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The UK’s answer to Route 66, this epic 500 mile round trip offers scenery stunning enough to rival that of its American counterpart. Unlike Route 66, the North Coast 500 is one big loop and the views on offer are of more well-watered terrains, rather than the arid deserts of the southern USA. Starting off in Inverness, work your way around the coastline stopping off at several idyllic locations along the way. Visit John O’Groats, the most northern point of the UK mainland, before making your way around the coast. Breath-taking stops such as Ullapool, Tongue and Lochniver offer something so incredible, you’ll struggle to believe you’re still in the UK – and that’s before you’ve reached the Torridon Munros! With scenery reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, this route is the perfect way to discover some of the gems the UK has to offer.
GOAT Roadtrip Leeds Depot (58 Commercial Road, LS5 3AQ)
Pick-up in the afternoon on the first day and drop-off in the morning on the last day (specific timings depend on the vehicle – see here). To extend your stay by adding more nights, please specify in your enquiry.
Comrie (1 night) Inverness (2 nights) Wick/Dunbeath (2 nights) Tongue (1 night) Ullapool (2 nights) Kinlochewe (2 nights) Lochcarron/Loch Alsh (1 night) Cairngorms National Park (2 nights) Northumberland (1 night)
Leave your car securely parked at our depot in Leeds or have it delivered locally for an extra fee.
If you’re starting your trip in Leeds, Comrie makes a great spot to break up your journey to Inverness.
A small village surrounded by rolling hills and the perfect place to recharge from your drive up from England and get ready for the North Coast 500.
The starting point for North Coast 500 is Inverness, the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. Step back in time and discover the legend of the Loch Ness Monster and explore majestic Scottish castles and ancient ruins. Spend a day discovering the Ness Islands, a collection of islands in the River Ness connected by foot bridges. The circular route will take you through Inverness Botanic Gardens and Inverness Cathedral. Spend your second day taking a day trip, and there are plenty of amazing places to choose from close to Inverness. Any historians should visit the battleground at Culloden Moore, which is easy to combine with the calva cairns burial mounds. Alternatively, a trip along the coast to Burghead or Lossiemouth would make a great day out. When you’re ready to leave Inverness, head on up the A9 alongside the coast, as you get introduced to a snippet of some of the scenary that awaits you.
Once one of the busiest Herring ports in Europe, all that awaits you now in this quiet town is an array of delicious sea food, coastal walks and castles. It’d be a shame to whizz through all these little villages on your way up to John O’Groats, so two nights in Wick will give you plenty of time to explore the East coast – and don’t forget Wick itself! Check out the Pulteney Distillery, the ruins of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe and the beach at Sinclair bay.
Tongue to your next destination, Ullapool, is one of the most scenic on this route. Follow the A838 over the Kyle of Tongue Bridge which forms a part of the causeway. Along the bridge you’ll find designated viewpoints for the perfect photo opportunity.
This lively seaside town is located on the waterfront of Loch Broom. It’s a great location for water sports with the chance to go kayaking or tour around the Summer Isles. For a more relaxing couple of days, visit the Knockan Gragg National Nature Reserve or the Inverpolly National Nature Reserve, and see if you spot any wildcats or golden eagles.
The drive to Kinlochewe will be one of the highlights of your trip. Consider a stop off at the Corrieshalloch Gorge and then rejoin the coast, round through Poolewe and Gairloch – and Red Point beach is well worth a bit of a detour too. When you’re ready to hit the road again, head in land through impressive and dramatic mountain ranges, allowing plenty of time for picture stops where you can – and trust us there will be plenty of them. There’s loads to do around this area but do be sure to venture into the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve on one of your days here.
The drive to Lochcarron from Kinlochewe may look short and fairly uninspiring, on a map at least – but trust us on this one, the drive through the mountains and past the loch of Torridon is absolutely incredible. At the end of this stretch, you’ll come across a small village named Shieldaig, which is a pleasant place to stop off with a couple of worthwhile and nearby walks to viewpoints or kayaking if that’s more your thing. From here, you’ll want to head to Applecross – another late contender for highlight of the NC500. If you’re in a motorhome or aren’t a particular confident driver, then take the longer, coastal route to Applecross (the turning isn’t far from Shieldaig). Otherwise take the Bealach na Ba Road – a winding and snaking steep climb to a jaw-dropping viewpoint, before heading down to the village of Applecross to spend a couple of hours before heading to your camp at Lochcarron.
Join the A832 and make your way back towards Inverness to complete the North Coast 500 loop; Ledgowan Forest is a nice place for a pit stop en route. When you reach Inverness, head on towards the Cairngorms National Park which will be home for your last night in Scotland. Whilst not part of the NC500, this is still one of Scotland’s most loved places. Take the Cairngorm Mountain Funicular if you’ve still not had enough views on your trip, or if you’d rather chill out a bit more before making your way back to England, relax on the shores of Loch Morlich.
End your trip in Northumberland, home to several of Britain’s blue flag beaches. Drive to Low Newton by the Sea and walk along the golden sandy beach to Embleton Bay, one of regions’ most pristine beaches dotted with white painted fishermen’s cottages, a village pub and great views of Dunstanburgh Castle. For a slightly livelier evening at the seaside head to Amble, known as the ‘friendliest port in the UK’. The Harbourfront and marina are home to numerous seafood restaurants and cafes and quaint independent art shops.
Get some breakfast, pack up and make your last drive back to Leeds, where we’ll be waiting to welcome you back! We love seeing all your roadtrip snaps so make sure you send us your best ones!