Things to Know Before Driving the North Coast 500

The North Coast 500 (also referred to as the NC500) offers everyone a sample of the’ tartan, bagpipes and also shortbread’ Scotland you have observed in the brochures but, significantly, has enough surprises over the 5 100 plus miles stretch to help make you consider the nation in a completely different manner. Though every traveller or roadtripper will discuss a similar appreciation of incredible isolated landscapes and also breathtakingly wild seaside scenes in the process, each will additionally have the ability to craft and curate the own version of theirs of the NC500 according to whatever they enjoy the best.

A half of the blog site, a proud Scotsman, knew hardly any of what lay north of Inverness provided that’ travel’ to him had always meant venturing to destinations far from the homeland of his; though the own North Coast of ours 500 trip changed everything that, and also created a full appreciation in each people for what lay on the own doorsteps of ours.

And enabled us to meet up with plenty sheep. Tons of sheep. And a great few ginger Highland cows also!

We spent 8 days steering the famous 516 mile route (sorry Proclaimers fans, it is not really 500) and also, in this particular North Coast 500 guide, we have shared some useful lessons as well as the truly important things to find out ahead of time so that you are able to make great for the own road trip of yours in the Highlands. Besides sensible tips about turning these remote country roads, developing the itinerary of yours, staying away from the crowds, and private accommodation recommendations for the Scottish staycation of yours, we have likewise shared lots of ideas on probably the very best North Coast 500 places to go to.

The guidebook has likewise been updated with extremely critical info about responsibly checking out the North Coast 500 in 2021 after worldwide pandemic, with particular requirements now installed for guests to Scotland (as well as locals).

The Tips of ours for Driving the North Coast 500 So, What Actually Will be the North Coast 500?

The roads which create this famous route will always be there.

Nevertheless, the’ North Coast 500′ will be the brand new name given in order to a certain circular itinerary developed by the non profit North Highland Initiative in 2014 to nurture broader attention of the remote, rural part of Scotland as a tourist destination, increase and diversify the area economy, also to allow it to be a bit simpler for individuals to prepare the time of theirs up here. 6 areas of the Highlands are integrated to the route: Inverness shire, Caithness, Sutherland, Easter Ross, Wester Ross, and the Black Isle.

It’s proved extremely successful, due in big part to the purely natural beauty and peace of the real Scottish Highlands as well as the hospitality present in between the wide open spaces of its. The suspicion of ours is the fact that the amazing acceptance of its is as a result of the simple fact its creation coincided with the development of Instagram as a vital source of traveling ideas for many folks.

Many in the media call it’ Scotland’s Route 66′, but for us you need to toss that comparison out the window; this’s a road trip with no comparison. We have been privileged enough to road trip together through southern Italy, Morocco, the Faroe Islands, Sweden, the Dolomites plus a couple of other areas within the last several years, and also we are able to say this path is extremely, very specific and will stand by itself 2 legs.

This truly is Britain’s greatest road trip.

Most Roads Lead To Inverness

The route starts and ends in Inverness. Technically it begins at the Castle in the community, though you do not need to begin there.

Travellers have the choice to have the defined circular NC500 route by proceeding west towards the Applecross peninsula, prior to taking up the very long winding roads of the beautiful west coast through Ullapool and Gairloch, then onto Durness, Wick and John O’Groats on the northern tip of mainland Scotland. Conversely, you are able to go in the opposite head and direction east from Inverness towards Wick and John O’Groats via the sweeping coastal landscapes of the Black Isle.

If you go clockwise and anticlockwise from Inverness, you will be operating the NC500 just for the full 516 miles (830 kms), will go to exactly the same spots in the process, and the trip of yours will formally end the moment you are again in the little community split by the river Ness.

What this means is it is smart to drive, fly, or maybe train into Inverness and also bookend the journeys of yours with a night or even 2 there.

