Well, we have just returned from our tour of the Scottish highlands and coastline. The NC500 (North Coast 500) tour is now becoming well established and has some of the best scenery Scotland has to offer. This is a totally understated tour with some amazing highlights such as the Applecross Pass, Drumbeg Bay, Durness & Smoo Cave, Dunnet Head and John O'Groats.
The tour starts and finishes at Inverness. That's following a 360 mile journey from home to up to Inverness!
On our first day of the tour we made our way (mostly on single track roads) from Inverness across to Applecross via the pass, and around the winding coastline over to Ullapool for the evening stopover at the Royal Hotel. The Applecross Inn was a great little place to stop for lunch. Whilst the food was very tempting we all had such a full breakfast at our departure hotel we settled for a hot pot of tea instead. Unfortunately the weather on this day was awful, with driving rain, gale force winds and fog over the pass. Unusual for Scotland. Todays mileage approx. 200mi.
Day 2 saw us around the coastline again, along Drumbeg Bay, up to Durness for lunch at the Smoo Hotel. Lots more single track today; but this is easy going as there are lots of passing places. We did stop for photos at Durness beach - this little cove is like a tropical paradise (see photo). Then over the Kyle of Tongue Bridge heading for Dunnet Head. Alas not the greatest scenery in Scotland, then on to John O'Groats; though quite remote there is lots to see here. Our stopover for the day was at Wick which was quite timely with a fuel stop at Tesco. Today we had sunshine but unfortunately fighting gale force winds again made riding the bike pretty hard work and very tiring. Todays mileage approx. 210mi.
Our last day (of the official 500 mile tour) we headed off down the East coast back to Inverness for lunch (tour end). Only thing of note to report was another day with gale force winds making for another challenging and exhausting ride. The scenery along the east coast was not quite as awe inspiring as the west coast but still a pleasure to see. Anyway, we were staying at Fort William this evening so after a short lunch break at Inverness we headed off along the A82 past Loch Ness and on to our last hotel of the trip. Todays mileage approx. 170mi (to Fort William).
The following day we just had our final 305 mile journey home back to the North-East. We came back through Glencoe which is one of our all time favourite locations and onward past Loch Lomond. Good weather today, no wind and no problems with traffic around Glasgow - which is quite rare.
What a great trip though despite the challenging weather. One word - BREATHTAKING.
Just as side note, if you are thinking of undertaking this awesome tour, check filling stations opening times and locations beforehand as we did prior, as many can be closed on Sundays. . . and at random times too so take care.
Anyone wishing to follow in our footsteps we have the GPS route planning data, fillings stations along the way, hotel contacts etc. you are welcome to a copy.