Duration: 7 night(s) From £1,965
Trip created by Stevie Christie
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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.
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.
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)
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 your 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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
After a leisurely breakfast, and having completed the NC500, you can make your way home. (B)
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 around 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 to weather conditions and other factors.
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.
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.
Food is sure to be a highlight on this trip, enjoying excellent Scottish cuisine made from local ingredients throughout the trip.
As an avid adventurer, Stevie has life-long experience in Scotland’s outdoors. He’s Co-Owner and Head of Adventure with Wilderness and been with us for over 15 years in a variety of roles, with innovative trip design being both a passion and a specialty. In his spare time Stevie runs the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival, bringing the world’s most inspiring adventure film makers and athletes to an audience of over 1,500 each year.
- Stevie ChristieCall Stevie Ask Stevie a Question
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.
Rated 4.75 out of 5 based on 4 review(s) of Self-Drive – North Coast 500
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.
Reviewed on 04/10/2018
Age: 40 - 50
Trip Date: 24/09/2018
Trips Taken: 1
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
Hotels were excellent
Lorraine was great
Reviewed on 10/07/2017
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
The food in the hotels was good and we enjoyed our stays in the Torridon and Forss House Hotels The hotel in Lochinver is a very soulless place which has no atmosphere, especially when compared to the other hotels. Not a reflection on the staff or indeed any single aspect. We fully understand why there aren't any external shots of the building!
Alan was great, knowledgeable, friendly and flexible. Chose a good route which took into account the weather conditions, it was blowing a gale.
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.
Reviewed on 10/08/2016
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
Reviewed on 14/06/2016
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
Rachael was helpful as always with every detail. We were provided with a detailed and personalized trip itinerary that was very helpful. We especially loved the dining recommendations!
There were so many highlights on this trip, it would be hard to narrow them down. The drive on the western side of the North Coast was probably the most spectacular drive we have ever been on. Around every corner was a new, breathtaking vista. We would highly recommend getting an early start and driving the long way to Torridon, taking the Beach Na Ba then the coastal road through Applecross. We drove back in the evening for dinner at the Applecross Inn and witnessed an incredible sunset. The rugged cliffs in the far north were also breathtaking. We especially loved the walk through massive sandiness at Faraid Head. Our only complaint would be that we wished we had a few more days on the trip to enjoy some longer walks, especially in the Torridon Hills. It would have been wonderful to have had time to take the ferry to Orkney as well. We will just have to come back and do it next time!
Accommodation was superb in every way. Each room had a lovely view, comfortable rooms and delicious food. Don't miss the Lochinver Larder in Lochinver, or the hot chocolate at The Cocoa Mountain cafe in Balnaseil Bay!
We requested Gordon Anderson for our 2 guided walking days. He was our guide at Knoydart last fall (another spectacular trip). We had 2 lovely days of hill climbing in Torridon. Gordon is a superb guide who knows these hills well. We always learn so much from him about the rich history and geology of the area.
Excellent trip. The North Coast of Scotland has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth!
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