Also perfect locations if you wish to do a smaller road trip in Scotland! NC500 … 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. YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 20 Beautiful Towns to Visit in Scotland. Dunnet Head and Dunnet Head Lighthouse (Kav Dadfar). We had 7 days to drive the route and I would one week to be the perfect amount of time to slow down and experience the road trip to the fullest. We even spotted an otter pup munching on a sea urchin among the sea kelp! The NC500 starts in the capital of the Highlands. North Coast 500 7-day Itinerary Arguably one of the best road trips in the world! 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. I love it there, such a cute little town and I never see anyone mention it. The town was only on my radar because we spent a night at Helmsdale Youth Hostel to break up the drive back. If you don’t want to rent a car for any reason, the best option to still experience the North Coast 500 is to book a guided tour. There is a car park at the top and you have to walk down quite a few steps to reach the cave, but it is worth the effort. The North Coast 500 takes you over 500 miles around the north coast of Scotland. The official start is at Inverness but there are many areas you might want to explore before you go such as Glenfinnan (Harry Potter train viaduct), Kyle of Lochalsh (Eilean Donan Castle) and the Cairngorms. Our trip lasted nine days. Sango Sands is a breathtaking beach in Durness, particularly famous for its viewpoint boardwalk. In fact if you park at the roadside without the owners permission, you are breaking the law, please amend. YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to spend one day in Inverness. If you are planning to road trip around this scenic area of the Scottish Highlands, you may be wanting to spend … Scotland's 'Route 66' is a roller-coaster road of ruined castles, pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs, and charming villages. See if you can spot the castle in amongst the rocks. The North Coast 500 has been billed as Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66 but it is unlike anything you’ll see in the USA.. With legendary castles, extraordinary coastal scenery, and famous whisky distilleries lining the winding single track lanes, the NC500 is the ultimate road trip for travel lovers.. The narrow single track road winds its way up to a viewpoint at 250 metres above sea level. From here, the walk down (and back up) involves scrambling on very steep rocks and great care should be taken. NOTE: Bealach na Bà is closed during the winter months due to ice and snow. Park at the little car park next to a stone mason’s and follow the waymarked trail for Big Burn Falls. The North Coast 500 is a roughly 500-mile road trip around the far north-west of Scotland. 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. Then do the detour to visit Dunnet Head Lighthouse! It’s a treasure trove! There is a visitor centre outside Kinlochewe which is open from April to October. On Watch Me See I share my top tips and travel stories from around Scotland. Leaving the coast and driving inland to loop around to Ullapool felt a bit like a disappointment – where are the views? Check my Disclaimer for more information. Like most places, the summertime is going to be the ideal time to travel the North Coast 500 in terms of weather. A man fishing on Lochan Hakel with Ben Loyal in the background (Kav Dadfar). If you love outdoor activities (hiking, kayaking etc), Torridon would be a great homebase for a few extra days in the area. 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. Even if the two could not be more different! We were not lucky enough to spot any dolphins as it was raining, but we did see some seals bobbing in the water. Soon you will get your first glimpse of Thirle Door and the Stacks of Duncansby. Here are some tips for driving on the North Coast 500: For more tips, read my post about driving in Scotland. Foodies Guide to the North Coast 500. The Marquis of Montrose, a Royalist commander, fleeing after losing the battle of Carbisdale, sought refuge in the castle. To reach it you have to master various steep hills and hairpin bends, all the while looking out for incoming traffic. Have a great trip . There is a 6 km (4 miles) trail around the island which takes about 3 hours to complete. Join here!). Yaaaayyy I’m so glad you gave Helmsdale a shout out!! Buy my Scotland Travel Guides and Resource Library. Hello all. There is a train from Inverness to Thurso and some bus routes along the major roads connecting the bigger towns and villages. An 874-mile test of endurance that connects John O’Groats to Land’s End in Cornwall (or vice versa). Absolutely! I love a surprise, so when I stepped onto the suspension bridge above the gorge, I was blown away by how narrow, deep and long it was. The castle looks like it is clinging on to dry land for its life and it’s a fascinating site to visit. The counties of South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire all have their own delights to offer, including Leeds, York, Scarborough and Beverley. YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: My Favourite Hikes in Scotland – From Easy Trails to Munros. 