A Drive & Hike tour allows you to stop and explore wherever you wish, however on a 500 mile journey the options are endless which is why our walking options are designed to give you a real taste of the Scottish Highlands: the Old Man of Hoy teetering in the sea, the squawk of a thousand fulmars, deserted beaches, crashing waves, remote Cape Wrath lighthouse, fresh-caught langoustines, island hopping ferries, dolphins leaping from the sea, and of course the moors, lochs, mountains and rugged coastline that Scotland is known for. The North Coast 500 is the definitive Scottish road trip.
In a nutshell
The North Coast 500 begins in the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness. The road trip begins with a drive towards the west coast which takes you past Garve, Achnasheen and Strathcarron before arriving at Torridon. The mountains of Torridon fall almost straight into the sea and a full day is afforded allowing you to enjoy the numerous walks in the area from gentle strolls to epic mountain days. On the way to the fishing village of Ullapool stop off at the island-strewn Loch Maree, widely regarded as the most beautiful loch in Scotland and stretch your legs on the sandy beach at Gruinard Bay. Heading north you pass Assynt famous for its remarkable mountain scenery where you can climb Stac Pollaidh for fantastic views. Continue on to Lichinver and the white sands of Achmelvich before crossing the Kylesku Bridge over Loch a' Chairn Bhain and onto Durness. From Durness you can visit Cape Wrath the most north westerly point in mainland Scotland, Smoo Cave or Sandwood Bay. [caption id="attachment_22320" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Sango Bay, Durness[/caption] From Durness you begin to drive east across the north coast of Scotland to John O'Groats and Duncansby Head the most northerly point of the UK. The ferry from Scrabster (Thurso) takes you to Orkney, an island rich in wildlife and Neolithic history such as the sites of Skara brae or the Ring of Brodgar. Take a trip to the Isle of Hoy and walk to the famous Old Man of Hoy, a sea-stack standing 137m tall. Another walking option is a guided history and wildlife tour on the island of Westray, a favourite spot for huge seabird colonies including auks, fulmars, shags and skuas. Back on the mainland, you begin the trip south to Inverness. Dunrobin Castle, the scenic Black Isle and Cromarty Firth are just a few of the highlights on the return journey and we have included a few optional walks along the way. Back in Inverness, reflect on your epic 500 mile journey around the coast of Scotland. [caption id="attachment_22321" align="aligncenter" width="900"] The Ring of Brodgar, Orkney[/caption]
We offer a choice of walks each day so you can choose to do as much or as little as you wish.
Why walk here?
- Wild landscapes. See the wild landscapes that Scotland is known for. Wind your way past mountains, glens, lochs and rugged stretches of coastline stopping where you please to enjoy the sights and the sounds of the Scottish Highlands.
- Orkney. The island off Scotland's north-eastern coast is a fascinating place to visit. At the top of many visitors things to see on Orkney are the Neolithic sites such The Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae and the red sandstone sea stack, The Old Man of Hoy.
- Cape Wrath, Smoo Cave and John O'Groats. Cape Wrath the isolated most north westerly point on Scotland, Smoo Cave an impressive sea and freshwater cave, and the village of John O'Groats.
Planning & preparation
Getting to/from Inverness
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.