Scotland’s ULTIMATE North Coast 500 Travel Blog Itinerary

North Coast 500

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I set out on the ultimate Scotland roadtrip with my husband and two dogs to enjoy the freedom of the long open road in July of 2020. The NC500 starts in Inverness and circles all the way to the most northerly coastal point in John O’Groats. The total distance is 516 miles in total, which is where the name comes from. The Highland scenery was as beautiful as one would imagine. The driving challenge along the single-track country roads and hairpin beds were quite the adventure (I drove the entire way since Phillip had a broken ankle and couldn’t drive in a cast). From the picturesque beaches and lakeside town to the stunning castles and hillsides, there is so much history to take in at every turn of the journey. If you want to experience Scotland at its best, then the North Coast 500 has got to be on your list!

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From Inverness, travelers have the option to head west towards the Applecross peninsula before taking the long winding roads up north, or you can travel north-east through the coastal landscapes of the Black Isle towards Wick and John O’Groats. We decided to travel anti-clockwise after reading about how the driving would be more downhill in the trickier parts of the route going this direction. We completed the trip in two weeks, with a few detours off path including the Isle of Skye. At least 5-7 days is needed, but the more time you have, the more time you’ll have to enjoy the beauty of all your stunning surroundings.

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You barely actually see signs for the NC500, but here is one of the few we saw

Campervan

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Photo of our Campervan in front of Dunrobin Castle

There is no better method of transportation for this roadtrip than a campervan. With a campervan, you don’t have to worry about booking hotels in advance and having to get to a certain spot by a certain time. Campervans allow you to travel at your own pace and pull over when you’re ready to sleep. I rented from Capricorn Campers in Norwich, which was the closest location to my house that I found. I chose to rent closer to home so that we could go back home and load it up with all our necessities, as well as the dogs, before heading to Scotland. We hired the Star Campervan, which seats and sleeps 2-4 people. It came equipped with an elevating roof, gas, solar panels, electric hook up cable, mini fridge, 2 burners, oven, fresh and waste water containers, sink, and a mini-grill. The back seats reclined to a bed to sleep in at night and the top had a bed, although it was too tight to sleep adults comfortably. The main feature it did not come with was a toilet and shower, but we were comfortable enough to get cozy with nature. However, we decided that when we build our own campervan, these are things that we will want to include. The owners of Capricorn Campers were extremely friendly and communicated with us really well. We definitely recommend checking them out if you are planning to rend a campervan in England or Scotland.

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Wild Camping

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I’m sure you’re wondering where we went to the bathroom and took our showers. Let’s just say we got really close with nature and used a lot of baby wipes to freshen up with. We had the option to book campsites with these amenities, but honestly we preferred wild camping to get a real sense of nature. If you don’t mind sacrificing the usual day-to-day comforts and conveniences and want to explore more areas of Scotland, then wild camping is for you. We felt that it was a great way to discover remote parts of the stunning landscapes and get really close to nature. Wild camping is legal in Scotland and basically just follows a “leave-no-trace” rule. Here are some things to consider when wild camping:

  • Avoid overcrowding by moving on to another location if it’s already a busy spot
  • Wherever possible, use a stove rather than an open fire. Never light an open fire during dry periods or in forests
  • Take away your rubbish when you leave
  • Don’t park near houses
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Tips

  • Bring toilet paper on hikes
  • Be a confident driver – There are many single-track roads that may require you to reverse to a passing point
  • Bring layers and rain gear.
  • Bring insect repellent. There are tons of midges in the north of Scotland (depending on time of year)
  • Bring multiple shoes – will get wet and muddy
  • Download offline map – you never know when you’re going to lose service
  • Get gas when you can – there are very few gas stations the further north you go
  • Use public toilets when you can
  • Keep an eye out for highland cows – they are truly magical!
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Overview

Day One – Leeds

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Before setting off on our journey, we picked up our campervan from Capricorn Campers in Norwich. We headed back home to load it up with our luggage, bed linens, kitchen supplies, and of course our dogs. We then drove toward Scotland. The drive time from our house in Thetford to the start of the NC500 in Inverness is 9 hours and 15 minutes, so we knew we were definitely going to break it up and stop somewhere on the way.

