• Our booking engine at tickets.railforums.co.uk (powered by TrainSplit) helps support the running of the forum with every ticket purchase! Find out more and ask any questions/give us feedback in this thread!

NC500

Status
Not open for further replies.

ComUtoR

Established Member
Joined
13 Dec 2013
Messages
9,554
Location
UK
Evening,

Has anyone done the NC500 ? (link is to the NC500 website) https://www.northcoast500.com/

I'm thinking about hiring a flashy car for a week in September and having a casual drive and lazy tour of our Northern borders. I have noticed a significant number of the forum regulars are from that end of the country so I imagine you nice folks have a more wheels on the ground experience.

I'm far to old to be a boy racer and it will be a week long trip taking in the sights, local beasties, and stunning scenery. Recomendations, warnings, highlights and low lights all welcome.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

Journeyman

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2014
Messages
6,295
Evening,

Has anyone done the NC500 ? (link is to the NC500 website) https://www.northcoast500.com/

I'm thinking about hiring a flashy car for a week in September and having a casual drive and lazy tour of our Northern borders. I have noticed a significant number of the forum regulars are from that end of the country so I imagine you nice folks have a more wheels on the ground experience.

I'm far to old to be a boy racer and it will be a week long trip taking in the sights, local beasties, and stunning scenery. Recomendations, warnings, highlights and low lights all welcome.
I would just point out that the NC500 worries me, and quite a few other people, for a number of reasons.

It feels like it's a really terrible example of very unsustainable tourism. The roads in the area are very narrow and tricky to drive, and are now getting alarmingly busy, with people driving them very badly. The publicity of it has sucked tourism away from other areas and left businesses struggling, while the whole length of the NC500 experiences an ecological disaster and gets massively overcrowded.

Sorry to be negative, but there’s other parts of Scotland that are virtually empty, just as beautiful and much more deserving of a visit.
 

ComUtoR

Established Member
Joined
13 Dec 2013
Messages
9,554
Location
UK
I've been reading the same. I live in Kent so narrow, unforgiving roads, and single track paths are part of every day life for me. I would like the experience to be positive and one in which I can celebrate Scotland. I was hoping that by taking a week to tour it would be less of a race and more of an experience.

Even if I din't religiously stick to the route and experience some of the notable highlught along the way I think I'd still be happy.
 

GusB

Established Member
Associate Staff
Buses & Coaches
Joined
9 Jul 2016
Messages
6,693
Location
Elginshire
I had hoped to take my dad around the North Coast 500 and make a few days of it, but sadly we didn't get the chance before he passed away. It's a route I'd like to do at some point, hopefully by bike, but I'll need to be a bit fitter before I can attempt it.

An alternative might be the North East 250 (website here: https://www.northeast250.com/). There are certain parts of it that can be tricky, but if you have decent weather, and that's a muckle great "if", it could be a nice journey.

Whichever route you choose to do, along the way there will be loads of places which will be very grateful for your custom.
 

GusB

Established Member
Associate Staff
Buses & Coaches
Joined
9 Jul 2016
Messages
6,693
Location
Elginshire
Understand passing places and how to use them ;)
Absolutely. BMW X5s have priority and under no circumstances should they be made to reverse, lest their drivers be seen to lose face.

You, inferior creature in your poverty-spec hatchback, make way for the Superior Beings :)
 

Tryfan

Member
Joined
4 May 2021
Messages
51
Location
Peak District
Done it and more ( Lewis & Harris, Orkney, Skye) in the camper van. It was great. Go for it. Don't be an idiot while doing it. Treat the area with respect. Take your litter home. Spend some money. Understand passing places and how to use them ;)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/darlo2009/albums/72157694339525461 - some pics of our trip here.

^^^This. Be aware of rented motor homes, many people cannot drive them properly, aren’t aware of their width and can’t reverse them when required. Tell tale signs are taped up door mirrors

in a car you’ll be staying in hotels I guess. Don’t underestimate time and distance. You cannot make progress as you can in England. A roads with passing places are frequently the norm and they can be busy

Unfortunately it will become a victim of its own success. As it becomes more popular the locals will get fed up and it will be more difficult to enjoy. I feel this will affect Motorhomes and camper vans primarily as they will eventually not be permitted to wild camp any longer

I did most of it in 2018 in a Camper Van. Didn’t set out to do it but completed all but the A9 Inverness to Wick section, we went straight up the middle on the A836 via Bonnar Bridge and Altnaharra. Stunning.

Would I do it again? Absolutely, although I’d spend more time in some of the places we kind of passed by. Love to spend a month instead of two weeks.
 

SargeNpton

Established Member
Joined
19 Nov 2018
Messages
1,337
Did it three years ago by motorcycle. Great trip but could easily allowed an extra couple days so that there was more time to stop at places that looked interesting.

From Thurso across the north and then down the whole of the west side your average speed is going to be really low, so don't overestimate the mileage that can be achieved in any one day.

On the other hand, you can get views like this...
 

