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Self-Drive – North Coast 500

  • Soak up the magnificent views of Britain’s highest waterfall while cruising on Loch Glencoul

  • Enjoy a walk out to Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on mainland Britain

  • Choose from a variety of cliff, coastal or mountain guided and self guided walks

  • 7 nights accommodation in excellent 4 and 5 star hotels
  • Breakfast each day
  • 2 days of privately guided hikes, led by an expert Wilderness Scotland guide
  • Kylesku boat trip and Loch Ness boat trip or Culloden Battlefield (Cape Wrath excursion is notincluded and can be paid locally)
  • Route notes and maps, allowing you to explore the region at your own pace

At Your Own Pace

On this adventure you will be accompanied by a Wilderness Scotland hiking guide for several days, who will be able to suggest and lead you on a range of hikes from gentle low level rambles to challenging days visiting remote summits. Just let them know what type of hike you would like to do and they will be ready!

On the other days of the trip you will self guided and can explore at whatever pace you feel comfortable.


Our deluxe self drive holidays feature a range of 4 or 5 star country houses and hotels in locations across the north of Scotland. A warm welcome is assured and you can enjoy superior comfort and the finest service in these. Accommodation is in double, twin or family bedrooms. Breakfast is included each morning.

Food is sure to be a highlight on this trip, enjoying excellent Scottish cuisine made from local ingredients throughout the trip.

Please note that alternative accommodations may be offered when you book if availability at any of these is limited.

At all stages of your trip you will be able to enjoy the finest of Scottish cuisine, enjoying delicious meals prepared from superb local ingredients.

Packed lunches are not included in the trip cost, but will be available from your hotel or a local cafe/ deli.

This is a self-drive trip. You can bring your own car or hire from anywhere in Scotland. If you are hiring, the best place to start from is Inverness. For full details on how to get to Inverness, please see our website: Travel to Scotland.

Trip Details

This self-drive holiday explores the dramatic North Coast 500 on a tour of the north of Scotland, while enjoying privately guided walks, wonderful boat trips and staying in deluxe small hotels.

The North Coast 500 is Scotland’s answer to Route 66, starting in Inverness this 500 mile round journey takes in some of the most stunning scenery Scotland has to offer.

On this 8-day self-drive holiday, you will meander through the impossibly quiet roads of the Northern Highlands. Enjoy a number of boat trips and privately guided walks while exploring the unspoilt scenery along the way.  At the end of each day, relax in cosy and welcoming deluxe 4-star country house hotels.

Trip Itinerary – North Coast 500

Day 1 – Begin the North Coast 500 – Travel to Torridon 

Today you’ll start your journey on the NC500 and make your way to Torridon where you will spend the next two nights in a wonderful Highland Lodge located on the shores of Loch Torridon, where you can enjoy the spectacular beauty and diverse wildlife of Loch Torridon. Overnight at the 4-star gold Torridon Hotel.

Day 2 – Walking Torridon/Applecross

After breakfast, meet your Wilderness Scotland guide to discuss options for today’s walk in the Torridon or Applecross area. Your guide will help you select a suitable hike, choosing from coastal or mountain walks, and keeping in mind the weather and your experience. Applecross is a sleepy and idyllic part of the Highlands, surrounded by stunning mountain and coastal scenery. Torridon has a different character altogether, being surrounded by bold, towering peaks, separated by spectacular glens with a real sense of wilderness. Both are wonderful areas to explore on foot so this is a great way to start your adventure. Overnight at the 4-star gold Torridon Hotel. (B)

Day 3 – Morning walk; then north to Lochinver

Your guide will meet you at your hotel this morning to discuss the day. Another hike lies ahead and there are many great options to choose from between Torridon and Lochinver – your guide will suggest the best route. This could include a circuit of the shapely peak of Stac Pollaidh; or exploring the coastline and sandy beaches of Gairloch. After your walk, you will make you way to the coastal village of Lochinver, your home for the next 2 nights. A visit to Lochinver Larder is a must for one of their famous pies! Overnight at the 4-star Inver Lodge Hotel. (B)

Day 4 – Self Guided and Boat trip Kylesku

In the morning you have some free time – you could enjoy a short hike on your own, explore Lochinver village, or simply relax at the hotel. If you are keen to walk, great options include a walk to Stoer lighthouse and the Old Man of Stoer (a sea stack); or a coastal beach walk to the gorgeous Achmelvich beach.

