As a lover of Scotland and the great outdoors, I had been wanting to re-visit the North coast of Scotland with the family for quite a few years, but for various reasons we never got around to it – so we put this right in September of this year. (This was written and not published before we set off…!)
I often visit Scotland for winter mountaineering and walking throughout the year, and we love the place! We used to have a static caravan in South West Scotland, or the ‘forgotten’ part of Scotland (that people so often drive straight past), and really enjoyed our time there – now taking every opportunity to get back up North.
I have been aware of the North Coast 500 drive for quite a few years now, and have visited most areas on the 500+ mile route when I was younger with my own parents, but wanted to take my own family on a little adventure to explore this stunning part of the world. So, we decided to do it this year!
I plan to do a few different blogs about this trip, but thought breaking them down into smaller sections may be more apt, so I hope you find these useful. In this blog, I wanted to share with you our planned itinerary for our 10 day adventure. The ‘official’ NC500 route starts and ends in Inverness, but living in North West England, we had a good day’s travel to get to the start, so we will take the opportunity to drive up via Glencoe and Loch Ness, which is always a pleasure. On the return leg, we plan to head over to Pitlochry for a couple of nights, which is another place we love, and so ending our trip there seemed a nice end to what will hopefully be an amazing week away.
After a lot of preparation, or ‘faffing’ as my wife describes my approach to many things I do, we were ready to go. We were planning to stay in my roof tent for the duration of the holiday, which fits on to the top of my Mitsubishi L200 pick-up, perhaps grabbing a hotel for the odd night – depending what weather is thrown at us. The roof tent aspect is probably the bit that my wife was most apprehensive about to be honest, as she has never stayed in it yet, and so the thought of the three of us, along with the dog – seemed quite a jump into the unknown for her. For those interested, I will be doing a separate post on my roof tent and other equipment, ahead of our overland adventure.
I had packed all the camping equipment and ensured we were prepared for every eventuality ahead of the trip, kitchen sink and all, and Hannah had sorted the food, and our son’s requirements, which is no mean feat. Travelling around 1500 miles + with a two-year-old is also something that could be a potential adventure in itself, although George has been a good traveller so far in his short life, heading to Scotland, Cornwall and other long journey’s without fuss, so hopefully this trip would be no different. Hannah has developed some good techniques for ensuring he remained engaged and stimulated on our trips, which I will also share in another post for those interested and report back on their success!
Hopefully avoiding the summer months, which tend to be busier, we hoped that September would be slightly quieter and therefore a more enjoyable experience, given my low tolerance threshold for crowds. We hopefully will also avoid some old friends that we became far too close to over the years in our visits to Scotland – the midges! I am not sure which irritate me more, crowds of people, or these small blighters! My wife advises me that I can be quite dramatic, but I don’t think that is the case…
So, in terms of our planned route for the trip, it is outlined below in a day by day account, although having not booked any accommodation for the route, and not knowing the weather, we have the luxury of being able to change this plan, as we see fit.
DAY 1 – North West England to Loch Ness
DAY 2 – Loch Ness to Wick
DAY 3 – Wick to Melvich
DAY 4 – Melvich to Durness (via Altnaharra and Loch Hope – detour)
DAY 5 – Durness to Scourie
DAY 6 – Scourie to Achmelvich
DAY 7 – Achmelvich to Ullapool
DAY 8 – Ullapool to Gairloch
DAY 9 – Gairloch to Strath Carron (via Applecross)
DAY 10 – Strath Carron to Glencoe (we are not planning to do the section from Strath Carron to Inverness having already visited this section previously)
Obviously, as most plans in Scotland, this will need to be dynamic and will be largely dictated to by the weather, but also by places that we see and want to enjoy for longer. Also, having a two-year-old on the trip will also no doubt influence our timescales. This is all part of the adventure for us though and with no time pressure of having booked accommodation, we can go at our own pace, which will make the journey that much more enjoyable. I am really excited for the trip and look forward to sharing more with you.
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