The NC500 - 'Must sees'?
When planning a bespoke itinerary for our guests the first thing we ask is ‘what sort of things are you interested in?’ This is because one could spend a month on the North Coast 500 and probably not see it all.
Therefore, when seeing the ‘what are the must-sees’ question on social media, we think your preferences are key to the answer! Do you like scenery? Castles? Waterfalls? Beaches? Wildlife? Secluded spots? Distilleries? Or ‘Attractions’? (If it’s this latter one you’re probably heading to the wrong place!)
Having said this, we understand that many of you just want a ‘general feel’ for the area to include a variety of the things noted above. So, we have considered the experiences and reactions which our own tour guests have had and come up with a short list of places about which our guests have consistently said ‘that was great’ and we think are ‘must-sees’!
Heading round on our favoured east to west journey:
Black Rock Gorge – close to Evanton, just north of Inverness, this deep narrow cleft in the rock provides drama visually, and in literature being subject to a local Gaelic myth involving a local noblewoman and mysterious man, and appearing in the film of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire!
Camster Cairns – you don’t have to go to Orkney to see a fully formed burial tomb, look no further than here, and crawl in to these 4000 year old examples – if you dare – for free!
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe – just north of Wick and one of many ruined castles on the route but iconic in its location on the cliff edge and with plenty of stories and legends surrounding it.
Duncansby Stacks – impressive sandstone sea stacks just round the corner from John O’Groats, with opportunities to see plenty of bird life on the cliffs including puffins in-season. Or take part in ‘Orca Watch’ at the end of May each year.
Brough Harbour – this little known and often missed bay on the way out to Dunnet Head has its own natural rock sea stacks and seals can often be found basking or swimming there.
Torrisdale Bay – as you head from east to west along the north coast, this is one of the first ‘wow’ moment beach views with its wind sept dunes, at Bettyhill.
Balnakiel Beach and ruined church – our personal favourite place in the North Highlands and what brought us here from the South of England – a fabulous long sandy beach and ruinous 16th century church from which we have watched many a sunset!
Wailing Widow Falls – just south of Unapool, this lesser known and visited 15m waterfall is fed from Loch na Gainmhich and guests love it.
Corrieshalloch Gorge – known as ‘Ugly Hollow’ in Gaelic (though ugly it is not!), this stunning gorge and waterfall is one of the best in Scotland, though may test your head for heights as you cross the suspension bridge over the gorge.
Bealach Na Ba – ‘The Pass of the Cattle’ – and more suited to cattle than campervans it certainly is! However, if the weather is with you (it is Scotland!), the views are spectacular over to Plockton in one direction and Skye and the Inner Hebrides in the other. But please respect other travellers and be aware of the challenging driving environment!
Of course, these sites skim the surface of what is out there and just seeing a view won’t necessarily tell you all there is to know. But don’t stress, just take time to stop when you see something interesting, ask the locals for the best spots for photos, wildlife spotting or that unusual, out of the way, hidden gem. And, naturally, if you want to learn more, give us a call! That’s why we provide private guided tours!