north coast 500 route

Creating The Greatest Road Trip In Scotland

Creating The Greatest Road Trip In Scotland

A lot has been said about the North coast 500 being the greatest driving road in Scotland, the UK, maybe even the world. To make sure you also have the greatest road trip in Scotland whilst there, we’ve put together some top tips. We hope this means that you’ll take home some incredible memories that will stay with you forever.

Road trip Scotland NC500

Your Chariot Awaits

By the end of the route, you and your ‘chariot’ will have been through a lot together. The right vehicle can therefore end up being as memorable as some of the sights and attractions along the way. Principally this is because your vehicle takes you to all of these incredible spots (hopefully without mechanical problems). It should be more that just a means of going from point A-B however. It should be fun.

Fun. That’s something that’s gone out of motoring recently in a lot of ways. Happily, the twists & turns of the NC500 are fun to drive. Having a vehicle to match the road only adds another level of enjoyment to navigating the NC500.

You don’t need an expensive supercar to have fun, as it’s not about driving fast. Wannabe rally drivers be warned – A&E is a long way away on most parts of the route. All you need is something that is fun to drive around corners & that won’t cause a queue of traffic all the way back to Inverness. We come to the north of Scotland to get away from things like queues of traffic!

There are also some tight sections of road around the route where larger vehicles may struggle to pass (no fun). For that reason caravans and all but the smallest camper vans are excluded from the reckoning. Fortunately accommodation options are improving all of the time, so a house on wheels really isn’t a necessity.

That really leaves us with bikes & cars. Many a squabble (maybe even the odd scuffle) has been had debating the merits of each over the years. Without wishing to start an online equivalent, we’ll just say this. Whether you love 2 or 4 wheels, it’ll be perfect to help you have the greatest road trip in Scotland.

Some other practical driving tips

Follow these tips so that while you have the greatest road trip in Scotland, it isn’t a misery for everyone else.

  • Always respect the speed limits and local traffic. Most highland businesses rely heavily on the road network operating efficiently.
  • The NC500 has a lot of single track road – extra vigilance on these sections is recommended. Be prepared to stop in passing places to allow oncoming traffic to pass quickly & safely.
  • Keep an eye out for deer (especially at night – you can see reflections from their eyes) and slow down when they are close to the road. Not only will this allow you to more time to look at them and snap a photo or two, it will also protect you from a nasty accident. The deer have an uncanny knack of appearing from nowhere, to sprint across the road in front of traffic.

“Never to go on trips with anyone you do not love”

Ernest Hemingway said that. Presumably he knew that it’s harder to disown people you love for playing shocking music in the car!

Now we are getting to the essence of what will make the greatest road trip in Scotland. You are going to share some incredible new sights, great food, journeys (and with any luck music) and hopefully a bit of banter along the way. Whether you do so with good friends or family, you’re going to have a much more memorable experience than if you attempt the NC500 solo. That said there are many interesting and friendly people living, working & travelling on the route. That means you are likely make some chums along the way if you do set off on your own.

Say Cheese

Assuming that you are not cycling the NC500 (wouldn’t be me!), your camera will be the hardest working machine on the route. The array of waterfalls, wildlife, beaches, castles, mountains, & sunsets will have you reaching for the camera all the time. A picture tells a thousand words. Check out our gallery to see for yourself.

You’ll want to look back on the amazing experiences you’ve shared with your road trip buddies in years to come. Make sure you never miss a moment by having plenty of batteries (or a means to charge your camera) & a spare memory card, since you’ll likely fill one up in no time.

We’d also recommend a tripod. Your photos will be so much better if you can all be in them along with the amazing sights of the route. A little tripod makes it easy to set that timer & capture a nice photo of you all without using rocks, route maps, clothing or whatever you can lay your hands on to try and prop up your camera at the right angle.

Life’s a Beach

Achmelvich Beach NC500 Scotland

If you’ve researched the highlands of Scotland then you’ll probably already know. If you haven’t you’re in for a nice surprise. The beaches in the far north of Scotland are stunning so to have the greatest road trip in Scotland, you need to plan in some beach time.

In our completely unbiased view Achmelvich is clearly the most magnificent of them all (to be fair, it is in the running), but there are so many idyllic shorelines that you might want to check out a few. It’s also worth having a plan-B in case the weather isn’t in an idyllic mood.

After a long sunny day on the beach, it’s fantastic to have a barbeque or bonfire after the sun sets (might want that camera on standby at sunset!). This is legal if done responsibly and in keeping with the Scottish code – links below.

https://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/practical-guide-all/camping/lighting-fires

https://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/practical-guide-all/beaches

No Vacancy!

Last but not least, plan your accommodation before you set off. The area is still relatively remote and underdeveloped. It therefore isn’t wise to assume you can arrive at a campsite, hotel or B&B in the evening and expect there to be vacancies. Booking in advance is essential and removes a lot of stress. And who needs stress when you’re having the best road trip in Scotland.

As our recent blog discussed, we recommend ‘base camping for 3 to 4 days. This allows local areas to be explored on or near the route that would otherwise be missed.  There are so many great this to see and do, it’d be a shame to drive by it all.

We hope this has inspired you to book some time on the NC500. Click here to book your stay with us and have a great Scottish road trip of your own.

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