North Coast 500: the ultimate route on a road trip through Scotland

Scotland’s rugged magnificence is exhibited in all its glory on this unbelievable drive round the northern shoreline. It’s aptly named the North Coast 500 after the 516-mile route, starting and ending in Inverness. The course is usually taken in an anti-clockwise course – inside an hour of leaving Inverness you’re driving on elevated roads with open views of the North Sea, and finish the trip winding through slender nation lanes surrounded by rugged mountains and white seashores. In between you’ll discover fairly villages, historic websites, pleasant locals, majestic waterfalls, remoted bothies and sweeping glens.

Right here’s what to not miss and a few of the lesser-known sights to look out for to make the most of this magnificent road trip.

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A stag at Suilven

Richard Gaston

What’s the finest time of yr to do the North Coast 500?

Round April or October; this avoids the notorious midges and the gentle is gorgeous.

How lengthy does it take to do the North Coast 500?

Seven to 14 days.

The ultimate North Coast 500 route

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Duncansby Head

Richard Gaston


Day 1
Inverness to John O’Groats (120 miles)
Driving: 3 hours

Heading north-east for Caithness, the huge ocean views are a nice introduction to the NC500. The route winds through seaside cities – Helmsdale is a good pit cease – in direction of the north-east coast. Right here you’ll discover the enchanting Whaligoe Steps that lead down the cliff to a small cove. As you proceed to the northernmost level of mainland Britain, John O’Groats village, absorb an epic finale to your first day at Duncansby Head, the place two giant, conical-shaped sea stacks protrude from the ocean flooring.

The place to remain: Collectively Journey lodges and flats in John O’Groats
The place to eat: Whaligoe Steps Café
Villages with provides: Helmsdale

Landmarks to not miss:
Dunrobin Citadel
Take a quick stroll to the view factors at Whaligoe Steps and Duncansby Head

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Sango Sands

Richard Gaston


Day 2
John O’Groats to Durness (90 miles)
Driving: 2.5 hours

The road west in direction of Durness meanders alongside the rugged north coast. That is a notably lovely a part of the route to do in late summer season when the streets are tucked into a purple blanket of heather – it’s in full bloom round August. You’re spoilt for selection for seashores right here: Sango Sands is particularly pretty, with white sands, fascinating rock formations and turquoise water, and Smoo Cave is inside a minute’s drive.

The place to remain: Lundies Home, Kyle Home, Sango Sands Campsite
The place to eat: Captain’s Galley, Smoo Cave Resort
Villages with provides: Tongue, Durness

Landmarks to not miss:
Dunnet Head Lighthouse
Melvich Seashore
Loch Eriboll, a roadside viewpoint
Smoo Cave – you may have to take quick stroll down some stairs to succeed in the web site
Sango Sands

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Loch Stack

Richard Gaston


Days 3 and 4
Durness to Kylesku (35 miles)
Driving: 1 hour

It’s time to place the mountain climbing boots on and discover the distant areas of the northwest coast. Inside a five-minute drive of Durness is Keoldale and the Kyle of Durness. An organised tour takes you throughout the water and onto the Cape Wrath peninsula, a moorland wilderness the place you may go to the northwesternmost level of the mainland and the Cape Wrath Lighthouse. Kearvaig Bothy (an open-door fundamental refuge) is right here too – a picturesque home that you’re welcome to remain in freed from cost, adhering to the bothy code, after all. Subsequent is Sandwood Bay, an remoted seashore with a mile-long stretch of white sand backed by huge dunes and dramatic cliffs. A must-see.

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Kearvaig Bothy

Richard Gaston

The place to remain: Scourie Hotel
The place to eat: Kylesku Resort, The Previous College Restaurant & Rooms, Scourie Resort

Landmarks to not miss:
Day 3
Balnakeil Seashore
Kearvaig Bothy – take a five-hour bus tour to Cape Wrath Lighthouse
Day 4
Hike to distant seashore at Sandwood Bay leaving from Blairmore (its a five-hour round route)
Roadside viewpoint Loch Stack

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Stoer Lighthouse

Richard Gaston

Day 5, 6, 7 and eight
Kylesku to Ullapool (55 miles) – coastal road
Driving: 2.5 hours

From Kylesku, each roads to Ullapool are gorgeous, however the coastal manner (through Clashnessie, Lochinver and Achiltibuie) is especially lovely, whereas the A837 is the different, extra direct route.

