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Day One

AM

We hope you enjoyed your stop in Inverness. Time for your 5 day highlight tour of the North Coast 500 to begin!

Head west out of Inverness through the lovely villages of Beauly, Muir of Ord, Contin & Strathpeffer. If you have some children with you, they may really enjoy the Highland Museum of Childhood, where they can find out about the toys that children played with hundreds of years ago in the Highlands Once you pass Strathpeffer you will also find Rogie Falls! You should definitely check these waterfalls on the 'Black River' for a fun outdoor activity. 

You will find yourself heading in to Wester Ross, where after a drive of just under two hours, you will find yourself at the pectacular Bealach na Bà, Gaelic for Pass of the Cattle). This knuckle clenching drive has tight hairpin bends that switch back and forth up the hillside and gradients that approach 20%. The historic pass through the mountains from Applecross boasts the greatest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres (2,054 ft), and is the third highest road in Scotland.  Definitely not one to be missed!

 

 

PM

For lunch, why not stop at the Applecross Inn or the Walled Garden Potting Shed & Cafe? Both serve up some delicious offerings, dependent on your appetite! 

Once you have filled up continue along the stunning North Coast 500 and enjoy the amazing views to your left over to Skye and the Hebrides. You will find your accommodaiton for the night on the edge of Loch Torridon, where the lovely Torridon Estate awaits. You can either go for full luxury in the Torridon Hotel, or the cosy comfort of the Torridon Inn.

Once checked in, make yourself comfortable and enjoy a local dram in their Whisky Bar (they have over 200 whiskys!) or perhaps an afternoon tea if you are still feeling peckish?

For dinner, the estate poses two options; The Inn or The Hotel's restaurants. Both famous in their own right for delicious cuisine! Enjoy a relaxing night and perhaps a walk along the loch after you have indulged in some Highland hospitality? 

Applecross Inn

Shore Street, Applecross, IV54 8LR
01520 744262
Applecross Inn

Highland Museum of Childhood

The Old Station, Strathpeffer, IV14 9DH
01997 421031
Highland Museum of Childhood

Rogie Falls

A835, Strathpeffer, IV14 9EQ
01408 634063
Rogie Falls

The Torridon

Torridon, By Achnasheen, IV22 2EY
01445 791242
The Torridon


Day Two

AM

Wakey wakey! As part of your accommodation you can enjoy a morning activity with The Torridon!  Check out their activity programme in advance to see what is happening when you arrive.

Back on the road again,  you will be on the road to the delightful village of Gairloch which offers stunning views over their harbour. Gairloch is also home to Sealife who offer one of the best wildlife cruises in the area on their glass bottomed boat!  If that doesn't tickle your fancy, why not continue on and enjoy the lush, sub-tropical style oasis of Inverewe Gardens?

For the more adventurous, you can also get wet and wild with Ewe Canoe, who offer various water based activities which are fun for all the family! 

PM

For lunch, how about a stop at the Aultbea Hotel? The owners have lovingly created a menu of  delicious local produce! On a nice day you can tuck in whilst enjoying views over Loch Ewe. 

After all your activities this morning already, it’s definitely time for a relaxing afternoon. How about some time spent on the beach at Mellon Udrigle? This is a stunning white stand beach offering outstanding views of Assynt and Coigach to the North, and the Summer Isles out to sea.  On the way there, make sure to stop by The Perfume Studio for a cup of tea and a cake whilst you browse their array of locally made products.

If the weather is too wet for beach time, head on up the road to Ullapool, the last large town on the West coast, where it may be a good idea to refuel your car now! There are various activities available here, including Ullapool Museum, an A1 listed Thomas Telford Church housing various exciting exhibitions.

With stunning views of Loch Broom and the surrounding mountains, West House B and B offers a home away from home on a budget. 

For some entertainment and a hearty meal, why not take a stroll to The Arch Inn, which offers relaxed dining and often features live music. 

