ROAD TRIP

NC500 road trip in a VW
California Campervan

The draw of Scotland and its amazing scenery is enticing to many people, but why would you want to do it in any old vehicle, when you can take your home from home with you? With plenty of amenities on board, you can have a great night’s sleep in some of the most beautiful surroundings without a worry.

Our VW camper vans are the perfect vehicle for this amazing journey around the famous NC500, and this guide will make planning your road trip easy. All you’ve got to do is book!

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NC500 14-DAY SUMMARY

  • Total Distance

    1,638 Miles

  • Total Driving Time

    31 Hours 7 Minutes

  • Total Stops

    15

  • Start Point

    Rownhams House --> Inverness

  • End Point

    Loch Ness --> Rownhams House

What is the NC500?

The NC500 (also known as the North Coast 500) is a 516-mile scenic route around the northcoast of Scotland. Launched in 2015, this popular road trip links many features in the north Highlands of Scotland in one outstanding touring route.

Not only is it known as one of the best road trips in the world, but it is also one of the most beautiful. The roads, the villages, the mountains and the lochs all make this experience an adventure in itself too.

PLANNING YOUR TRIP

Planning the trip is an absolute must, no matter what time of the year you want to go. You may wish to even switch things up a little by heading off the beaten track. Wild camping is even allowed in most parts of Scotland as long as you pitch up late, leave early with no trace.

If it sounds like a lot of fun, but you’re not the most organised or the best at making an itinerary, don’t worry because we’ve got you covered! The example 14-day itinerary below will give you a great idea of what you can see and where you can go.  It's not a rigid itinerary so feel free to tweak it where you wish, remember to factor in the long drive home!

WHERE TO START

Pick up: Your adventure starts as soon as you arrive at the picturesque Rownhams House, SO16 8LS – just off J3 of the M27. A member of our dedicated team will meet you in the grounds to run through the operation of your campervan.

Once you have seen some of the amazing features and paperwork is signed, you’ll be able to get on your way, heading to Inverness where the NC500 route starts.

Rownhams House to Inverness

Inverness is the largest city and the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. It is where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth. You won’t be short of things to do here! After the long drive, you’ll probably be looking forward to a restful night's sleep on the comfy campervan beds. Start your exploring the next day when you’re fully refreshed!

As the NC500 is a circular route, many like to travel it clockwise. You’ll find the roads busier in that direction and time wasted sitting in traffic, rather than enjoying the sights. For this reason, the itinerary given is based on travelling anti-clockwise, allowing you to get the most from your trip.

  • ROWNHAMS
  • INVERNESS
  • Total Distance

    586 Miles

  • Duration

    9 hours 45 minutes

Day 1: Inverness

The Old Town of Inverness features a 19th-century Cathedral, the 18th-century Old High Church and an indoor Victorian Market selling food, clothing and crafts. One of its most recognised features is its well-preserved clock, which hasn’t stopped ticking since 1890.

There’s 2 cafes for refreshment breaks within the market too! If you’re the kind that likes to immerse yourself in the local culture, then try on your own kilt
at Highland House of Fraser, where you can learn all about the history of this iconic dress.

If you’re looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city and ‘get away from it all’, a must see is Urquhart Castle. This medieval fortress is set along the banks of Loch Ness and you can climb the spiral stairway that leads to the top of Grant Tower to enjoy the expansive views.

THE OLD TOWN

The Old Town for a morning wander around the quirkyshops, markets and museums.

Dolphin spotting at Chanonry Point, IV10 8SD in Fortrose is an amazing way to start your adventure!

WHERE TO PARK

Rose Street Multi Storey, IV1 1NQ is a pay on foot car park conveniently located in the city centre.

There is a height restriction of 2.03 metres, meaning at 1.9 metres your VW campervan will fit perfectly.

Where to Stay

Fortrose Bay Campsite, Wester Greengates, Fortrose, IV10 8RX

A beautiful spot situated on the pebble beach overlooking the Moray Firth. It is virtually midge free too!

Dog Friendly

Ardtower Caravan Park, Culloden Road, Westhill, IV2 5AA

A friendly campsite which is as accommodating for you as it is your pooch too! 95% of pitches have uninterrupted views of the Black Isle.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT INVERNESS

COFFEE ROASTING COMPANY

For a quick pick-me-up there’s nowhere better than the Inverness Coffee Roasting Company, IV1 1NA. It’s small but perfectly formed and offers a delicious selection of beans!

THE GRUMPY CHEF

For something a little more filling, just next door is The Grumpy Chef. IV1 1 NA.

Don’t be put off by the name; this charming place offers the freshest ingredients in salads, wraps, toasties and quesadillas.

Day 2: Black Isle

You may wish to stay fairly local on your second day, so exploring the nearby peninsula of the Black Isle is perfect. There are many theories about how the name ‘Black’ arose, but one is because snow does not lie in winter, making the promontory look black while the surrounding country is white.

Despite its name, the Black Isle is actually a peninsula, famous for its rich farmland and increasingly popular food and drink scene – especially when it comes to craft beers!

  • INVERNESS
  • BLACK ISLE
  • Total Distance

    11.8 Miles

  • Duration

    22 minutes

Fairy Glen Nature Reserve

Bridge Street, Fortrose, IV10 8UP is a magical must see. Winding forest paths will lead you to beautiful waterfalls. There is also a great cafe on the beach too!

Glen Ord Distillery

Muir of Ord, IV6 7UJ

One of the oldest distilleries, it was founded in 1838 on the edge of the Black Isle and is said to produce a whisky that tastes sweet, fruity and slightly spicy. Delicious!

WHERE TO PARK

Avoch, IV9 8JQ (pronounced Och) is a great village on the Black Isle with a picturesque harbour. and a lovely fish & chip shop. Parking is available at the harbour and there are public toilets too.

Parking is available onsite at the Glen Ord Distillery and Fairy Glen Nature Reserve.

Where to Stay

Black Rock Caravan & Camping Site, Balconie Street, Evanton, Dingwall, IV16 9UN

Set in a stunning location, step out of your campervan and view the most spectacular and unspoilt countryside in the Highlands.

Dog Friendly

Dingwall Camping and Caravanning Club Site, Jubilee Park Rd, Dingwall IV15 9QZ

A great welcoming site for you and your furry friend, with walks to the beach, town and canal all close by.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT BLACK ISLE

Harry Gow’s Bakery

You won’t find a better selection of food than at Harry Gow’s Bakery just across the water at, A9 Inverness, IV1 8UG. Their cakes and bakes are mouthwatering.

The Allangrange Arms

54 Millbank Road, Munlochy, IV8 8NL also offers exquisite gastropub food with a warm welcome they’re even dog friendly too with their resident furry friend Chili!



Day 3: Easter Ross

A wonderful part of the North East coast of Scotland, Easter Ross is surrounded by some
beautiful towns including Applecross, Fortrose, Strathpeffer and Poolewe. It also offers
unparalleled views across the water of Aberdeenshire. This area is both romantic and historic.

  • BLACK ISLE
  • EASTER ROSS
  • Total Distance

    29 Miles

  • Duration

    41 minutes

Black Rock Gorge

Evanton, IV16 9YU has cut an impressively deep and narrow gorge through over 100 feet of rock. You’ll see the River Glass rushing down to the Cromarty Firth. Parts of it even feature in Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire!

Pictish Trail

The mysterious and mythical Pictish Trail, IV10 0HD offers a spectacular journey through stunning landscapes which have been inhabited since the very earliest times.

WHERE TO PARK

For Black Rock Gorge, park in the car park opposite the Cornerstone cafe and bookshop in the centre of Evanton - you can have a wander round here too!

The first of the Easter Ross Pictish stones is located on the B817 Cromarty Firth north-shore road. All sites have free parking nearby.

Where to Stay

Black Rock Caravan Park, Balconie Street, Evanton, IV16 9UN

This site is situated in scenic Glen Glass and is in the village of Evanton. They have a shop and pub within close walking distance too.

