North Coast 500 Road Trip

Enjoy stunning views and experience the best of the Scottish highlands

Kylesku Bridge, Lairg

Tour overview

Experience Scotland's answer to Route 66 with everything from fairytale castle ruins to delicious seafood and white beaches

The North Coast 500 road tour is one of the world's most stunning road trips. With spectacular scenery across the coastline, Scotland's answer to Route 66 has something for everyone! Experience fairytale castle ruins, white beaches, outdoor attractions and adventures, quaint villages, an array of wildlife, delicious seafood and more.

This road trip is a continuation on from the highest part of our Scottish Highlights Road Trip at the Culloden Moor Caravan and Motorhome Club site in Inverness. From Inverness you will head North to Brora, passing Dunrobin Castle and stopping at the Brora Caravan and Motorhome Club Site situated just 300 yards from miles of golden sandy beaches. Dunnet Bay is your second stop and is the perfect base for exploring the Orkney Islands, Thurso and John O’Groats - areas steeped in history and wildlife with breathtaking views. From Dunnet head West with the chance to delve underground into one of the largest sea caves in Britain. Another beautiful site offers a jaw-droppingly beautiful backdrop over the bay and unforgettable outdoor experiences nearby including pony trekking and sea kayaking.

Winding your way down South you will arrive at Knockan. The journey will take you across Kylesku Bridge which is sure to take your breath away. From here you can experience nature reserves, castle ruins, boat trips, stunning walks and local tea rooms. The last leg takes you to Kinlochewe before joining back on the Scottish Highlights Tour. To fully discover and explore the North Coast 500 you will need seven to ten nights, three weeks in total if also covering the Scottish Highlights Road Trip.

 

Distance

Total distance: 473 miles

Driving Time

Total driving time: 10 hours minimum

Length

Suggested length of tour: 8 days

Space
Brora Beach
Space
Dunnet Head Lighthouse
Space
Kylesku Bridge

Explore the route map


Stop 1. Brora

Recommended site: Brora Caravan and Motorhome Club Site

Open: March to October

Address: Dalchalm, Brora, Highlands, KW9 6LP, Scotland

Driving Time

Total driving time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Overview

Nestled on the east coast of the Scottish Highlands, Brora is the first stop on your North Coast 500 tour.

The Brora Caravan and Motorhome Club Site is in the perfect location for a wild, outdoor experience. Set just 300 yards from a sandy beach, next to a pristine golf course and within hiking distance of Brora’s river, loch and the mountains, there's plenty for any adventurer to get stuck into. On route here from Inverness, the magnificent 15th century Dunrobin Castle is well worth a visit, with something for all the family. If ghost stories are your thing, be sure to ask about the Lady in Grey or the spooky fingers on the windowsill.

When you arrive at Brora you can leave your motorhome on site as local buses stop nearby and Brora train station is only a mile and a half away if you're wanting to travel further afield. Golden beaches stretch miles from Brora through to Helmsdale to the North and Golspie to the South. Keep an eye out as it’s not unusual to discover fossils along these shores. For more treasure hunting, try gold panning on Kildonan Burn.

The local area is a wildlife lover's dream with a chance to see dolphins, birds, grey whales, otters, seals, deer and so much more. After all the adventuring a well earned trip to the Clynelish Malt Distillery is just a twenty minute walk from site where you can gain a new understanding of the whisky making process and set your taste buds tingling with a generous whisky tasting.

Visitor view:

"This was our third visit and things only seem to improve each time. Gorgeous beach at your doorstep and scenery to take your breath away. The wardens were friendly and welcoming. The tranquil setting allows time to sit back and relax. The facilities are spotless and well maintained."

Lenuan

Stop 1 Highlights

Cows on Brora Beach

15th century Dunrobin Castle

Tour and whisky tasting at Clynelish Malt Distillery

Loch Brora

Things to do when you're here

Food & Drink

Food & drink

Clynelish Distillery
Clynelish Rd, Brora, Highlands and Islands, KW9 6LR

www.malts.com/en-gb/distilleries/clynelish
01408 623000

Culture

Culture

Timespan Museum & Arts Centre
Dunrobin Street, Helmsdale, Sutherland, KW8 6JA

www.timespan.org.uk
01431 821327

Outdoor fun

Outdoor fun

Horse Riding at Star Stables
Mo Dhachaidh, Ardachu, Brora, KW9 6NG

07759 335918

For the family

For the family

Dunrobin Castle and Gardens
Golspie, Sutherland, KW10 6SF

www.dunrobincastle.co.uk
01408 633177

Stop 2. Dunnet

Recommended site: Dunnet Bay Caravan and Motorhome Club Site

Open: March to October

Address: Dunnet, Thurso, Highlands, KW14 8XD

Driving Time

Total driving time: 2 hours

Overview

Dunnet is your second destination on the North Coast 500 tour. Stay in an area of immense natural beauty at the Dunnet Bay Caravan and Motorhome Club site and enjoy stunning views over Dunnet Head - the northernmost point of the British mainland. Stop en route at Thirle Door and the Stacks of Duncansby for more breathtaking views. Enjoy a clifftop picnic at Duncansby Head Lighthouse or head further along the coast to John O’Groats for a selection of cafés and restaurants.