Aroma Café - The Perfume Studio

Mellon Charles, Aultbea, Loch Ewe, IV22 2JL
01445 731618
Aroma Café - The Perfume Studio

Aultbea Hotel and Restaurant

Aultbea Hotel, Loch Ewe, IV22 2HX
01445 731201
Aultbea Hotel and Restaurant

Ewe Canoe

Peace Cottage, 2 Mellon Charles, Aultbea, IV22 2JN
07980 588467
Ewe Canoe

Inverewe Garden

Inverewe Garden & Estate, Poolewe, IV22 2LG
01445 712952
Inverewe Garden

Mellon Udrigle Beach

Mellon Udrigle, Laide, Achnasheen, IV22 2NT
Mellon Udrigle Beach

Sealife Glass Bottom Boat

Ceol Na Mara, Pier Rd, Gairloch, IV21 2BQ
01445 781729
Sealife Glass Bottom Boat

The Arch Inn

10-11 W Shore St, Ullapool, IV26 2UR
01854 612454
The Arch Inn


Day Three

AM

Interested in how the fantastic scenery you are surrounded by came about? Take a visit to Knockan Crag.   Here you can see the internationally-famous Moine Thrust, where much older and darker Moine schists have been pushed over the younger lighter Durness limestone so the older rocks are on top of the younger ones. Take a hike on the rock route!

On the road again spot the ruins of Ardvreck Castle, on the banks of Loch Assynt, and also the various peaks of Suilven, Canisp, and Quinag (pronounced coon-yag)
 

PM

Head to Lochinver for lunch, at the renowned Lochinver Larder. Their pies are well known for their delicious flavour and filling nature,
 
Explore the town a little more and drop into Assynt Visitor Centre, which is home to the tourist information centre, and a number of displays on local wildlife, flora, fauna and geology.  It even has a 3D map of Assynt, alongside a companion map of what the area looked like during the last Ice Age.
 
You will be spending your afternoon exploring the most remote North West coast, with views to Handa Island, or even attempt the 4 mile hike to Sandwood Bay – the most remote beach in the UK! Be careful on the single track roads, and make sure to let people overtake if they are less in awe of the spectacular scenery than you. You may be observed by a whole host of four legged friends including deer and sheep, to name just a couple!
 
After that fun filled day, Durness is your stopping point. How about Mackay’s Rooms or for a high quality scenic retreat or Hillside B&B for a home from home. 
 

Ardvreck Castle (Ruins)

Loch Assynt, Highland, IV27
Ardvreck Castle (Ruins)

Assynt Visitor Centre

Main Street, Lochinver, IV27 4LX
01571 844194
Assynt Visitor Centre

Cape Wrath

Braemar, Sangomore, Durness, IV27 4PZ
01971 511284
Cape Wrath

Hillside B&B

Hillside, Smoo, Durness, IV27 4QA
01971 511737
Hillside B&B

Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve

Knockan, Elphin, IV27 4HH
Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve

Lochinver Larder

Main Street, Lochinver, IV27 4JY
Lochinver Larder

Mackay's

Durine, Durness, IV27 4PN
Mackay

Sandwood Bay

Near Kinlochbervie,
Sandwood Bay


Day Four

AM

Time for your trip along the top (of the world)! For those arty types you will be driving past the doorstep of ceramicist Lotte Glob, who’s Sculpture Croft and Studio is well worth a visit. Lotte is conveniently located close to the famous Cocoa Mountain where you can sample some of the finest chocolate for hundreds of miles. 


Before you leave Durness - don't forget to take the morning boat tour at Smoo Caves! Smoo Caves is Britain's largest sea cave and will not disappoint! 

The drive east is nothing short of spectacular. Why not stop past the fascinating Strathnaver Museum in Bettyhill? Right beside the stunning Farr Beach, Strathnaver explores a journey through the emergence of the Clan Mackay and the tragedy of the Highland Clearances which had such impact on the highlands as you see it today.    