Dog Friendly

Dornoch Firth Caravan Park, Meikle Ferry South, Tain IV19 1JX

This peaceful, family-owned holiday park enjoys expansive views of the beautiful Dornoch Firth; a popular holiday destination with family attractions, fascinating heritage and spectacular walks that you cannot beat, all on your campervan doorstep!

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT EASTER ROSS

Crazy Horse Coffee Shop

74 High Street Invergordon, IV18 0DL offers a vast variety of meals, including cakes and coffees if you just want a snack instead.

Shandwick Inn

Kildary, Invergordon, IV18 0NZ is a friendly and welcoming pub located in the heart of the highlands and has some of the best food around!

Caithness & Sutherland

A drive along the scenic A9 will take you from the Black Isle into the historic county of Caithness. If you fancy a stop along the way Forse of Nature, Forse House, Latheron, KW5 6DG, allows you to stretch your legs and enjoy the craft shop and fabulous cafe. Caithness and Sutherland has plenty of stunning spots – there are more beaches than you can shake a stick at, beautiful walks and amazing castles too. The land boundary between the two follows a watershed – there are two roads and one railway which cross it. The most popular destinations in this county include Thurso, Wick, Dornoch and, Lochinver. You won’t be short of delicious eateries and breathtaking sights. You may even wish to stay in this area for a few days to explore more.

Day 4: Wick

The town straddles the River Wick and extends along both sides of Wick Bay. Its history dates back to the Iron Age and has many amazing castles to explore, along with plenty of coastal attractions. Wick Inner Harbour has a fairly new and extensive marina complex, and is fast becoming very popular with boaters.

  • EASTER ROSS
  • Wick
  • Total Distance

    76.2 Miles

  • Duration

    1 hour 41 minutes

Nybster Broch

Nybster Broch, Wick, KW1 4XR is one of the most spectacular Iron Age settlements with views over the sea and plenty of areas to walk. The Broch visitor centre is also nearby.

The Castle of Mey

The Castle of Mey, Thurso, KW14 8XH In fine weather offers views from the castle north to the Orkney Islands. It was built between 1566-1572 and the picturesque exterior has also featured in the Nextflix series The Crown.

WHERE TO PARK

Riverside Car Park, Macleay Lane, Wick, KW1 4EA has access to local shops, river walks and the local attractions.

Free parking is available onsite at the Castle of Mey.

Where to Stay

Wick Caravan & Camping Site Riverside Drive, Wick, Highlands, KW1 5SP

This family-friendly site is set beside the Wick River.The trees that surround it make it feel like you’re out in the woods! It is also just a 10 minute walk from here into the centre of Wick..

Dog Friendly

Ferry View Night Stop, Gauze Cottage, Gills Bay, Canisbay, Wick, KW1 4YB

This quiet, small, dog friendly site is perfect for a peaceful sleep before you go exploring again. It is close enough to hop on the ferry over to the Orkney Islands.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT WICK

Devitas Pizzeria &Cafe

97 High Street, KW1 4LR. As well as the traditional pizza, their meatballs and calzone are a must!

The Trawler

Main Street Golspie, KW10 6TG offers an array of full meals or quick bites - perfect for when you’re on the go.

Day 5: John O’Groats

There is no way a trip to the far North of Scotland would be complete without visiting the dramatic and infamous #area of John o’Groats. The coastal area is best known for being at the top of mainland Britain and features some jaw dropping scenery. It takes its name from Jan de Groot, a 15th-century Dutchman who once pillaged a ferry from the Scottish mainland to Orkney, which King James IV had just obtained from Norway. Legend says that the “o' Groats" refers to John's charge of one groat for use of his ferry. Inhabitants of John o' Groats are known as “Groaters".

  • Wick
  • John O’Groats
  • Total Distance

    16.4 Miles

  • Duration

    23 minutes

Duncansby Head

Duncansby Head, KW1 4YS offers a chance for great adventures. Take the path from John O’Groats to see two incredible sea stacks.

After a refreshing coastal walk, one of the spectacular sights this area offers is the Northern Lights.Unzip the full canvas window in the pop up roof and look up to the sky whilst wrapped in your duvet! What could be better?!

WHERE TO PARK

For access to Duncansby Head, a preferred location to park is by the magnificent Lighthouse, KW1 4YS.

If you’re hoping to see the Northern Lights, an area where there is little light pollution is best; you can even stay parked at the Lighthouse. Look out towards Orkney to view.

Where to Stay

John O’Groats Caravan Site, County Road, John o' Groats, KW1 4YR

A site run by friendly owners with great facilities and stunning surroundings.

Dog Friendly

Stroma View Campsite Huna, John O Groats, KW1 4YL

A cheap and cheerful site, but with all the amenities you could need and spotlessly clean too.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT JOHN O'GROATS

Stacks Coffee House & Bistro

A top choice with travelers is Stacks Coffee House & Bistro, Unit 3 Craft Centre, John O’Groats KW1 4YR, who offer an amazing selection including plenty of vegetarian and vegan options!

The Cabin

The Cabin, Harbour Quayside, John O’Groats, KW1 4YR offers the best fish & chips around! It’s right near THE famous sign, so is one not to be missed!

Day 6: Thurso

This is the northernmost town on the British mainland. There are spectacular sights as well as
plenty of beautiful beaches. Thurso was once known for its production of linen cloth and a
thriving tanning business. Fishing has always been of major significance here and it is now an
excellent destination for watersports, too!

  • John O’Groats
  • Thurso
  • Total Distance

    19.5 Miles

  • Duration

    30 minutes

Puffin Cove

Puffin Cove, Thurso, KW14 7RN is a little known treasure of the area. Named after its main inhabitant, it’s a great place to do a spot of bird watching.

Thurso Bay

Thurso Bay, KW14 8BB is an area of Atlantic water fed with fresh water from the River Thurso and the Wolf Burn. A short walk along the coast takes you to iconic white Holborn Head Lighthouse.

WHERE TO PARK

Plenty of areas around the town of Thurso have on street parking where you are able to leave your home from home for 2 hours.

There is also limited roadside parking near Puffin Cove too. There is no time limit on how long you stay.

Where to Stay

Thurso Bay Caravan & Camping Park Smith Terrace, Scrabster, Thurso, KW14 7JY

A beautiful campsite set in 4.5 acres of land and located just 200 metres from Thurso Beach.

Dog Friendly

Murkle Caravan Park, Ivy Cottage, Murkle, Thurso, KW14 8SP

Nestled in amazing surroundings, with plenty of amenities locally, this basic and well priced site will provide a perfect place for you to park up overnight.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT THURSO

Ynot

Meadow Lane, Thurso, KW14 8ER

Ynot offers a unique twist on traditional pub food in beautiful surroundings.

The Captain's Galley Seafood Restaurant

The Harbour, Scrabster, KW14 7UJ is a must for those seafood lovers. They are said to have the best oysters around.

Day 7: Tongue

An attractive little area on the east coast of Scotland, Tongue has impressive beaches and ruins. It lies just north of the Ben Hope and Ben Loyal mountain ranges. The name Tongue refers to a geographical term in Old Norse, for a piece of land shaped like a spit or tongue.

  • Thurso
  • Tongue
  • Total Distance

    43.1 Miles

  • Duration

    1 hour 9 minutes

Castle Varrich

Castle Varrich, Lairg IV27 4XE is a ruin situated on top of a high rock, accessed by a relaxing walk through wonderful woodland.

Ben Loyal

Ben Loyal, Lairg IV27 4YL, an isolated mountain with a height of 764 metres, composed chiefly of granite. It has a distinctive shape due to the four rocky peaks, the highest of which is called An Caistea. The mountain offers views of the Kyle, Loch Loyal to the east, and Ben Hope to the west.

WHERE TO PARK

Castle Varrich has its own dedicated parking at The Village, Tongue, IV27 4XF. The footpath is signposted.

Ben Loyal has parking at the car park north of Ribigill, south of Tongue You’ll need to walk to the footpath, but be warned, it can become boggy!

