Did they use them to shelter from the harsh Scottish weather, or were they killed by a larger predator that called these caves home? The final stop of the day is at the small town of Thurso, which is home to one of the most northerly train stations in the UK. The Castle is a perfect starting point to the route as it is perched on the hill and offers unparalleled views over the capital city of the Highlands. It was sheltered from the wind and there were even 24 hour toilets too! Due to this, the number one item on any Scotland packing list is a good waterproof jacket. It turns out the carpark for the Duncansby Light House is a popular layup spot for motorhomes, but we were the only ones to enjoy the scenery from a tent. North Coast 500 Budget – How Much Does the NC500 Cost? There are walking trails to be found here, and since the loch is so big, you’ll find little villages, restaurants, and hotels on your way.Â. North Coast 500 itinerary day 7: Thurso to East Mey via John O’Groats. Smoo cave was my favourite place to visit on the whole NC500 driving route. Check out this cute cottage near Applecross! A glimmer of golden sands will appear far below, hidden behind the bushes that line the road. As you drive along the winding A837, you will see these ruins sitting proudly above the glistening waters. It was such an amazing experience and we saw lots of beautiful sights. Our Itinerary & Stops Day One. The perfect place to stop for a bite to eat, some food and even a place to rest your head. It was later concluded that the reason for this layering of old on top of young was caused when two different areas of rock layers pushed together. North Coast 500 Planning Tips - What You Need to Know | highlands2hammocks, Complete List of the Best North Coast 500 Campsites | highlands2hammocks, Instagram Guide to the North Coast 500 - Most Photogenic Spots | highlands2hammocks, North Coast 500 Packing Guide - What You Will Need for the NC500 | highlands2hammocks, North Coast 500 Castles - The Ultimate Guide to Scotland's Historical Castles | highlands2hammocks, North Coast 500 Budget - How Much Does It Cost? All of these options are within walking distance of the Applecross Inn and offer a comfortable nights sleep with all the expected necessities. If you want to know the origins of Smoo Cave, then you can check out our vlog where Bradley makes a pretty convincing story of Smoo…. Make sure you subscribe to our Youtube channel for more by clicking here! Continuing south along the west coast of Scotland, you will eventually reach the peaceful spot of Scourie Caravan and Camping campsite. North Coast 500 is a series of roads forming a loop around the Northern Highlands of Scotland and there is no perfect way to structure your North Coast 500 trip. ITINERARY Day 1 - 64miles (2450ft elevation gain) Day 2 - 69miles (7230ft elevation gain) Day 3 - 80miles (4552ft elevation gain) Day 4 - 81miles (4428ft elevation gain) Brad and I agree that this was the cutest little cafe we’ve been to! Get planning your epic North Coast 500 road trip with our guide to the Best Planning Tips. Roads can take you anywhere you want to go and new ones are being built every day, but for a truly epic journey, only the best stops and sites make the cut. It sits as the third highest road in Scotland and has the steepest ascent of any road in the UK, reaching an altitude of 626 metres. All Rights Reserved. The day builds up through crashing waterfalls, quaint, lochside towns, and climaxes with one of the most epic drives in the UK. NC500 five day itinerary. There is a small parking place just a couple of hundred meters away from it, but again, in the summer this would fill up very quickly.Â, Since the road was empty when we visited, we quickly pulled beside the waterfall to admire this powerful fall and took some pictures!Â, It was raining when we visited, but the waterfall was SO strong which was really cool!Â, I love a viewing platform and a bridge, and this spot offered me both! What were your favourite sights? If you are looking to rent a cosy, reliable and luxurious campervan for your trip along the NC500, we highly recommend hiring through Bunk Campers. Continuing west along the northern coast, with the beautiful, blue waters of the North Sea, with nothing between you and the Arctic Circle, our next stop is at the small, isolated bay of Skerray Harbour. Like seriously, if you are a Game of Thrones fan you do NOT want to miss this! Epic coastlines, stunning beaches, endless horizons and beautiful wildlife are what awaits you along the north coast of Scotland. As you’re driving down the coastal roads of Wick, you’ll just be impressed by the views, but if you fancy a nice viewpoint, then take a detour into the Castle Sinclair remains. The small, ribbed boat from Tarbet across to the island, normally running between April to September. Named as “between the rock and sea”, Skerray is a small town filled with artists, tree-planters and fisherman. The loop is suitable got families, however, due to the path, it is not suitable for pushchairs. Take a Photo with the John O’Groats Sign Post, Drive Britain’s Highest Road – The Bealach na Ba. This varies from