You can leave your motorhome at Dunnet Bay as buses stop nearby to take you to John O’Groats or the centre of Thurso. In Thurso you can visit the magnificent Castle of Mey and wander the stunning gardens, or take part in a hands-on experience at the Animal Centre, where you can have a chat with Alice the Donkey or Beebee and Lily the alpine goats. For more animal antics, Caithness Wildlife Tours will introduce you to seals, seabirds and puffins and the abundant wildlife in the far north of Scotland.

Hop to the Orkney Islands to visit an array of historic attractions from the Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae to the Orkney Museum and the Ring of Brodgar. If whisky wasn’t your thing on the last leg, then perhaps we can tempt you with gin and vodka? Dunnet Bay Distillery is just a ten minute walk from site and offers informative and friendly tours complete with tasting sessions. With so much to see and do you will almost certainly need to recharge your batteries, and the Northern Sands Hotel and Restaurant offers a great selection of food just half a mile from site, whether you're after breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Visitor view:

"Recently stayed at Dunnet bay. What a fantastic site. Lovely clean and well maintained site with great access to a beautiful beach. Lots of places to visit with amazing views... The wardens were so friendly and helpful, nothing was too much trouble for them. Hope to visit again in the future. Would recommend this site to anyone visiting the Highlands..."

Soapqueen1

Stop 2 Highlights

The Ring of Brodgar

Dunnet Bay Caravan and Motorhome Club Site

Puffin tours

Stacks of Duncansby

Things to do when you're here

Food & Drink

Food & drink

Northern Sands Hotel and Restaurant
Dunnet, Thurso, KW14 8XD

www.northernsands.co.uk
01847 851300

Culture

Culture

The Castle of Mey
Thurso, Caithness, KW14 8XH

www.castleofmey.org.uk
01847 851473

Outdoor fun

Outdoor fun

Zorbing and High Ropes at Air Extreme
Gills Bay, Canisbay, Gauze cottage, Wick, KW1 4YB

www.airextreme.co.uk
07799 147146

For the family

For the family

Caithness Wildlife Tours
Thurso, KW14 8YD

www.caithnesswildlifetours.co.uk
07899 783279

Stop 3. Kinlochbervie

Recommended site: Hamnavoe Certificated Location

Open: All year

Address: Kinlochbervie, Sutherland, Highlands, IV27 4RR

Telephone: 01971 521045

Driving Time

Total driving time: 3 hours

Overview

This part of the journey takes you west along the North coast. There are plenty of places to stop on this part of your journey including the Strathnaver Museum where you can discover Scotland's vibrant culture inherited from Norse and Gaelic ancestors.

The scenery here includes views of Ben Hope, the most northerly Munro, and breathtaking views of Loch Hope. For a quick thrill en route, the Golden Eagle Zip Lines will set your heart racing. If you'd rather delve beneath the ground than fly sky-high above it, Smoo Cave is well worth exploring - a geological wonder and one of the largest sea caves in Britain.

Stay at Hamnavoe Certificated Location overlooking the bay for great views of the most beautiful sunsets. Just a few minutes from the site is the Free Spirit Trekking Centre, where horse and pony trekking is available to suit riders of all ages and abilities. A couple of miles north of the site are the pristine sands of Oldshoremore Beach. For an unforgettable experience explore intricate coves and bays of sheltered sea lochs with a sea kayaking day at Ridgeway Adventure.

Visitor view:

"The pictures of this site really tells you all you need to know. Situated above Loch Clash with great views there is direct access to the stony beach by a path from the site where there is an enclosed area with a bench to sit, relax and watch the wildlife. The owner had kindly lent me his binoculars while we were there and I spotted an otter in the bay. Climb the small hill visible on the RHS of the bay for more great views. The owner is very friendly and welcoming."

Munro King

Stop 3 Highlights

Hamnavoe Certificated Location

Sea Kayaking

Horse Riding at Free Spirit Trekking Centre

Strathnaver Museum

Things to do when you're here

Food & Drink

Food & drink

Old School Restaurant and Tea Rooms
Inshegra, Kinlochbervie, Sutherland, IV27 4RJ

www.oldschoolklb.co.uk
01971 521383

Culture

Culture

Strathnaver Museum
Clachan, Bettyhill, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 7SS

www.strathnavermuseum.org.uk
01641 521418

Outdoor fun

Outdoor fun

Ridgeway Adventure
Ardmore, Rhiconich, IV27 4RB

www.ridgway-adventure.co.uk
01971 521006

For the family

For the family

Free Spirit Adventure Trekking
7 Bervie Road, Kinlochbervie, Lairg, IV27 4RY

01971 521320

Stop 4. Knockan

Recommended site: Birchbank Certificated Location

Open: May to September

Address: Knockan, Elphin By Lairg, Highlands, IV27 4HH

Driving Time

Total driving time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Overview

As you head south be sure to take the A894 rather than the B869 as this is a single track road and not suitable for motorhomes.

