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Drive & Hike: North Coast 500 & Orkney

12 Days & 11 Nights 5 Read 7 reviews
  • A classic road trip; 500 miles of the Scottish Highlands
  • Enjoy freshly caught seafood on the pier in Ullapool
  • Peace, tranquillity and miles of wide open space
  • Orkney's ancient standing stones, Skara Brae and The Old Man of Hoy
  • Choose from a variety of great walks each day
The North Coast 500 is a classic 500 mile road trip around the Northern Highlands of Scotland. Our drive and hike trip combines great walking, welcoming accommodation, history, wildlife and more. The Northern Highlands of Scotland, one of Europe’s last wild places are a beguiling mix of mountains, moor, lochs, sea and rich culture. Stride through empty highland glens and along deserted beaches. Dance at a local ceilidh. Wander amongst Neolithic standing stones.

What To Expect

The squawk of thousands of fulmars, the Old Man of Hoy teetering in the sea, deserted beaches, crashing waves, remote Cape Wrath lighthouse, juicy fresh-caught langoustines, island hopping ferries, dolphins leaping from the sea, and bracing walks through the Highlands. Take a classic road trip on Scotland’s North Coast 500.

Trip Type:

Discovery | Think of it as a ‘local’s guide’ to the best of the region. It includes a combination of activity and transportation to give you the freedom to explore and cover more ground at your own pace. We do all the research and organisation for you. All you have to do is turn up and enjoy!


Drive and Hike | Exploration of picturesque and remarkable destinations by car combined with walks that highlight the best of a country or region.

This trip is suitable for:

Solo Travellers

As a guide, we would suggest that the minimum age of traveller this holiday would be suitable for is: 5 Years

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Islands
  • Coastal Walking
  • Off the Beaten Track

Grade & Terrain

This holiday is graded easy to moderate overall. We offer a choice of walks each day so can choose to do as much or little as you wish.


We supply a detailed road book including walk descriptions, driving directions, a North Coast 500 map, places to see and personal recommendations.

Accommodation Information

You will stay in carefully chosen small 3 and 4 star guest houses and B&B’s. We regularly use the following properties but may accommodate you elsewhere if these are unavailable. We do recommend that you book this trip early as the areas covered are always popular and the guesthouses and inns do fill up early, especially in high season.

Single Rooms

This independent walking holiday is available to solo walkers.  As all our trips are priced per person based on two sharing there is a single supplement payable to cover the additional costs that are not shared. If you require single rooms within your party we will, of course, try to accommodate your request, subject to availability.


Breakfast is included each morning, while lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Your accommodation will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival, alternatively, your guidebook also includes details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants.

  • 11 Nights in 3 & 4* B&B's and guesthouses
  • 11 Breakfasts
  • Information pack, route notes, and maps
  • Return ferry crossing from Scrabster to Orkney (1 car per booking)
  • 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our UK office in the event of a problem
  • Travel to / from Inverness
  • Car hire (available as an optional extra)
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks & drinks
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Personal equipment
  • Car hire
  • Additional nights

When To Go

You can start your tour on any day. The best time of year is from early-April to late-October when the weather is best, most attractions are open and the days are long. The weather in winter is wild, the days are short, many attractions close and not all walks may be possible. You will have the place almost to yourselves though.

Getting to the Start

By Air: Inverness and Glasgow Airports are the most convenient. Edinburgh or Aberdeen are also an option.

For public transportation within Scotland, including train and bus timetables, please see the excellent Traveline Scotland website. 

Car Hire: Car hire is available as an optional extra. Collection and drop-off available in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen.

General Information

The distances and ascent/ descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.


If you have a preferred sailing time for your ferry journeys, please let us know at the time of booking. Once the ferry journeys are confirmed, we can't guarantee new amendments or changes to the sailing times.


Car hire is not included as standard in your arrangements. You can either bring your own vehicle, or we can provide you with arrangements at an additional supplement.

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.

Do you supply a North coast 500 map?
Do you have a NC500 Route Planner?
How fit do I need to be?
How far in advance do I need to book?
What personal equipment do I need?
When is the best time of year?
Am I able to take my dog?


Day 1 Arrive in Inverness Day 2 Inverness to Torridon 6 miles / 10 km Day 3 Explore Torridon and Applecross Day 4 Torridon to Ullapool 4 miles / 6 km Day 5 Explore Ullapool and its surroundings 5 miles / 8 km Day 6 Ullapool to Durness 3 miles / 5 km Day 7 Explore Durness and Cape Wrath 4 miles / 7 km Day 8 Durness to Thurso 5 miles / 8 km Day 9 Ferry to Orkney 6 miles / 9 km Day 10 Explore the Orkney Isles 6 miles / 9 km Day 11 Return ferry to the mainland and drive to Inverness Day 12 Onward travel

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