Scottish North (West) Coast 500

Hi, welcome to the road. To find out what is going on, please click on any of the markers and this will bring up the blog post for that day. Once the trip has finished there will be a story post below picking out our favourite bits from the trip. I hope you enjoy, and if you have any comments or suggestions please contact me 😄

Off the road story

I have heard a lot of excitement from friends about the Scottish North Coast 500 (NC500) so for Sophie's birthday, my partner in crime, we decided to take a week out and do our own take on the route, and we were not disappointed. The landscape is breathtaking and the people are really friendly. We rented a small car for the trip and, even with snow, it was up to the challenge. The small coastal roads are not for the faint hearted, and great care needs to be taken as these are very narrow and winding, but they are well worth the difficulty to reach the hidden gems and secluded spots.

Problems do happen

Ask anyone in Scotland about the weather and they will tell you that if you don't like it, wait 5 minutes. Come prepared for anything as anything can happen. Optimistically we took the suncream and sunglasses as well as the standard raincoats, which proved an excellent idea as we started in wonderful sunshine on the first day. For most of the trip we had overcast with a few breaks in the clouds which we were expecting until the last couple of days.

Travelling into Tongue on the north coast the wind had picked up and the rain had started to come in off the sea. Fortunately, we had already booked into the hostel so we were able to escape to the warmth for the night. Next morning we could see on the mountains that there had been a dusting of snow but it was soon to be more than just a dusting. The sky darkened and as we headed off a snow storm hit. The last thing we had expected to be driving in at the end of April was a full blown snow. The little car we had hired valiantly made it through and we were able to experience the winter wonderland, but only from the shelter of the car as we hadn't brought our full winter walking gear. We also had to miss out some of the small roads to avoid too much risk of getting stuck. Whenever you are travelling in Scotland, be prepared for any weather.

People are great

For accommodation we decided to go with Airbnb to find unique out of the way places. There were a few areas that we struggled to find availability but there seemed to be good coverage for the high season. All of our host were so friendly and helpful with local knowledge, and really made us feel at home. Here are the ones we used. If you want to use Airbnb yourself, just follow this link to sign up and get £30.

Whitefalls Retreats Bunkhouse, Highlands

A wonderfully out of the way bunkhouse situated down a winding dead end road in a spectacular glen. I highly recommend this place if you want cheaper option as a jumping point to explore Skye but don't want to pay the premium of staying on the island. Surrounded by great walks as well, we did a lovely short one to the nearby waterfall. Also, the road starts very close to the picturesque Eilean Donan castle.

The owners are very friendly and often bring produce from the farm for cooking. Great knowledge of the area and wonderful enthusiasm.

Dry Island, private island, Badachro

Looking for something a bit different? How about staying with this lovely family on their island in a bothy or their B&B. Situated in the harbour of the little village of Badachro. Excellent pub serving fresh, local food. A little more than the other places we stayed but you are on an island. Great dark skies for star gazing.

Friendly family who are happy to help. Loads of books and guides for the local area and beyond, ideal for planning your next days adventure. Along the coast is the wonderful Inverewe gardens that are renown for its collection of exotic plants.

Black Isle Lodge, Balblair

Another remote gem positioned within easy reach of Inverness and Dingwall, in the heart of the Black Isle. So much to do in the area including the Black Isle Brewery, beautiful walks around Rosemarkie, and dolphin spotting in the Moray firth.

Wonderful host full of recommendations and super helpful. Brought eggs from her hens for breakfast and asked if we wanted anything from the shops before we arrived. Great views, wood burning stove, and the whole cabin to yourself, what more could you ask for.

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