In the afternoon, drive north and board a boat at Kylesku for a journey along Loch Glencoul through the UK’s wildest mountain range. On board, you will have fantastic views of Britain’s highest waterfall Eas a’Chual Aluinn, with an impressive height of 650 feet. Return via the ‘wee mad road’, as it’s known by the locals, where every twist and turn is rewarded with spectacular scenery. Overnight at the 4-star Inver Lodge Hotel. (B)

Day 5 – Cape Wrath

This morning you can visit Cape Wrath, the most north westerly point of the Scottish mainland. It’s not easy to reach and your journey there will involve crossing by boat over the Kyle of Durness you will be met on the other side and then driven across the moors to reach the wild and lonely Cape Wrath lighthouse. You will have an hour to explore the area, taking in the dramatic coastline, looking for passing whales, or simply enjoying a refreshment in what is surely Scotland’s most remote coffee shop. To take the ferry simply pay on arrival at Keoldale.

If you don’t fancy it today then instead you can continue on eastwards to Forss. On your way you can explore some of Scotland’s finest beaches such as  the sand dunes at Durness and Balnakeil. Overnight at 4-star Forss House Hotel (B)

Day 6 – No Further North! Dunnet Head and John O’Groats

Today is a free day to explore the most northerly points in the Scottish mainland. You’ll want to visit Dunnet Head, officially the furthest north point of the British mainland. Enjoy the stunning sea cliffs and a diverse range of birds including puffins, razorbills, guillemots, fulmars, kittiwakes, shags and cormorants. 

John O’Groats is the most northerly settlement on the British mainland and is fun to visit. There is a great cliff-top walk at nearby Duncansby Head. A great way to appreciate the wild coastal scenery is a boat trip. This can take in Duncansby Head and its sea stacks, the Isle of Stroma and the Swilkie whirlpool – Viking legend would have you believe this is where the salt for the oceans is churned. Overnight at 4-star Forss House Hotel. (B)

Day 7 – Journey to Inverness

After breakfast, begin your journey to Inverness passing the stunning white sand beach on Sinclair Bay. Along the way you may want to pay a visit to the Glenmorangie distillery – ensure you have a designated driver! Once at Inverness, there are various options for the afternoon – perhaps visit Culloden Battlefield or take a boat cruise on Loch Ness. Overnight at the elegant, award-winning 5-star Rocpool Reserve Hotel. (B)

Day 8 – Depart

After a leisurely breakfast, and having completed the NC500, you can make your way home. (B)

Optional Orkney Extension

We can extend your trip to include a visit to the beautiful Orkney Islands, starting on Day 6 of your trip. The crossing lasts around one hour, and as you sail you can look out for marine wildlife such as dolphins and whales which frequent these waters. Orkney is world famous for its rich archaeological sites such as Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar. It also offers a fascinating military history from two world wars, and links to the exploration of North America.

If you would like to include Orkney please contact the office team to discuss. You may spend just a day there or as long as you like!

Love the idea of this trip but want to know more? Check out the official NC500 Twitter page for loads of images from this iconic route round the north of Scotland.

PLEASE NOTE ‐ The itinerary is indicative only and may be subject to change at the discretion of the Wilderness Scotland Guides with regard weather conditions and other factors.

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Trip Reviews

Every client receives a feedback survey when they return from their guided, self guided or tailor made holiday with us.

Once completed the review is published on our website just as soon as our database updates. The little touches and details are important to us and where issues are raised we make positive changes to our trips to improve your experience.

That's why we read each of our client's reviews and although we don't respond to all of them, if it's glowing feedback then we get the satisfaction of helping to make your holidays truly memorable.

Rated 4.75 out of 5 based on 4 review(s) of Self-Drive – North Coast 500

5 star 3

4 star 1

3 star 0

2 star 0

1 star 0

by Geoffrey Schulmeister 04/10/2018

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

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by Dave Batchelor 10/07/2017

4Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

4Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

4The Bottom Line

The map for the NC500 would be much more use than the OS map which you include in your pack. It includes necessary information for a touring holiday such as petrol.
We think you should look to refine your recommendations for eating out, for instance the Lochinver larder is closed on Sundays and the Captains Galley in Scrabster is only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and unfortunately Thurso doesn't offer many alternatives.

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by Julie Crossman 10/08/2016

4Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

by Kirstin Pellom 14/06/2016

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Excellent trip. The North Coast of Scotland has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth!

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Price from: £1,965

Duration: 7 night(s)

No. of Travellers:   Date:

Region: Multi-Location

Comfort: Deluxe

Difficulty: Your Own Pace

4 review(s)

Trip Photos

north-coast-500-5313TorridonTorridonTorridonQueit-RoadsTorridonCape WrathNorth Coast 500north-coast-500-5314Lighthouse at the end of the worldMajestic Moors Cape WrathClo MorPuffinsDunnet HeadSignpost – John O’GroatsNorth Coast 500
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