Where to Stay

Bayview Campsite, Bayview Talmine, IV27 4YS

The pitches at this outstanding site offer views out to the sea overlooking the Rabbit Islands. The beach closeby has white sands. There is also a pub, The Craggan, about a mile up the road.

Dog Friendly

Kyle of Tongue Hostel and Campsite, Tongue, Lairg, IV27 4XH

This lovely park has a wide variety of facilities and your furry friend can stay for free too! There is a beach for walkies just a short distance away.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT TONGUE

Weavers Cafe

Woodend, Rhitongue Sutherland, Tongue IV27 4XW offers many delightful dishes and caters for most dietary requirements. The staff are said to be friendly and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.

If you’re looking for something a little more special, try the Tongue Hotel, Tongue, IV27 4XD. Open for lunch and dinner, they offer English and traditional Scottish meals.

Day 8: Durness

Surrounded by rocky coastline and flawless turquoise waters, Durness has some of the most
striking views in the North of the Highlands. With extensive moorlands, cliffs, mountains and
a wide array of wildlife, it really is a true haven where you can escape the hustle and bustle!

  • Tongue
  • Durness
  • Total Distance

    29.2 Miles

  • Duration

    56 minutes

Smoo Cave

Smoo Cave, Durness, IV27 4QA is a must see. It’s a combination sea and freshwater cave with spectacular waterfall chambers. It’s history links to the Vikings and coastal fishing community.

Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath, Braemar, Lairg IV27 4PZ an area of moorland wilderness, much of it is owned by the Ministry of Defence and is used as a military training area. Some areas are also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation and Special Landscape Area. You will need to take a short ferry ride, but it is well worth it.

WHERE TO PARK

Parking and toilets are up on top of the cliffs for Smoo Cave, and also parking on the road. A good path with lots of steps leads down to the cave.

A public car park is located nearby for Cape Wrath. There is a minibus that runs from the ferry terminal after crossing the Kye that provides a tour of the island. Allow 3 hours for the round trip.

Where to Stay

Sango Sands Oasis Sango Bay, Durness, Sutherland, IV27 4PZ

One of the most stunning sites around - they are lucky enough to benefit from frequent sightings of the Northern Lights. Whales, seals and even the sometimes a Bottlenose Dolphin.can be seen swimming by. One of the best parts of this site is the zip wire over Ceannabeinne Beach. One night may not be enough here! Sango sands is also a dog friendly site.

Dog Friendly

Campsite Durness, Lairg IV27 4PX

This charming and clean site has a beautiful beach for dog walks and a fantastic restaurant on site too.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT DURNESS

Smoo Cave Hotel

Lairg, IV27 4QBl is definitely the place to eat. They offer a wide range of food and excellent service, plus it’s surrounded by stunning scenery.

Cocoa Mountain

Chocolate, coffee and cake lovers will not want to miss out on Cocoa Mountain, 8 Craft Village Balnakeil, Durness, IV27 4PT. This place has sweet treats aplenty and a cute craft village to mooch around too.

Day 9: Scourie

Sourie is famous for its rugged beauty, which has remained unspoilt by recent and modern developments. The peaceful, sheltered beach is the perfect place to see many seabirds and its wonderful array of natural delights! Somewhere not to be missed.

  • Durness
  • Scourie
  • Total Distance

    25.1 Miles

  • Duration

    40 minutes

Scourie Bay

Scourie Bay, Scourie, IV27 4TG is the most stunning beach which offers white sands and blue waters. A true paradise.

Handa Island

Handa Island, IV27 4SR is a nature reserve, famous for its stunning scenery, wildlife, sea cliffs and enchanting beaches.It can be accessed by a short boat ride Many say this is an unforgettable day out.

WHERE TO PARK

Scourie beach car park, which is signed from the main road; has plenty of space, with most being found at the near end of the beach beside the wildlife hide.

There is parking available in Tarbet, G83 7DE, which is near the ferry terminal for Handa Island. Spaces are limited, so an early start is recommended.

Where to Stay

Shegra Beach Honour Campsite, Lairg IV27 4RU

A beautiful grass area just above the beach. With plenty of space, you won’t feel cramped or too close to other campers.

Dog Friendly

Scourie Camping & Caravan Site, Scourie, Lairg, IV27 4TE

If you fancy something a little quieter, then this is the perfect campsite for you and your pooch. A peaceful site with spectacular views of the West Highland coast.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT SCOURIE

The Anchorage

Scourie, IV27 4TG offers great food, and is even dog friendly in the bar area.

The Scourie Hotel

IV27 4SX is a former coaching inn, built in the 1600s with a fresh and ever changing menus.

Day 10: Ullapool

Despite its small size, it is actually the largest settlement for many miles around and even has a
port. It also has a strong reputation as a centre for music, the arts and performance..Ullapool has
an oceanic climate with relatively mild temperatures all year round, compared to other parts of
the highlands.

  • Scourie
  • Ullapool
  • Total Distance

    42.4 Miles

  • Duration

    1 hour 3 minutes

Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve

The Abhainn Droma flows through the gorge which opens out into glacial trough at the head of Loch Broom.It can be viewed from a platform or a stunning, but not for the faint hearted, Victorian suspension bridge!

Stac Pollaidh Mountain

The breathtaking Stac Pollaidh Mountain is a must see viewed from a distance, or scaled with a 2 hour uphill walk. The paths to the top are fairly good and you will be greeted by the Seat of the mountain There is also a path which goes around the back of the mountain taking you to the Seat. The views from the top are simply stunning!

WHERE TO PARK

The car park for the gorge is just off the A832, with roadside parking available ½ mile from the turn-off.

There is parking directly across from the mountain, but make sure you wear good, sturdy walking shoes and appropriate clothing!

Where to Stay

Broomfield Holiday Park, West Lane, Ullapool, IV26 2UT

An idyllic place to pitch up for the night on the banks of Loch Broom and looking out to the Summer Isles. They have all the facilities you could want, including a play area for the kids!

Dog Friendly

Ardmair Point Caravan & Camping Park. Ardmair Point, IV26 2TN

This well kept park offers a view of Loch Kanaird and Ben Mhor Coigach Mountain Range. The owners are friendly and you can even hire a chalet or a cabin if you want to treat yourself to something different!

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT ULAPOOL

Seafood Shack

For some authentic, local seafood fresh from the coast, nowhere beats the Seafood Shack, 9 West Argyle Street, IV26 2TY. They have outdoor seating available and the menu changes every day.

Café Margot

Café Margot, also on West Argyle Street, has great reviews on food and coffee too - a favourite stop with fellow NC500 travellers!



Day 11: Poolewe and Inverewe Gardens

Poolewe is a quaint village, which contrasts the mainstreet of white rendered buildings and the modern St Maelrubha’s Church. Across the bay from Poolewe you will find Inverewe Gardens. The warmer climate in this area allows for them to keep some incredible tropical plants; an amazing contrast against the rugged coastline.A spectacular sight.

  • Ullapool
  • Poolewe
  • Total Distance

    50.1 Miles

  • Duration

    1 hour 12 minutes

Inverewe Gardens

A stop at Inverewe Gardens, Poolewe, IV22 2LG for a pleasant wander through the alluring, colourful gardens!

10 minutes drive down the road is Gairloch Glass Bottom Boat Cruises, Ceol Na Mara, Pier Road, Gairloch IV21 2BQ. You’ll be able to catch sight of all the creatures living below in the fabulously clear loch waters!

Gairloch Glass Bottom Boat Cruises

10 minutes drive down the road is Gairloch Glass Bottom Boat Cruises, Ceol Na Mara, Pier Road, Gairloch IV21 2BQ. You’ll be able to catch sight of all the creatures living below in the fabulously clear loch waters!

WHERE TO PARK

Parking is available on site at Inverewe Gardens, where you will also find a cafe, shop, visitor centre, restaurant, house and estate.

Gairlock Cruises can be accessed from the Pier, which also has parking available. It’s a beautiful area to enjoy the scenery and go for a stroll.

