North Coast 500
North West Scotland
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Route at a Glance
The North Coast 500 (NC500) was created in 2014 by the North Highland Initiative to highlight some of Scotland’s magnificence to the world. It has been dubbed Scotland’s answer to the renowned ‘Route 66’ and doesn’t disappoint. With just over 500 miles of stunning coastal scenery, the route path naturally follows the main roads across the coastal edges of the North Highlands taking in the villages and towns of places like Ullapool, Durness, John O’Groats, Dornoch and Inverness.
To kick you off North Coast 500 takes you from Inverness Castle over to the west coast where there are many small islands, some of stunning beauty while others have darker mysterious secrets. Slightly windy roads but some straight and long sweeping corners along the way making for a route for all types of riders. Then on through many nice towns to the cities of Ullapool and other small villages.
The route passes many different things to see and do, for example; Rogie falls, Smoo cave or The Sealife Glass Bottom Boat. there are many lochs to pass and see but make sure you don’t get too close! From the dense cities to out in the open country it has many things that contrast greatly from one another.
PRO Tip – The NC500 lives by it’s namesake and is on the plus side of 500 miles. So if you would prefer to take in the beauty of the North Coast 500 at a more leisurely pace you can have a peep at three routes we have created. They take in most of the roads and more and break the journey down into 3 magical days of riding! …
- Cian Bus – 149 miles | 4 hours 2 minutes
- The Flipside – 184 miles | 5 hours 21 minutes
- Coast 2 Coast – 186 miles | 4 hours 44 minutes
Route Notes & Highlights
(Icons on the map)
- Inverness Castle – Built in 1836 this marvellous piece of architecture is sure to capture anyone’s attention.
- Rogie Falls – With a short walk through a forest and a series of waterfalls to admire, this is a great place for a quick stop.
- Applecross Beach – With hills on 3 sides and the sea out front this beach gives an escape to modern life.
- Sealife Glass Bottom Boat – Fish, wildlife and birds are all part of the glass bottom boat and to spot a fish gives real excitement.
- Firemore Beach – Unspoilt sandy beach with a maze of paths and home to many exotic plants.
- Gruinard Island – In 1942 it was a bio-weapons testing site. There isn’t much to see but it’s the spooky story that has formed in it’s wake.
- Ardessie Falls – A short but steep walk to see the beautiful Ardessie Falls that resembles a mini version of Niagra falls.
- Ullapool Museum – Made out of an old church this museum creates a sense of everything that had happened in Ullapool happened in that very church.
- North West Highlands Geopark – The Geopark contains a landscape of world class quality with significance and importance.
Inchnadamph Bone Caves – These are a series of small openings in the side of a hill and can be very small so be cautious!
- Drumbeg Viewpoint – A mass of islands that you can gaze upon with a helpful map to see which island you are looking at. What a view!
- Smoo Cave – A single cave opening with ridges along the outside that people commonly write their names on with rocks.
- Strathnaver Museum- As an old church it is filled with many religious objects and also the history about the surrounding area.
- Dunnet Head LIghthouse – This is the most northerly point on mainland Scotland and it is 2.35 miles further than John ‘O’ Groats.
- Noss Head Lighthouse – The lighthouse looks over a large cliff with dangerous rocks. there are a few islands that are the same height as the mainland but are very thin.
- Dunrobin Castle – This castle has many different aspects such as having gardens and a museum, it also has an incredible view all round.
- Dingwall Museum – Dingwall Museum found many local artefacts and fascinating tales of human exploits which only happened in Dingwall within a landmark building, once the centre of local government.
Filling Stations on Route