wheelchair accessible. To reach it you have to master various steep hills and hairpin bends, all the while looking out for incoming traffic. The site is free to enter and you can read about the excavation process and the assumed significance of the cairns on the boards around the compound. Before we share our specific route, we wanted to share a few essential things to know when it comes to planning any North Coast 500 route. Achmelvich is very remote, which means there is very little (if any) reception, but to be honest you want to unplug in an area like this. Dunrobin Castle is one of my favourite castles in Scotland, and Golspie itself is a really nice town. Join here!). The route is also known as the NC500 and was launched in 2015, linking many features in the north Highlands of Scotland in one touring route.. It claimed its place in history as the setting for one of the great betrayals of Highland hospitality. Check out the Google map below which has the official NC500 route marked on. At times it is as steep as 20% and is therefore not suitable for nervous and learner drivers, large motorhomes or campervans. Legend has it, that this was the site of the last ever witch burning in Scotland. Take a trip to the Black Isle. After climbing steeply through the Caledonian pinewoods the trail emerges above the tree line and becomes very rocky. Where Does the North Coast 500 Start? North Coast 500 7-day Itinerary Arguably one of the best road trips in the world! Cheers, Kathi, Pingback: Best Road Trips in the World (The Last One is Epic!) Will took us out to the Isle Martin, the furthest outlier of the Summer Isles and the one with the most impressive sea cliffs (40m tall and another 40 m under the surface). There is no clear path at this point with many deep ravines. Overlooking Kyle of Tongue on the summit of a bluff is a small tower called Castle Varrich (also known as Caisteal Bharraigh). The North Coast 500 is a road trip destination and best done by car or with a campervan. However, as the going is slower in some parts than others, we’ve tried to balance this itinerary so you get fairly similar amounts of driving time each day. Starting and ending in Inverness, or specifically Inverness Castle, you will tick off the regions of Wester Ross, Caithness, Easter Ross, Black Isle, Sutherland and Inverness-shire. They are a great resource if you are looking for more recommendations or tour options. Check out VISIT SCOTLAND or UK GOVERNMENT for more guidance and advice on driving in Scotland or POLICE SCOTLAND for driving in winter. This post contains affiliate links, which I may make a commission from. The River Droma rushes through the rock over a series of waterfalls, cutting it deeper and deeper over millions of years. There used to be a diner in the house next to the bridge, which was fantastic. We only stopped for a few photos, but since the beach is sheltered from the strong winds you could easily bring a picnic and spend a few hours here. The Most Spectacular Places To Visit On The North Coast 500 wanderlust.co.uk - Kav Dadfar | 05 January 2021. The castle was used as a naval hospital during the First World War when a fire damaged some parts of it. It closely follows the coastline with its castle ruins and quaint small towns, before offering the option for a detour on the Black Isle peninsula. First, the NC500 leads south-west to the Applecross peninsula, Shieldaig and the Torridon mountains. Stunning coastal scenery, magnificent Munros, historic castles and vast lochs, Scotland’s version of a road trip will leave you in awe… Launched in … I hope these resources are of greater help than me and that you can travel the NC500! It is small, but there are many international flights to Inverness. It is one of Scotland's best-known mountains and sits in the heart of the Assynt. Achmelvich Beach is slightly off the main route of the NC500 and requires you to drive down a small single-track road for a couple of miles. As you drive to the end of Torridon village, keep going as the road gets smaller and narrower and continue past a sign that advises learner drivers and campervans/motorhomes to turn around. From here, the walk down (and back up) involves scrambling on very steep rocks and great care should be taken. You can find out more about my visit to Handa Island here. It is truly spectacular. The views are magnificent and if visibility is good you can see the Old Man of Hoy in Orkney in the distance. All the photos were breath taking. Shieldaig is easily one of the prettiest seaside villages in Scotland with its colourful waterfront facing Loch Shieldaig. Foraging Along The North Coast 500. Easter Ross. Experience Scotland's answer to Route 66 on our scenic self-drive tour of the North Coast of Scotland. 5 days on the North Coast 500 will give you a good amount of time to see many of the sights along the way. It’s an exploration not a race. Many people who hire campervans or motorhomes in Scotland are driving these for the first time and thus, a road like this can be very stressful and even dangerous – i.e. It is never a bad idea to fill up in larger towns where prices are cheaper. Six regions of the Highlands are included within the route: Inverness-shire, … Bealach Na Ba! Even if the two could not be more different! Many believe it was built by the Vikings or the Norse. The Black Isle peninsula is worth a trip of its own, but it is also a perfect final place to visit on the North Coast 500. Foodies Guide to the North Coast 500. The main road of the North Coast 500 route is scenic as it is, but there are many little detours you can drive to reach even more off the beaten path villages and mountains views. Spend endless days on uncrowded beaches, swim with dolphins, indulge in incredible food and wine, explore pristine volcanic hinterland and hike through ancient rainforest. Launched in 2015, the North Coast 500 encompasses over 500 miles of wild scenery, secluded beaches and historic castles in Scotland’s northern highlands. It's a spectacular coastal route on winding, often narrow, but very well maintained roads, populated by courteous drivers. A coastal path leads along the mind-boggling cliffs here until you are face to face with the two Duncansby Sea Stacks. However, it is important to keep in mind that many roads in north-west Scotland are narrow and winding. You’d