Scotland North Coast 500

mettisse

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May 27, 2010
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SouthEast Essex
After cancelling our pre booked trip to Corsica in October 2020, we looked around for something to take its place, the restrictions at the beginning of the month were ok to travel round the north of Scotland, so, off we go.
We live in Essex and so we planned to make a stop in the Lake District as we travelled north. The fact was there was no accommodation available where we wanted to be, so, Carlisle it was. What a result! Lovely hotel great food, perfect for me and the Duchess.
We travelled in my 80 Bruiser and I don’t drive that fast as I like to enjoy the drive, we soon made it up to Inverness the start of the NC500.
The NC 500 is a route around the north coast taking in John O’Groats on the east / north side then going west around back to Inverness.
we chose to do it anti clockwise as we were told the West side was far more beautiful ( scenery wise) than the east and this is true, so as we travelled it became more beautiful, The route is not at all challenging, mostly narrow roads with passing places, but dramatic coastal views around Doun Reay Atomic power Station on the northern part, and the weather can be challenging, driving wind and rain, then lovely sunshine and blue sky.
so although appearing bleak at times strangely awesome at the same time.
For our accommodation we chose luxury hotels, very expensive, we had a big budget as we had the money we normally spend in Corsica, and this was the substitute holiday, Substitute? Well at first we thought the “ booby prize“ , Mistake!, it was great! We absolutely loved it. ( moral here, something about sausage and skins) We didn’t find it remote or cut off anything like that, eg there is a Tesco’s in Thurso not far from John O’ Groats.
but none can deny the stunning beauty of the country. Back to accommodation, as we are belt and braces we took quality stout camping gear as we also heard it can be difficult to find lodgings, well, it was, decent average price BnB was sparse, ( out of season, scared of Covid?) we don’t know, lots of places with “ No Vacancies” Signs up. High end hotels easier to find space, enough campsites but we also heard they only allow people with their own toilet facilities and locked up their toilets etc only to have chemical disposal, this is not “ official information“ and may be wrong. Lots of Camper vans ( we call them chip vans, don’t ask) we only saw one campsite with tents erected, not surprising with the windy condition.
we finished by going on to the Isle of Skye, good move as it’s lovely.
There are no highlights, it’s all great, It’s not froading I know, but I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed it. We met like minded 4x4 ers in both directions, we ate lovely seafood ( en route for lunch) the “Seafood Shack” in Ullapool was great, ( shuts at 6)
On the route if it’s your thing there are things to do and places to visit, Distilleries, Whisky, Gin and Rum. Loch Ness ( Inverness) various manor houses and Museums. You can be busy if you want, you can probably tell we had a great time.
wil I do it again? You bet.
Best regards to all, Bill Westley
 

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TonyP

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I am in uk
Feb 25, 2010
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I love the NC500, did it a few years ago on motorbikes and it was stunning. Love the Ullapool area, but also the roads around the ski resort (can't recall the names) were amazing on the bikes.

Defo not second best
 

mettisse

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May 27, 2010
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SouthEast Essex
I love the NC500, did it a few years ago on motorbikes and it was stunning. Love the Ullapool area, but also the roads around the ski resort (can't recall the names) were amazing on the bikes.

Defo not second best
Sounds like a great trip Bill. Can we have some more photos?
i will as soon as I can get them from the Duchess’ iPad, couple below,
I would like to add, if you can, do it, it’s good and interesting, just a couple of points tho, get good maps, sounds obvious but essential, do not rely on your google or gps, lots of spots with no reception , lots of places to go “ off piste” fantastic little gems of places , especially beach wise, try to get to Skye, it’s lovely, don’t do any of it in a rush, you’ll miss the best bits. Try and organise the accommodation, lots of folk doing the 500 so it could be tight. To be honest, we have had a ball, but Corsica would be my choice. ( no offence, I like the sunshine)
 
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AndyCook

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I am in scotland
Apr 16, 2010
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Nice one. I hear the route has been very busy this year, but should be getting quieter now.
Its popularity hasn’t outstripped the capacity of infrastructure

Tony - Lecht and Glenshee were the ski centres your drove past, only an hour from my place.
 