Where to Stay

Inverewe Gardens Camping, Poolewe, Highlands, IV22 2LF

A pretty tree-lined site where you’ll be treated to glorious views over Loch Ewe. If you’re lucky, you may even witness one of the most magnificent sunsets around!

Dog Friendly

Gruinard Bay Caravan Park, Laide, Wester Ross, Achnasheen, IV22 2ND

Slightly further back up the coast is a perfectly beautiful beach front site set in one of the most outstanding areas of natural beauty.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT POOLEWE

The Bridge Cottage

Café, Bridge Cottage, Poolewe, Achnasheen, IV22 2JU offers a warm and friendly environment where your pampered pooches are welcome too!

Roaster’s Highland

Coffee Box, Londubh, Poolewe, Achnasheen, IV22 2LD doesn’t just offer coffee! They have the most delicious hot food, including pizzas and churros.

Day 12: Gairloch

Choosing where to go when you’re in this stunning area is going to be a tough one.There are so many beautiful places to see, including Gruinard Bay, Victoria Falls, Flowerdale Waterfall and Fairy Lochs. The astonishing area of.Gairloch hasso much beauty to see and an abundance of things to do.

  • Poolewe
  • Gairloch
  • Total Distance

    5.6 Miles

  • Duration

    10 minutes

Loch Maree

Loch Maree, Gairloch, IV22 2HL is one of the most unspoilt lochs in Scotland, On the banks is Loch Maree Hotel.

It’s a must for a coffee or breakfast whilst admiring the beautiful scenery. Early visitors may be treated to a close encounter with wild deer who love to munch on the hotel’s toast!

Shieldaig Falconry

Shieldaig Lodge, Gairloch, IV21 2AN won’t fail to amaze you with private falconry and archery experiences.

Fly beautiful birds of prey or have a go at archery in the extraordinary grounds of Shieldaig Lodge Hotel.

WHERE TO PARK

There are lots of easy parking areas around and close by to Loch Maree, depending on what you wish to see and where you wish to visit.

For the falconry, you are able to park in the grounds of Shieldaig Lodge itself.

Where to Stay

Sands Caravan & Camping, Gairloch, IV21 2DL

A great family friendly site with a licensed grocery shop selling freshly baked bread and most other essentials you may need.

Dog Friendly

Gairloch Caravan Park, 1 Mihol Rd, Gairloch, IV21 2BX

Plenty of hard standing and grass pitches, with modern amenities, a shop, pub and cafe all within 100m.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT GAIRLOCH

The Beachcomber

If you’re after some traditional fish & chips, you won’t beat The Beachcomber, Strath, Gairloch, IV21 2BZ.

The food is great, portion sizes are generous and reasonably priced too! To top it off, even the staff are great!

The Shieling

Macintyre Road, Gairloch IV21 2BH is a pleasing restaurant and coffee lounge.

You’ll find fabulous views over to Skye and as an added bonus, small well behaved dogs are allowed in the lounge. There is outside seating too.

Day 13: Torridon

The annual CELTMAN! Extreme Scottish Triathlon has put the charming village of Torridon on the map since they began hosting it in June 2011. The race consists of a 3.4 km swim in Loch Shieldaig, a 202 km bike ride notable for the strong winds which adds extra difficulty for competitors, and a 42km run taking in two Munros over the Beinn Eighe range to finish. There are plenty of other spectacular sights to see whilst visiting too!

  • Gairloch
  • Torridon
  • Total Distance

    30 Miles

  • Duration

    49 minutes

Bealach na Ba Road

If you’re not too fed up with driving, then you’ve got to experience one of the most scenic roads on the whole of the NC500, the Bealach na Ba Road. There’s waterfalls and superb views with a car park at the top - a great stopping point to capture the breathtaking scenery across the Inner Sound to the Inner Hebridean Islands. Keep your eyes peeled for wild deer and cattle too!

Glen Torridon

Glen Torridon is the perfect place for biking along this trail. The mountains are incredibly picturesque, especially on a clear day if you’re lucky enough with the weather!

WHERE TO PARK

A car park at Strathcarron, IV54 8XF offers a place to stop and take in the magnificent views of the Bealach na Ba Road. A gravel car park is perfectly situated at IV22 2ET for Glen Torridon. There is ample free parking too!

Where to Stay

Shieldaig Camping & Cabins, Aurora, Temperance Brae, to Shieldaig, IV54 8XN Benefitting from a spotless site and beautiful views over the loch, this campsite is the perfect location for catching sun rises and sunsets. You may even be lucky enough to take in a sighting of the magnificent white tailed eagle!

Dog Friendly

Torridon Campsite, Torridon, Achnasheen, IV22 2EW

A basic site with 30 pitches available and a perfect place for you and your doggy to bed down for the night!

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT TORRIDON

Gille Brighde

The Old Schoolhouse, Lower Diabaig, Torridon IV22 2HE offers a traditional Scottish menu, along with some of the best seafood around.

Torridon Stores & Cafe

Catering to mostdietary requirements, Torridon Stores & Cafe, Torridon, IV22 2EZ has delicious breakfasts, brunches and lunches - not to mention an excellent selection of cakes and hot drinks!

Day 14: Loch Ness

You’ll be wanting to start to think about heading back down south (Boo!), so there’s no better way to finish your adventure than to take a trip to one of Scotland’s most famous landmarks and see if you can spot Nessie. There is an exhibition centre and a few quaint and bespoke shops to browse, along with a fabulous cafe and river cruises to enjoy.

The loch itself is almost a mile wide in places and it contains the largest volume of water in the British Isles.The more scenic and wild south side is quieter and away from the majority of the crowds.

If you’re planning on staying overnight, be prepared for a long drive home the following day. We request that our campervans are returned by 12 midday at the latest on the final day of your hire, so you’ll need to get an early start. It’s just over a 10 hour drive with no traffic and good weather conditions.

Alternatively, you could head south from here and plan a stop half way to extend your trip by an extra day and not have to rush back. York, Sheffield and Birmingham are all great cities to explore!

  • Torridon
  • Loch Ness
  • Total Distance

    76 Miles

  • Duration

    1 hour 45 minutes

Plodda Falls

On the north side of the loch, Plodda Falls, IV4 7LY are one of Scotland’s best hidden treasures. The tallest and most thrilling waterfall in the region has a drop of 151 feet. A viewing platform at the River Affric offers great views towards the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve.

Inverfarigaig Village

Below the rocky bluffs of Dun Deardail you’ll find Inverfarigaig village. Take a short stroll down to the loch side and you can enjoy marvellous views from the historic Inverfarigaig Pier. Nearby you’ll find the Suidhe Viewpoint; one of the highest points on the Loch Ness 360° Trail - a circular 80 mile route to cycle and walk around the Loch.

WHERE TO PARK

IV4 7LY is the postcode of the road leading to Plodda. Keep going for another 1.75 miles to reach the car park.

Where around the loch you want to visit or how far you wish to walk will depend on your preferred parking location. There are plenty of car parks located around though and there are also car parks near the restaurants.

Where to Stay

Loch Ness Bay Camping, Borlum Farm, Drumnadrochit, IV63 6X

This incredible site offers the chance to stay on a beautiful farm location, with an on site livery too offering both indoor and outdoor horse riding on the banks of the Loch Ness.

Dog Friendly

Loch Ness Shores Camping & Caravanning Site, Monument Park Lower, Foyers, IV2 6YH

A beautiful campsite on the south shore, with the scenic loch as its idyllic backdrop. There are panoramic views to the mountains beyond.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT LOCH NESS

The Boathouse

You’ll be spoiled for choice with places to eat around here, but The Boathouse Lochside Restaurant, Fort Augustus, PH32 4BD is one of the best. The location is fantastic and the views are stunning!

Bothy Restaurant & Bar

Another unique dining experience is the Bothy Restaurant & Bar, Canal Side, Fort Augustus, PH32 4AU. They have hearty Scottish pub fare served within a rustic, lodgelike venue with gorgeous stone accents.

