Is there any issue with a female traveling alone? Sorry I can’t offer any better advice on this, but wishing you and your family a wonderful NC500 road trip. Surcharges may apply to drivers under age 25. Our favorite beaches are around the northwest between Melvich and Sandwood Bay in the northwest, and then around Achmelvich Bay. Just let us know if you have any questions if you are planning a trip. each cycle it. We will be driving and hope to head north from Edinburgh then across to the West coast before heading south to Wales. we love Scotland and lived there several years until our children wanted us back in Dorset Paul, Hi Paul, Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. A carefully designed itinerary, travelling the North Coast 500 driving route – covering more than 500 miles of the best coastal scenery the North Highlands has to offer, but within a leisurely week’s holiday. At a scenic minor road which winds along the northern shore of Upper Loch Torridon sits your hotel. I think your itinerary is certainly doable with a baby, I’d just check the driving distances each day and see what you want to do/see along the way so you can better plan your driving distances. In addition to nature and wildlife, there are loads of things to see and do along the route which include hiking, golfing, castles, heritage sites, prehistoric sites, a geological park, museums, beaches, You can also sample the local food of the Scottish Highlands and stay in unique lodging from simple B&B’s and inns to grand family country homes to luxurious castles. Glad you are finding our North Coast 500 guide helpful in planning your upcoming road trip! I can not recommend this road trip enough. 2. Would you advise carrying with us fuel for the car (in a legal container) or are there sufficient petrol stations along the route for this not to be an issue? The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route along Scotland’s northern coast that begins and ends in the city of Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. Ah, glad you got some experience driving in Ireland, that will definitely come in handy for Scotland. So my question: Is this at all doable or do I need to plan something else? – Thrumster House near Wick – very dog friendly, owners have their own dogs, large garden for them to run around in Remember that it is just not a tourist destination but also a place where people live and many have moved to this area to “get away”. Melvich Beach, Durness Beach, Balnakeil Beach, Sandwood Beach, and Achmelvich Beach are a few of our favorites in the northwest. It is wise to think ahead each day about where you’ll be for meals as some hotels or campsites may be a 30 minute to 1 hour drive from a restaurant. I’d recommend 2 nights on the Isle of Skye after you finish the NC500 drive. Do let us know if you have any questions – we are actually currently traveling along the NC500 again ourselves Best, Jessica, Hello Jessica and Laurence What a terrific source of inspiration! For birdlovers, I’d highly recommend checking out the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) website for information, and I’d also consider contacting them before your trip or visiting one of their centers for local information to find the best spots depending on the kind of birds you are most interested in (e.g., birds of prey, seabirds, waders). The minimum number of days we’d recommend to drive the North Coast 500 is 5 days, but 7 to 10 days would be ideal. The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route along Scotland’s northern coast that begins and ends in the city of Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. There are a lot of small operations in the Highlands and I think depending on where and when you needed transport, would depend on which might be best. But the North Coast 500 is designed for touring, sightseeing, and taking things slowly. Generally worse around dawn, dusk, and on cloudy days. I did see through one of your links regarding Rabbie’s tour over to the Isle of Skye. Each of these day tours explore different parts of the NC500. We are planning to arrive in Ullapool from Stornoway late on June 24 and we need to be in Inverness by the evening of June 26 to attend the pipe band European Championship the next day. Hotels and B&B’s represent the most popular lodging option along the North Coast 500. Since the NC500 route forms a loop, you have the option of driving it either clockwise or counterclockwise. Most parks, hiking areas, beaches, and wild places allow dogs, but not all of course so do check signs before setting out. that you would want to book in advance. Hi, what a superbly detailed guide you have produced here. But that was many years ago – hopefully drivers are better accustomed to avoiding wildlife now. This is particularly true if you are planning to drive a rental car, caravan, or motorhome. The North Coast 500 is one of the world’s most epic road trips taking you over 500 miles around the far north coast of Scotland. It is easy to avoid as you can take the slip road up to the A896 instead. Hi Jess, Yes, I definitely think that a drive along the North Coast 500 can be a great trip for families. We were thinking we would set up a few home bases, and stay 3 nights each. . Um, if you only have 1 week in Scotland and have never been before, it may not be the best choice for a first time trip. You can also use this function to save them as clickable PDF files as well if you’d rather not print them. Here are some general road trip supplies to help you get started: For the most part, you’ll want to bring the same things you’d bring on any road trip, but there are a