guesthouses to bed and breakfasts, however, all of the options are sure to be clean, comfortable and affordable. We also offer a longer version, that also takes in the Isle of Skye and our Scottish Highlands and North Coast 500 tour, out of Edinburgh. This castle ruin sits on an outcrop of land from the surrounding cliffs, with perilous drops on either side. Above the falls lies a suspension bridge that spans the gorge and delivers a beautiful, birds-eye view of the waterfall below. Well, on our first night in Scotland we met a lovely couple who had just completed the NC500 in a pretty darn big motorhome (bigger than our campervan) and they said it was absolutely fine. It adds an extra 20-30 minutes onto your NC500 route, (it’s a one way in, one way out road) but on a clear day you’ll be greeted with amazing views, and there’s an information point there telling you about the history of the castle remains.Â. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below. We decided to pull in here and explore the beach to decide where we would stay for the night. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. It’s called the NC500 because it’s 500 miles long and as you can see it’s pretty much a nice loop around the northern highlands of Scotland! For your reference, the average temperatures in Scotland are listed below during each season. We created this "North Coast 500" itinerary long before anyone ever coined the slogan “NC500”. Read more about the cave tour and the work being done on Smoo Cave on their website here. The main focus of the story is of the infamous 19th century “Highland Clearances” when local villagers were forced from their homes by rich land-owners. The best hotels and holiday homes that you can stay in are all within close vicinity of the stunning sunset spot of the Duncansby Lighthouse. Like!! As the sun rises of the sleepy town of Dornoch, the sound of gulls overhead and the waves crashing on the shore of the beach, it is time to get ready for a busy day ahead. After spending a night in our most spectacular camping spot yet, overlooking the beautiful horizon at the Duncansby Lighthouse, we had a quick breakfast and headed up over the hill to see the local marvel, the Duncansby Stacks. Day 2: Black Isle to Wick. I think the fact the sun was shining and the skies were clear when we visited had a lot to do with that.Â. So I just mentioned Loch Maree above, and this is one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland (in my humble opinion). This loch is the fourth largest freshwater loch in Scotland; it is the largest north of Loch Ness. Don’t forget that sharing is caring! Your driver-guide will take you to towering mountains, banks of shimmering lochs, and the shores of beautiful beaches. To get here you can either cross the Dornoch Firth Bridge and turn west or simply follow the southern coast of the Dornoch Firth towards Invershin. eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'highlands2hammocks_co_uk-medrectangle-3','ezslot_1',113,'0','0'])); Download an easy to use, NC500 map and North Coast 500 Itinerary right here. Given the remote location of the NC500 and the majority of the sights along the route, the best way to get around this road trip is by driving. If you would prefer to wild camp in Thurso, we settled for a wild camping spot a little further west from Thurso at the Strathy Point Lighthouse. This is a method growing in popularity, mainly because of how much more spectacular the west coast is compared to the east. If you want to find them, look for a signpost for “Cairn of Get”, and instead of turning left towards it, turn right. Waking up at the edge of the world, it is time to begin our journey west along the most northerly part of mainland Britain. The island itself is quite small, with a walking loop around the entire island taking only a few hours. If you fancy a walk, make some use of the #2minutebeachclean equipment sitting beside the second car park. A fantastic, secluded stop is in the town centre, on the small Brora harbour. Due to this there are no advance bookings. As you arrive at the lighthouse, you will find a small car park where you can leave your car. eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'highlands2hammocks_co_uk-banner-1','ezslot_6',117,'0','0'])); The main sight we wanted to see in the city centre of Inverness was the local castle, Ness Castle. The view from our tent was absolutely spectacular. From the shores of Sango Sands, it is not uncommon to see seals, dolphins and even whales making their way along the coast. ), visited the Victorian Market, and went for dinner.Â, There are lots of places to pick up souvenirs when driving the NC500, but if you’ve forgotten, then just hit the shops in Inverness!Â, And that is our 7 day North Coast 500 itinerary!Â, This is the exact route Bradley and I followed, we just did it in two weeks because we were working too, but it’s entirely possible to do it in a week, and whilst you can visit it all quicker in a week, I think 7 days is the perfect amount of time to drive at a leisurely pace, visit all the sights, do great walks, and have time to visit coffee shops and restaurants for lunch!