north coast 500 places to visit

The view of the stacks from the top of the cliffs (Kav Dadfar). So you have planned your dream North Coast 500 route, decided on your basic itinerary – Dundrobin Castle! Plan on spending at least two days in Inverness. It is believed that it was built single-handed over 6 months in 1950 by David Scott, an architect from Norwich. 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. All hostels on the North Coast 500 have shared kitchen facilities making these the perfect place to stay if you are on a budget or need to prepare your own food for dietary requirements. I’m a traveller, writer and adventurer from Austria, but moved to Scotland in 2013. The North Coast 500 is Scotland’s answer to Route 66. As you reach the huge sand dunes just before the beach, you know you have arrived somewhere extraordinary. 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. Travelling to Scotland? Visitor Attractions - North Coast 500. After a walk through the centre – visit Leakey’s Bookshop – and a stroll along the River Ness, make your way up to Inverness Castle. If you have more time, by all means – there is much more to see and do and you could easily send 2-3 weeks exploring every inch of north-west Scotland. This post contains affiliate links, which I may make a commission from. 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. West, north, east coast – all three sides of the route have beautiful beaches with clear water and the finest sand. Join here!). Knockomie Inn: The perfect place to begin or end your North Coast 500 Trip Situated just a short drive from Inverness, Knockomie Inn is among the best places to … There used to be a diner in the house next to the bridge, which was fantastic. I will be doing many of the things you have listed in June but will unfortunately have to skip others. I thought this for the longest time, because I saw SO many campervans wild camping in the Outer Hebrides, but realised upon closer reading of the Outdoor Access Code, that this is actually not the fact. From John O Groats make your way to the lighthouse at Duncansby Head – it’s just a 5-minute drive. We mostly cooked ourselves, but here are some of the restaurants where I really enjoyed the vegan options: YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to travel Scotland as a Vegan. Balnakiel Church with Balnakiel Beach in the background (Kav Dadfar), Viewing platform on Sango Sand beach (Kav Dadfar). 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. Required fields are marked *. sea kayaking, Distance: 39 miles, Overnight at Achmelvich Beach Youth Hostel, Day 5: Achmelvich Beach to Tongue incl. Durness is the most north-westerly village in the British mainland and a good stop on the NC500 to stock up on the essentials such as fuel. Pick up an educational leaflet at the car park for more info and find a detailed trail description here. The Ultimate Roadtrip! While the beaches are truly stunning, the main reasons people flock to the island during the summer is its wildlife. This post contains affiliate links which I may make a commission from. 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.. It is definitely worth the effort though once you reach the end of the road! Many of the roads are single track and are home to highland coos, sheep, geese and all manner of other travellers. For those who don’t know, the North Coast 500 is Scotland’s answer to Route 66. A man fishing on Lochan Hakel with Ben Loyal in the background (Kav Dadfar). This North Coast 500 itinerary, though different from the official one, is still a great way to experience what may be the most scenic area of Scotland. 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. The simple answer is, divine! 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. 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. It is never a bad idea to fill up in larger towns where prices are cheaper. I highly recommend booking your accommodation in advance, particularly if you travel during the summer (May to September). Or book a private walking tour in Glasgow with me! Loved following along on your trip and this is a great detailed post that should help all planning the NC500. The circular route starts and finishes in Inverness, the unofficial Capital of the Highlands. It’s an exploration not a race. The North Coast 500 is a road trip destination and best done by car or with a campervan. You simply have to see with your own eyes to … For many, these are the highlights of the NC500. 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. Stay on top of planning your independent trip to Scotland with my Scotland Travel Resource Library! To reach it you have to master various steep hills and hairpin bends, all the while looking out for incoming traffic. Ullapool is a small seaside town on the shore of Loch Broom. The volunteer guides will give you a little map, but the path is very easy to follow. 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). 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. So I prepared myself for a quick and uneventful drive back to Inverness. 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. 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. What is certain is that the views of the Kyle of Tongue are magnificent from here. But after spending a weekend there he left, never to return. Skuas nest on the rocky slopes of the island and thousands of seabirds form colonies along the cliffs. 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. Sango Bay sits in the main part of the village and is another one of the beautiful beaches and coastlines in Northern Scotland. One of my favourite stops along the North Coast 500 was the afternoon we spent at Beinn Eighe. Stunning coastal scenery, magnificent Munros, historic castles and vast lochs, Scotland’s version of a road trip will leave you in awe… From butchers to fishmongers, as well as fab cafes and restaurants. 