few things you may want to consider for a Scottish road trip. During that time we had 2 bad days (snowed all day, roads uncleared, stayed inside) and 1 especially nice and sunny day. If you plan to rent a car in another country, please check your rental agreement as bringing a car to Scotland may be against your car’s rental terms (particularly any ferry crossings). Bring along bags or containers you can keep in your car to store your trash and wait until you get to a proper place to dispose of it responsibly. There is no strict North Coast 500 route – where you stop, stay and play is entirely up to you but here is a flavour of the villages and activities we think make up the best North Coast 500 places to visit. Golfing. Do let us know if you have any questions. Much of the road along the NC500 (especially in the north and west) are narrow single-track roads that were not designed for a lot of traffic or larger vehicles. Please also utilise local campsites and accomodation, local shops and petrol stations, and cafes/pubs, as the people who fill up in Inverness on fuel and food then don’t spend money in local villages really damage the fragile local economy. The route is just over 500 miles and mainly hugs the northern coast of Scotland, hence the name. You can also take a look at the map we’ve put together if you use Google maps, you can double click this link to take a closer look or double click on the map image below. Can you help? If you see a vehicle coming towards you, or the driver behind you wants to pass, pull into a passing place on your left, or wait opposite a passing place on your right until the car goes past you. Some self-catering properties in the area may not be on any of the aggregate booking websites, and the best way to track some of them down is to search for things like “cottage near Thurso” or “house rental near Inverness” online or check the local tourism office listings. We were not disappointed!. My wife and I plan to travel to Scotland by car and caravan for 4 weeks in June. This is an internationally significant geological site that has been recognized by UNESCO, so is a must-see for any rock hound (and recommended for anyone driving the NC500!). Here is a partial list of places where we’ve stayed or visited, across a range of budgets and styles, that I believe allow dogs (in at least certain rooms): – Kingsmill House in Inverness – dogs are allowed here – Summer Isles Hotel in Achiltibuie – I think they allow dogs in many of the rooms plus in the bar area (but not the restaurant) Your tips will be used. I’m happy to take up travel buddies and have advertised on some travel apps/sites, but no takers yet. Since its launch in 2014, the North Coast 500 has been named many things - Scotland's answer to Route 66, the only way to discover the Highlands and one of the best road trips in the world. Chanonry Point (one of the most popular spots), North Kessock, Fort George, and Spey Bay are popular places near Inverness to spot bottlenose dolphins as well as potentially seals, porpoises, and whales. I think you just need to do a bit more planning to make sure you allow more time for breaks and plan visits to places the kids will enjoy. North Coast 500 route maps are made easily available online plan your route around Scotland's Route66 NC500 with google maps & plan your route around the Coasts of the Northern Scottish Highlands as you drive through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, visit famous location made popular by movies like Braveheart filmed in Glen Nevis by Fort William But I think the best thing to do would be to make a list of attractions you really want to visit and then check their websites or call them about accessibility. Off the route, is also the possibility of going south a bit to the Isle of Skye. Most indoor attractions along the route do not allow dogs so if there are any that you want to visit, you may want to take turns with your husband staying with the dogs. Ended up with 1200 coast line miles in Scotland plus 700 to start and finish. It is also a good idea to also have some snacks and maybe a couple cups of pot noodles in your car just in case you arrive later than expected and there is no place to eat for dinner. This really depends on your style of travel, some people plan little in advance and others plan in great detail what they are going to see each day. Best, Jessica. If you have any further questions as you plan your NC500 trip, just ask! Decided to finally do this due to current COVID situation. There are small advantages to driving the NC500 in each direction though. The slower you go, the more you’ll see and the more you are likely to enjoy your trip! But for the most part, the hiking trails and beaches are difficult in terms of accessibility. 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. For whale watching, we were told that Duncansby Head, Dunnet Bay, and Strathy Point are popular spots for whale watchers as well as for dolphins, porpoises, and other sea animals. It was a totally ‘on a whim’ decision. If you are planning on drinking, even one drink could put you over the legal limit, so plan to stay in after drinking, have a designated driver, or call a taxi. The northern part of the route is lovely . They have listings for many of the major campervan rental firms in the UK. However, this is only a small advantage as you often need to park and walk a little to see the coastline along the route. Rabbie’s also offers this 5-day Northern Scotland and Orkney Island tour from Edinburgh that both include 2 full days on exploring Orkney and a drive around most of the North Coast 500 so you see many of the highlights