Dream Destinations: North Coast 500


By Emma Dodd

There’s something about an epic road trip that really captures the imagination and when you’ve got your own caravan or motorhome, you really can enjoy the freedom of the open road.

Touted as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the North Coast 500 represents a great opportunity to tap into that spirit of adventure during a time when our wings feel a little clipped by the coronavirus.

Starting and finishing at Inverness Castle, the 516-mile route takes in some of the most stunning scenery and iconic sights in Scotland from the Black Isle to Torridon and Ullapool to Dingwall.

To give this stunning destination the time and attention it deserves it’s recommended you plan at least five days to discover the route and seven to do so in a leisurely fashion.

What’s great about the North Coast 500 or NC500, as it’s known to its friends, is you can adapt it to suit your personal interests.

You can plan your trip to take in as many historical sites as possible along the way or base your itinerary on the delicious food and drink served up throughout the region.

Alternatively, you could indulge in some rounds of gold along the route or get the adrenaline pumping with adventure activities like canyoning and white water rafting.

Among the highlights to include while taking in the NC500 are the ruins of Ardvreck Castle, picturesquely sitting on the shores of Loch Assynt; Sutherland’s sweeping stretch of Balnakeil Beach; and Stac Pollaidh mountain in Wester Ross.

Picking up delicious local ingredients to cook up in your caravan should be a scrumptious part of the NC500 experience.

Stop by the Applecross Smokehouse on the banks of Loch Torridon for some freshly smoked salmon or select a pudding from Cockburn’s Haggis in Dingwall, which has been making the national dish since 1955.

Of course, once your motorhome is parked up for the night you may wish to enjoy some of the beer and spirits made along the route.

The official North Coast 500 IPA is produced by the Black Isle Brewery, while there’s no shortage of whisky options, including Toulvaddie, Balblair and Wolfburn distilleries to sample.