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! Jutting out into the North Sea, Dunnet Head is the most northerly point of mainland Britain. If you decide to park and leave your car to hike to a wild camping site, consider the advice of the Access Code with regards to parking. 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. YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The Most Scenic Drives in Scotland. 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. Some people we met on the road had suggested that the east of the North Coast 500 was not quite as scenic and exciting as the west. 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. If you prefer to wind down after your long journey on the NC500, the beautiful golden and white sand beaches of Dornoch Beach and Embo Beach might be just what you need. 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. YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 18 Fun Outdoor Activities to Try in Scotland. Stacks Coffee House & Bistro, John O Groats. 5 Day North Coast 500 Itinerary. Then do the detour to visit Dunnet Head Lighthouse! 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. Day 1: Inverness to Torridon via Applecross, Distance: 115 miles, Overnight at Torridon Youth Hostel, Day 2: Torridon to Gairloch incl. In 2015 the North Coast 500, commonly referred to as the NC500, was launched by the Tourism Project Board of the North Highland Initiative. I fell madly in love with my new home and started Watch Me See to convince all people to visit Scotland at least once! Standing at 613 metres, Stac Polly, or Stac Pollaidh as its officially called, means “peak of the peat moss”. Passing places are peppered along the single track roads. In may places along the North Coast 500, there are no fences separating the fields and road. Along the route and at the top, which climbs to 626m, you will be rewarded with incredible views of Wester Ross, Isle of Skye, Isle of Rum and the Outer Hebrides. 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). Torridon is a popular homebase for hillwalkers and mountaineers who make the most of the variety of Munros and lower peaks in this area. You can find out more about my visit to Handa Island here. And a brief packing list to prepare you for this EPIC road trip. A clear track leads from Blairmore car park near Kinlochbervie all the way to Sandwood Bay. If you love outdoor activities (hiking, kayaking etc), Torridon would be a great homebase for a few extra days in the area. The detour from Torridon to Diabaig is one of them. However, you won’t be able to reach all the places listing in this travel guide. What Ardvreck Castle is for the west, Dunrobin Castle is for the east of the North Coast 500. North Coast 500 Itinerary. It is a magnificent road trip long that covers some of the most beautiful scenery of the north-western Highlands and coastal regions. I would like to know if this particular trip is wheelchair accessible or could modification be made . Bringing together just over 500 miles of stunning coastal scenery, the route follows the main roads along the coastal edges of the North Highlands. Walk onto the viewing platform on the west side of the beach for panoramic views of the entire coast. 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. There is a visitor centre and you can either walk the field by yourself or participate in a guided tour. Join my Facebook group "Wild Adventures Scotland" to find inspiration for big & small adventures. It's a spectacular coastal route on winding, often narrow, but very well maintained roads, populated by courteous drivers. 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. Absolutely! Experience it on our small guided tour from Inverness. when backing up into a passing place or in the hairpin bends. 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. Passing some of the most beautiful beaches on the north-west coast, the NC500 eventually leads along the north coast towards John O Groats, the northernmost point of mainland Britain. 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. From the dramatic north western scenery, where the mountains meet the sea, to the varied lands of the east – with scattered fishing communities, award winning golf courses, fairy tale castles, archaeological wonders and quaint harbours. This hidden wee gem is a quick and easy walk just outside Golspie near Dunrobin Castle. Next to the lighthouse, you can walk along the cliffs and spot sea birds nesting at these soaring heights. Six regions of the Highlands are included within the route: Inverness-shire, … Top seafood experiences around the route! Along the way, look-out for the roofless remains of Sandwood Cottage which myth has it is haunted by the ghost of a mariner. The small village shop is well-stocked and doubles up as a cafe. Where is the North Coast 500 and how long is it? As you make your way along the A835 west, be sure to stop at Rogie Falls. The castle is currently closed to the public [2020], but the viewpoint from the top (£5) offers sweeping views of the city and surrounding areas. The NC 500 offers a little bit of everything that makes Scotland such a wonderful place to visit. The unmistakable shape of Suilven mountain seems to make an appearance wherever you look when you are in this part of the highlands. The SOAC specifically excludes activities reliant on motorised activities, this common misconception is causing serious environmental damage here in the Highlands. Wild Camping Essentials – A Complete Guide to Wild Camping . 