One of the most well known road trip destinations in the UK is on the very north coast of Scotland, the North Coast 500. The Scottish highlands are some of the most impressive views I’ve ever seen and will want you exploring more of the vast landscapes. Whether you enjoy going off the beaten track with wild camping or sticking to hot spot areas, there is plenty to explore and discover on the NC500.
We spent 4 days on the North Coast 500 route among an epic 15 day road trip around Scotland. Although we skipped some of the more typical spots, we still fell in love with all the sights we did see including the follow 6 must see sights on Scotlands North Coast 500.
Our first stop on the NC500 route was Dunrobin Castle. This beautiful white castle costs £12.50 per adult to gain access to and although we did debate about paying the price (a little pricey for those on a budget) we would highly recommend the investment. Not only do you get access to the beautiful grounds surrounding the castle and a tour of the castle itself there is also the wonderful twice daily Falconry shows (which alone is worth the money). Then finally you can take a journey into the strange by visiting the Musuem filled with taxidermy from around the world and other selections of geological items. It’s a great way to start (or end) your NC500 adventure depending which way you navigate the route!
Duncansby head is the most northeasternly part of the British mainland and is probably one of the most iconic stops along the North Coast 500 route. The stacks sit 60m above the water and requires a little walk to reach. Along the path we came across a huge cliff side covered in puffins, so is also a great spot for bird watching. This is perfect to end/start your day on a clear day with the sunrise/sunset but still looks great on cloudy days as seen in my photo below.
Smoo cave is large combined sea water and fresh water cave. It’s a 10 minute walk down from the car park to the caves. To view the waterfall itself is free but if you want more of a tour its £6 an adult and £3 for a child, the first part of the tour requires a little boat trip and then it’s on foot. We couldn’t take the tour the day we visited as there was heavy rain which had caused some cave flooding, so be wary of this on your trip. If anything it’s a great way to stretch your legs and explore.
A beautiful and quiet beach with golden sands and plenty of caves to explore. It’s a steep walk down to the beach but it’s worth it for the peace and quiet we had in mid July. We’re not beach people but this was a great little stop to enjoy the sounds of the see, adventure in the caves and enjoy the views. It’s also meant to be great for surfing here too!
This waterfall is really something worth seeing. It’s about a 10-15 minutes walk from the road on some very soggy and rough ground, so not accessible to those with walking difficulty all the way up to the waterfall but you can walk part of the way to see the view from afar. There is also a section that reguires you to cross a stream on some stepping stones so anyone with fear of water etc (like me) it was quite tough mentally getting across them but very much worth the effort for the view. I didn’t go right up to the waterfall but chose to sit on a rock and enjoy the view whilst my partner (in the picture) got as close as possible. We saw a lot of waterfalls on this North Coast 500 trip but this was by far the most impressive.
Probably my favourite part of the entire 15 days road trip we did around Scotland was the Bealach na Ba pass through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula. We tackled the pass going north, which means we started at the top and went down the pass which means we had absolutely stunning views. We were so lucky to have the weather on our side for most of the NC500 and this part was my most memorable. Not only was the pass stunning but when we arrived in Applecross we were greeted with even more stunning views looking over to the Isle of Skye. It’s here I realised why the NC500 was so popular and why people return time and time again because I could never get bored of these views, could you?! Applecross is the perfect ending (or beginning) to your NC500 adventure!
There were many more stops we made along the way and you can read about our full 15 days road trip around Scotland here, but these are the ones that took my breath away and made me realise how special Scotland really is. We carried on our road trip by jumping over to the Isle of Skye and Mull but I want to talk about those in another post.
Happy road tripping!