As you make your way down Scotland's west coast, you'll cross over the spectacular Kylesku Bridge just outside of Unapool. Continue on to Birchbank, a Certificated Location on a working farm, ideal for quiet stays.

A 45 minute bus ride from the site takes you to the small fishing port of Lochinver which offers wonderful views across to Suilven. Here you can take a boat tour with Inver Cruises or head south to see the Falls of Kirkaig. The bus also takes you past Ardvreck Castle, a magical and romantic ruin located just off the roadside.

Keen walkers should head to Stac Pollaidh car park to climb Stac Polly for fantastic views over Assynt, the Summer Isles and Achiltibuie. For a slightly less challenging walk, the Bone Caves circuit is around two hours long and starts not far from the site, which is perfect for all the family.

Visitor view:

"We stayed at Elphin for 2 nights and loved the area. The CL was level, quiet and with stunning views. Climb to the hill at the back of the lodge for spectacular sunsets. Arrival was easy and the owners were helpful. It is a great location for driving down to see the Summer Isles and walking on Knockan nature reserve. If you are touring the Highlands stock up with provisions at Ullapool."

Mel and Sally

Stop 4 Highlights

Kylesku Bridge, Lairg

Ardvreck Castle

Lochinver

Stac Pollaidh, Ullapool

Things to do when you're here

Food & Drink

Food & drink

The Elphin Tearooms
Elphin, Lairg, IV27 4HH

www.elphintearooms.co.uk
01854 678255

Culture

Culture

Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve Visitor Centre
Knockan Crag, Elphin, Lairg, IV27 4HH

nnr-scotland.org.uk
01854 613418

Outdoor fun

Outdoor fun

The Bone Caves
Allt nan Uamh Car Park, off the A837

www.bgs.ac.uk/discoveringGeology/geologyOfBritain/secretGeology/theBoneCaves.html

For the family

For the family

Loch Inver
Lochinver Harbour, Lochinver, IV27 4LE

www.discoverassynt.co.uk/viewdetails.php?id=349
01571 844406

Stop 5. Inverness

Recommended site: Kinlochewe Caravan and Motorhome Club Site

Open: March to October

Address: Kinlochewe, Achnasheen, Highlands, IV22 2PA

Driving Time

Total driving time: 2 hours

Overview

Kinlochewe is your next stop and lies two miles South East of the head of Loch Maree, one of Scotland's most scenic lochs. On the way here head to Corrieshalloch Gorge - walking over the suspension bridge provides a great photo opportunity but isn’t for the faint hearted! Set at the end of a beautiful drive, the Kinlochewe Caravan and Motorhome Club Site is based at the foot of the rugged slopes of Beinn Eighe.

The local town has all your basic necessities and a 40 minute bus ride on the local 700 bus takes you to the village of Gairloch, situated on the shores of Loch Gairloch. Here you will find Gairloch Heritage Museum, a quaint little museum that although small will take you hours to explore the interesting mix of local history, geology, religion and more. There are various trips available from Gairloch like dolphin and whale watching.

Half an hour away is Shieldaig Outdoor Adventures, who offer a range of activities from kayaking through to guided hikes and bespoke outdoor experiences. Another must nearby is Attadale Gardens, a 45 minute drive from site. Take a relaxing stroll around the beautifully crafted and unusual gardens, admiring the sculptures before stopping for refreshments at the local tea rooms. From here, either head back to Inverness to the Culloden Moor Caravan and Motorhome Club site or join the next leg of the Scottish Highlights tour, heading straight to Edinburgh.

Visitor view:

"Kinlochewe Club Site is fantastic, views of the mountains from the site are unbelievable. Lots to see and do. We arrived for an Easter break and were welcomed by very friendly wardens. We are regular visitors to this site and it is so good to go back and get such a friendly welcome. The scenery is the best in the world. Plenty of places to visit. Gairloch is well worth the drive. Past the loch there is a fantastic fish and chip shop, highly recommended. Next to the site is a garage with a café serving very nice food and nice coffees. All in all would highly recommend a stay at this site. 10 out of 10."

Ppresty

Stop 5 Highlights

Loch Maree

Gairloch

Attadale Gardens

Dolphin spotting in Gairloch

Things to do when you're here

Food & Drink

Food & drink

Kinlochewe Hotel
Kinlochewe, Wester Ross, IV22 2PA

www.kinlochewehotel.co.uk
01445 760253

Culture

Culture

Gairloch Heritage Museum
Achtercairn, Gairloch, Ross-shire, IV21 2BP

www.gairlochheritagemuseum.org
01445 712287

Outdoor fun

Outdoor fun

Shieldaig Outdoor Adventures
1 Baile Shuas, IV54 8XY

www.shieldaigadventures.com
01520 755369

For the family

For the family

Gairloch Marine Life Centre & Cruises
Charleston Harbour, Pier Road, Gairloch, Ross-shire, IV21 2BQ 

www.porpoise-gairloch.co.uk
01445 712636