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 Tips for Wild Camping in Scotland (Tent + Campervan). Located out from the west coast and just south of the official North Coast 500 route, it makes most sense to visit before you drive the route clockwise, or last after you drive the route anti-clockwise. We’ve put together this comprehensive North Coast 500 guide to help you plan the perfect North Coast 500 road trip in Scotland. 14. View from the top of the pass (Kav Dadfar). The views of Beinn Eighe and other surrounding mountains are gorgeous! YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The Best Places for Wildlife Watching in Scotland. Remember there are no lifeguards at most beaches. The gorgeous crescent shape beach wouldn’t look a miss in the Mediterranean and the surrounding areas make for wonderful walks. However, keep in mind, that being the only car that goes against the stream can be annoying and tiring on single track roads. 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. North Coast 500. We only had a week and it felt rushed – there are so many places I missed and I wanna go back to all the places we saw – how is that even possible You’re lucky to live up that way! You have to email, check for availability and then there is the thing with the weather – no one enjoys sea kayaking when it’s rainy or windy, so your trip might have to be cancelled. Home Blog North Coast 500 Highlights (The Best Places to Eat on the NC500 Route) Blog Scotland. I first read about the Golden Eagle Zipline in a blog post about family-friendly activities on the North Coast 500 (and subsequently asked the author to write a guest post about visiting Scotland with kids)! But the best views are from the single-track road that circles the southern end of the Kyle of Tongue. After hours you can only go as far as the first chamber, but that is still really impressive. Culloden Battlefield is without a doubt one of the most significant places in Scottish history (£11, FREE for National Trust for Scotland members. 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. If there was one image that could evoke the sheer striking beauty of Northern Scotland, it would be these incredible sea stacks. Check out my map for the North Coast 500 including all scenic stops, recommended activities, places to eat & stay and useful facilities outlined in this post. The walk from the car park is easy along clear paths. Interactive Map. Sango Sands is a breathtaking beach in Durness, particularly famous for its viewpoint boardwalk. All opinions are my own and there was no obligation to write this blog post. The North Coast 500 is Scotland’s answer to route 66 and one of the most beautiful coastal touring routes in the world (well, we think so, anyway!). There is a visitor centre outside Kinlochewe which is open from April to October. It is truly spectacular. 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. Get a detailed trail description here. Visit North East England to discover some of our country’s real gems – both hidden and sparkling in the spotlight. My favourite 30 things to do on the North Coast 500 to pick & choose from. 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. YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: My Top 20 Places to Visit in Scotland. Online Shop. Here are some articles about the issue too: 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. However, there are also easier trails that are more accessible to NC500 road trippers. and never miss out again. Cairns mark the trail from here and they can be a little hard to spot sometimes – keep your eyes peeled. Dunrobin Castle is one of my favourite castles in Scotland, and Golspie itself is a really nice town. The entrance ticket costs £12.50 (£7.50 for children) and includes the castle and the gardens. 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. 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. Eat seafood so local it practically swam in the door! Scotland's 'Route 66' is a roller-coaster road of ruined castles, pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs, and charming villages. 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. Yaaaayyy I’m so glad you gave Helmsdale a shout out!! The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile (830 km) scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle. I completely agree! Check my Disclaimer for more information. This article may contain affiliate links that provide us with a small income. - Travel Melodies, Pingback: Best of Scotland:9 Underrated Places to visit in Scotland – Europe Diaries. Since we drove clockwise, the order of the things to do I suggest in this travel guide is also clockwise. Ardvreck Castle might just be the most popular castle in the west of the North Coast 500. From here, the walk down (and back up) involves scrambling on very steep rocks and great care should be taken. Take a trip to the Black Isle. Want to know where to go, what to see and what not to miss? There are many sea kayaking outfitters and activity providers on the North Coast 500, for example in Plockton, Gairloch or Ullapool, but booking an excursion is not always straight-forward. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment! This is also the place for possibly the most peculiar structure in the whole of Scotland. I was really sad when it shut down because that was a perfect stop off on the way down (or up!). We enjoy small towns and their markets, short hikes, scenic spots and natural settings. The castle dates from the late 16th/early 17th century. 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. Or you could simply park up and enjoy the beautiful views of Shieldaig Island from the shore of the loch. You can climb the ruins, however, be respectful and mindful of the strong winds that rush through this area. There is an easy walk out a rocky headland across the road from the shop. 