The North Coast 500 is one of the best road trips in the world with the most beautiful landscape. It’s a circular route of the north coast of Scotland taking in rugged coastline and breath taking scenery. The key to making the most of this memorable experience is planning in advance. Here’s some tips on getting the best out of the trip.
The usual starting point is Inverness, the highland capital. You can go clockwise or anticlockwise, it’s entirely up to you. The route takes you through the east coast villages of Brora, Golspie, Helmsdale and up to Wick. It takes in John O’Groats, the most northerly point of the UK mainland. From there you go along the top of the north coast of Scotland, possibly taking in the view of Orkney on a clear day. Then there’s the dramatic north coastline and equally rugged west coastline down through the port of Ullapool and to the village of Applecross and back to Inverness. The route is challenging in places, with sections of single track road.
There is a wide range of types of accommodation whatever your budget. You’ll need at least 3 days to travel the route, although many advise longer. Booking accommodation in advance is essential. The route is popular all year round, especially in the summer months. Most of the road takes in small villages, so it’s advisable to book ahead for accommodation and dinner reservations.
Always remember to drive on the left and keep to the left starting off and when turning into another road. Visitors should familiarise themselves with the Highway Code in advance, especially on how to drive on single track roads. There are some parts of the NC500 which are not suitable for large/long vehicles. An alternative road is a better option for a long motorhome in places. You wouldn’t want to get stuck on a hairpin bend and block the traffic in both directions. You can find more information on maximum size of vehicles and alternative routes here.
Remember this wonderful route is shared by local people whose lives and livelihoods depend on these roads. You are also sharing it with fellow travellers from all over the road, who are not familiar with the area. Some stretches of the NC500 are unfenced, so it’s quite possible to encounter cows, sheep, goats or deer crossing the road. So please drive and ride responsibly, safely and respectfully. Remember to leave the countryside as you would wish to find it – leave no trace of your visit.
Take Your Time
There’s such a lot to take in on the North Coast 500. It’s worth doing some research before your trip and deciding what interests you and your travellers most. You can immerse yourself in the Scottish wilderness. You’ll find mountains, hidden hill lochs, Highland glens and deserted golden beaches right on your doorstep. This is a great opportunity to experience the Highland way of life and Scotland’s rich culture through amazing food, music and craftmanship. The main thing to remember is to take your time – you’re on holiday after all.
Bannerman Bed and Breakfast is a perfect base to start and finish your trip around the North Coast 500. From here you can soak up the culture of the capital of the Highlands, Inverness and visit the iconic Loch Ness. Read more on why you should stay at Bannerman Bed and Breakfast and check availability for your next trip here.