ROAD TRIP

NC500

ROAD TRIP

NC500 road trip in a VW
California Campervan

The draw of Scotland and its amazing scenery is enticing to many people, but why would you want to do it in any old vehicle, when you can take your home from home with you? With plenty of amenities on board, you can have a great night’s sleep in some of the most beautiful surroundings without a worry.

Our VW camper vans are the perfect vehicle for this amazing journey around the famous NC500, and this guide will make planning your road trip easy. All you’ve got to do is book!

BOOK NOW

NC500 14-DAY SUMMARY

  • Total Distance

    1,638 Miles

  • Total Driving Time

    31 Hours 7 Minutes

  • Total Stops

    15

  • Start Point

    Rownhams House --> Inverness

  • End Point

    Loch Ness --> Rownhams House

What is the NC500?

The NC500 (also known as the North Coast 500) is a 516-mile scenic route around the northcoast of Scotland. Launched in 2015, this popular road trip links many features in the north Highlands of Scotland in one outstanding touring route.

Not only is it known as one of the best road trips in the world, but it is also one of the most beautiful. The roads, the villages, the mountains and the lochs all make this experience an adventure in itself too.

PLANNING YOUR TRIP

Planning the trip is an absolute must, no matter what time of the year you want to go. You may wish to even switch things up a little by heading off the beaten track. Wild camping is even allowed in most parts of Scotland as long as you pitch up late, leave early with no trace.

If it sounds like a lot of fun, but you’re not the most organised or the best at making an itinerary, don’t worry because we’ve got you covered! The example 14-day itinerary below will give you a great idea of what you can see and where you can go.  It's not a rigid itinerary so feel free to tweak it where you wish, remember to factor in the long drive home!

WHERE TO START

Pick up: Your adventure starts as soon as you arrive at the picturesque Rownhams House, SO16 8LS – just off J3 of the M27. A member of our dedicated team will meet you in the grounds to run through the operation of your campervan.

Once you have seen some of the amazing features and paperwork is signed, you’ll be able to get on your way, heading to Inverness where the NC500 route starts.

Rownhams House to Inverness

Inverness is the largest city and the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. It is where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth. You won’t be short of things to do here! After the long drive, you’ll probably be looking forward to a restful night's sleep on the comfy campervan beds. Start your exploring the next day when you’re fully refreshed!

As the NC500 is a circular route, many like to travel it clockwise. You’ll find the roads busier in that direction and time wasted sitting in traffic, rather than enjoying the sights. For this reason, the itinerary given is based on travelling anti-clockwise, allowing you to get the most from your trip.

  • ROWNHAMS
  • INVERNESS
  • Total Distance

    586 Miles

  • Duration

    9 hours 45 minutes

Day 1: Inverness

The Old Town of Inverness features a 19th-century Cathedral, the 18th-century Old High Church and an indoor Victorian Market selling food, clothing and crafts. One of its most recognised features is its well-preserved clock, which hasn’t stopped ticking since 1890.

There’s 2 cafes for refreshment breaks within the market too! If you’re the kind that likes to immerse yourself in the local culture, then try on your own kilt
at Highland House of Fraser, where you can learn all about the history of this iconic dress.

If you’re looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city and ‘get away from it all’, a must see is Urquhart Castle. This medieval fortress is set along the banks of Loch Ness and you can climb the spiral stairway that leads to the top of Grant Tower to enjoy the expansive views.

THE OLD TOWN

The Old Town for a morning wander around the quirkyshops, markets and museums.

Dolphin spotting at Chanonry Point, IV10 8SD in Fortrose is an amazing way to start your adventure!

WHERE TO PARK

Rose Street Multi Storey, IV1 1NQ is a pay on foot car park conveniently located in the city centre.

There is a height restriction of 2.03 metres, meaning at 1.9 metres your VW campervan will fit perfectly.

Where to Stay

Fortrose Bay Campsite, Wester Greengates, Fortrose, IV10 8RX

A beautiful spot situated on the pebble beach overlooking the Moray Firth. It is virtually midge free too!

Dog Friendly

Ardtower Caravan Park, Culloden Road, Westhill, IV2 5AA

A friendly campsite which is as accommodating for you as it is your pooch too! 95% of pitches have uninterrupted views of the Black Isle.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT INVERNESS

COFFEE ROASTING COMPANY

For a quick pick-me-up there’s nowhere better than the Inverness Coffee Roasting Company, IV1 1NA. It’s small but perfectly formed and offers a delicious selection of beans!

THE GRUMPY CHEF

For something a little more filling, just next door is The Grumpy Chef. IV1 1 NA.

Don’t be put off by the name; this charming place offers the freshest ingredients in salads, wraps, toasties and quesadillas.

Day 2: Black Isle

You may wish to stay fairly local on your second day, so exploring the nearby peninsula of the Black Isle is perfect. There are many theories about how the name ‘Black’ arose, but one is because snow does not lie in winter, making the promontory look black while the surrounding country is white.

Despite its name, the Black Isle is actually a peninsula, famous for its rich farmland and increasingly popular food and drink scene – especially when it comes to craft beers!

  • INVERNESS
  • BLACK ISLE
  • Total Distance

    11.8 Miles

  • Duration

    22 minutes

Fairy Glen Nature Reserve

Bridge Street, Fortrose, IV10 8UP is a magical must see. Winding forest paths will lead you to beautiful waterfalls. There is also a great cafe on the beach too!

Glen Ord Distillery

Muir of Ord, IV6 7UJ

One of the oldest distilleries, it was founded in 1838 on the edge of the Black Isle and is said to produce a whisky that tastes sweet, fruity and slightly spicy. Delicious!

WHERE TO PARK

Avoch, IV9 8JQ (pronounced Och) is a great village on the Black Isle with a picturesque harbour. and a lovely fish & chip shop. Parking is available at the harbour and there are public toilets too.

Parking is available onsite at the Glen Ord Distillery and Fairy Glen Nature Reserve.

Where to Stay

Black Rock Caravan & Camping Site, Balconie Street, Evanton, Dingwall, IV16 9UN

Set in a stunning location, step out of your campervan and view the most spectacular and unspoilt countryside in the Highlands.

Dog Friendly

Dingwall Camping and Caravanning Club Site, Jubilee Park Rd, Dingwall IV15 9QZ

A great welcoming site for you and your furry friend, with walks to the beach, town and canal all close by.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT BLACK ISLE

Harry Gow’s Bakery

You won’t find a better selection of food than at Harry Gow’s Bakery just across the water at, A9 Inverness, IV1 8UG. Their cakes and bakes are mouthwatering.

The Allangrange Arms

54 Millbank Road, Munlochy, IV8 8NL also offers exquisite gastropub food with a warm welcome they’re even dog friendly too with their resident furry friend Chili!



Day 3: Easter Ross

A wonderful part of the North East coast of Scotland, Easter Ross is surrounded by some
beautiful towns including Applecross, Fortrose, Strathpeffer and Poolewe. It also offers
unparalleled views across the water of Aberdeenshire. This area is both romantic and historic.

  • BLACK ISLE
  • EASTER ROSS
  • Total Distance

    29 Miles

  • Duration

    41 minutes

Black Rock Gorge

Evanton, IV16 9YU has cut an impressively deep and narrow gorge through over 100 feet of rock. You’ll see the River Glass rushing down to the Cromarty Firth. Parts of it even feature in Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire!

Pictish Trail

The mysterious and mythical Pictish Trail, IV10 0HD offers a spectacular journey through stunning landscapes which have been inhabited since the very earliest times.

WHERE TO PARK

For Black Rock Gorge, park in the car park opposite the Cornerstone cafe and bookshop in the centre of Evanton - you can have a wander round here too!

The first of the Easter Ross Pictish stones is located on the B817 Cromarty Firth north-shore road. All sites have free parking nearby.

Where to Stay

Black Rock Caravan Park, Balconie Street, Evanton, IV16 9UN

This site is situated in scenic Glen Glass and is in the village of Evanton. They have a shop and pub within close walking distance too.