Â, If you decide to go the other direction, then the route is exactly the same, just back to front!Â, Just in case you don’t have 7 days to dedicate to your North Coast 500 itinerary, I’ll mention two other itineraries, below.Â, Again we are starting in Inverness, and I suggest something like this:Â. Plenty of room for a few campers, but it is exposed so if it’s a windy night, then you will be rocking!Â, 2. Today, the town is a peaceful place, with a community of around 80 locals. Thurso was a much larger town than we expected, with a high street, plenty of shops and lots of bars and restaurants to choose from to rest for the night. | highlands2hammocks, North Coast 500 Highlights - 19 Best Sights Along the NC500 | highlands2hammocks, Visit the John O'Groats Sign Post - Britain's Most Northerly Point | highlands2hammocks, Wild Camping North Coast 500 - The 10 Best Places to Wild Camp | highlands2hammocks, Complete Guide to the Duncansby Stacks and Lighthouse | highlands2hammocks, Castle Sinclair Girnigoe Ruins, NC500 - WHAT, WHERE AND WHY.. | highlands2hammocks, Complete Guide to the Whaligoe Steps - WHAT, WHERE and WHY.. | highlands2hammocks, 10-Day Scotland Road Trip Itinerary - Edinburgh, Glasgow and Isle of Skye | highlands2hammocks, Complete Guide to the Falls of Shin - WHAT, WHERE and WHY.. | highlands2hammocks, Complete Guide to Coldbackie Beach - Scotland's Hidden Gem | highlands2hammocks, Durness – Ceannabeine Beach / Village Trail. The island Scotland Wildlife Trust nature reserve, home to over 100,000 wild seabirds and a greatly significant area in terms of birdlife and marine vegetation. You’ll naturally drive across this bridge as part of the North Coast 500 driving itinerary, but it’s worth pulling into the parking viewpoint on the other side and taking some pictures. Read our full guide to Wild Camping if you wish to give it a go so you know everything you need to for a comfortable and sustainable trip. This is a great spot on the North coast, and it’s closed to a town called BettyHill which has awesome coffee shops!Â, If you want to find wild camping spots on the NC500 route, then we recommend the use of the Park4Night app and CamperContact.Â. There are so many amazing things to do on the NC500! Scotland is home to some pretty beautiful beaches, but of course, beaches are season dependent. 500-mile road trip takes you along some of Scotland’s most incredible scenery. You can read what else we keep in our camera bag over here. We drove from Aberdeen to Inverness, although it is possible to arrive by plane, bus or train. This is quite a tricky climb, especially when the ground is wet underfoot, so take care and wear good shoes. The afternoon was spent… The Castle of Old Wick is believed to date back to the 12th century, however, all that remains today is the towering ruins of the 4-storey tower. Parking up at the side of the road, the waterfall lies about 10-minutes from the gates that mark the beginning of the path. The award-winning Sango Sands Oasis sits high above the spectacular, golden Sango Sands beach, one of the most popular north-west Scotland campsites. I’m assuming you’re here because you already know what the North Coast 500 is, but if not, a quick wee summary: It’s a (roughly) 500 mile route around the North West of Scotland and it’s known to be one of the most B-E-A-UTIFUL road trips in the UK, if not the world. Explore the small, yet bustling town of Inverness at the start or completion of your North Coast 500 itinerary. If you aren’t planning on going to the Isle of Skye and hiking to the Old Man of Storr there, then you may as well check out this one! Due to this, signposts for the stairs have been removed from the main road and they are quite easy to miss. The Falls themselves are easy to find, with lots of signposts leading to the car park. Read more about these holiday parks in our complete guide to the best NC500 campsites. This is the first time we have seen this and it is a spectacular sight! Click here for more options for accommodation near Ullapool. After you continue down the other side of the Bealach na Ba, you will eventually reach the refuge of Applecross, a peaceful, seaside village that consists of the main road, a few houses, and a pub. There is no shortage of comfortable accommodation available in the seaside town of Ullapool, however, due to demand, it will definitely book up quickly. This is going to be a fun day! They will also warn you on where you are and are not allowed to go on the island, depending on the breeding season. Continuing west along Scotland northern coast, today is a day filled with stunning beaches, ancient caves and plenty more beautiful sea views. The remoteness in the highlands of Scotland will leave you with little choice of accommodation in each location along the NC500, however, there are still enough options to choose from to ensure a comfortable trip. Inverness isn’t overly big, but it’s super charming. Our directions take you from Inverness on a clockwise tour around the scenic highlights of Scotland’s North coast. #2minutebeachclean equipment sitting beside the second car park. 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. 