North Coast 500 – Overview

So our North Coast Tour is over and for those who are considering doing the tour here is our overview of the route we took, the places we stayed and some reviews of sites. One of the questions people often ask is how ‘long does it take?’. The only answer to that is ‘as long or as short as you like’. We saw motorcyclists who were clearly doing it in a few short days, judging by the speed at which they bypassed some of this country’s most beautiful places and cyclists who were pushing themselves hard to make it round inside of a week. There were American tourists who, being unfamiliar with the challenges of driving in the north of Scotland, set themselves too small a time frame and then people like us who have the luxury of taking their time about it.

We left the Lothians on May 15th and returned on June 21st, making the tour 5 weeks and 2 days. We could easily have finished it comfortably in two weeks but it was our intention to live life slowly, enjoying as much of the experience as we could. By the end we were pretty chilled.

Map of our route

The eagle eyed amongst you will see that we didn’t complete the circle along the Great Glen. There is a small gap between Fort Augustus and Fort William. We will complete that little bit of the circle at a later date. We also didn’t attempt to drive to Applecross because we were advised that the roads have too many tight bends for a 7.5m motorhome. We know that others have done it but we chickened out. We did add in two islands that are not officially part of the route. I guess you could say that it was a personalised version of the NC!

Where we stayed

Please follow the links to our reviews of the various campsites and wild camping stops.

Oban Camping and Caravan Club Site: (2 nights)

Tiree: Four nights with our friend Rhoda on her croft. N.B. The official NC route does not include the islands but we’ve wanted to visit Tiree for a long time so we decided to add this to the itinerary.

Bunree Caravan Club site at Onich after returning from Tiree (one night)

Silver Sands Campsite Arisaig (4 nights)

Wild camping (1 night) on Skye

Edinbane CCC campsite, Skye (2 nights)

Wild camping Gairloch (1 night)

Gruinard Bay Campsite (1 night)

Lochinver wild camping (1 night)

Clachtoll beach campsite (2 nights)

Durness Sango Sands Campsite (5 nights)

Dunnet Bay CC site (1 night)

Wild camping Dunbeath Harbour (1 night)

Grannies Heilan’ Hame site (3 nights)

Dingwall CCC site (4 nights)

Highland Motorhomer’s Meet, Brin Herb Nursery (3 nights)

Loch of the Lowes Overnight stop N.B. It is essential to phone the Visitors Centre in advance of overnighting here.

Getting back to the lowlands of Scotland brought us mixed feelings. It was great to see family and friends again and to be able to buy anything we needed without much effort but we’re missing the Highlands and all the wild beauty. ‘Til the next time …

7 thoughts on “North Coast 500 – Overview

  1. Yes we’re missing all the beautiful views and the sense of adventure. Just planning our next move – we’re thinking Dumfries and Galloway. X

  2. Hi Mags and Shirley,
    I have loved reading your blog about NC500. Dont know if I will do it with the girls next year but I am tempted after reading your adventures.
    Shirley x

  3. Hi Shirley, Really glad you enjoyed the blog. There’ll be more coming soon on our next part of the adventure. If you get the chance of a trip to the North West of Scotland particularly you won’t be disappointed. We’re missing it! x

  4. Hi both,
    Just found your blog site – really great reading! We spent nearly 3 months in France this year and had a brilliant time! Like you, we try not to cover to many miles in one day unless we have a deadline (Tunnel etc!)
    Planning to visit Scotland next spring and the NW500 is really appealing. You mention midges in May – would it be better going a few weeks earlier although guess weather is likely to be more unsettled!
    Best wishes, Helen and Andy

    1. Hi Andy and Helen,
      Thanks for finding the blog and I’m really pleased you’re enjoying it. My advice about the midges would be to buy some Smidge, which has been created by scientists in Scotland especially to keep them at bay and go in May and June. Obviously we can’t be certain about the weather but May and June tend to be the most pleasant. We only saw a lot of them in the walled garden at the Oban CCC site where the walls stopped the sea breezes from putting them off. I’ve had an awful lot more bites in France and Spain so if you’ve managed 3 months in France you’ll be fine in Scotland. It is warm weather and water that bring them out and they hate wind which is why the coast is often free of the little blighters. The NC500 is great – enjoy! Mags

      1. Good day Mags,

        Many thanks for advice, will certainly get hold of some ‘Smidge’ when we get to
        Scotland!
        Yes, we did get ‘nibbled’ whilst in France on occasion, but not so much that made it a problem – perhaps we were using the correct repellent?
        Looking forward to heading north, Helen and Andy

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