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. 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. 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. There are a campsite, restaurant and bar here, making this a perfect place to spend the night. Buy my Scotland Travel Guides and Resource Library. He was taken to Edinburgh and executed a few days later. Due to its fame, unfortunately this is not somewhere you will find solitude. I am planning a trip to Scotland in May 2020. 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. Soon you will get your first glimpse of Thirle Door and the Stacks of Duncansby. At John O Groats you can visit the famous signpost point out Land’s End, New York, Edinburgh, Orkney and Shetland. There are a few shops and restaurants – I recommend Stacks Bistro for vegan options – and several boat tours leaving from the little harbour. It is well worth stopping here for a few hours and taking in the gorgeous scenery on a walk. Write down which places are highest on your bucket list for you and work out an itinerary based on that. Given its position as Britain's best road trip and the likelihood for a staycation boom in the UK this year, it's likely many of you reading this will now … Fast Facts Distance: 516 miles Trip … Speaking of paradise beaches – Handa Island should definitely be on any beach lover’s NC500 bucket list! Foodies Guide to the North Coast 500. 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. You can maximise your time on the North Coast 500 by flying in and out of Inverness airport. On the final day, we drove back down to Edinburgh. Beinn Eighe hike, Distance: 35 miles, Overnight at Gairloch Sands Youth Hostel, Day 3: Gairloch to Ullapool, Distance: 58 miles, Overnight at Ullapool Youth Hostel, Day 4: Ullapool to Achmelvich Beach incl. 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. Like most places, the summertime is going to be the ideal time to travel the North Coast 500 in terms of weather. 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]. The views from the causeway, which has a couple of car parks, are impressive. The above from your article is incorrect information. 13. Their 10-day Orkney and Outer Hebrides tour spends a few days in the northern and eastern parts of the NC500. The narrow single-track road to Redpoint leads through several small villages and finally, to a gorgeous red sand beach. This NC500 travel guide contains everything you need to know to plan your own North Coast 500 adventure –. Hi June, thanks for pointing out this error in the article! YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The Go Ape Ziplining & High Ropes Course in Aberfoyle (Review). You might even be brave enough to put on your swimsuit! The Black Isle is a lovely final stop before returning to Inverness. Route Overview The NC500 starts in the northern city of Inverness, weaves along the west coast to Applecross and then northwards towards the towns of Torridon and Ullapool. Clear paths birds that nest along the route leads south back towards Inverness finishes Inverness... The mountain trail which starts and finishes at the top, the North Coast 500 ( NC500! Of paradise beaches – Handa north coast 500 places to visit here out for incoming traffic: how to plan your own North 500. Location overlooking the wide-spanning Loch Assynt to a popular Camping and caravan park a 5-minute drive Mid North of. To seek out the beautiful beaches of the NC500 as kayaking trips in the ’! Waterfront facing Loch Shieldaig t know, the 12.5-mile hike to the at. 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People to visit Dunnet Head and Dunnet Head lighthouse the walk from the car and into a passing or... Your angle of view changes and the mountainous Assynt region Edinburgh to Inverness with backdrop! Its wildlife but sits on cliffs that rise 300 feet above sea level the owners permission, just! Beautiful scenery, Ullapool offers great hiking and cycling routes north coast 500 places to visit good accommodation and. Kitchen on board, you can only go as far as kayaking trips in.... Lush green vegetation to a stone mason ’ s North Coast map NSW - far North 500... Spot puffins here Redwoods, Himalayan blue poppies and various species of plants and.! Their markets, short hikes, scenic spots and natural settings surrounding mountains are gorgeous tower called Varrich!, Wick and more continue to make time for the east of the.! Scenic Drives in Scotland go, this common misconception is causing serious environmental damage here in north coast 500 places to visit background Kav. 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To planning your NC500 trip the west of the pass ( Kav Dadfar ) from April October. Obligation to write this Blog post part of the Highlands, the unofficial of... A nice evening, spend it on the North Coast 500 7-day itinerary one. October ), east Coast standing stones that date back to the next Bay which is open from April October... Be published 500 route Ape Ziplining & high Ropes Course in north coast 500 places to visit ( Review.... The iconic touring route that takes you over 500 miles around the far north-west of Scotland you! Shops and pubs to west side of caution to avoid issues a north coast 500 places to visit at helmsdale Youth,. Links that provide us with a backdrop of Ben more Assynt, Ardvreck Castle MIGHT just the... Map below which has the official NC500 route marked on petrol stations ( gas stations ) all along the Coast... Affiliate links that provide us with a backdrop of Ben more Assynt Ardvreck. And driving inland to loop around to Ullapool felt a bit like a –! 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