Leeds

Our first stop was in Leeds, which is the largest city in the county of West Yorkshire in England. It was a nice area to get out and stretch our legs and have some dinner. We ate at a pizza restaurant by Leeds Town Hall.

After visiting Leeds, we drove a bit further and then found a place to sleep for the night. The welcome centers are extremely expensive to park at overnight, so we just drove on a backroad near the Scotland border and parked at a layby on a farm road.

Day Two – Glasgow & Stirling

Glasgow

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We took one more day to get to Inverness, stopping at Glasgow and Stirling on the way. Glasgow is a port city on the River Clyde in Scotland’s western Lowlands. It’s famed for its Victorian and art nouveau architecture, a rich legacy of the city’s 18th-20th century prosperity due to trade and shipbuilding. Today it’s a national cultural hub, home to institutions including the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, and National Theatre of Scotland.

Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis

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Glasgow Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland and is the oldest building in Glasgow.

Get a stellar view by going behind the Glasgow Cathedral and walking up to the Glasgow Necropolis, a Victorian cemetery where 50,000 individuals have been buried.

Stirling

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Another city worth visiting on the way to Inverness is Stirling, which is 26 miles north-east of Glasgow.

Stirling Castle

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At the heart of the old town, medieval Stirling Castle sits on volcanic rock. You get to the castle by walking up Stirling town’s cobbled main street with spectacular views over the Stirlingshire countryside. Close to the castle is The Church of the Holy Rude, which was founded in the 12th century, and is the second oldest building in Stirling. We also strolled through the Old Town Cemetery.

Overnight

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After visiting Stirling, we made our way to Inverness. We stayed at Bunchrew Caravan Park on Beauly Firth Lake. The campsite is first-come first-serve and the cost is £20. The campsite has public showers and toilets and a beautiful view of the lake. Although the amenities were nice, this was the only campsite we stayed at the entire trip because we preferred the excitement of looking for the best spot on our own.

Day Three – Inverness

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This day was mostly spent driving around Loch Ness, a large, deep freshwater lake (loch in Scottish Gaelic) that extends from Inverness for about 25 miles southwest. Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of a large monster known as Nessie. To learn more about the history of this tale, I visited Loch Ness Monster Exhibition Centre. A hi-tech multi-media presentation leads you through 7 themed areas and 500 million years of history, natural mystery and legend revealing the unique environment of Loch Ness and the famous Nessie legend.

Urquhart Castle

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After walking through the exhibition centre, we got back in the van and started driving around the lake. We stopped at Urquhart Castle, which was unfortunately closed. The castle sits right on the lake. We took a look at it from above and then drove to Fort Augustus.

Fort Augustus

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Situated on the most southern tip of Loch Ness on the Great Glen Way, this historic and scenic town is a popular stop. You can get a great view down Loch Ness and take a lot of walks around the area. Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain when we were there, but we did find a cafe with an outdoor covering, so we sat down and had ice cream.

Falls of Foyers

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I’m all for a beautiful waterfall. The Falls of Foyers is definitely worth it. The short walk is set in a gorge and has a few different views of the waterfall. There are steps most of the way down. The walk takes about 25 minutes from the carpark.

Inverness Castle

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For dinner, we headed into Inverness and took a look at Inverness Castle. It sits on a cliff overlooking the River Ness.

Chanonry Point

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After walking around Inverness, we started our trip on the North Coast 500. The first stop along the route was Chanonry Point, which has a lighthouse and gorgeous beach view. Chanonry Point is a very popular place on mainland Scotland where you can observe Bottlenose Dolphins from a very close vantage point. They are particularly visible on an incoming tide, although we didn’t see any. We found a place to stay overnight close to Canonry Point.