Attachments

  • 2016 Beleach Na Ba.jpg
    2016 Beleach Na Ba.jpg
    298.6 KB · Views: 24

ComUtoR

Established Member
Joined
13 Dec 2013
Messages
9,554
Location
UK
Thanks everyone. nice pics @DarloRich and thanks for sharing.

Tourism has always been a double edged sword and I promise to treat the area with respect. I grew up following 'The country code' (if anyone remebers that campaign)

With all the single track roads.. Maybe taking a Lambo up there wouldnt be the wisest choice. Not the plan of course but certainly something along the lines of sporty and flashy :)

Other than the stunning views, is there anything to do or see specifically ? Maybe a little Haggis hunting ?
 

Tryfan

Member
Joined
4 May 2021
Messages
51
Location
Peak District
Thanks everyone. nice pics @DarloRich and thanks for sharing.

Tourism has always been a double edged sword and I promise to treat the area with respect. I grew up following 'The country code' (if anyone remebers that campaign)

With all the single track roads.. Maybe taking a Lambo up there wouldnt be the wisest choice. Not the plan of course but certainly something along the lines of sporty and flashy :)

Other than the stunning views, is there anything to do or see specifically ? Maybe a little Haggis hunting ?
Decent SUV would be my choice if I had to do it in a car. Audi SQ2 would be ideal. 300ps but still small enough to not be a hinderance
 

nlogax

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
5,383
Location
Mostly Glasgow-ish. Mostly.
I've done the western side more than once, pre and post introduction of 'NC500' as a marketing term. In my view the NW Highlands are by far the best part of the entire UK. Weirdly enough I don't have the ambition to do the eastern side!

Stuff to do? Find a remote cabin or two en route, make sure you're fully stocked to make morning fry-ups, bring some decent whisky and get plenty of walks in. Not sure there's anything else I'd want from a jaunt around that part of the world.

20201014_170215_3.jpg
Clashnessie

IMG_3003.jpg
Kylesku Bridge

IMG_2977.jpg
The road from Durness
 

Geezertronic

Established Member
Joined
14 Apr 2009
Messages
4,094
Location
Birmingham
Someone I know arranged the "Scottish Highlands" tour with MINIs (I don't think anyone was brave enough to take a classic mini :)) in 2019, and it's scheduled for August this year too. Not had the time but it was apparently a good tour
 

D365

Veteran Member
Joined
29 Jun 2012
Messages
11,503
Had no idea there was a name for this route, let alone an entire company behind it!
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
29,281
I’ve wanted to do this too, but keep getting distracted by the mountains. I have heard that getting accommodation on the route can be tricky though, due to its increased popularity.
 

ABB125

Established Member
Joined
23 Jul 2016
Messages
3,787
Location
University of Birmingham
I’ve wanted to do this too, but keep getting distracted by the mountains. I have heard that getting accommodation on the route can be tricky though, due to its increased popularity.
There's an easy solution to that (assuming you're in a car): it's called "reclining the seat"... :D
 

al78

Established Member
Joined
7 Jan 2013
Messages
2,439
I have explored much of the scenery the NC500 covers and it is fantastic. I will echo the issues others have mentioned, namely the poorer quality roads not suitable for anything other than light traffic levels, limited accommodation, and people who have no respect for the area they are passing through and dump their rubbish wnerever they feel like it. The NC500, if it hasn't already, is in danger of being a victim of its own success, the world and his extended family wants to do it, and in peak season it becomes an overcrowded nightmare (like SE England is turning into), not just for tourists but for the locals who have to live and work there. If I were doing it, I'd do it by bicycle. I've just looked at the route and it goes a bit further south than I thought, it takes in the Bealach Na Ba pass which I would thoroughly recommend.

I’ve wanted to do this too, but keep getting distracted by the mountains. I have heard that getting accommodation on the route can be tricky though, due to its increased popularity.
That is true in many parts of the highlands from about May to September. If you want to do something like this, book early and be prepared to pay a high price. £100 pppn is routine. Here is one of the more expensive hotels on the route: https://www.ledgowanlodge.co.uk/accomodation/ (the Kinlochewe hotel a few miles further west is cheaper). B&Bs are usually cheaper.
 
Last edited:

Cowley

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Global Moderator
Joined
15 Apr 2016
Messages
15,889
Location
Devon
It's an awfully long way from here too...and I live near Edinburgh!

For a small country it is surprisingly big!
We took the old van to Loch Ness and the furthest north I’ve ever driven is probably the Applecross Pass or Glen Afric. To get up there and then do this would mean a fair amount of time off work...
 

Journeyman

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2014
Messages
6,295
For a small country it is surprisingly big!
We took the old van to Loch Ness and the furthest north I’ve ever driven is probably the Applecross Pass or Glen Afric. To get up there and then do this would mean a fair amount of time off work...
I drove up to Strathy and Bettyhill, right on the north coast, a couple of years ago to venture to one of the most remote bothies in the country, and that was a five hour drive, even from here. North of Inverness the roads barely exist.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top