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). You can find out more about my visit to Handa Island here. The advice you gave is misleading. Sango Bay sits in the main part of the village and is another one of the beautiful beaches and coastlines in Northern Scotland. So, clearly, it is now possible to visit the North Coast 500 and the summer season may just be salvaged. There are plenty of things to see in the city and in the surrounding area. It is a circular coastal route that takes you through the North West of Scotland. You might even be brave enough to put on your swimsuit! An ultimate guide on where you have to stop and eat along the North Coast 500 route. Hi Mary Jane, many thanks for your comment and question. Get access to my FREE Scotland Travel Toolkit. You can climb the ruins, however, be respectful and mindful of the strong winds that rush through this area. The town has some amazing food options, especially if you like fresh seafood, and a thriving pub and live music scene. As you can see, we brought down our daily mileage significantly in order to make time for activities. It is not difficult or antisocial to drive them here. – until we reached Corrieshalloch Gorge. Look closely enough and you will also be able to spot the top of Stac Pollaidh and An Teallach to the east. You’d constantly have to navigate around other cars by using the passing places. What makes Mellon Udrigle Beach so special is the unrivalled backdrop that is visible from its white sand beach. Seeing wildlife is never guaranteed on the North Coast 500, but Chanonry Point might be your best bet. Eat For Free! Places to Visit Tourist Guide. Before setting off on your North Coast 500 road trip, make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy. What Ardvreck Castle is for the west, Dunrobin Castle is for the east of the North Coast 500. Sandwood Bay is one of the most magical places in the northwest of Scotland. Home Blog North Coast 500 Highlights (The Best Places to Eat on the NC500 Route) Blog Scotland. If you’re a Scotland first-timer, download my FREE Scotland Travel Toolkit with all my recommended tools and booking platforms! These shelves continue in the bookstore next door and hold anything from Scottish poetry to contemporary crime novels and vegan cookbooks. Sutherland makes up a large part of the North Coast 500, and will leave a lasting memory too. 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. 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. North Coast 500 Itinerary. Stacks Coffee House & Bistro, John O Groats. If you visit during the day, you can even head deeper inside the cave on a guided walk or a boat tour and explore the rear chambers of the cave. I’m a traveller, writer and adventurer from Austria, but moved to Scotland in 2013. If you are lucky, you can even spot puffins here! It is believed that it was built single-handed over 6 months in 1950 by David Scott, an architect from Norwich. I would set aside at least 4 hours to visit the island – the more the better. I recommend you do the same. At John O Groats you can visit the famous signpost point out Land’s End, New York, Edinburgh, Orkney and Shetland. I highly recommend adding an additional day in the area between Ullapool and Durness to make time for the hike to the beach! If you have a bit more time and would like to stay in the area, get in touch with Gairloch Trekking Centre who offers guided pony trekking in the area. The iconic touring route that covers the stunning coastal edges of the Highlands of Scotland. Many believe it was built by the Vikings or the Norse. There are generally a lot of restaurants in towns and villages along the North Coast 500. Hi June, thanks for pointing out this error in the article! The North Coast ranges from one extreme to another. 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. Nearby, a visit to the famous John O’Groats is also worthwhile. With its 189 rooms, it is one of Scotland’s largest castles and is surrounded by a well-landscaped garden. Along the North Coast 500 there are many wonderful places to visit, have a bite to eat, or find something fun to do for the whole family. It is small, but there are many international flights to Inverness. On the first day, we drove from Edinburgh to Inverness with a few stops along the way. Our Recommended North Coast 500 Hotels Guide - where to stay along the NC500. As you reach the huge sand dunes just before the beach, you know you have arrived somewhere extraordinary. Passing places are peppered along the single track roads. I strive to provide correct and factual information on this blog, but sometimes things fall through the cracks. 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. My favourite 30 things to do on the North Coast 500 to pick & choose from. kofiwidget2.init('Support Me on Ko-fi', '#af4d92', 'Y8Y0OQPK');kofiwidget2.draw(); Watch Me See is an Amazon Associate and an affiliate of Booking.com, Airbnb and others and thus I earn from qualifying purchases you make at no extra cost to you. Overlooking Moray Firth, it was once the home of the Earls and later Dukes of Sutherland – one of the most powerful families in Scotland. Wild camping is legal in campervans as long as you stick to the rules of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code regarding the duration of stays and waste disposal. After hours you can only go as far as the first chamber, but that is still really impressive. It is possible to drive the NC500 anti-clockwise too. The walk from the car park is easy along clear paths. 