Day Four – Wick

Black Rock Gorge

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Our first stop of today was Black Rock Gorge. This was the only time we really took advantage of having the dog scooter and Phillip’s bike with us. Phillip had a broken ankle while we were on this trip, so it was a little dangerous, but managed to have a great time biking through the trails around the gorge. To get to the gorge, park in the car park opposite the Cornerstone Cafe in the center of Evanton and follow the signs through the woods. It took us about 20 minutes to bike to the gorge. The pictures cannot do this location justice.

Dunrobin Castle

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One of my favorite stops on the entire trip was Dunrobin Castle. We weren’t able to go in with the dogs, but the walk around the outside was incredible. I wish we could’ve gone in and enjoyed the back gardens, but the walk along the coast in the back of the castle will give you a nice view. Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland’s great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms. It is also one of Britain’s oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s.

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Whaligoe Steps

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The Whaligoe steps are 337 steps which zig zag down the cliff side. At the bottom there’s a harbour where fishing boats used to arrive and drop off their catch. To access the Whaligoe Steps, park at the cafe. It wasn’t easy to find this location on a GPS, but if you find the Cafe, you know you’re in the right spot.

Castle of Old Wick

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Scotland sure does have a lot of castles. I started to feel like we saw a different castle every 10 minutes. The ruins of the Castle of Old Wick stand on a spine of rock projecting into the North Sea, between two deep, narrow gullies. You are able to walk up to the castle, which was quite a windy experience for us. It is so close to the cliff-edge that we had to take turns going to it since we didn’t want to take our dogs that close to the edge.

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

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Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is located about 3 miles north of Wick. It is another castle located on the cliff edge. The ruins are free to explore. This is where we decided to camp for the night.

Day Five – John O’Groats

Keiss Castle

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Another ruined castle is Keiss Castle which stands on sheer cliffs overlooking Sinclair’s Bay. To get close to the castle, you can park at Keiss Harbour, although you cannot go directly up to the castle since it stands in private property.

Duncansby Head

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When heading toward John O’Groats, be sure to stop at Duncansby Head. It is home to a lighthouse built in 1924. Duncansby Head is the real northeastern tip of the Scottish mainland, and exceeds John O’Groats’ distance from Lands End by a mile or two. Park in the parking lot by the lighthouse and then take the path to get a great view of the Stacks of Duncansby.

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John O’Groats

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John O’Groats is considered to be the most northerly point of mainland Britain and is the starting point for many embarking on the famous ‘End to End’ journey to Land’s End in England, 876 miles away. I visited Land’s End just two weeks prior to this trip so it was really cool going from the Southwest to the Northeast of Britain in such a short amount of time. Be sure to take a picture with the signpost at each location!

Dunnet Head

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Dunnet Head is the most northerly point of the UK mainland, 2.35 miles further north than John O’Groats. The carpark is directly next to the lighthouse.

Overnight

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Tonight, we slept near Puffin Cove in a secluded grass pull-off. We thought about exploring the cove tonight, but it was getting dark so we figured we would wait until the morning. Someone tried to take over our spot, but luckily they saw that we were there and decided to turn around. They managed to get themselves stuck in the mud while turning around so Phillip had to help them out. Thankfully we were able to get out just fine the next morning.

Day Six – Durness

Puffin Cove

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Puffin Cove is where you can see lots of Atlantic Puffin burrows from late April to August…if you’re lucky. There are no signs for Puffin Cove, but Google Maps will get you pretty close to the path. The best directions I can give is that you’ll pass a roadsign saying “Welcome to Caithness” going one way and “Welcome to Sutherland” on the other side of the road. On the “Welcome to Caithness” side of the road, there is a small layby that you can pull over in. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes because they will get wet and muddy since the land is very boggy in parts. Follow the path for about 15 minutes toward the sea. The path will lead you towards the cliff overlooking Puffin Cove. The route down to the cove is very steep so be careful. Since Phillip had a broken ankle, he stayed back for this stop.

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Unfortunately, the only Puffins I saw were dead…

Strathy Point Lighthouse

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Another place that I explored on my own was Strathy Point Lighthouse. This time it was because there are sheep roaming the grounds everywhere and dogs are not welcome since they have ran the sheep off the cliffs in the past. The walk to the lighthouse from the parking lot was peaceful. I enjoyed walking amongst all of the sheep. You can walk right up to the lighthouse and get excellent views of the sea from the cliffside.

