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Favourite Five Cafes on the North Coast 500

Posted on Oct 05, 2015 by Zoe Newsam

I like a good cup of coffee wherever I roam.

Wilderness Guide, Zoe Newsam is lucky enough to sample the best in coffee culture all over the Highlands. Here she shares her Favourite Five Cafes on the North Coast 500 route.

The North Coast 500 is a new scenic route of Scotland’s most rugged and beautiful coastline. Much of it is wild and remote but there are certainly some great eateries along the way.

When it comes to cake, living in Aviemore means that cafes have a high standard to match in comparison to my local, The Mountain Café! We have some great wee independent cafes in the north of Scotland and especially along the North Coast 500.

Places to relax with a book, enjoy a cuppa and a treat after a magical day on the hill or water. Places to watch the weather from the comfort of a cosy armchair.  Great coffee, homemade cake and the best hot chocolate you’ll taste anywhere: it’s all here!

More on the North Coast 500

Here are my favourite five when you’re tackling the North Coast 500 route:

Velocity Bicycle Café, Inverness

Favourite Five Cafes on the North Coast 500

Velocity cafe, Inverness.

Before you leave Inverness on the North Coast 500, be sure to check out this little gem.  Themed around cycling of course, and with a workshop on hand that you can hire for bike repairs should you be exploring on two wheels. This is an original and very friendly little place.  The salad bowls are great, the soup is delicious, and the wifi is free.

The Mountain Coffee Company & Hillbillies Bookshop, Gairloch

The unassuming shop front on the square in Gairloch belies the treasures that lie inside.  A coffee shop and adventure bookshop attached, where you can eat the largest scones you’ve ever seen. Watch the weather over the bay from the conservatory and spend hours browsing the shelves for adventure stories and inspiration.  Perfect for a stormy weather day!

Cocoa Mountain, Balnakeil Craft Village, nr Durness

Favourite Five Cafes on the North Coast 500

Dark and decadent at Cocoa Mountain

Don’t expect ‘sensible’ food here- this is a chocolate shop!  Cocoa Mountain say they make the best hot chocolate you’ll find anywhere, and I definitely agree.  Selling their own chocolate, made here on the premises. There is everything here for the confirmed chocoholic- slabs of dark, white or milk, handmade truffles, and you can even have a hot chocolate with truffle chaser!  Make sure you stay sitting down to deal with the sugar rush. 

Café Tempest, Thurso

Overlooking the waves by the river mouth on the harbour at Thurso, Café Tempest could only be themed around one thing: surf.  This place manages to be all things to lots of people- a surf hire shop, a community hub, a fantastic café and on summer evenings, a great little restaurant.  Great coffee, tasty soup and chunky cake portions, all in a funky, friendly little spot.

Thyme and Plaice, Helmsdale

Opened in 2014, this café is tucked away in Helmsdale off the main road.  The owner is genuinely passionate about great food, and the menu is constantly changing, but you’ll always find great coffee and a warm welcome here.

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About the author

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Zoe Newsam

During a varied career in, amongst other things, Air Traffic Control and Theatre, the single constant has been a love for the outdoors and for exploration. This has taken me to Europe, North Africa, Canada, New Zealand, and most recently Greenland.

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