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. Handa Island, Distance: 87 miles, Overnight at Tongue Youth Hostel, Day 6: Tongue to Helmsdale via John O Groats, Distance: 112 miles, Overnight at Helmsdale Youth Hostel, Day 7: Helmsdale to Inverness via Black Isle, Distance: 86 miles, Overnight at Inverness Youth Hostel. Disability Information Scotland is a good resource for access in Scotland, http://www.disabilityscot.org.uk/accessible-outdoors-scotland/, and there is a great travel blogger focussing on accessible travel called Emma, https://www.simplyemma.co.uk/. All the best, Kathi, Your email address will not be published. You can return the same way or take the slightly longer ¾ mile route back to the car park. The ruins of Old Keiss Castle stand on sheer cliffs overlooking Sinclair’s Bay. For the serious walker, the 12.5-mile hike to the summit at 731 meters will provide spectacular views. Inverness is the main city on the North Coast 500 route and it is the capital of the Highlands. The Access Right does not apply to motorised vehicles, which means that it is not your right to park your car, campervan or motorhome by the side of the road to spend the night. https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/highlands/1736567/video-tourists-failing-to-heed-campervan-warning-on-busy-section-of-nc500/ The kitchen garden of the Highlands! We stayed at youth hostels throughout our road trip and I found them to be a fantastic, budget-friendly option for solo travellers, friend groups and families alike. Things to do near North Coast 500. Then we spent 7 days on the road trip. The above from your article is incorrect information. The hike takes about 4-5 hours round-trip, but add a few hours to enjoy the beach in its full glory! I want my readers to be realistic and prepares for their trips! It claimed its place in history as the setting for one of the great betrayals of Highland hospitality. 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. Destinations in North Coast, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It takes 3 to 4 hours to complete. Dunrobin Castle is one of the oldest, biggest, and most iconic castles in Scotland. What is certain is that the views of the Kyle of Tongue are magnificent from here. North Coast 500. This post contains affiliate links, which I may make a commission from. Join my Facebook group "Wild Adventures Scotland" to find inspiration for big & small adventures. The beach has some of the whitest sand I have seen in Scotland and is well-sheltered from the wind. Scotland's north coast is interspersed with secret paradise beaches - the majority of which can be easily reached from Scotland's North Coast 500 (NC500). It would almost be rude not to pay her a closer visit. I will be doing many of the things you have listed in June but will unfortunately have to skip others. Bealach Na Ba! This is your just reward for the 4-mile hike that is required to get there. Further Reading for Planning your North Coast 500 trip. Today, the Battlefield is a historic site and memorial ground for the many people who have lost their lives here. The hike is just under 5 km (3 miles) and takes just 2-4 hours. TOP TIP From Ullapool you can catch the Calmac ferry to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis to spend a few additional days exploring the Outer Hebrides. There is plenty to keep anyone entertained in and around Dornoch for a few days. This post contains affiliate links which I may make a commission from. Continue on the path instead of heading down to the falls and you will eventually reach Fionn Loch where you can admire Suilven in all her glory. Due to its fame, unfortunately this is not somewhere you will find solitude. Because the livestock don’t take too much notice of the green cross code, you’ll see cows, pigs, sheep and even geese on the road ahead. However, in my opinion, I don’t see the point and would argue that if you only have 2-3 days, choose one area of the NC500 and explore that more in-depth. Will also shared some of his adventure stories from Scotland and abroad and as a professional photographer offered to take some stunning photos of us in our kayaks. The house was destroyed in a fire in 1737 and both buildings lie in ruins today. 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. West, north, east coast – all three sides of the route have beautiful beaches with clear water and the finest sand. Your email address will not be published. There are a campsite, restaurant and bar here, making this a perfect place to spend the night. Or you could simply park up and enjoy the beautiful views of Shieldaig Island from the shore of the loch. This NC500 travel guide contains everything you need to know to plan your own North Coast 500 adventure –. If you are planning to road trip around this scenic area of the Scottish Highlands, you may be wanting to spend … 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. Across the turquoise water, you will be able to see the distinctive outline of Suilven. In 2015 the North Coast 500, commonly referred to as the NC500, was launched by the Tourism Project Board of the North Highland Initiative. Loved following along on your trip and this is a great detailed post that should help all planning the NC500. Just before the main route Kerrysdale and Gairloch, turn left for another scenic detour. The North Coast 500 is a road trip destination and best done by car or with a campervan. 