After recently completing the NC500 I was asked by many to share my itinerary. I was initially given a list by a friend and I added to it. Do some research and check out some places you fancy, and remember most of the stops on the trip are seasonal. So although I had the greatest of intentions to see and do all of the list, most, unfortunately, were closed. Here's hoping our beloved coast will cater for the tourists amongst us throughout the winter months. I'll just have to go back in warmer weather.

I started off in Inverness and made my way round from East to West but you can choose to go either way and adapt the route to suit. Also, if you find a hidden gem that's not on my list, please share it with me so I have the excuse to wander, and eat, some more.

Here are tips from the last post and if you want to read about my trip in detail here it is

NC500 Tips:

  • Check the time of year as many (most) places are seasonal
  • There is no phone connection most of the way round (can be a blessing)
  • Radio stations won't work and neither will playlists from your phone so pack some good old fashioned cds
  • Pack snacks for nibbling along the way (handy if there are no coffee shops open)
  • If you're fussy about where to stay or have anxiety issues, book accommodation in advance
  • Keep an eye on fuel and don't wing it otherwise you'll be knocking on a farmer's door (if there is one around)
  • Bonus points about doing it in Winter - roads are quiet, less tourists around, in fact not many people around at all 

Inverness
This is the starting point so you can stay in town the night before and set off first thing or, like me, set off from Glasgow at 6am and see how far you get.

East Coast
Mermaid of the North, Balintore
Invergordon murals - snack in the Crazy Horse
Dalmore Distillery Tour - check tour times
Dornoch - visit the beach, eat at The Eagle, Dornoch Castle Hotel or stay over
Dunrobin Castle - beach, gardens, tour
Whaligoe Steps - Lybster, South of Wick
Mackay’s Hotel, Wick - stay for the night and/or eat in the restaurant, great service & breakfast
John O’Groats – admire the views to Orkney, eat at Stacks Bistro, stay at Natural Retreats
Duncansby Head
Castle Sinclair/Noss Head Lighthouse
Dunnet Bay
Castle and Gardens of Mey – Queen Mothers former home
Cafe Cardosi, Thurso - great stop off for soup, coffee and cake
Torrisdale Beach

North Coast
Kyle of Tongue
Castle Varrich
Loch Eriboll - Ard Neakie, lime kilns and pier
Smoo Cave - take a trip on the boat
Cocoa Mountain - chocolate shop
Balnakeil Beach

West Coast (North of Ullapool)
Sandwood Bay - the most remote beach in the UK
Oldshoremore Beach 
Kylesku Bridge
Kylesku Hotel - very good food and you may want to stay the night
Ardvreck Castle on the banks of Loch Assynt
Drumbeg Village and Viewpoint
Lochinver Larder - lunch at the famous pie shop
Knockan Crag – famous Moine Thrust

West Cost (South of Ullapool)
Corrieshalloch Gorge and Waterfall
Ardessie Falls - by the roadside between Dundonnell and Laide
Maggie's Tea Shop, Dundonnell
Aultbea Hotel - views over Loch Ewe
Inverewe Garden
Mountain Coffee Co and Hillbillies bookshop
Village of Gairloch – wildlife cruises
Melon Udrigle – white sand beach with amazing views of Assynt and Coigach
Red Point Beach, Gairloch
Whistle Stop Café, Kinlochewe
Loch Maree
The Torridon Hotel - stay and sample over 200 whiskys
Nanny's Cafe, Shieldaig
Applecross Inn - stay the night or stop for delicious food - a must!
Bealach na Bà - old cattle Drovers Road
Strome Castle, Strathcarron
Kishorn Seafood Bar - lunch stop
Rogie Falls, South of Dingwall

Onward to Inverness through some scenic villages and you're done.

the John O'Groats sign post
game pie for dinner at McKay's Hotel in Wick
traditional scottish kippers for breakfast with a poached egg on top
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