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Jake the Peg

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I am in scotland
Aug 17, 2018
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Bill a pity your passed now, I live on the route and would have easily got the kettle on for you

We live on the east coast but spend many weekends heading north and west and to Skye

It has become really busy this year, but was terrible after lockdown, but has calmed down now, it’s amazing how many supercars we see on the roads up here everyday

Skye, Lewis and Harris are awesome destinations if you can‘t find the time to get to Corsica

looking forward to seeing your pictures
 

mettisse

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May 27, 2010
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SouthEast Essex
Thank you very much for the invitations, we certainly would have loved to enjoy a cup of tea with you. As we travel home and reflect on the “adventure” what has evolved is the fact we both want to return, From my own perspective in that my mother was Scottish and I have cousins here, it would be very rude not to return. Previously the furthest north we had been was Fort William and that was to spectate some of the Scottish Six Day Trial ( motorbikes) some years ago, It may be that with the Covid we may have to holiday at “home” and what a better place to visit! In our conversations we decided that Scotland IS the UK’s best kept secret, Yes we have had rain, but not for long, yes misty mornings, but not for long, mostly cold, but blue skies and a lot of sunshine. We have met amazing people, the warmth and welcome have been exceptional, we have no complaints at all.
So, we came at a moments notice hanging on till the end for news about Corsica, then, turned north, little planning, but we did good, ready for anything, next time? I’m gonna put it on the forum and try and have a cup of tea with you guys,
best
78D3ECCF-EDFF-4D53-9F3A-2B6BABBF5325.jpeg
regards to all, Bill Westley
 
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wobbly

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Nov 27, 2010
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Gods own Somerset, home of Alfred the Great!
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Thanks for sharing.

Ive driven as far as Inverness, visited distilleries, cairngorms, culloden, great place.

Rooftent and onboard toilet do make the accomodation easier - Scottish bnb and hotels def not cheap.

Would have ago at the NC500 but not this year due to the amount of people flycamping.
 

mettisse

Well-Known Member
May 27, 2010
331
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SouthEast Essex
Whilst there we watched a bit of “Scottish Countrywide” TV, and one chap ( English resident) said that when he and others promoted the NC 500 ( 5 years ago?) they didn’t expect the success of the route, however, the down side of its success is the amount of free camping, which they now call “ dirty Camping” pics were shown of some of the disgusting things left for others to clear up etc, people had “ festival style” walked away from their entire camping kit, once again for someone else to clear up, we actually saw discarded camp gear at the side of the road but thought somebody had left it to collect later, ( maybe they had)
I might mention that when we were at John O’Groats, there is a car park, fairly decent toilets ( if desperate) and all who come mainly use this car/ coach/ camper parking. It was only us and one other car bothered to pay the£2 charge Per vehicle , the money which is used by the local community to further the place, not private, local. Think of it, they arrive, use the facilities, possibly use a gift shop ( I hope so) contribute nothing at all, shame on them. ( rant over)
The NC 500 is a real gem on our doorstep, I hope restrictions caused by an inconsiderate quantity, don’t spoil this beauty.
This isn’t greenlaning so it’s not the 4x4 ‘ers gonna be blamed either,
best regards to all , haven’t forgotten the pics.
 

Fattrucker

New Member
I am in england
Sep 26, 2020
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We were up there (trying) to do the NC500 this year (After a year "off") . Just before lockdown too . We were "wild camping" in the 80 with a new RTT to test on it's first maiden voyage . Sadly we got rained off . We had the first three days of solid rain . We just couldn't dry out . And going up into an RTT soaked through to the skin only compounded the issue . Taking such wet clothes into the tent resulted in a considerable amount of condensation build up during the night . Even with windows and vents open as much as we dare. No fault of the tent whatsoever just simple physics and our own doing . This coupled with the fact that one of our four legged companions was very very poorly saw us regrettably heading home after the three days instead of staying for the full eleven we had planned . It is extremely difficult to feed dogs in the rain when its coming sideways . Not to mention unfair to keep them cooped up in the back of a car for hours on end , no matter how comfortable they seem .(The back seats are removed . And this area is converted to dedicated doggy transport)
Even though it was very stressful at times we did thoroughly enjoy our time there . The scenery truly is off the charts stunning .
With Christmas fast approaching it will soon be that time of year when the tartan adorned shortbread box makes an after-tea appearance . Trust me when I say this . The pictures oft found on aforesaid boxes do not do this stunning country justice . Around every bend , over every crest , atop every brow . the views are evermore spectacular and breath-taking .
Surely a bucket list destination for anyone with a passion for travel . Be it luxury hotel or RTT . Your choice .

P.S. We too found and saw evidence of "dirty camping" . BUT we also tried to tidy up (Bagged up till our next bin stop) as much as we could every time we stopped .


Fattrucker
 

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