Reviews

North Coast 500: Enjoying the Scottish Highlands!

11th July 2017 — by Hans van der Vleuten

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Reviews

North Coast 500: Enjoying the Scottish Highlands!

11th July 2017 — by Hans van der Vleuten

No plans for your summer yet?!? Discover the beautiful roads and scenery at the Scottish Highlands. Drive during the day and enjoy some good food and drinks in the evening. The North Coast 500, five hundred miles of Scotlands finest roads… 

A few years ago I’ve read something about the Scottish Highlands and a route trip North Coast 500. Last year we decided to give it a go. We booked a boat trip from Ijmuiden to Newcastle at the end of June. Since we were a little bit to excited things went wrong right the way. I drove my lowered Nissan 350Z on to the high deck and immediatly my gearbox wanted to kiss the boat. A big bang but nothing happened luckily. The Princess Seaways brought us to mainland UK, our seven day road trip had started.

 

First day

It wasn’t my first time driving around the UK. But the first time with my Z and a lot of miles in a row on the other side of the road. We left the boat and set course to Inverness. This is the only hotel we booked in advance. Afterwards not the best idea, since every hotel or B&B on route were almost fully booked. So be prepared! At least to say Inverness is a great city.

North Coast 500 Highlands

Day two

The second day we decided to leave early. On the boat we spoke to a few people about the Isle of Skye. After looking on the internet it just looked fantastic. Later that day a little detour on Skye was made. Well not a little detour… We almost drove around complete the Isle. Just a little bit too much driving for one day.

 

Only problem was. We didn’t book a hotel for the evening, after some searching on various websites we found one. Only problem it was somewhere on the map where we should drive the next day. But we needed to sleep and drove to Gairloch. We chose a road which wasn’t on the map and again we were lucky. What a view!! Scotland is full of surprises.

North Coast 500 Highlands

Third day 

Driving the Highlands on the west coast. In one word… Amazing! In the morning we drove the same way back from Gairloch and started at the Road to Applecross.

North Coast 500 Highlands

It’s not advised for the learner drivers or very large vehicles. Small road, tight bends and a lot of cliffs. You’ve got to drive it and will love it instantly. The west coast is great to drive, I wish we drove it in two days instead of one.

After a long day of driving we end up at a small village named Rhiconich. We stayed at the Rhiconich Hotel, very, very, very friendly people. My radio went dead and they loved my car so much they gave me a spare radio. Glad to see the sun came back later in the evening, we had quiet some rain during the day. After a lot of Tennent’s beers and a some chat with the locals we went to sleep.

North Coast 500 Highlands

Day four 

It was time to discover the North coast from Scotland. But first we drove back to the Kylesku Bridge. The day before it was raining like hell and I wanted to have a photo from my Z at the bridge. My girlfriend took the photo and it was time to go North.

North Coast 500 Highlands

Yet again a lot of cliffs and the scenery changed hour after hour. In the far north it’s just like driving around in my neighbourhood in The Netherlands. It almost felt like home. Another hotel was found in John O’Groats, almost the most northerly point of mainland Britain.

Fifth day 

The fifth day was already the start of our journey back home, we set sail back to Inverness. The east coast has a lot of big roads which go up and down and it’s awesome to drive. Loads of distilleries to visit. Too bad we didn’t have much time to stop for them, hopefully next time. One of the things you can’t miss driving around the Highlands are all those magnificent castles. Some are ruined but also a lot of them standing strong during time. Luckily we had some spare time to visit some of them before heading back to Inverness.

Day six

We didn’t want to drive as much on the way back home as we did on our way to Inverness. Right in between we found a nice Castle to stay and walk around for the day. Of course we wanted to find Nessie before we went back home. My girlfriend tried to find him, but no luck…

The Dalhousie Castle is a hotel, but still in it’s real 13th century shape. Like you go back in time. We stayed there during the night for one of our last evenings.

Last day

Our road trip almost came to it’s end. We drove from Bonnyrigg, Dalhousie Castle, to Newcastle before we had to board again. We loved every minute driving around the Highlands. For sure I’ll go back sometime in the future. Next time it won’t be for only one week and also we will plan our entire trip. Booking no hotels or B&Bs in advance didn’t work that great in Scotland. Most of the hotels and B&Bs are relatively small and booked fast. Also I need some more thread on my front tires, mine were completely worn after one week. Haha.

 

See you again Scotland…

Bonus images:

 

Northcoast500.com