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. Maybe even inspire them to visit the NC500 castles themselves! Last but not least, no North Coast 500 road trip would be complete without exploring the capital of the Highlands, Inverness!Â. 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. If you’re arranging motorhome hire in Scotland for the trip, they can probably supply these, but always check first. This is one of the most common questions about the North Coast 500 when it comes to planning the road trip, however, it is one without a real answer (unfortunately). Staying on a Lighthouse Cottage on the Isle of Skye. As the day comes to an end, the surrounding hills begin to light up a magnificent pink, which in turn illuminates the buildings and the water. Day 7: Gairloch to Lochcarron. So we didn't think there was much point in going…, But if you’re visiting in the summer or spring, then definitely go! I don’t think this is a good idea if you’re visiting outside of that season. It was then inhabited until 1737, when a mysterious fire destroyed it beyond repair. If you are not sure what you will be needing for your camping trip have a look at our Packing Guide for Cheap Glamping. This was one of my favorite drives in all of the NC500, the views were awesome, but if you’re afraid of heights, maybe don’t look down!Â, There are campsites and wild camping spots available in Applecross.Â. If you fancy somewhere a little less wild, maybe with a shower and a toilet, then don’t worry as there are plenty of campsites to choose from near Durness. NORTH COAST 500 ROUTE MAP. When we first set off on the North Coast 500, we spent a total of 8 days on the coastal route. North Coast 500 Camping Itinerary Summary. As well as this site there are some stunning lodges that overlook the sea if you are feeling fancy! We visited just before sunset and it looked really pretty. After years of dreaming, this couple finally took the leap and left their 9-5 lifestyle for some a little more unpredictable. PLUS it also makes use of paper straws, so you can have a guilt-free cocktail if you fancy. Edinburgh to Inverness. Click here for more options for accommodation near Scourie. Luckily, that is what travel insurance is for. What drove these animals to meet their fate in these caves? It’s large, it’s got golden sand and it’s a truly beautiful place to just wander.Â, We were the only ones on the beach when we visited near sunset, but I imagine in the summer months this place would get pretty busy!Â, Parking is free and you can wild camp here too, but there was no phone signal for us, so we moved on!Â. 6 Sample North Coast 500 Itinerary. This will bring you to the Whaligoe steps cafe and a car park for you to explore the area. There are not a lot of choices when it comes to accommodation nearby Scourie, with only two guesthouses in the centre of the village. We love wild camping and since our campervan is fully self contained (shower and everything), we took advantage of the beautiful wild camping spots along the NC500!Â. Or lose yourself in the beautiful tales of Scotland with the Kindle Unlimited membership. Located on the beach side of a town called Strathy, this wild camping spot was literally a 5 minute walk from the beach with amazing views. Today, the harbour at the bottom lies in ruin, however, thanks to the hard work of the local volunteers the stairs remain in good condition. Driving south from Scourie, you will eventually reach the prominent construction of Kylesku, a contrasting sight against the rugged background of the Scottish highlands. How Long Does it Take to Drive the North Coast 500? As we travelled along the North Coast 500, camped in our trusty Vango tent on a mixture of campsites and wild sites. You can pitch up in a spot here and explore the surroundings for two of three days before moving on, or you can make some quick pit stops at each one and get going. Your email address will not be published. Day 2 Highlights: Wick Heritage Museum, Castle of Mey, most northerly part of mainland UK. In November, Bradley and I drove the famous NC500 road trip in Scotland, which is basically Scotland’s answer to Route 66! A short walk from the car park will bring you past some more stunning cliff faces, full of amazing photo opps. Read our full guide to Coldbackie Beach right here for more information on how to get here and what to expect. With years of experience working for backpackers around the globe, the service they provide is perfect for whatever type of trip you have planned. Series of limestone Steps leading down the hill become giants and the stunning of! Check your email addresses hike and you will see a small car park where can! Posts by email fourth largest freshwater Loch in Scotland video head back into town find... Here before walking along the North Coast 500 in our full guide have more. Was to no avail as the further North along the Coast this bridge famous... Pub, a village hall, a pub, a church and a Superdrug before the town a! Cheaper option and found a quiet spot on the NC500 in our full guide NC500 itinerary suggestions. hot chocolate,. 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