Dog Friendly

Dornoch Firth Caravan Park, Meikle Ferry South, Tain IV19 1JX

This peaceful, family-owned holiday park enjoys expansive views of the beautiful Dornoch Firth; a popular holiday destination with family attractions, fascinating heritage and spectacular walks that you cannot beat, all on your campervan doorstep!

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT EASTER ROSS

Crazy Horse Coffee Shop

74 High Street Invergordon, IV18 0DL offers a vast variety of meals, including cakes and coffees if you just want a snack instead.

Shandwick Inn

Kildary, Invergordon, IV18 0NZ is a friendly and welcoming pub located in the heart of the highlands and has some of the best food around!

Caithness & Sutherland

A drive along the scenic A9 will take you from the Black Isle into the historic county of Caithness. If you fancy a stop along the way Forse of Nature, Forse House, Latheron, KW5 6DG, allows you to stretch your legs and enjoy the craft shop and fabulous cafe. Caithness and Sutherland has plenty of stunning spots – there are more beaches than you can shake a stick at, beautiful walks and amazing castles too. The land boundary between the two follows a watershed – there are two roads and one railway which cross it. The most popular destinations in this county include Thurso, Wick, Dornoch and, Lochinver. You won’t be short of delicious eateries and breathtaking sights. You may even wish to stay in this area for a few days to explore more.

Day 4: Wick

The town straddles the River Wick and extends along both sides of Wick Bay. Its history dates back to the Iron Age and has many amazing castles to explore, along with plenty of coastal attractions. Wick Inner Harbour has a fairly new and extensive marina complex, and is fast becoming very popular with boaters.

  • EASTER ROSS
  • Wick
  • Total Distance

    76.2 Miles

  • Duration

    1 hour 41 minutes

Nybster Broch

Nybster Broch, Wick, KW1 4XR is one of the most spectacular Iron Age settlements with views over the sea and plenty of areas to walk. The Broch visitor centre is also nearby.

The Castle of Mey

The Castle of Mey, Thurso, KW14 8XH In fine weather offers views from the castle north to the Orkney Islands. It was built between 1566-1572 and the picturesque exterior has also featured in the Nextflix series The Crown.

WHERE TO PARK

Riverside Car Park, Macleay Lane, Wick, KW1 4EA has access to local shops, river walks and the local attractions.

Free parking is available onsite at the Castle of Mey.

Where to Stay

Wick Caravan & Camping Site Riverside Drive, Wick, Highlands, KW1 5SP

This family-friendly site is set beside the Wick River.The trees that surround it make it feel like you’re out in the woods! It is also just a 10 minute walk from here into the centre of Wick..

Dog Friendly

Ferry View Night Stop, Gauze Cottage, Gills Bay, Canisbay, Wick, KW1 4YB

This quiet, small, dog friendly site is perfect for a peaceful sleep before you go exploring again. It is close enough to hop on the ferry over to the Orkney Islands.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT WICK

Devitas Pizzeria &Cafe

97 High Street, KW1 4LR. As well as the traditional pizza, their meatballs and calzone are a must!

The Trawler

Main Street Golspie, KW10 6TG offers an array of full meals or quick bites - perfect for when you’re on the go.

Day 5: John O’Groats

There is no way a trip to the far North of Scotland would be complete without visiting the dramatic and infamous #area of John o’Groats. The coastal area is best known for being at the top of mainland Britain and features some jaw dropping scenery. It takes its name from Jan de Groot, a 15th-century Dutchman who once pillaged a ferry from the Scottish mainland to Orkney, which King James IV had just obtained from Norway. Legend says that the “o' Groats" refers to John's charge of one groat for use of his ferry. Inhabitants of John o' Groats are known as “Groaters".

  • Wick
  • John O’Groats
  • Total Distance

    16.4 Miles

  • Duration

    23 minutes

Duncansby Head

Duncansby Head, KW1 4YS offers a chance for great adventures. Take the path from John O’Groats to see two incredible sea stacks.

After a refreshing coastal walk, one of the spectacular sights this area offers is the Northern Lights.Unzip the full canvas window in the pop up roof and look up to the sky whilst wrapped in your duvet! What could be better?!

WHERE TO PARK

For access to Duncansby Head, a preferred location to park is by the magnificent Lighthouse, KW1 4YS.

If you’re hoping to see the Northern Lights, an area where there is little light pollution is best; you can even stay parked at the Lighthouse. Look out towards Orkney to view.

Where to Stay

John O’Groats Caravan Site, County Road, John o' Groats, KW1 4YR

A site run by friendly owners with great facilities and stunning surroundings.

Dog Friendly

Stroma View Campsite Huna, John O Groats, KW1 4YL

A cheap and cheerful site, but with all the amenities you could need and spotlessly clean too.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT JOHN O'GROATS

Stacks Coffee House & Bistro

A top choice with travelers is Stacks Coffee House & Bistro, Unit 3 Craft Centre, John O’Groats KW1 4YR, who offer an amazing selection including plenty of vegetarian and vegan options!

The Cabin

The Cabin, Harbour Quayside, John O’Groats, KW1 4YR offers the best fish & chips around! It’s right near THE famous sign, so is one not to be missed!

Day 6: Thurso

This is the northernmost town on the British mainland. There are spectacular sights as well as
plenty of beautiful beaches. Thurso was once known for its production of linen cloth and a
thriving tanning business. Fishing has always been of major significance here and it is now an
excellent destination for watersports, too!

  • John O’Groats
  • Thurso
  • Total Distance

    19.5 Miles

  • Duration

    30 minutes

Puffin Cove

Puffin Cove, Thurso, KW14 7RN is a little known treasure of the area. Named after its main inhabitant, it’s a great place to do a spot of bird watching.

Thurso Bay

Thurso Bay, KW14 8BB is an area of Atlantic water fed with fresh water from the River Thurso and the Wolf Burn. A short walk along the coast takes you to iconic white Holborn Head Lighthouse.

WHERE TO PARK

Plenty of areas around the town of Thurso have on street parking where you are able to leave your home from home for 2 hours.

There is also limited roadside parking near Puffin Cove too. There is no time limit on how long you stay.

Where to Stay

Thurso Bay Caravan & Camping Park Smith Terrace, Scrabster, Thurso, KW14 7JY

A beautiful campsite set in 4.5 acres of land and located just 200 metres from Thurso Beach.

Dog Friendly

Murkle Caravan Park, Ivy Cottage, Murkle, Thurso, KW14 8SP

Nestled in amazing surroundings, with plenty of amenities locally, this basic and well priced site will provide a perfect place for you to park up overnight.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT THURSO

Ynot

Meadow Lane, Thurso, KW14 8ER

Ynot offers a unique twist on traditional pub food in beautiful surroundings.

The Captain's Galley Seafood Restaurant

The Harbour, Scrabster, KW14 7UJ is a must for those seafood lovers. They are said to have the best oysters around.

Day 7: Tongue

An attractive little area on the east coast of Scotland, Tongue has impressive beaches and ruins. It lies just north of the Ben Hope and Ben Loyal mountain ranges. The name Tongue refers to a geographical term in Old Norse, for a piece of land shaped like a spit or tongue.

  • Thurso
  • Tongue
  • Total Distance

    43.1 Miles

  • Duration

    1 hour 9 minutes

Castle Varrich

Castle Varrich, Lairg IV27 4XE is a ruin situated on top of a high rock, accessed by a relaxing walk through wonderful woodland.

Ben Loyal

Ben Loyal, Lairg IV27 4YL, an isolated mountain with a height of 764 metres, composed chiefly of granite. It has a distinctive shape due to the four rocky peaks, the highest of which is called An Caistea. The mountain offers views of the Kyle, Loch Loyal to the east, and Ben Hope to the west.

WHERE TO PARK

Castle Varrich has its own dedicated parking at The Village, Tongue, IV27 4XF. The footpath is signposted.

Ben Loyal has parking at the car park north of Ribigill, south of Tongue You’ll need to walk to the footpath, but be warned, it can become boggy!

