North Coast 500 (and some)

So last month we were lucky enough to shoot off to Scotland on the motorbikes to enjoy touring the North Coast 500 and other areas of Scotland.

The North Coast 500 is a scenic route around the north coast of Scotland roughly 516 miles long, which starts and ends at Inverness Castle. The route is also known as the NC500 and was launched in 2015, linking many features in the north Highlands of Scotland in one touring route. We did our own variation of the route missing some sections out and adding a stint to Edinburgh.

Day 1

We travelled from the Lake District to Inverness. I don’t have a motorbike license so it was a long day pillion on the back. The heavens opened and we got soaked, thankfully in all the right gear we stayed dry and warm but it was a introduction to true Scottish weather. We followed a route through the Cairngorms which was stunning, providing us with some amazing bike roads to enjoy breaking up a long day of riding.

Day 2

We travelled from Inverness to Tongue with a few beauty spot stops on the way. First up was Chanory Point in the hope of seeing some dolphins sadly we were just treated to some more wet weather and no wildlife sightings. We then headed north and stopped at Latheronwheel Harbour which was stunning even in the drizzle and very quiet away from other tourists hitting the NC500. Up next was John O Groats for the obligatory signpost photo, this point has the false reputation of being the most northerly point of mainland Britain but in fact you must travel 5 minutes up the road to Dunnet Head to reach this point, which of course we did.

Day 3

Day 3 started off with a lovely lie in as the Golden Eagle Zip Line didn’t open until 10am so we pootled along from Tongue and were first in line. After a zoom down the zip line we headed on to Smoo Cave a stunning sea cave set back into the limestone cliffs of Sutherland, it was formed by a burn that runs down into the rear chamber, as well as erosion caused by the sea. We had an unexpected stop at Ardveck Castle as this was the only day of the trip with some sunny weather. We arrived in Ullapool early and enjoyed some time off the bikes having a drink and our first actual walk off the bikes up Ullapool Hill which gave some great views.

Day 4

This was a very long day on the bikes travelling from Ullapool to the top of the Isle of Skye taking in Applecross on our way. The weather didn’t treat us well for the ride up over Bealach na Ba (Gaelic for the “Pass of the Cattle” and pronounced byee-alluch nuh bah) so we didn’t get much of a view from the top thanks to the thick fog. I’ve driven this road several times before and always been treated to glorious views with sun or snow so at least I could imagine the sunnier day views after our hair pin bends in the rain.

Day 5

We spent a whole day touring the north end of the Isle of Skye, visiting the Fairy Glenn and Kilt Rock. We enjoyed a day of touring at our own pace with no place to be by a certain time. It was also lovely to spend a little bit of time out and about at the local shops and galleries. We had a couple of nights in a lovely little holiday cottage and spent some time relaxing and enjoying time together without shouting through intercoms.

Day 6

Our final day in Scotland, a long ride from Uig on the Isle of Skye all the way across to Edinburgh for our last night of the trip. It was amazing to see the different landscapes changing from the vast expanses of Glen Coe to the wooded valleys towards Edinburgh. A night in Edinburgh was a lovely way the end the trip with such a choice of places to eat and plenty of pubs it was a fabulous final night.

This is a trip I’ve always wanted to do, I’m very glad we were on the bikes to cover so many miles (1,800 miles round trip from Suffolk) in such a short time. I would love to head back in a van with our dogs to visit some more beautiful spots we didn’t get chance to see and spend more time hiking rather than sitting on the back of the bike!

Activities

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