The route that circles around Scotland’s top north highlands has always been there, but never got a name, until not so long ago. Now, known as the North Coast Route 500, this natural itinerary moved in the limelight, and was nicknamed Scotland’s Route 66.
This may sound daunting, but we have just been on a trip that strikes the perfect balance between planning and spontaneity, and is not to mention one of the most beautiful places we have ever encountered.
If you want to take it easy and spend time at every attraction, you’ll need 7 days and a cheap car rental, and that’s all it will take to experience a whole new world
Some great spot you’ll find along the road:
Day 1 Some spectacular sights, starting in the northernmost city in the UK, called Inverness. Bordered by rolling hills and castle ruins at Loch Ness, it’s as beautiful as it is mysterious.
Stop at the Dunrobin Castle is just as beautiful. Everything about it, the gardens, spires and turrets makes it look like a castle that comes straight out of a fairy-tale, while Disney looks dismal in comparison.
Just a short drive away is the Carn Liath, a prehistoric structure that takes you back to the iron age when it was originally built. Only 19 metres in diameter, it’s easy to get a real sense of the place and admire it in its entirety.
DAY 2: Brora to Thurso
Wake up early and do a little bit of exploring in Brora, known for its golden sandy beaches and array of sea life. Dolphins, Minke whales and seals are regular visitors.
Grey Cairns of Camster. These rare Neolithic stone tombs are definitely worth a visit. They hold immense historical value that were built over 5000 years ago, unveiling many secrets of that time.
Characterized by immense cliff stacks, this impressive path leads to the remote Duncansby Head lighthouse. Perched on the corner of a sheer drop.
Port Lybster is a fun stop over for who lover lighthouses.
DAY 3: Thurso to Durness
Scotland is scattered with hundreds of these historical ruins, of both enchanting castles and landhouses. Another one to look out for is Castle Varig, which is well worth a short hike up a neighbouring hill that offers the best viewpoint of the castle, and a nearby loch.
Secondly, an assortment of wildlife tours that take you to the perfect vantage points, where you can view the stunning local Puffins up close.
Durness: the best artisan chocolate in all of Scotland, at the Cocoa Mountain Café and Chocolatier, and when paired with one of their famous coffee blends, you may just want to stay here all day.
Smoo cave is truly exceptional, making it onto our list of top 5 experiences along the NC 500. It’s unique in that it’s formed by two caves, one fresh-water cave and one sea-water cave, linking together as one. The entrance has been formed by the action of the sea, whereas the inner chambers are freshwater passages, and if you dare enter the cave, you’ll be rewarded with the sight of a spectacular waterfall.
DAY 4: Durness to Ullapool
Achmelvich beach is by far the best place to chill, with its soft white sand and pristine clear blue waters that could easily match those of the Maldives (except for the temperature).
DAY 5: Ullapool to Torridon
Ullapool is a popular holiday destination for the Scots, and although it’s relatively big and touristy, it has its own unique charm that’s worth experiencing. When the crowds get too much, jump back into nature to see one of the natural wonders of the Highlands - Corrieshalloch Gorge.
DAY 6: Torridon to Strathpeffer
Torridon boasts some of the most picturesque landscapes we’ve had the pleasure of seeing with our own eyes, and the perfect finale to a memorable trip. Wake up early and let the sunlight reveal it to you.
Once you’ve had a chance to take it all in, head over to a peninsula called Applecross, made up of small-scale food producers. It’s relatively unknown to tourists and is home to a number of gems if you take the time to explore the community.
Then to end the roadtrip off on a high, take a turn onto the Bealach na Ba road, meaning “The Pass of the Cattle”. This is by far one of the most impressive roads in the UK, with remarkable views of , the whole of Skye, and the Islands of Rum and the Outer Hebrides while the road wind towards Strathpeffer.
DAY 7: Strathpeffer to Inverness
Waking up in Strathpeffer, knowing it’s your final day, can’t help but make one feel slightly heart sore. However, there’s nothing quite like a spa day to make you feel better, and it just so happens that that town is known for its Spas.
by: Roxanne Boyes
Film and edit: Caspar Daniël Diederik
Protagonist: Enza di Lecce
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