Inverness Airport offers limited domestic and international routes, but has direct flights from Belfast, Amsterdam, and London. Nevertheless, it is likewise easy to fly into Aberdeen and operate the 2.5 hours to Inverness, and take the scenic train in between the 2 northern cities. In case you’re travelling in Scotland for an extended period, next you may also show up in Edinburgh or Glasgow and invest some time there before traveling and taking the train north.

When you reside in the UK, next you are able to obviously choose to get the own car of yours or maybe North Coast 500 Campervan Hire up to Inverness included in a prolonged road trip, and use the train to Inverness and lease the car of yours there.


The blue and red stickered sign in the feet of the infamous Bealach na Bà pass reads “not advised for learner drivers”, though that advice might quickly apply on the vast majority of highways that you will encounter across the NC500.

Narrow, winding, individual track country roads are that you will be travelling for approximately 200 miles across different areas of the route. Blind corners & summits, vertiginous edges and hairpin bends are commonplace. Toss in that lambs and sheep are usually mooching at the side or perhaps in the center of the highway, the potential for a deer suddenly leaping before you and also, obviously, improved traffic considering the route’s recent upsurge in recognition, and also it is surely a drive unlike any other person.

A few will definitely love the driving experience offered (a crucial reason it has turned into an enormous bucket list item for Top Gear as well as sports automobile types), whilst others might spend many hours gripping the controls in fear. Andrew, regardless of the first trepidation of his plus repeated failing to allow it to be from 3rd gear, enjoyed taking on the country roads and also, for each of us, merely navigating much more than 5 100 miles across the Scottish Highlands was noteworthy in and of itself.

Nevertheless, the new and those not accustomed to traveling on the left must address this particular path with extreme care and also the proper attitude. In terms of problems, we are able to report that there are not some dusty roads across the NC500 route, though you are going to encounter a number of potholes!

Understand, Respect, And Stick to the Rules of The Road

Most drivers (especially Clarkson types) have to take note that driver etiquette plus road awareness is very essential when operating the North Coast 500.

These old country roads roads link remote communities, are entry points for medical attention and employees, and weren’t created for the scale of traffic that arrives come Scottish summertime. It is thus incredibly crucial that you prepare and understand the following in advance:

Consistently get on the left, and continue on the left almost as practical when on a street without any markings.

Have a smart speed all the time. These’re not roads that you can try and drive as an idiot and it’s most definitely not a race track. Even though the official speed limit on one-time carriage roads in Scotland is sixty mph, you shouldn’t be traveling at that velocity frequently on the North Coast 500. Make sure you do not be a dick.

Drink driving limits in Scotland are stringent, different to the majority of the UK, and purely observed – to be a visitor in the nation, you’ve to look at them also.

You will find scores of blind summits and strong, blind corners – they’re generally signposted, though it is the job of yours to count on these and then approach sensibly.

Don’t use the telephone of yours whilst driving – that includes inputting, calling, and texting directions.

Livestock and wildlife obstacles aren’t unusual, like sheep and errant deer, along with reversing walkers, cyclists, and cars. Concentrate, be conscious of the environment of yours, as well drive with consideration.

Persistence. With neighborhood drivers and first time drivers in the UK sharing these narrow countryside roads, there are regularly gon na be areas of times or congestion when you are stuck behind an extremely slow automobile (or maybe a tractor). Be patient and take pleasure in the scenery, instead of attempting to overtake or even tailgating. In case you are the slow, careful driver (nothing bad with which by the way) and you have got someone driving really near to you or maybe a queue starting behind, then you definitely must move in to some’ passing place’ on your left hand side when smart and let all of them easily overtake and also go in front of you.

Lastly, apart from the assortment of rvs, camper vans and caravans, motorcycle troops, bike groups and sports automobile convoys contained on the highways right here, always keep in mind that these’re country roads used by locals on a daily basis. Only some individuals who live up allow me to share happy about the route’s the latest success (increased tourist traffic and congestion on the highways becoming a crucial reason), therefore guests should go out of the way of theirs being respectful and drive prudently at all times.