smoo cave nc500

NC500 – A (Brief) Guide To Scotland’s Ultimate Road Trip

It is described as the journey of a lifetime. A jaw-droppingly beautiful experience. And the ultimate road trip around the North of Scotland. We are, of course, talking about the North Coast 500 (NC500) and with summer just around the corner, what better time than now to start planning your NC500 campervan adventure!?

Whether you’ve never heard of it (really?) or it’s been on your bucket list for a while, strap yourself in because we’re about to take you on a whistle-stop tour of the NC500.

Ardvreck_Castle_Loch_Assynt on the NC500 Route

Ardvreck Castle, Sutherland – it might be crumbling, but that doesn’t detract from its wonderful charm

North Coast 500 Route Overview

The NC500 covers six different regions and features over 500 miles of scenic driving through some of Scotland’s finest coastal scenery.

Starting in the northern city of Inverness, the NC500 weaves along the west coast to Applecross, before heading northwards towards the town of Torridon and then on to Ullapool. From there, you’ll continue even further north to Durness and then onwards along the North Coast of Scotland, passing by Caithness, before arriving at John o’ Groats. Here, you’ll begin heading south once more through Dingwall and finally finishing back in Inverness.

NC500 Quick Facts

  • Total distance covered: 516 miles
  • Number of days: Allow at least 5-7 days (remember, it’s not a race)
  • Best time of year to travel: May to late September is when most attractions & restaurants are open
  • Transportation: Most people drive, some cycle and this extremely motivated guy is on course to become the first person to run the NC500!
  • Accommodation: Meticulously plan your journey and book well in advance. Camping is an option too, or you could make your NC500 trip extra special by hiring a motorhome/campervan from a reputable firm like us (a little more on that later)
Chanonry_Point on the NC500
Watch the Moray Firth dolphins frolicking at Chanonry Point on the NC500

NC500 Highlights (just some of them)

Here are 10 highlights you absolutely must see on your NC500 trip:

  1. Ardvreck Castle, Sutherland – A crumbling castle located on the edge of Loch Assynt.
  2. Smoo Cave, Sutherland – A mystical limestone sea cave that has a staggering 50ft entrance and a cascading waterfall. (Smoo Cave is the featured image at the top of this post).
  3. Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland – The second castle on our list, but this one’s certainly not crumbling. In fact, it’s got 189 rooms, making it the largest in the Northern Highlands.
  4. Stac Pollaidh, Wester Ross – A prominent mountain that once conquered affords both stunning views and a significant sense of achievement.
  5. Balnakeil Beach, Sutherland – Pure natural beauty, secluded sands and epic surfing, Balnakeil Beach has them all and more.
  6. Chanonry Point, Black Isle – Watch the Moray Firth dolphins frolicking from this narrow peninsula between Rosemarkie and Fortrose.
  7. Bealach na Bà, Wester Ross – Jaw-dropping views across Wester Ross, the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides await you at the top of the 2,053ft Bealach na Bà between Kishorn and Applecross.
  8. Am Buachille sea stack, Sutherland – It’s a couple hours walk to Am Buachille near Sandwood Bay, but the dramatic cliffs, remote beach and impressive sea stack make it worthwhile.
  9. Brimms Ness, Caithness – A paradise for surfers and watersports enthsusiasts near Thurso in Caithness.
  10. Corrieshalloch Gorge, Wester Ross – A mile-long box-canyon that was forged around 2.6 million years ago which is spanned by a Victorian suspension bridge and features a series of waterfalls.

There’s also an abundance of stunning lochs, deserted beaches, breathtaking mountains, artisan distilleries and delicious fresh seafood, plus more along the way.

Dunrobin_Castle_-Sutherland_ on the NC500 Route

Not all the castles along the NC500 are crumbling. Here’s Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland – wow!

So what are you waiting for? Make this year in which you discover how truly amazing the North Coast 500 is. Even better… why not hire a campervan from New Marque Motorhome Hire in which to complete it.

Get in touch with us today and we’ll go over all the suitable campervan/motorhome options with you so you can be sure your NC500 adventure is absolutely perfect.