and scenery. The main thing with dogs in this area is that they will need to be kept on a lead (leash) in most places because of livestock and wildlife. As noted, the two stretches of the road that are usually noted as unsuitable for larger caravans and motorhomes are: -The stretch along B869 from Kylesku to Lochinver, which is on the western part of the route. – Durness may be a good corner for some more remote hiking opportunities. Here’s a brief introduction to passing on single-track roads if you have never driven on one before. But keep any eye out for new posts over the next couple of months. Which Direction Should I Drive the North Coast 500? Hope that helps, and wishing your daughter a wonderful trip! Thanks in advance So I think a motorhome or RV of that size would be OK in general along the NC500 but I would not take it along the more steep and narrow sections. Done that been there several times up down across and back in our camper and up apple cross. The route heads north from Inverness, hugging Scotland’s east coast to John O’Groats before taking the high road through spectacular scenery to Durness on the northwestern tip of the mainland. From there, we want to rent a car and take 7 days to drive from Inverness to Glasgow and leave back to Canada on June 1st so would arrive in Glasgow on May 31st. To do this, we store the data as outlined in our privacy policy. If you want to know more about specific places to see and visit, you can check out Laurence’s post about some of the. No matter where you dine, I’d highly recommend trying dishes using the local produce and products such as local seafood (e.g., salmon, crabs, scallops), lamb, game, Stornoway black pudding (from the Isle of Lewis), and fresh in-season vegetables. The best time to drive the North Coast 500 for most people is between May and October as during this period you’ll find most attractions and restaurants open, the greatest variety of lodging, and the best chances for warmer weather. So if you drive the full route, you’ll end up where you started which can be very convenient if you are flying in and out of Inverness or renting a car. Then I’d add a week or so for time on the islands. This is amazing article, thanks so much. But you can spend less if you stay in simple B&Bs (£40-£80 per night for 2 people), hostels (£17-£25/person), or campsites (£5-£30). During our 12 day winter trip in February most days were mixed (rain/light snow/clouds/some sun) and it rained at least a little on almost every day of the trip. 5. Some are open 24 hours, some are not. You can check out the North Coast 500 Moto Experience in Inverness and the Highland Motorcycle Hire in Muir of Ord (20 km west of Inverness). – Mansfield Castle Hotel in Tain – dog-friendly castle hotel Best, Jessica, Congratulations on putting together a gem of a travelogue up there on Scotland and a fantastic website. We would definitely like to include the Isle of Skye; Free to visit. Also check out this guide to bed-and-breakfasts along the North Coast 500. Not only can this save you money, but they are also great ways to accommodate picky eaters or early dinner times. I would recommend starting with our 1 week North Coast 500 itinerary which will help you plan your days around the NC500, I’d recommend spending 7 to 10 days on that route but you can certainly spend more. How Many Days Does it Take to Drive the North Coast 500? Once again, thank you SO much, and, as a small token of appreciation, please rest assured that we would make all our purchases through your suggested links! ), and small cars are great for the narrow roads. What is the NC500? Thanks for this amazing article, really helpful. Whisky distilleries are more prevalent along the eastern part of the route between Inverness and Dunnet and include Glen Ord Distillery, Glenmorangie Distillery, Clynelish Distillery, Dalmore Distillery, and Old Pulteney Distillery. My motorhome is 7 metres long by 2.3 meteres wide (inc mirrors) It is under 3.5 tonnes so I do not regard as large. If you are looking to drive the route during a quieter time of year, I’d consider April, early May, late September, or October, avoiding holidays, festivals, special events, and school breaks. What do you term a large RV? There are places along the route where it is hard to get a phone signal or there isn’t Wifi access. We will be travelling the route on Saturday 12th of July with my husband, myself and our two children ( 6 and 5 years old). Each rental car agency has its own rental policies. If you are starting in Edinburgh or London, There are several places to rent bikes along the NC500. Best, Jessica. Having the round-trip flight and car bookings done, we are now in the process of establishing our self-driving route, and we are trying to figure out how to reach as many points of interest as possible, but without over-doing it… The midges normally start emerging around mid May and are usually in full swing by early June. Hi Janis, Thanks! – Green Cruachan B&B – in Stoer dog-friendly B&B with nice hosts who serve vegetarian breakfasts Jessica. Several of these are reviewed in our North Coast 500 Accommodation Guide. This looks like a fantastic drive! The Scottish Dolphin Center at Spey Bay is a great place to stop for more information on dolphins and other area wildlife. 