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    The North Coast 500

    4 review(s)

    Duration: 8 Days / 7 Nights

    From £1,095

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    Trip created by Stevie Christie
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    Region: Multi-Location
    Trip Type: Self Drive
    Accommodation: Classic
    Deposit From: £273.75 £273.75

    Grading: Your Own Pace

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    All you need to know about your trip, this essential document is a must for all adventures.

    Download Itinerary

    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 comfortable Highland hotels and guesthouses.

    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 privately guided walks while exploring the unspoilt scenery at your own pace along the way.  At the end of each day, relax in cosy and welcoming country house hotels.

    This price is based on a group of 4, prices will vary depending on group size. Please get in touch with the team to confirm the trip price for your group.

    Trip Highlights

    • Soak up the magnificent scenery along the North Coast 500, one of the worlds most beautiful road trips.
    • 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.

    Day by Day Itinerary

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

    Today you’ll start your journey on the iconic North Coast 500 and make your way to Torridon where you will spend the next two nights. Soak up the spectacular beauty of the area; the rugged mountains, the scenic loch and diverse wildlife.

    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. (B)

    Day 3 – Morning walk; then onwards North

    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 – 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 your next cosy stop for the coming 2 nights.  (B)

    Day 4 – Self Guided and Handa Island

    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. A visit to Lochinver Larder is a must for one of their famous pies. 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.

    A fantastic option for today is to take the Handa Island ferry across to the island to explore. Handa Island is home to over 200,000 seabirds such as guillemot, and razorbills, and upwards of 250 pairs of puffins breed here. May, June and July are the perfect time of year to see the the puffins, along with other marine life such as minke whales, dolphins and if you’re lucky, even orca. 
The ferry cannot be booked in advance as it is very small, so simply arrive and pay on the day (last ferry outwards to the island departs at 2pm, and the ferry does not run on Sundays). (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.

    Alternatively, if you’d prefer, 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. (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. (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. (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 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.

    Self Drive
    The North Coast 500

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    Price from: £1,095
    Duration: 8 Days 7 Nights

    Trip Details

    Accommodation Read More

    Our self drive holidays feature a range of hand-chosen hotels and guesthouses in locations across the north of Scotland where a warm welcome is assured. 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.

    Meals Read More

    Breakfast is included each morning at your accommodation.

    Packed lunches are not included in the trip cost, but will be available from your hotel or a local cafe/ deli.
    You may choose to dine each evening either at your hotel or a local restaurant.

    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.

    Inclusions Read More
    • 7 nights accommodation in comfortable highland hotels and guesthouses.
    • Breakfast each day.
    • 2 days of privately guided hikes, led by an expert Wilderness Scotland guide.
    • Route notes and maps, allowing you to explore the region at your own pace.
    Travel Read More

    Your adventure begins in Torridon and ends in Inverness

    Photo Gallery

    Speak to an Expert

    Stevie Christie

    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.

    Ask Stevie a Question

    Difficulty Grades Explained

    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.

    Trip Reviews

    Rated 4.75 out of 5 based on 4 review(s) of Self-Drive – The 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.


    Geoffrey Schulmeister

    Reviewed on 04/10/2018

    Age: 40 - 50
    Country: Canada
    Trip Date: 24/09/2018
    Trips Taken: 1

    The Bottom Line


    Dave Batchelor

    Reviewed on 10/07/2017

    The Bottom Line

    The 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.


    Julie Crossman

    Reviewed on 10/08/2016

    The Bottom Line

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