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Castle Varrich

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Castle Varrich is in the far north of the Scottish Highlands near the village of Tongue. The hike to get here takes about an hour from the carpark, but it has some pretty amazing views!

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Ceannabeinne Beach / Traigh Allt Chailgeag

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This is one of several beaches in the Durness area with nice sand and clear water. If you’re up for some adventure, you can take a ride on the zip-line.

Smoo Cave

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Smoo Cave is a natural sea cave located 1 mile to the East of Durness village in the Northwest Highlands. The cave entrance is accessible via a circular walk which starts and finishes at the car park. The cave stands at 50 feet tall, 130 feet wide, and 200 feet long. Inside the cave there is a covered wooden pathway and bridge taking you to a waterfall. The cave is free to explore.

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Overnight

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Ready to relax for the evening, we found a pull-off with a gorgeous mountain view on the side of the road to stay at for the night.

Day Seven – Stoer

Kylesku Bridge

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Continuing on our journey, we passed by Kylesku Bridge, which is a very modern bridge to be seeing in Scotland.

Clashnessie Falls

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The Clashnessie Waterfall is a 15m waterfall that is easily accessed from the main road. There is a parking area along the beach, in which you can see the waterfall from. Walk up the road and you will see a sign on the left which will lead you along a path to the falls. I enjoyed getting a view from below and then taking the walk up closer toward the top.

Old Man of Stoer

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The Old Man of Stoer is a 60-meter-high sea stack that can be accessed from the Stoer Head Lighthouse. I did not realize how far the walk was to see the see it or I wouldn’t have gone. The walk took about an hour just to get to it, and there are plenty of sea stacks in Britain, so I wasn’t impressed. It’s a gorgeous view for a walk, but with all of the other views we had been seeing, this didn’t quite compare.

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Ardvreck Castle

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Ardvreck Caste is a ruined castle dating from the 16th century which stands on a rocky hill above Loch Assynt in Sutherland.

Knockan Crag

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This is a great walk with really lovely views. From the car park, walk up to the hexagonal visitor center with the turfed roof. You can learn about the mountain and rocks with the information boards here. Follow the trail up to the Globe structure on the right. From here, you can circle back down or continue going up to get better views.

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Seafood Shack in Ullapool

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While looking for food, we came across a seafood shack in Ullapool. It is considered the best local seafood in the area.

Day Eight – Corrieshalloch Gorge & Waterfalls

Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve

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This canyon, through which the River Droma rushes, is one of the natural wonders of the Scottish Highlands. Follow the woodland trails and cross the suspension bridge over the tree-lined gorge, and look down on the water crashing 4m over the Falls of Measach.

Ardessie Falls

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This is a hidden gem! I wouldn’t even know this beauty exists if I hadn’t read about it beforehand since it doesn’t look like much from the road. There really isn’t a lot of places to park, but we found somewhere along the road to pull off. Take a short, steep walk to view the impressive Ardessie waterfalls. The path is very wet and muddy, but the higher you climb, the more spectacular it becomes. It’s not just one waterfall, there are multiple falls rushing down the mountain.

Victoria Falls & Loch Maree

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Victoria Falls in Scotland is nothing to compare to the Victoria Falls in Zambia & Zimbabwe, but it was still an exciting waterfall to visit. It is a waterfall on the southern side of Loch Maree. It is a short, easy walk from the parking lot. You can even walk on top of the waterfall!

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Me standing on the falls

Torridon Hills

We ended the night by driving through Torridon Hills, which have some of the most spectacular peaks. We were so lucky to pass by the most beautiful highland cows grazing in the open fields. It was so cool to watch them crossing the road and enjoying their freedom. We picked a spot before Bealach na Ba on the A896 with a stunning Ocean and Mountain view.