Where to Stay

Bayview Campsite, Bayview Talmine, IV27 4YS

The pitches at this outstanding site offer views out to the sea overlooking the Rabbit Islands. The beach closeby has white sands. There is also a pub, The Craggan, about a mile up the road.

Dog Friendly

Kyle of Tongue Hostel and Campsite, Tongue, Lairg, IV27 4XH

This lovely park has a wide variety of facilities and your furry friend can stay for free too! There is a beach for walkies just a short distance away.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT TONGUE

Weavers Cafe

Woodend, Rhitongue Sutherland, Tongue IV27 4XW offers many delightful dishes and caters for most dietary requirements. The staff are said to be friendly and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.

If you’re looking for something a little more special, try the Tongue Hotel, Tongue, IV27 4XD. Open for lunch and dinner, they offer English and traditional Scottish meals.

Day 8: Durness

Surrounded by rocky coastline and flawless turquoise waters, Durness has some of the most
striking views in the North of the Highlands. With extensive moorlands, cliffs, mountains and
a wide array of wildlife, it really is a true haven where you can escape the hustle and bustle!

  • Tongue
  • Durness
  • Total Distance

    29.2 Miles

  • Duration

    56 minutes

Smoo Cave

Smoo Cave, Durness, IV27 4QA is a must see. It’s a combination sea and freshwater cave with spectacular waterfall chambers. It’s history links to the Vikings and coastal fishing community.

Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath, Braemar, Lairg IV27 4PZ an area of moorland wilderness, much of it is owned by the Ministry of Defence and is used as a military training area. Some areas are also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation and Special Landscape Area. You will need to take a short ferry ride, but it is well worth it.

WHERE TO PARK

Parking and toilets are up on top of the cliffs for Smoo Cave, and also parking on the road. A good path with lots of steps leads down to the cave.

A public car park is located nearby for Cape Wrath. There is a minibus that runs from the ferry terminal after crossing the Kye that provides a tour of the island. Allow 3 hours for the round trip.

Where to Stay

Sango Sands Oasis Sango Bay, Durness, Sutherland, IV27 4PZ

One of the most stunning sites around - they are lucky enough to benefit from frequent sightings of the Northern Lights. Whales, seals and even the sometimes a Bottlenose Dolphin.can be seen swimming by. One of the best parts of this site is the zip wire over Ceannabeinne Beach. One night may not be enough here! Sango sands is also a dog friendly site.

Dog Friendly

Campsite Durness, Lairg IV27 4PX

This charming and clean site has a beautiful beach for dog walks and a fantastic restaurant on site too.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT DURNESS

Smoo Cave Hotel

Lairg, IV27 4QBl is definitely the place to eat. They offer a wide range of food and excellent service, plus it’s surrounded by stunning scenery.

Cocoa Mountain

Chocolate, coffee and cake lovers will not want to miss out on Cocoa Mountain, 8 Craft Village Balnakeil, Durness, IV27 4PT. This place has sweet treats aplenty and a cute craft village to mooch around too.

Day 9: Scourie

Sourie is famous for its rugged beauty, which has remained unspoilt by recent and modern developments. The peaceful, sheltered beach is the perfect place to see many seabirds and its wonderful array of natural delights! Somewhere not to be missed.

  • Durness
  • Scourie
  • Total Distance

    25.1 Miles

  • Duration

    40 minutes

Scourie Bay

Scourie Bay, Scourie, IV27 4TG is the most stunning beach which offers white sands and blue waters. A true paradise.

Handa Island

Handa Island, IV27 4SR is a nature reserve, famous for its stunning scenery, wildlife, sea cliffs and enchanting beaches.It can be accessed by a short boat ride Many say this is an unforgettable day out.

WHERE TO PARK

Scourie beach car park, which is signed from the main road; has plenty of space, with most being found at the near end of the beach beside the wildlife hide.

There is parking available in Tarbet, G83 7DE, which is near the ferry terminal for Handa Island. Spaces are limited, so an early start is recommended.

Where to Stay

Shegra Beach Honour Campsite, Lairg IV27 4RU

A beautiful grass area just above the beach. With plenty of space, you won’t feel cramped or too close to other campers.

Dog Friendly

Scourie Camping & Caravan Site, Scourie, Lairg, IV27 4TE

If you fancy something a little quieter, then this is the perfect campsite for you and your pooch. A peaceful site with spectacular views of the West Highland coast.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT SCOURIE

The Anchorage

Scourie, IV27 4TG offers great food, and is even dog friendly in the bar area.

The Scourie Hotel

IV27 4SX is a former coaching inn, built in the 1600s with a fresh and ever changing menus.

Day 10: Ullapool

Despite its small size, it is actually the largest settlement for many miles around and even has a
port. It also has a strong reputation as a centre for music, the arts and performance..Ullapool has
an oceanic climate with relatively mild temperatures all year round, compared to other parts of
the highlands.

  • Scourie
  • Ullapool
  • Total Distance

    42.4 Miles

  • Duration

    1 hour 3 minutes

Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve

The Abhainn Droma flows through the gorge which opens out into glacial trough at the head of Loch Broom.It can be viewed from a platform or a stunning, but not for the faint hearted, Victorian suspension bridge!

Stac Pollaidh Mountain

The breathtaking Stac Pollaidh Mountain is a must see viewed from a distance, or scaled with a 2 hour uphill walk. The paths to the top are fairly good and you will be greeted by the Seat of the mountain There is also a path which goes around the back of the mountain taking you to the Seat. The views from the top are simply stunning!

WHERE TO PARK

The car park for the gorge is just off the A832, with roadside parking available ½ mile from the turn-off.

There is parking directly across from the mountain, but make sure you wear good, sturdy walking shoes and appropriate clothing!

Where to Stay

Broomfield Holiday Park, West Lane, Ullapool, IV26 2UT

An idyllic place to pitch up for the night on the banks of Loch Broom and looking out to the Summer Isles. They have all the facilities you could want, including a play area for the kids!

Dog Friendly

Ardmair Point Caravan & Camping Park. Ardmair Point, IV26 2TN

This well kept park offers a view of Loch Kanaird and Ben Mhor Coigach Mountain Range. The owners are friendly and you can even hire a chalet or a cabin if you want to treat yourself to something different!

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT ULAPOOL

Seafood Shack

For some authentic, local seafood fresh from the coast, nowhere beats the Seafood Shack, 9 West Argyle Street, IV26 2TY. They have outdoor seating available and the menu changes every day.

Café Margot

Café Margot, also on West Argyle Street, has great reviews on food and coffee too - a favourite stop with fellow NC500 travellers!



Day 11: Poolewe and Inverewe Gardens

Poolewe is a quaint village, which contrasts the mainstreet of white rendered buildings and the modern St Maelrubha’s Church. Across the bay from Poolewe you will find Inverewe Gardens. The warmer climate in this area allows for them to keep some incredible tropical plants; an amazing contrast against the rugged coastline.A spectacular sight.

  • Ullapool
  • Poolewe
  • Total Distance

    50.1 Miles

  • Duration

    1 hour 12 minutes

Inverewe Gardens

A stop at Inverewe Gardens, Poolewe, IV22 2LG for a pleasant wander through the alluring, colourful gardens!

10 minutes drive down the road is Gairloch Glass Bottom Boat Cruises, Ceol Na Mara, Pier Road, Gairloch IV21 2BQ. You’ll be able to catch sight of all the creatures living below in the fabulously clear loch waters!

Gairloch Glass Bottom Boat Cruises

10 minutes drive down the road is Gairloch Glass Bottom Boat Cruises, Ceol Na Mara, Pier Road, Gairloch IV21 2BQ. You’ll be able to catch sight of all the creatures living below in the fabulously clear loch waters!

WHERE TO PARK

Parking is available on site at Inverewe Gardens, where you will also find a cafe, shop, visitor centre, restaurant, house and estate.

Gairlock Cruises can be accessed from the Pier, which also has parking available. It’s a beautiful area to enjoy the scenery and go for a stroll.

