The North Coast 500
Conceived as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the North Coast 500 is a 500 mile loop that starts and finishes in Inverness and takes in the most scenic roads in the Highlands. It has been developed as a way to showcase the best of the Highlands, not only the natural attractions of beaches and mountains but also the history and culture, the amazing food and drink, art and music, the combination of remoteness and friendliness and of course the luxury holiday houses.
The project will officially launch with a vintage car rally on the 9th of May to tie in with the Vintage car festival in Inverness which will be followed by a bicycle rally featuring Commonwealth cyclists.
The idea is for people to take as long as they like to complete the circuit; a week, two weeks or even longer. It’s a journey to be savoured not rushed. This is not a frustrating motorway drive that many may be familiar with, this is a spectacular and relaxing motoring experience where, often, you will be sharing the road with more deer than other cars. With so much to tempt you, here are just a few of our highlights and all great reasons for you to stop and experience this amazing part of the world. LHH has more than 20 properties either on, or close to the route, a perfect excuse for you to take your time.
Loopallu is the premier music festival in the north so mark 25th September in your diary. Ullapool practically comes to halt as revellers from all over the highlands head to Broomfield Holiday Park for what is traditionally the end of the Highland festival season. Tickets frequently sell out but there is a tremendous atmosphere in the town for the entire weekend. Most of the local pubs put on live music so those without tickets can sample some of the unique atmosphere of this massive highland party.
Our favourite historical site en route is the clearance village in Rosal in Strathnaver. This deserted village was once full of people, animals and children, but today the subdued remains of their homes and byres are testament to a way of life destroyed by the Highland clearances.
Royal Dornoch has consistently been voted among the top golf courses in the world. The links course here is over 100 years old and draws enthusiasts from all over the world to its stunning location on the coast. In addition to the historic Championship course, the Struie offers 18 holes of challenging and undulating terrain for the whole family. Farthingworth is only a 10 minute drive away and offers amazing views over the Sutherland hills
Probably one of the most famous global brands in Whisky is Glenmorangie and a visit to the distillery in Tain is a must. Tours and samplings are available 7 days a week and the shop on site sells an amazing selection of rare bottlings.
For serious foodies there is one destination that stands out above all others. Lochinver boasts an incredible collection of top class restaurants including Peet’s, The Michelin starred Albanach and the Albert Roux restaurant at the Inver Lodge. For those seeking a simpler alternative there is the infamous Lochinver Larder, hands down the best pie shop in the country. Relax in comfort at Seahorses after spoiling yourself, just a short trip down the road.
Any Scottish road trip needs a castle; fortunately one of the best is just off the main road near Wick. Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is a gothic masterpiece, perched delicately on the edge of a massive cliff. It’s one of the most impressive ruins in the country and feels like it wouldn’t be out of place in Game of Thrones.
For arts and crafts then look no further than Balnakeil. The craft village is just a mile from Durness in the far North West and was created in the 1970s from a disused military camp; now a creative community of artists from all over the world.
Sandwood bay is undoubtedly the most famous beach in the north and with very good reason. It is not the easiest to visit, requiring a 4 mile hike from the nearest road at Blairmore near Kinlochbervie but its golden sands, cliffs and sea stack make it all worthwhile. It’s rarely busy and not unusual to have the mile long beach all to yourself. Cul na Craig is perfectly situated for those wanting to explore both the amazing local beaches and the inspiring Sutherland mountains.
On approach to Ullapool you can’t help but notice the majestic peak of Suilven, one of the most distinctive mountains in Scotland. This may not be the highest hill in the area but its remote location means that you cannot take summiting for granted.
To make your road trip perfect then all that is needed is a first class place to stay. LHH has a wide selection of the best luxury properties covering the route. Give us a call to check availability or to discuss what property best suits your needs.
Photo Credit: North Coast 500