My wife and I are off in a couple of days to drive the North Coast 500 (she declined my suggestion of cycling our way round). From Inverness, we're staying at Wick, Durness (2 days), Ullapool, Russel, Portree (2 days) and Oban.
I'm just wondering if anyone has suggestions for a few must-sees along the way? My wife's not into big days out in the hills, but happy with a few shorter excursions (accessible Marilyns and hidden beaches and waterfalls will go down better than epic Munros).
Smoo Cave at Durness is impressive. You can walk out along the inlet and circle back as well. Then there's the beach at Balnakiel Bay and walk over the headland of Faraid Head with its spectacular cliffs.
Stroll around Kerrera Island across the bay from Oban entertaining.
A ferry ride, great views across to Mull, cafe at the marina and if you do the southern circuit a castle.
Cocoa Mountain in Durness for awesome hot chocolate!
Leakeys bookshop in Inverness is worth a visit:
Chanonry Point near Fortrose for dolphin watching.
Have a great trip!
Please be considerate when driving the NC500 though - the volume of traffic is upsetting many locals.
The Inchnadamph bone caves are well worth a visit- good scenery on the way and an atmospheric site.
Torrisdale beach is really nice. John O'Groats is a waste of time but Dunnet Head is worth a visit and the walk along the cliffs at Duncansby is spectacular.
Read some Neil Gunn while you're there.
the Caithness crags are very good and well worth a visit. Assuming you are climbing.
A few ideas for you:
Clashnessie beach + waterfall
Falls of Kirkaig https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/ullapool/falls-of-kirkaig.shtml
If you can manage one larger hill, then Stay Pollaidh, Cul Mor, Cul Beag and Speicin Coinnich (Quinag) are all spectacular and not too long.
Ardessie Falls https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/ullapool/ardessie.shtml
Mellon Udrigle beach and coast walk https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/torridon/mellonudrigle.shtml
An Groban (extension of https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/torridon/Flowerdale.shtml to a fine wee hill).
Coire Mhic Fhearchair https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/torridon/coire-mhic-fhearchair.shtml
Sgurr a’ Chaorachain is an easyish walk from the top of Beach na Ba https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/torridon/Sgurrachaorachain.shtml
Ben Tianavaig https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/bentianavaig.shtml
The Storr - see the Old Man and then escape the crowds by going to the summit https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/thestorr.shtml
Coire Lagan for close up views of the Cuillin https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/coirelagan.shtml
Duncansby stacks, Dunnett Head and Clett rock all worth a stroll round
Smoo Cave as already mentioned. Back in end 80s you could lower in and climb the VS from virtually roadside but also go into the cave and see if this route ever got finished https://www.ukclimbing.com/photos/dbpage.php?id=22403
And say hello to the Far North Hotel from me and ask them if they've recovered from us eating them out of house and home during an excellent breakfast on a rainy day back in 1988
Have seen a recommendation on here for a spot that happens to be the only really good accessible ***** around wester Ross not heaving with folk although we had the first septic tank emptied there for a while (friends dog got very sick after eating the contents).
Would you all think I'm being snooty if I asked we kept recommendations to the better known places! Would like to hear the hive mind views. Love to see people up enjoying the place but it's nice to have a few less crowded spots in high summer.
With you on that, telling folks all the great places just gets them added to the ticklist and before you know it they are overrun and getting totally trashed ☹️.
The NC500 was a nice idea but no investment was made into the infrastructure as it became more popular and Highland council has no money (I live there) to fix this.
Yes, there's a bit of me that cringes about doing it in a car, not just from an 'upsetting locals' perspective but also environmentally. There's no way my wife would be prepared to cycle that distance though, or even go on the back of my motorbike (which would probably be first choice).
At least we're staying in local B&Bs I guess - Motorhomes must really piss people off.
> The NC500 was a nice idea.
Many people think it was just about the worst idea anyone has ever had.
I know a fair number of people who want to do the NC500, never considered going to northern Scotland before but feel they should tick it off the bucket list.
I normally tell them not to bother. You're welcome
Balnakeil beach at Durness is worth the stroll out along the sand dunes. If you like post-apocalypse 'chic' then the overpriced chocolate shop housed in a ex-MOD building might appeal.
The Shorehouse on Loch Tarbert, where you catch the ferry to Handa Island, serves lovely fresh seafood.
Stop for some local produce at Drumbeg Stores.
On your way out of Ullapool, stop at Corrieshalloch Gorge. The Inverpolly Road - not the official NC500 route is far nicer, plus there's less traffic.
On the way to Oban, a nice diversion would be to head down from Glenfinnan to Loch Sheil and out to Ardnamurchan Point lighthouse, ferry from Kilchoan to Tobermory - around the west side via Dervaig and Calgary and then ferry from Craignure into Oban. Make sure you book Craignure-Oban ferry as it's very busy.