Assynt is arguably one among the most unbelievable components of Scotland, so it’s value spending a few days right here. It’s house to a rugged panorama, with distinctively formed mountains that rise steeply from the surrounding lochan surroundings, largely shrouded in low clouds. Assynt is actually atmospheric. Go to Britain’s highest waterfall, Eas a’ Chual Aluinn, have a lazy day by Achmelvich Seashore or hike up Stac Pollaidh and be rewarded with gorgeous views of Assynt and the well-known Suilven.

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The place to remain: The Ceilidh Place
The place to eat: Rockstop Café, Lochinver Larder, The Ceilidh Place
Villages with provides: Lochinver, Ullapool

Landmarks to not miss:
Day 5
Glendhu Bothy – head on a five-hour hike from Kylesku to succeed in the bothy
Day 6
Hike to waterfall Eas a’ Chual Aluinn from Loch na Gainmhich – it takes about 4 hours
Day 7
Clashnessie Waterfalls
Stoer Lighthouse
Clachtoll Seashore
Achmelvich Bay
Achnahaird Seashore
Day 8
Hikes round Stac Pollaidh mountain take about 4 hours

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Road to Loch Maree

Richard Gaston


Day 9 and 10
Ullapool to Applecross (117 miles)
Driving: 3 hours

This part is one among the extra recognisable areas of the route as you proceed through Wester Ross alongside the spectacular coastal road, house to the gorgeous botanical gardens of Inverewe, Loch Maree, the harbour village of Applecross and agreeably the most lovely glen in Scotland, Torridon. It’s value a fast cease at Corrieshalloch, a dramatic viewpoint from a bridge overlooking the gorge (a quite uncommon landmark for Scotland), and you should definitely hold an eye fixed out for the viewpoint trying again over Gruinard Bay too. It’s simply missed on this anti-clockwise course. The Applecross peninsula offers one more spectacular coastal road as you permit the A896 simply after Shieldaig. There are some excellent views again to Torridon over Loch Shieldaig. Quickly you’ll catch a glimpse of the Isle of Skye as you strategy Applecross.

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Coulin Property

Richard Gaston

The place to remain: Poolewe Campsite, The Torridon lodge, Shieldaig Lodge
The place to eat: The Badachro Inn, Torridon Shops & Café, Gille Brighde, The Torridon lodge, Applecross Inn
Villages with provides: Poolewe, Gairloch, Kinlochewe, Torridon, Shieldaig, Applecross

Landmarks to not miss:
Day 9
Corrieshalloch Gorge, the place you may take a quick stroll down some stairs to the web site
Gruinard Bay could be a roadside viewpoint, or park up and stroll on the seashore
Inverewe Gardens
Day 10
See Loch Maree from the roadside viewpoint or stroll up Beinn Eighe Woodland Path
Glen Torridon
Coulin Property – a hike round the grounds takes about 4 hours
Sand Seashore, Applecross

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Deer at Bealach na Ba

Richard Gaston

Day 11
Applecross to Inverness (80 miles)
Driving: 2 hours

The Bealach na Bà is the epic finale. One in every of the highest roads in the UK, it has improbable summit views (2,050ft) to the Cuillin mountains of Skye. You will not be capable to mirror on the trip simply but although, as you grind down the steep hairpin bends through the mountains in direction of Lochcarron after which again to the closing cease at Inverness.

With greater than 6,000 miles of shoreline – over 11,000 miles together with the islands – Scotland is ready up for much more adventures as soon as you have conquered this 500-mile route.

The place to remain: Kingsmills Hotel
The place to eat: Ness Stroll Resort, Kingsmills Resort
Village with provides: Lochcarron

Landmarks to not miss:
Bealach na Bà is an unbelievable roadside viewpoint
Take a three-hour hike to Coire Fionnaraich bothy from Coulags
Rogie Falls

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