Day Nine – Bealach Na Ba & Isle of Skye

Bealach na Ba

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Bealach na Ba is a winding single track road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula. The historic mountain pass was built in 1822 and is engineered similarly to roads through the great mountain passes in the Alps, with very tight hairpin bends that switch back and forth up the hillside and gradients that approach 20%. It has the steepest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 meters, and is the third highest road in Scotland.

Strome Castle

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Strome Castle is a ruined castle on the shore of Loch Carron in Stromemore. It was built in the 1400s and was strategically positioned to guard the north side of the Strome Narrows near the mouth of Loch Carron.

Duncraig Castle

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We stopped to look at Duncraig Castle, which is a mansion in Lochalsh overlooking Plockton harbour. I believe the residence now serves as a bed & breakfast accommodation and wedding venue.

Plockton

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View of Duncraig Castle from Plockton

Plockton is a popular fishing village in Lochalsh. We stopped here to eat lunch at the Plockon Hotel. The outside seating area had a great view of the harbour and an excellent seafood menu.

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Isle of Skye

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It was now time to take a detour from the North Coast 500 and explore the Isle of Skye. The first thing you will see when crossing into the Isle of Skye is the Eilean Ban Island Lighthouse. Driving down the main street, you will also pass by the Eas a’Bhradain waterfall before getting to Portree. Portree is the largest town on, and the capital of, the Isle of Skye. It is the location for the only secondary school on the island. As you continue down the main road, be sure to stop at An Leth-allt Viewpoint.

The Old Man of Storr

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This is probably one of the most famous walks on the island and definitely the busiest. The “Old Man” is a large pinnacle of rock that stands high and can be seen from miles around. The Storr was created by a massive landslide, leaving one of the most photographed landscapes on the island. There is a car park at the entrance to the walking path, or you can park along the road if the carpark is full. The average time to complete the 4 km walk is 1.5 hours. Although the start and end location are the same, you can choose from two path options – narrow/direct or steady/indirect. The weather was very cold and windy when we went, and my heroic husband was trying to hike it with his broken foot in crutches. He achieved most of the hike, but when it started to rain, we decided that we got far enough for a good view of it and decided to make our descent.

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Kilt Rock Viewpoint

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This beautiful sea cliff in the shape of a kilt is 55 m tall and features a majestic waterfall. The windy area creates really cool sounds. The wind is so strong sometimes that the water coming down from the cliff does not even reach the sea but is dispersed into the air.

Overnight

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Tonight marks our favorite camping spot of the whole trip. We saw a random road that ascended up a cliff, so we thought we’d go check it out. It was a pretty steep climb, but once we got there we realized that there was another couple that was already there. We were super bummed, but we talked to them and they were ok with us joining them. We were so thankful that they didn’t mind because it was unreal! When we woke up in the morning, they were already gone so it ended up working out and we had the whole cliff to ourselves! This view is exactly why wild camping is better than campsites in our opinion.

Day Ten – Isle of Skye

Duntulm Castle

We continued around the Isle of Skye and first stopped at Duntulm Castle. It is believed to have been first fortified in the Iron Age. The ruins stand on the north coast of Trotternish.

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens

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One of the castles that is still in good shape is Dunvegan Castle. It is the oldest continuously inhabited castles in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. Enjoy a tour of the castle, as well as the gardens and woodland walk within its walls. Admission to the castle and gardens is 14 GBP.

Neist Point Lighthouse

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One of the screensavers that constantly scrolls through on my TV is a picture of Neist Point lighthouse. I love when I see a screensaver pop up of somewhere I’ve been! Neist Point is one of the most famous lighthouses in Scotland and can be found on the most westerly tip of Skye near the town of Glendale. The walk to the lighthouse is 2.2 km and takes approximately 45 minutes to complete the walk. Because of the steep path, we decided not to do it with the dogs and just take in the view from above.

Fairy Pools

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The Fairy Pools in the Isle of Skye are an extremely popular destination. The pools are a vivid blue and are a popular place for swimmers who brave the frigid waters. It is about a 20-minute walk to the Fairy Pools from the Glen Brittle carpark. Be aware that you will need to cross over the river by jumping onto large rocks. I was glad that I left the dogs in the car for this one, although I did see some dogs mastering it.