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. The route to the top is easy to navigate thanks to clear paths, but the final ascent to the actual peak should only be attempted by very experienced expert climbers. The Most Spectacular Places To Visit On The North Coast 500 wanderlust.co.uk - Kav Dadfar | 05 January 2021. Experience it on our small guided tour from Inverness. The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile (830 km) scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle. Helmsdale is one of them, a lovely small seaside town which is surrounded by gorse-covered hills and isolated beaches. 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. Here are some articles about the issue too: This is a paved single-track road in the Applecross peninsula with steep gradients and sharp hairpin bends. 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. There are so many places to visit and things to do on the North Coast 500, it can easily take a whole day to cover 30 miles. Travelling to Scotland? I corrected the information in my main guide for wild camping in Scotland, but clearly forgot to amend it here. From John O Groats make your way to the lighthouse at Duncansby Head – it’s just a 5-minute drive. Overlooking Kyle of Tongue on the summit of a bluff is a small tower called Castle Varrich (also known as Caisteal Bharraigh). All the photos were breath taking. From there, you'll venture to some of the most northerly coastal points in Scotland, passing by Caithness and John o' Groats before heading south again through Dingwall and finally back to Inverness. The 60-meter-high sea stack is around 4.25 miles (7 km) from the car park with a mostly flat terrain along the coast. So I prepared myself for a quick and uneventful drive back to Inverness. Inverness-Shire. – and have read my complete guide to planning your NC500 trip. You can maximise your time on the North Coast 500 by flying in and out of Inverness airport. There is no strict North Coast 500 route – where you stop, stay and play is entirely up to you but here is a flavour of the villages and activities we think make up the best North Coast 500 places to visit. The village itself is best viewed from the road that leads to Applecross, which is in itself is a stunning 25 mile, 1-hour drive. 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. Many of the roads are single track and are home to highland coos, sheep, geese and all manner of other travellers. 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. - Travel Melodies, Best of Scotland:9 Underrated Places to visit in Scotland – Europe Diaries, https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/highlands/1736567/video-tourists-failing-to-heed-campervan-warning-on-busy-section-of-nc500/, https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/highlands/1771097/scenic-nc500-hill-road-closed-after-lorry-becomes-stuck-on-twisty-route/, http://www.disabilityscot.org.uk/accessible-outdoors-scotland/. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment! 5 days on the North Coast 500 will give you a good amount of time to see many of the sights along the way. Maybe experienced drivers in a small campervan would be fine, but I would rather be on the side of caution to avoid issues. South Africa is blessed with 2500 kms of stunningly beautiful coastline, and this 280 kms of lush green coastline along the east coast overlooks the warm Indian Ocean. The most common off-road walking route is even longer – 1,900 km (1,200 miles). When in fact, you just need to make a little extra effort to seek out the beautiful spots along the east coast! The Trip Planning Workbook in my Scotland Travel Resource Library is the perfect tool to help you plan a great NC500 road trip. Others believe it was built by the Mackay family or the Bishops of Caithness in the 1500s. Hence, walking barefoot on … 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]. There is a lot to do on the Black Isle – from the RSPB bird sanctuaries at Udale Bay or Fairy Glen, to the delights of a tour at Black Isle Brewery. The simple answer is, divine! Thinking of taking a North Coast 500 road trip? Interactive Map. Handa is a small uninhabited island near Scourie that is managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The reserve is flanked by the impressive Beinn Eighe ridge on one side and Slioch on the other. There are challenging climbs for experienced mountaineers, but also a few moderate hikes that you can easily incorporate into your North Coast 500 road trip. This is an area teeming with wildlife including the golden eagle. The resulting repairs were overseen by Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer who made major changes to the interior and the main tower we see today. Visitor Attractions - North Coast 500. But after spending a weekend there he left, never to return. The views from the causeway, which has a couple of car parks, are impressive. Together this comprehensive North Coast 500 wanderlust.co.uk - Kav Dadfar | 05 January.... 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