Your 5-Day North Coast 500 Tour Plan
Many of you will have heard of the jaw droppingly beautiful North Coast 500. The Highlands’ 516 mile answer to Route 66 features some of the most picturesque scenery in all of Europe. With winding roads and rugged Highland scenery, more and more adventurers are coming to recognise the route as one of the best coastal road trips in the world. We here at North Coast 500 pods have put together a North Coast 500 tour plan and itinerary of key stops along the way for those wishing to experience a true Scottish adventure.
The gateway to the North Coast 500
The famed city of Inverness acts as the gateway for most wanting to take on the North Coast 500. Ideal for a city break due to its charming mix of cosmopolitan and historical features and with the legendary Loch Ness right on its doorstep, intrepid adventurers keen to experience the wonders of the NC 500 should head to Inverness Castle as it is the official start and end of the famed route. Climb the north tower for 360 degree views of Inverness and the surrounding area, plus find out some intriguing myths and legends about the city (today the castle is a court and otherwise not open to the public).
On to Applecross
Next stop on any trip around the NC 500 should be the delightfully remote seaside village of Applecross, which feels like an island retreat due to its isolation and the magnificent views of Raasay and the hills of Skye, particularly at sunset. On a clear day it’s an unforgettable place. The area around Applecross is believed to be one of the earliest settled parts of Scotland. The coastal settlement of Sand, just to the north of Applecross, is the location of a major archaeological site.
The wonders of Torridon
About an hour north from Applecross a paradise can be found for hikers, climbers, geologists and nature lovers, as Torridon includes some of Scotland’s finest mountain scenery. Challenge yourself to reach the summit of one of five Munros, enjoy a peaceful picnic spot by Loch Torridon or visit the countryside centre for information on the wildlife and walking routes.
Ullapool and one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets…
The picturesque fishing town of Ullapool, nestled on the shores of Lochbroom, is a great stop on any North Coast 500 tour. Situated in one of the least spoilt natural environments in the UK, the town boasts a wealth of things to see and do. There is a great choice of varied walks in the area including mountains, rocky coasts and long inland footpaths with a good portion of the finest summits in the north west Highlands too.
Further north on the winding coastal road from Lochinver you will discover Scotland’s best kept secret as your eyes rest upon perfect turquoise waters lapping expansive white sand. Achmelvich Beach is a stunning, white sandy beach with a popular caravan and camping spot nearby. The unique morphology of the area, means there are many nearby walks and climbs, including the famous Suilven, for those interested in hiking.
Why not book a stay at the North Coast 500’s award-winning glamping site to truly appreciate everything Achmelvich has to offer?
Durness from the sky?
The next stopover you should consider is in the thriving village of Durness, surrounded by the dramatic landscape of Sutherland. The most north westerly village in the British mainland boasts spectacular scenery with a rocky coastline, pristine beaches with turquoise waters. For the adventurous, our favourite attraction is the 37-meters high coastal cliff Golden Eagle Zip Line. It is a fun and thrilling zip lining experience in a truly unique and spectacular location.
The Scottish mainland’s (almost) most northerly point
A trip to John o’Groats, Caithness, is on many people’s bucket list – and no visit is complete without a picture of the sign, which is so popular there’s often a queue. Though not the northern-most point of the British mainland (that’s Dunnet Head), John O’Groats still serves as the end point of the 874-mile trek from Land’s End in Cornwall, a popular if arduous route for cyclists and walkers, many of whom raise money for charitable causes. Most of the settlement is taken up by a stylish modern self-catering complex.
Time for a round or a dram?
Placed perfectly on the magnificent east coast of Sutherland, around one hour north of Inverness on the final stretches of the scenic North Coat 500 route, the small village of Brora boasts a prime golf location. This small town between Dornoch and Wick is a great base for a number of superb golf courses in the area, and for touring Caithness and Sutherland.
Brora beach is a small golden sandy beach with Jurassic rocks and sloping sea front. This rural and unspoilt beach is great for wildlife watching. You’ll find regular appearances of dolphins, minke whales, and grey and common seals off the coastline and it’s an ideal place for walking and picnics too!
If whisky is your thing, we highly recommend a visit to the Clynelish Distillery. With beautiful views of the North Sea and the hills to the north – where Clydemilton burn runs over the seams of gold in the rock. It is with this water that Clynelish distillery produces its’ signature single malt. Warm up this winter with a complimentary Winter at Clynelish tour and tasting! Call 01408 623000 to book your space.
The finishing line
With Brora in the rear view, we once again reach Inverness, enriched and invigorated by the breath-taking journey around the north of Scotland. The road circling the Scottish Highlands has always existed, the single-tracks and winding lanes long providing a life-line to farmers, fishermen and villagers along the coast. Someone once said ‘if you build it, they will come’, but when one speaks of the road circling the Scottish Highlands, it turns out, all that was needed was a name.