Castles

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Eilean Donan Castle

The rest of the day was spent stopping at different castles. The first was Knock Castle, followed by Eilean Donan Castle. Highlander and The World Is Not Enough (Bond Movie) are some of the films that feature Eilean Donan Castle.

Day Eleven – Harry Potter Train

Glenfinnan Viaduct

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Seeing the Harry Potter train was something that I was looking forward to on the entire trip. Of course the weather was not in our favor on this day, but it was still an awesome sight to see. I had considered booking tickets to ride The Jacobite Steam Train, but since I wasn’t sure exactly what day and time we would be arriving in the area I decided not to book. The tickets sell out far in advance so if you want to do it, be sure to book in advance. There is a morning service and an afternoon service that runs 7 days a week from the end of April to the end of October. The actual train journey is 84 miles round trip and takes you through Mallaig, Arisaig, Fort William, and Glenfinnan.

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View from above the Viaduct

The Glenfinnan viaduct is the best spot to see the train pass by. This is the 21-arched bridge that is featured in the Harry Potter movies. The morning train will pass by the viaduct around 10:30AM. You’ll want to get there early since the exact time is not guaranteed. You will also be competing for a good spot to get pictures. There is a parking lot at the visitor center, but it fills up quickly. Once you park, walk along the main road and then turn right down a gravel path. There used to be more parking there, but it was blocked off when we went. After about a 10-minute walk, you will see the viaduct and will cross under it before heading up the path to get the view from above.

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View from the Visitor’s Center Platform

There is an option to watch the train from the path above the visitor’s center, but this is very far away and doesn’t give you as good of a view. My husband decided to watch from the visitor’s center while I watched from the other viewpoint so we could compare photos. Mine definitely won! I told him that he should see the train pass from my angle, so we decided to go explore and then go back for the 3PM crossing. This time around it was pouring, but we still enjoyed the anticipation of the train coming. I think the train was 30 minutes late, but be patient, it will come!

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View from below the viaduct

After the afternoon train passed by, we walked down the hill and waited under the viaduct for about 15 minutes to see the morning train coming back from Mallaig. I recommend doing this so you can get photos from below as well. The train will sometimes stop on the viaduct if they have time so that passengers on board can take in the scenery. After watching the train, go across the street from the visitor’s center to see the Glenfinnan monument.

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***Please check times online before arriving as the times may have changed since I visited.

Fort William

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Between the trains coming and going, we went to Fort William, a town located on the eastern shore of Loch Linnhe. It is a popular town since it has Glen Coe to the south, Ben Nevis to the east, and Glenfinnan to the west. It is a center for hiking and climbing due to its proximity to the mountains. It is also known for its nearby downhill mountain bike track. It is the start/end of both the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way. While we were there, we stopped quickly to look at Inverlochy Castle.

Ben Nevis

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Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles with a summit of 1,345 meters above sea level. The summit is the highest land in any direction for 459 miles. The mountain is a popular destination, attracting an estimated 100,000 ascents a year, around three-quarters of which use the Pony Track from Glen Nevis.

Glencoe Lochan

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After watching the afternoon train, we headed to Glencoe Lochan. This is a beautiful lake to walk around. The wooded mountains around the lake make it very picturesque. There are trains through the woodland that start at the foot of Glen Coe.

Three Sisters of Glencoe

Visit The Three Sisters in Glencoe, Scotland, Highland, United Kingdom

Drive up the mountain to see these three steeply-sided ridges that are part of Bidean nam Bian. If you’re up for another hike, you can park at the Three Sisters car park.

Overnight

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We ended the night by pulling over on a layby on Lake Linnhe.

Day Twelve – Lochawe

Castle Stalker

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In the morning we went to get a view of Castle Stalker. There really wasn’t a good place to park. I’m pretty sure where we parked was actually private property. The four-story tower sits on an island on Loch Laich, an inlet off Loch Linnhe. The island is only accessible from the shore at low tide. We arrive during high tide so we could only view it from afar, since I sure wasn’t going to swim.

