The North Coast 500 (NC500) was created in 2014 by the North Highland Initiative. It is a route that goes around the Highlands of Scotland and is often referred to as ‘Scotland’s answer to Route 66’. The route was created to benefit not only tourists but the people who live in the highlands itself. The route starts and finishes in the highland capital of Inverness and passes through six counties on the way. The route could potentially take 4-5 days but if you really wanted to see all of the highlands you could easily spend a week doing it. This blog post will outline the highlights of the North Coast 500 and much more!
Dornoch is without a doubt the most beautiful and friendly town in the highlands, if not the whole of Scotland itself! With a white sandy award winning beach and a golf course that is within the top 100 in the world, you would be silly not to stop in and check out this beauty. The top of Dornoch Cathedral can be seen as you drive into the town and you quickly begin to see the Dornoch Castle which is placed opposite. The cathedral was built in the 13th century and has been home to many extraordinary events since then, most popularly, the christening of Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s baby in December, 2000. Dornoch is the perfect location on route to stop and stay at one of the many B and b’s and hotels it has to offer.
Durness is the most northerly town in Scotland and definitely worth stopping on route around the NC500. It is surrounded by beautiful landscapes along the coastline and wildlife. Durness is mostly famous for Cocoa Mountain and Smoo Cave. Cocoa Mountain was founded by two friends, Paul and James in 2006 and they claim to be the most remote chocolate producer in Europe! The best thing about Cocoa Mountain is their tasty hot chocolates that are to die for. Smoo Cave is the first ever chamber created by sea erosion and welcomes over 40,000 visitors a year. In the summer months if you are doing the NC500, there are guided boat tours that take you right in to the cave where you can see the main waterfall!
These three beautiful towns are placed right along the coastline and all offer white sandy beaches. Stoer has stunning scenery and winding roads that often have wild sheep roaming around which is the most traffic you’ll see for miles. The Old Man of Stoer is a 60 metre high sea stack of Torridonian sandstone that can be seen from the roadside and many people have attempted to climb it. Lochinver is the main town in Assynt and it is famous for its pies which are produced in the Lochinver Larder restaurant on the main street. They are definitely worth stopping in for even though they are a bit pricey at £5.55 a go! Achmelvich isn’t much of a town as it only has a campsite, a hostel and a caravan park but it is mostly famous for its white sandy beach and turquoise water – you’d genuinely think you were in the Caribbean!
Inverness is the starting and finishing point of the North Coast 500 and it is also the capital of the Highlands. Tourists usually travel up to Inverness and then don’t venture further up, which is why the NC500 has been produced to encourage people to see the rest of the Highlands. Inverness offers history and culture ranging from the Culloden battlefield to the Jacobite cruises that take you to Urquhart Castle along the loch ness where the famous Nessie is said to have once lived. Inverness is the liveliest part of the highlands with pubs and clubs and many highly popular restaurants by the river.