Travel Itinerary: 96 Hours Travelling the North Coast 500 in a CampervanPosted on: January 25, 2020
Mystical castles? Check. Fresh local produce? Check. Delicious malt whisky? Check. Experience Scotland’s most iconic journey, The North Coast 500, in a Roseisle luxury campervan. Sample culinary delights, take in some of the world’s most spectacular scenery and drive roads you will never forget with our favourite NC500 highlights.
Setting Off From Roseisle
Every journey has to start somewhere. Pick up your luxury Roseisle campervan and head north. Travel across the Firth of Forth and take in one of the world’s most spectacular feats of engineering, the Forth Rail Bridge.
Continue on the motorway and take in stunning mountainous scenery along the A9. Stop off at The House of Bruar and grab some well deserved food. From fresh fish and chips to a hearty bowl of soup, Bruar has a delicious selection of food and snacks.
Continue on your journey and you’ll soon find yourself descending into Inverness, against a backdrop of the impressive Ben Wyvis (on a clear day!) The city of Inverness is the Highland capital and forms the starting point for your North Coast 500 route.
Inverness will be the start and endpoint of your NC500 journey. Inverness is a cultural hub where you can discover the city’s fabulous Scottish cuisine, traditional live music and picturesque riverside walks. Before you head off on your journey, why not take in the grand architecture of Inverness Castle and the Cathedral on the banks of the River Ness.
The Black Isle
Once past Inverness and over the Kessock bridge, you’ll come to the Black Isle. The isle takes its name for its rich and fertile soil and is abundantly beautiful. It boasts some mystical parts to its heritage, including the Clootie Well (a site of Celtic pilgrimage) and the pirate’s graveyard in Cromarty (also home to some of the UK’s finest pizza at Sutor Creek).
This beautiful peninsula is also home to Fortrose and its famous Chanonry Point – one of the country’s best places to see dolphins from land. Across the firth from this impressive land spit is Fort George, a historically notable 18th-century fortress which is home to the famous Black Watch Regiment.
Easter Ross & Sutherland
Just north of the Cromarty bridge and you will find The Storehouse. Situated on the banks of the Cromarty Firth, The Storehouse is the perfect place to pick up lunch, local produce and gifts – with the opportunity to sit outside on a beautiful day and take in the stunning views.
It is a stone’s throw from Foulis Castle, the ancient seat of the Clan Munro, as well as other points of interest, including Tain Pottery (where you can watch the master craftspeople at work) and Tarbat Ness Lighthouse. Built in 1830, it is a site of historical significance and makes a spectacular place to watch the seabirds and enjoy your piece.
Local tip: you might want to fuel up in Tain, the ASDA there regularly offers the best rates. Your options for fuelling up will soon become fewer and further between (and more expensive!) ASDA is a good place to stock up on groceries too before shops become more sparse.
Where should we stay in Sutherland?
After a full day of driving, the Dornoch Caravan & Camping Park will make a welcome overnight stop on your journey. Perched on the edge of one of Scotland’s most beautiful beaches and next to the historic championship Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Dornoch is a stunning place to spend the evening. Pick up supplies at Dornoch Stores, stop off for dinner at The Eagle or try Cocoa Mountain’s famous hot chocolate.
Sutherland & Caithness
After waking up with the fresh sea air, start your day with a spot of breakfast (Dornoch’s Courthouse Cafe or Harry Gow’s would make excellent choices!) Once it’s time to set off, head for Golspie’s Dunrobin Castle.
The largest and most northerly of Scotland’s great castles, it is one of Britain’s oldest continuously lived-in houses, dating as far back as the 1300s, and is still home to the Earldom and Dukedom of Sutherland. Be sure to check the times of its falconry display before you go – you won’t want to miss it!
Continue north to Lybster, where the Whaligoe Steps Café and Restaurant is an incredible place to stop for something to eat. Take in the amazing views and sample their delicious menu. Winners of the Good Food Awards for the past 2 years, we highly recommend this stop.
Where should we stay in Caithness?
You might decide to stop off at John O’Groats (the most northerly point of the UK mainland) for a well-deserved rest at the campsite. Or you may choose to continue your journey across Scotland’s north coast to the unrivalled beaches of Durness, setting up camp at Sango Sands Oasis, rated one of the UK’s top 10 campsites by The Times in 2019.
Local Tip: Keep an eye on your fuel. Fuel stations are few and far between in the North Highlands, so make sure you plan your fuel stops ahead, checking their opening times in advance. Wick and Thurso offer the most options.
Heading down the west coast of the Scottish Highlands might be the most scenic, but it is also the most treacherous. Be warned – with cliff edges, hairpin bends and sheep on the road – these roads are passable with care but they are not for the faint hearted. We recommend taking this part of the journey easy.
There are too many places to recommend you visit on this stretch of the journey, but The Old Man of Stoer would make a great starting point. If you don’t fancy the long treck to this incredible natural phenomenon (it can be very blustery here) then Stoer Lighthouse is a highly worthwhile alternative.
Clashmore, Achmelvich and Lochinver offer tranquil stops on your route. Achmelvich especially offers pure white beaches and an abundance of natural beauty. Further down the west coast, the Summer Isles are most noted for their fish production (especially Achiltibuie smoked kippers – yum!) and Ullapool is a great place to grab a fish supper.
Where should we stay in Wester Ross?
Pitch up at The Shore Caravan Site, relax and unwind on the beach, have a BBQ (if the weather permits!) and take in the fresh Highland air. Or if you are longing for further adventure, continue your journey down the west coast to Gairloch and spend the night at Sands Caravan & Camping, where stunning beaches await.
After a well-deserved rest, continue south towards Applecross and travel one of the country’s most sensational roads, the Bealach na Ba, famous for its spectacular views and hair-raising hairpin bends.
Heading east towards Inverness, why not choose to extend your trip with a visit to Loch Ness. Take in this world-famous loch from its shores at Dores and enjoy at bite to eat at The Dores Inn. Or keep an eye out for nessie from the stunning Urquhart Castle.
Once back in Inverness fuel up and grab some well deserved dinner in one of Inverness’ eateries. Enjoy the warm, friendly atmosphere of The Mustard Seed or grab a craft beer and woodfired pizza in The Black Isle Bar. The perfect opportunity to recount your journey and share your highlights!
From Inverness journey back down the A9, headed for Roseisle. However keep an eye on your time. You might be well served to spend a night in Inverness before making the 3-3.5 hour journey back. Located near to the famous Culloden Battlefield, Ardtower Caravan Park is a great choice.
Want to experience the North Coast 500 for yourlsef? Contact Roseisle Luxury Campervan Hire to book the road trip of a life time >>