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St Conan’s Kirk

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On the way to Kilchurn Castle, we decided to make a pitstop at St. Conan’s Kirk because it looked nice sitting on the water. It is located in the village of Loch Awe. It was designed and built by Walter Campbell to save his mother from traveling six miles to the nearest church. Entrance to the church is by donation.

Kilchurn Castle

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Kilchurn Castle is a ruined structure on a rocky peninsula at the northeastern end of Loch Awe. It was first constructed in the mid-15th century and was in ruins by 1770. You can walk up to it and even go inside at certain parts of the year, although the doors were locked when I visited. There were a few highland cows that were roaming around when I went. Be sure to get a few from across the lake as well if you have time. It is better to drive to the viewpoint than walk because it is so boggy.

Falls of Dochart

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Making my way back toward home, we stopped at the Falls of Dochart, a cascade of waterfalls on the River Dochart near the western end of Loch Tay. The Bridge of Dochart crosses the river offering a view of the falls. There are restaurants and shops in town that are also worth stopping for.

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Ou Doune Castle

On the way, we saw a sign for another castle so we thought we might as well take a look really quick. Doune Castle is a medieval castle near the village of Doune, in the Stirling district. It was originally built in the thirteenth century before being damaged in the Scottish Wars of Independence, and then was rebuilt in its present form in the late 14th century. It was closed when we drove by, but still got a view from the parking lot.

Overnight

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Once you’re out of the Scottish Highlands, it gets significantly harder to find a spot to park overnight. We tried looking up a forest on our phones and found Polacerigg Country Park. It wasn’t the most ideal of places, but it was somewhere secluded. It was here that the dogs accidentally got out of the van and we thought we’d never see them again. Thankfully they decided to run back toward us after about 10 minutes of searching for them in the park.

Day Thirteen – Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall

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Hadrian’s Wall is located near the border between Scotland and England. It runs in an east-west direction, from Wallsend and Newcastle on the River Tyne in the east, traveling about 73 miles from coast to coast. It was built to guard the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire in AD122. You can’t go toward the border without stopping to discover the remains of the forts, towers, turrets, and towns that once kept watch over the wall. Some of the places worth visiting include: Bowness-on-Solway, Lanercost Priory, East Bank Rurrets, Vindolanda Fort & Museum, and Aydon Castle.

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Richmond Castle

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Richmond Castle is in North Yorkshire, England and stands above the River Swale, close to the center of the town of Richmond. It was originally called Riche Mount, meaning “the strong hill.” Richmond is a great place to stop for lunch and take a walk around the castle.

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Lincoln

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Our last stop of the trip was in Lincoln. I really enjoyed walking around this town. Lincoln is a cathedral city in Lincolnshire in the East Midlands of England. The city’s most famous landmarks include Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln Castle. The castle was constructed during the late 11th century by William the Conqueror on the site of a pre-existing Roman fortress. The castle is unusual in that it has two mottes.

Day Fourteen – Drive Home

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On our fourteenth day, we drove from Lincoln to our home in Thetford to drop off the dogs and unload the car before heading back to Norwich to turn in our campervan. I was so amazed by all that we were able to see in two weeks and highly recommend the campervan experience to complete this scenic trip.

Other Suggestions

Here are some other suggestions of things along our route that we weren’t able to see/do:

  • Blair Castle – Day Two
  • Fyrish Monument – Day Four
  • Dalmore Distillery Visitor Centre – Day Four
  • Glenmorangie Distillery Visitor Centre – Day Four
  • Pulteney Distillery – Day Five
  • Castle of Mey – Day Five
  • Melvich Beach – Day Six
  • Inverewe Gardens – Day Eight
  • Kishorn Seafood Bar – Day Nine

Sygic Travel Itinerary

Want to see a comprehensive itinerary with maps for each day? Check out my Sygic Travel PDF.

*This was the plan before the trip, so some things shifted and some things were added or not visited.

If you are planning your own North Coast 500 roadtrip and have questions about the route or traveling within Scotland, I’m happy to try and help. Just leave any questions or comments in the comments section below!

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