140 miles per tank, thanks for the great article If you don't see the confirmation e-mail, please check your spam folder. Check the. Just having an idea of what options there could be if something happened, helps a lot! This route often gets blocked by inexperienced drivers and also shut down by bad weather conditions, and you should not drive this route unless you know how to drive single-track roads, use passing places, and reverse your vehicle safely. If you have any questions as you make more plans for your NC500 road trip, just let us know. Does it make sense to drive the North Coast 500 clockwise at this time because of the Midges encountered in the west or does not need to change the route ?? Sorry, there are no tours or activities available to book online for the date(s) you selected. What a great write up, thank you…. For camping, hiking, biking, and outdoor gear, we can recommend the following outdoors gear stores which are all located in Inverness: Go Outdoors, Blacks, Tiso, and Trespass. Our preferred itinerary if NC500 doesnt cut will be (This is again a copybook of your 5 Day itinerary only difference is we will be driving self), Day 0 Arrive at Inverness, overnight stay at Broomlea (Ardersier), Day 1 See around Inverness and reach Ullapool, Day 2 Ullapool to Ardvreck Castle (including short stops enroute), Day 3 Ullapool to Isle of Skye (Stay overnight at Portee), Day 5 Portree to Iverness for our evening flight to London. I would like to place Isle of Skye in this route somewhere. Thankyou very much, Those driving this route should consider whether they should drive this section of the route or not, and if decide to do so, be sure to be careful. Glad that there were little traffic at this time of the year. We’ve written an article on lodging tips (what to expect, when to book) and created a list of, You can stay at campsites with a tent or campervan, do, Some campsites (in order as they are located counterclockwise along the route) include, If you are planning to camp, you’ll want to check out this. Spend night in Ullapool. that should determine which part of the route might be best. I’d allow at least 3 days for any island you choose to have enough time to explore the highlights. I’d probably recommend 4 locations for 2-3 days each along the route to avoid having to keep driving the same part of the route too much. Just note that if you are planning to travel in October that some of the seasonal businesses will be closing this month and some are reservation-only so best to check ahead for any place you really want to visit. They will rarely run out onto the road in front of you, but it can be easy to miss a little lamb lying on the road until it is too late. I would say average hotel costs on the NC500 for a basic double room at a hotel with private bathroom are around £75-£110  per night. Could you, yes, but you’ll just be driving most of the time and won’t really have time to enjoy much along the route. On the way up to Inverness, I’d consider stopping for a photo stop at the Forth Bridges driving through the Cairngorms National Park and a stop at Loch Ness. I would appreciate any other suggestions on specific places to take them to that we might have missed. Hope that helps, and just let us know if you have any additional questions! So neat that it was only established in 2014. We are thinking of going in September and have used your article to refer to as it provides such in-depth information and has been extremely helpful to plan our journey. Summer does indeed mean more crowds and the section between Ullapool and Thurso has a lot of single track and windy bits and people often go slower because of this (often the first section those going counterclockwise will encounter), stopping in passing places eats up time, and people are really bad about just slowing down on the road for scenery and such. If you are looking for dog-friendly accommodation in a certain town or area and can’t find anything, feel free to ask and we’ll let you know if know of any. We list many suggested hikes within our 7-day North Coast 500 itinerary so I’d start there as I list hikes on just about every day and many have links to trail descriptions. 5. If you plan to speed around, you could do it with 3 full days and night, but we’d recommend more time. I believe there is only one snake species that is native to mainland Scotland and we’ve never seen a snake in Scotland The creatures that are the biggest nuisance in the Scottish Highlands in summer are midges, mosquitoes, and ticks – so these are the ones I’d be prepared for as you’ll like encounter them if visiting between June and August, especially if hiking or spending much time outdoors. Closer to Inverness, you can also find some nice little local beach spots around Nairn, the Black Isle, Potmahomack, Dornoch, and Embo. Most distilleries give public tours and tastings, but some you’ll need to book in advance. Unfortunately, I am not sure how easy it will be to find couchsufing along the route as many are small towns and rural areas, as there are no big cities along the North Coast 500. For road cycling, again, there are options along most parts of this route and I’d probably ask local advice and check out Ordnance Survey maps for finding the best routes in a particular place. Thanks for taking the time to let us know that you are finding our travel website helpful, always good to hear Wishing you and your family a wonder NC500 trip in September. If you want to get really upclose to a large herd of deer, we can recommend a guided tour with gamekeeper Colin at, Laurence personally favors the western side for landscape photography, but we found great photography spot throughout the route. Absolutely stunning! But here are some suggestions if you are wanting to book now for 7 nights doing the full loop: -Day 1: Dornoch: Strathview Lodge B&B or The Steading Sorry for the delayed response but hope this is helpful as you being your North Coast 500 road trip tomorrow. 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