North Coast 500
Travel the Incredible NC500 In Scotland
Bringing together a route of just over 500 miles (516 to be exact) of stunning coastal scenery, white sandy beaches, rugged mountains, remote fishing villages, hidden gems, and a wealth of unforgettable experiences; the North Coast 500 is one of the world’s most beautiful road trips.
Whether you’re looking for an action-packed break, a chance to relax or simply want to see more of the North Highlands’ breathtaking scenery, you will find it on the NC500. Start planning your next adventure today.
Where is the NC500?
As the name suggests, the NC500 is a mostly coastal route which runs adjacent to the northern Scottish coastline. It’s a circular route too, so you can start anywhere along its 516 mile length and it’ll eventually lead you back to where you started, but many who embark on this drive of a lifetime, begin and end their journey in Inverness.
Heading clockwise from Inverness, the NC500 heads west to Applecross on the west coast before heading more or less north to Durness. From there, head east along the rugged North coast to John O’Groats, before heading back South along Scotland’s East coast which eventually leads you back to Inverness.
Motorhome Camping and the NC500
One of the beauties of taking a motorhome anywhere in Scotland, is that you can camp on pretty much any unenclosed land, so you’re free to find an idyllic view of your choice and spend the night, giving you a glorious vista to awaken to the following morning. Being self contained, motorhomes have everything you need on board to allow you to spend your nights ‘off grid’ without being without your modern conveniences. There are however, many campsites along the NC500 should you wish to top up your water and gas, or get an overnight electric hookup. You can choose to wild camp the whole way, stop off at more formal campsites, or mix it up as you see fit.
A word of warning though, if you choose to wild camp, make sure you follow the ‘Scottish Outdoor Access Code’ and make sure you choose your parking spot carefully to avoid getting stuck!
When is the best time to see the NC500?
When the weather’s sunny, the North of Scotland is a place of ethereal beauty, at other times however, it can be prone to screaming gales, torrential rain, freezing temperature’s and impassable snow, so it’s important you choose the right time of year for your motorhome adventure. For the best chance of an enjoyable trip, any time from April to October will give you the best chance to get the most out of your trip, the height of Summer being the absolute best time.
The Six Regions
The Black Isle – Neither black in colour nor an isle
Why not venture off route and spend a few days exploring the Black Isle. Just a short drive from Inverness, this magical peninsula is steeped in history with Pictish stones, medieval stonework and charming 17th century seaside villages. The Black Isle is also a haven for nature and wildlife; you will often see dolphins frolicking in the water off Chanonry Point, whilst the enchanting Fairy Glen is home to tumbling waterfalls and woodland creatures. The adventurous can experience one of the best kept secrets of Scottish mountain biking at Learnie Red Rocks, and foodies will love the delicious natural larder and craft beer the Black Isle is famous for.
Caithness – Beautiful scenery with a hint of Royal Excellence
Caithness is located on the most north eastern part of the North Coast 500, and serves as the most northern county in Britain to still claim royal connections. The vast open landscape, also known as the flow country, is rich in archaeological remnants of a bygone age. The geological features of the Caithness coastline feature soaring sea stacks, raucous colonies of sea birds, and vertically faced headlands jutting out into the wild waters of the Pentland Firth.
Did you know? Dunnet Head is officially the most northerly point in Mainland Britain, whilst John O’Groats is the most northerly village.
Easter Ross – As romantic as it is historic
Easter Ross is full of history and romance – an area blessed with a fabulous pictish past, unsurpassed views from the Fyrish monument and seals basking along the shoreline.
You could easily spend a few days visiting the fascinating seaboard villages, following the Pictish Trail and drinking in the scenery whilst sipping a glass of the local Glenmorangie whisky.
Inverness-Shire – The capital of the Scottish Highlands
Experience stunning Highland scenery, explore ancient castles and majestic mountains, and of course you may even catch sight of the famous Loch Ness Monster!
The capital of the Highlands offers many things to see and do; spend some time to discover the city’s fabulous Scottish cuisine, traditional live music and picturesque riverside walks. It’s the ideal base to start your North Coast 500 adventure.
Sutherland – Europe’s “last great wilderness”
Experience the most incredible landscapes and seascapes. Sutherland makes up a large part of the North Coast 500, and will leave a lasting memory too. From the dramatic north-western scenery, where the mountains meet the sea, to the varied lands of the east – with scattered fishing communities, award winning golf courses, fairy tale castles, archaeological wonders and quaint harbours. Unspoilt, naturally stunning landscapes and seascapes with stretches of sand to rival those abroad, welcome to Sutherland.
Wester Ross – A must see destination for all!
Slow down and explore a land of breathtaking landscapes, secretive hill lochs, mist shrouded mountain peaks and Mediterranean style beaches.
Set up your base in one of the thriving communities with a vibrant culture stretching back thousands of years to the Neolithic ages and truly experience this unique part of the North Coast 500.