Where to Stay

Inverewe Gardens Camping, Poolewe, Highlands, IV22 2LF

A pretty tree-lined site where you’ll be treated to glorious views over Loch Ewe. If you’re lucky, you may even witness one of the most magnificent sunsets around!

Dog Friendly

Gruinard Bay Caravan Park, Laide, Wester Ross, Achnasheen, IV22 2ND

Slightly further back up the coast is a perfectly beautiful beach front site set in one of the most outstanding areas of natural beauty.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT POOLEWE

The Bridge Cottage

Café, Bridge Cottage, Poolewe, Achnasheen, IV22 2JU offers a warm and friendly environment where your pampered pooches are welcome too!

Roaster’s Highland

Coffee Box, Londubh, Poolewe, Achnasheen, IV22 2LD doesn’t just offer coffee! They have the most delicious hot food, including pizzas and churros.

Day 12: Gairloch

Choosing where to go when you’re in this stunning area is going to be a tough one.There are so many beautiful places to see, including Gruinard Bay, Victoria Falls, Flowerdale Waterfall and Fairy Lochs. The astonishing area of.Gairloch hasso much beauty to see and an abundance of things to do.

  • Poolewe
  • Gairloch
  • Total Distance

    5.6 Miles

  • Duration

    10 minutes

Loch Maree

Loch Maree, Gairloch, IV22 2HL is one of the most unspoilt lochs in Scotland, On the banks is Loch Maree Hotel.

It’s a must for a coffee or breakfast whilst admiring the beautiful scenery. Early visitors may be treated to a close encounter with wild deer who love to munch on the hotel’s toast!

Shieldaig Falconry

Shieldaig Lodge, Gairloch, IV21 2AN won’t fail to amaze you with private falconry and archery experiences.

Fly beautiful birds of prey or have a go at archery in the extraordinary grounds of Shieldaig Lodge Hotel.

WHERE TO PARK

There are lots of easy parking areas around and close by to Loch Maree, depending on what you wish to see and where you wish to visit.

For the falconry, you are able to park in the grounds of Shieldaig Lodge itself.

Where to Stay

Sands Caravan & Camping, Gairloch, IV21 2DL

A great family friendly site with a licensed grocery shop selling freshly baked bread and most other essentials you may need.

Dog Friendly

Gairloch Caravan Park, 1 Mihol Rd, Gairloch, IV21 2BX

Plenty of hard standing and grass pitches, with modern amenities, a shop, pub and cafe all within 100m.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT GAIRLOCH

The Beachcomber

If you’re after some traditional fish & chips, you won’t beat The Beachcomber, Strath, Gairloch, IV21 2BZ.

The food is great, portion sizes are generous and reasonably priced too! To top it off, even the staff are great!

The Shieling

Macintyre Road, Gairloch IV21 2BH is a pleasing restaurant and coffee lounge.

You’ll find fabulous views over to Skye and as an added bonus, small well behaved dogs are allowed in the lounge. There is outside seating too.

Day 13: Torridon

The annual CELTMAN! Extreme Scottish Triathlon has put the charming village of Torridon on the map since they began hosting it in June 2011. The race consists of a 3.4 km swim in Loch Shieldaig, a 202 km bike ride notable for the strong winds which adds extra difficulty for competitors, and a 42km run taking in two Munros over the Beinn Eighe range to finish. There are plenty of other spectacular sights to see whilst visiting too!

  • Gairloch
  • Torridon
  • Total Distance

    30 Miles

  • Duration

    49 minutes

Bealach na Ba Road

If you’re not too fed up with driving, then you’ve got to experience one of the most scenic roads on the whole of the NC500, the Bealach na Ba Road. There’s waterfalls and superb views with a car park at the top - a great stopping point to capture the breathtaking scenery across the Inner Sound to the Inner Hebridean Islands. Keep your eyes peeled for wild deer and cattle too!

Glen Torridon

Glen Torridon is the perfect place for biking along this trail. The mountains are incredibly picturesque, especially on a clear day if you’re lucky enough with the weather!

WHERE TO PARK

A car park at Strathcarron, IV54 8XF offers a place to stop and take in the magnificent views of the Bealach na Ba Road. A gravel car park is perfectly situated at IV22 2ET for Glen Torridon. There is ample free parking too!

Where to Stay

Shieldaig Camping & Cabins, Aurora, Temperance Brae, to Shieldaig, IV54 8XN Benefitting from a spotless site and beautiful views over the loch, this campsite is the perfect location for catching sun rises and sunsets. You may even be lucky enough to take in a sighting of the magnificent white tailed eagle!

Dog Friendly

Torridon Campsite, Torridon, Achnasheen, IV22 2EW

A basic site with 30 pitches available and a perfect place for you and your doggy to bed down for the night!

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT TORRIDON

Gille Brighde

The Old Schoolhouse, Lower Diabaig, Torridon IV22 2HE offers a traditional Scottish menu, along with some of the best seafood around.

Torridon Stores & Cafe

Catering to mostdietary requirements, Torridon Stores & Cafe, Torridon, IV22 2EZ has delicious breakfasts, brunches and lunches - not to mention an excellent selection of cakes and hot drinks!

Day 14: Loch Ness

You’ll be wanting to start to think about heading back down south (Boo!), so there’s no better way to finish your adventure than to take a trip to one of Scotland’s most famous landmarks and see if you can spot Nessie. There is an exhibition centre and a few quaint and bespoke shops to browse, along with a fabulous cafe and river cruises to enjoy.

The loch itself is almost a mile wide in places and it contains the largest volume of water in the British Isles.The more scenic and wild south side is quieter and away from the majority of the crowds.

If you’re planning on staying overnight, be prepared for a long drive home the following day. We request that our campervans are returned by 12 midday at the latest on the final day of your hire, so you’ll need to get an early start. It’s just over a 10 hour drive with no traffic and good weather conditions.

Alternatively, you could head south from here and plan a stop half way to extend your trip by an extra day and not have to rush back. York, Sheffield and Birmingham are all great cities to explore!

  • Torridon
  • Loch Ness
  • Total Distance

    76 Miles

  • Duration

    1 hour 45 minutes

Plodda Falls

On the north side of the loch, Plodda Falls, IV4 7LY are one of Scotland’s best hidden treasures. The tallest and most thrilling waterfall in the region has a drop of 151 feet. A viewing platform at the River Affric offers great views towards the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve.

Inverfarigaig Village

Below the rocky bluffs of Dun Deardail you’ll find Inverfarigaig village. Take a short stroll down to the loch side and you can enjoy marvellous views from the historic Inverfarigaig Pier. Nearby you’ll find the Suidhe Viewpoint; one of the highest points on the Loch Ness 360° Trail - a circular 80 mile route to cycle and walk around the Loch.

WHERE TO PARK

IV4 7LY is the postcode of the road leading to Plodda. Keep going for another 1.75 miles to reach the car park.

Where around the loch you want to visit or how far you wish to walk will depend on your preferred parking location. There are plenty of car parks located around though and there are also car parks near the restaurants.

Where to Stay

Loch Ness Bay Camping, Borlum Farm, Drumnadrochit, IV63 6X

This incredible site offers the chance to stay on a beautiful farm location, with an on site livery too offering both indoor and outdoor horse riding on the banks of the Loch Ness.

Dog Friendly

Loch Ness Shores Camping & Caravanning Site, Monument Park Lower, Foyers, IV2 6YH

A beautiful campsite on the south shore, with the scenic loch as its idyllic backdrop. There are panoramic views to the mountains beyond.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK AT LOCH NESS

The Boathouse

You’ll be spoiled for choice with places to eat around here, but The Boathouse Lochside Restaurant, Fort Augustus, PH32 4BD is one of the best. The location is fantastic and the views are stunning!

Bothy Restaurant & Bar

Another unique dining experience is the Bothy Restaurant & Bar, Canal Side, Fort Augustus, PH32 4AU. They have hearty Scottish pub fare served within a rustic, lodgelike venue with gorgeous stone accents.