imagine that this far north, the climate would be too harsh for anything but gorse and heather – but the Gulf Stream actually has a huge impact on the local flora. I can’t speak from experience, but can offer a bit of insight: I would imagine that depending on the vehicle you have, some roads, such as the one to Diabaig might be too small to drive [not sure how big your vehicle is though]. – until we reached Corrieshalloch Gorge. Brilliant places to stay on the North Coast 500. WELL HERE WE GO! The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile (830 km) scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle. There is no shortage of petrol stations (gas stations) all along the route. The castle looks like it is clinging on to dry land for its life and it’s a fascinating site to visit. Even if you don’t plan on climbing Stac Pollaidh it is still worth heading to the small car park and walking a short way down to Loch Lurgainn for an uninterrupted view of this famous Scottish icon. Ackergill Tower – If there’s one place you must stay on the North Coast 500 it is this fantastic 16th century castle with a dark and haunted past. The road to Diabaig is one of the most beautiful NC500 add-ons, but it is definitely not for the faint-hearted. But don’t make the mistake of using Inverness just as a jumping-off point for your road trip. Behind the hostel – a 20-minute walk or 5-minute drive – lies Big Sands, a sandy beach with views of the mountains of Torridon and Skye. From the top, at 612 m you will be able to enjoy great views of the surrounding higher mountains, the coastline and the Summer Isles offshore. Explore Sutherland. Visitor Attractions - North Coast 500. Here is a great getaway from Sydney on the east coast if you want long pristine beaches that seem to stretch forever, crystal clear streams in lush pastures and towering forests blanketing mountain ranges. North Coast 500, Inverness: "What is the best time of year to experience the..." | Check out answers, plus see 705 reviews, articles, and 842 photos of North Coast 500, ranked No.3 on Tripadvisor among 288 attractions in Inverness. Lying about halfway through the NC500, it makes for a great stop with its restaurants, shops and pubs. I loved the selection at Ullapool Bookstore, including the children’s book The Guillemot Who Wouldn’t Jump which is written and illustrated by a local artist Jenny Rant. This white sandy beach will be busy in the summer months due to its position next to a popular camping and caravan park. There are several highlights here including Smoo Cave (the largest cave in Scotland) and Balnakiel beach which also happens to provide a beautiful backdrop to the ruins of the old Balnakiel Church. Sandwood Bay is one of the most magical places in the northwest of Scotland. Speaking of paradise beaches – Handa Island should definitely be on any beach lover’s NC500 bucket list! If you are in a small vehicle though, you are rewarded with mind-boggling hairpin bends and fantastic views throughout the drive. Culloden Battlefield is without a doubt one of the most significant places in Scottish history (£11, FREE for National Trust for Scotland members. There is plenty of parking and easy access to the shore of Loch Maree with possibly the best view of Slioch mountain peak in the distance. Inverness is the start and finish point of the North Coast 500, but it would be a shame to rush through without exploring the city itself. All photos, downloadable files and texts are the property of Kathi Kamleitner / Watch Me See unless otherwise cited, and may not be used or reproduced elsewhere without permission. There are so many places along there that I need to see! Maybe experienced drivers in a small campervan would be fine, but I would rather be on the side of caution to avoid issues. North Coast 500 7-day Itinerary Arguably one of the best road trips in the world! Read my top tips for planning a Scotland trip and check out my sample itineraries. This is also the end (or start) point for the epic End to End challenge. When in fact, you just need to make a little extra effort to seek out the beautiful spots along the east coast! Yaaaayyy I’m so glad you gave Helmsdale a shout out!! We chose the Mountain Trail which starts and finishes at the Coille na Glas-Leitir car park on the shore of Loch Maree. Or book a private walking tour in Glasgow with me! The reserve is flanked by the impressive Beinn Eighe ridge on one side and Slioch on the other. Here are the ones I found useful on our trip: Make sure to pick up the official North Coast 500 tourist map along the route as well (for example at the VisitScotland Inverness iCentre, 36 High St). Others believe it was built by the Mackay family or the Bishops of Caithness in the 1500s. Prepare to walk away with a list of scenic stops and detours from the main route, recommended activities and tours, yummy eateries, beautiful historic sites and many hidden gems off the beaten track. Here is an article about the impact motorhome drivers have on the road, and here is a story about a lorry that attempted the journey – just to give you an idea. North Coast 500 Itinerary. A highlight on the NC500 road trip is definitely the hairraising Bealach na Bà road – one of the highest mountain pass roads in the UK and sometimes as steep as 20%. However, as the going is slower in some parts than others, we’ve tried to balance this itinerary so you get fairly similar amounts of driving time each day. The hike is just under 5 km (3 miles) and takes just 2-4 hours. In the 18th century, its owners built a new Baronial-style townhouse a stone’s throw away (known as New Keiss Castle) and left the old castle to the elements. The sand is soft, and the water although cold is a beautiful turquoise color. A small passenger ferry takes visitors from Tarbet to the island (approx. Standing at 613 metres, Stac Polly, or Stac Pollaidh as its officially called, means “peak of the peat moss”. Scotland isn’t known for having weather like the Mediterranean so to increase your chances of sunshine a trip to the Highlands is best done between May and August. 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There was no obligation to write this Blog, but moved to Scotland in 2013 it and. Amongst the rocks and great care should north coast 500 places to visit taken thousands of seabirds form along...