PM

Pop into the Craggan Restaurant in Melness for some lunch at an undiscovered gem. Enjoy the views to the Rabbit Isles and the Kyle of Tongue whilst enjoying a real taste of Scottish cuisine.
 
Continue East along the coast, passing the impressive Dounreay Nuclear facility, and fuel up in Thurso before heading past the extensive Dunnet Bay to the Castle and Gardens of Mey.  The former holiday home of the late Queen Mother is the most northerly castle on the British mainland.
 
Keep heading east, passing to John O’Groats, where you can settle down for dinner in the cosy environs of Stacks Bistro. With views out to Orkney, John O’Groats is widely known as the 'tip of Britain' for its LEJOG counterparts. If you want to stop here for the night, then we cannot recommend a stay at Natural Retreats enough!
 
Just another 21 miles takes you to your hotel for the evening. Situated on the world’s shortest street, Mackay’s Hotel in Wick provides award winning service, comfortable rooms and fine food from the No.1 Bistro. Enjoy! If you prefer a B&B for the night, why not try Bank House for another home from home. 

Bank Guest House

28 Bridge Street, Wick, KW1 4NG
01955 604001
Bank Guest House

Cocoa Mountain

8 Craft Village, Balnakeil, Durness, IV27 4PT
01971 511233
Cocoa Mountain

Craggan Hotel

Talmine, By Lairg, IV27 4YP
01847 601278
Craggan Hotel

Flavours

2 The Craft Centre, John O'Groats, KW1 4YR
01955 611399
Flavours

Mackays Hotel

Union Street, Wick, Caithness, KW1 5ED
01955 602323
Mackays Hotel

Smoo Cave Tours

Lerin, Durness, IV27 4QB
Smoo Cave Tours

Strathnaver Museum

Clachan, Bettyhill, Thurso, KW14 7SS
01641 521418
Strathnaver Museum

The Castle and Gardens of Mey

The Castle of Mey, Thurso, KW14 8XH
01847 851473
The Castle and Gardens of Mey


Day Five

AM

Heading southbound down the east coast of the North Coast 500 will find you twisting and turning across the Caithness landscape, the route features the Berriedale Braes, where the road drops at a gradient of 13% over 1.3km, before turning on a hairpin and rising equally steeply. Just after Berriedale braes you will find the town of Helmsdale. Pop in to Timespan, the award-winning heritage centre to discover something you never knew before. 
 
Head for Dunrobin Castle just before Golspie. Dunrobin is the most northerly of Scotland's great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms. Dunrobin Castle is also one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s, home to the Earls and latterly, the Dukes of Sutherland. The twice daily falconry displays and wonderful gardens are not to be missed.           

PM

If you are feeling a bit peckish, head in to Dornoch, which is a beautiful town just 1 mile off the route. Here you will find the world-famous Royal Dornoch golf course and the stunning stretch of Dornoch beach. Dornoch Castle Hotel will provide a delicious lunch time menu to satisfy your hunger. 

Continue to wind your way South through Easter Ross, and explore some of the smaller villages here, each with their own unique history. If you find yourself wanting more, go off route and visit Hilton, Cadboll and Shandwick fishing villages which offer unparalleled views down to Aberdeenshire. Can you spot the Mermaid of the North?

After this, head down the road to Inverness, where the end of your adventure awaits in the bustling capital of the Highlands.  Thank you for visiting and we hope you return to explore more of the North Highlands!

Dornoch Beach

Dornoch Beach, Dornoch,
Dornoch Beach

Dornoch Castle Hotel

Castle Street, Dornoch, IV25 3SD
01862 810216
Dornoch Castle Hotel

Dunrobin Castle

Dunrobin Castle, Golspie, KW10 6SF
01408 633177
Dunrobin Castle

Royal Dornoch Golf Club

Golf Road, Dornoch, IV25 3LW
Royal Dornoch Golf Club

Timespan Heritage Centre

Dunrobin Street, Helmsdale, KW8 6JA
01431 821327
Timespan Heritage Centre