NC500 or North Coast 500 (launched in 2014) is the acclaimed touring route round the north of Scotland. It has already been likened to American Route 66 in terms of iconic status. At just over 500 miles, it is one of the most spectacularly memorable coastal routes in the world. Inverness Tours have developed a magnificent & unique four-day tour along this route. Accommodation is limited in some of the remoter areas, so booking well ahead is to be recommended. We can advise on accommodation if necessary, although sites like TripAdvisor are also invaluable.
This four-day tour comes complete with bolt-on options which still ensure that you do every mile of NC500, and receive our special certificate as a result. However, while you are undertaking the NC500 you can also visit the Orkney Islands, or the Isle of Skye, or the Western Isles by increasing the tour length to five days. Or why not go for adding all three Island Archipelagos to the NC500, and achieve it all, within our six-day extravaganza!
The four-day NC500 begins and ends in the Highland Capital – Inverness. The route can run clockwise or anti-clockwise as suits you, and can include your own choice of stunning walks, visits and visitor attractions on each of the four days. (Our advice would be anti-clockwise). For more information check NC500 on VisitScotland.
We might advise the following, as some “must see” attractions enroute, but if you have other ideas instead then we are happy to accommodate them:-
A drive north through the Firthlands of Easter Ross perhaps taking in a visit to the Collegiate Church at Tain, a tour at Glenmorangie Distillery, a walk around Dornoch Cathedral and a drive-through at Royal Dornoch Golf Course before lunch; followed by a visit to Dunrobin Castle, and then north over the Ord of Caithness to the Whaligeo Steps, the Hill O Many Stanes and ending in the ancient Royal Burgh of Wick.
The north coast beckons. John O Groats, the late Queen Mother’s Castle of Mey, Dunnet Beach, Castletown Harbour and free time in the town of Thurso for lunch. After lunch, enjoy a scenic journey past remote beaches and small crofting villages. Attractions might include the Strathnaver Museum at Bettyhill, a walk to Castle Varrich above the Kyle of Tongue, a look at a Souterrain and a look at Smoo Cave, just before arriving in Durness to overnight.
The route turns south here, through UNESCO site the North-West Highlands Geopark. Circling the Stoer Peninsula brings us to Lochinver, Highland Stoneware, and the Assynt Centre. Then we pass the ruins of Ardvreck Castle, to reach Ullapool for free time and lunch. In the afternoon we enjoy the Wester Ross Coastal Trail, enjoying Corrieshalloch Gorge, and Inverewe Gardens before reaching Gairloch for the night – perfect for a beach walk!
Begin the day with a boat-trip, or head for the old-growth forests of beautiful Loch Maree, with visitor centre, and fine walks in the vicinity. Torridon offers a mountain visitor centre and a Red Deer Centre. Next the unforgettable journey around the Applecross Peninsula. Lunch and a walk on the beach at Applecross followed by the drive over the world-famous Bealach na Ba Pass, and the return to Inverness past lonely Achnasheen.
Total price for 4-day Core Tour: £1560 for guide and vehicle (+ £225 total subsistence to guide, paid at time of tour).
Lodgings & admissions not included. Tour price subject to normal booking discounts.
If you choose to add one or two days on to your four day tour, then it would allow you to see one, two or even all three of the following island groups. Likely attractions that you would be able to visit on each are described below –
The Western Isles or Outer Hebrides
The Outer Hebrides are an island chain lying west of the Highlands of Scotland. We will visit the northernmost island (Lewis & Harris), staying overnight in the main town; Stornoway. The next morning there will be time to take a trip to the west coast of Lewis, to visit the world-famous sites of the Callanish Standing Stones, and the Dun Carloway Broch. A broch is an Iron-Age defensive tower unique to Scotland - and this is one of the best in the country).
The Orkney Islands
These islands lie north of the Highlands – and as well as being well-endowed with ancient sites and standing stones, they are also steeped in Viking history. We can stay overnight in Kirkwall giving time to visit the Orkney winery, the Bishop’s Palace, the Earl’s Palace, St Magnus Cathedral, The Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae and perhaps the Broch of Gurness.
The Isle of Skye
The mystical, magical Isle of Skye lies west across a new bridge, near Eilean Donan Castle. Staying overnight in the island capital of Portree gives enough time to see the Black Cuillin Mountains, the Storr, Kilt Rock, the Quiraing, the Fairy Glen and Eilean Donan Castle.
Please email for prices & arrangements if you want five or six days with island groups included.