OUTDOOR WITH THE WOODALLS

NC500

The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle.

The route often known as the NC500 and was launched in 2015, by the Tourism Project Board of the North Highland Initiative showcasing many features in the north Highlands of Scotland.

PHOTO FROM WIKIPEDIA

                                                                           Check out more details on the NC500 website

https://www.northcoast500.com/

                                    OUR 1ST JOURNEY IN SEPTEMBER 2018 AND SECOND TRIP SEPTEMBER 2020

We decided to do the drive anti clockwise, after much research. We did actually find this route quieter,as everyone seemed to be coming in the opposite direction.

   The east coast had lots more facilities we found, supermarkets, shops, petrol stations. The views of the coastline was amazing, lots of old castle ruins, places to explore along the way. The west coast was more dramatic with the mountains, lochs but less facilities. They are both equally as beautiful in different ways.

DAY 1-3 INVERNESS



The previous night we stayed at Loch Ness  for a couple of nights to explore and get ready for the adventure ahead.

Our first stop was Fort George, even today the kids will say it was there favourite place to visit. We got to watch the 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland in action,  and go inside the Historic Barracks. It was also the first place we seen Dolphins from the viewing points outside.

Afterwards we drove to our next destination Dornoch staying at Grannie  Heilan Hame holiday park which was fantastic, toilet block, electric hook ups, easy location.



https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/fort-george/

OTHER THINGS TO DO IN THE INVERNESS AREA

  •  Loch Ness
  • Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre
  •  Dolphin Spirit boat trips
  • Chanonry point
  • Rogie falls IV14 9EQ is the nearest postcode great place to spot Salmon. We didnt visit here the first time, but stopped on our recent trip, its a nice forest walk just 1-1.5 miles
  • RSPB Scotland Tollie Red Kites

DAY 4 DORNOCH TO KYLE OF TONGUE

Today was a busy day but we had booked a night in a hostel due to high winds.

Along this coast is beautiful, with coastal views and plenty of options to stop off.

Over the two trips we have visited

Life on the edge cliff ruins, information boards, parking and good paths

Wick- Play area for the kids, shops, garage and Castle Sinclair ruins

 Whaligoe steps- small car park, cafe,then a  steep climb down, worth it as a lovely cove.

Duncansby Head and stacks- parking, lighthouse, love walk across the coastline

John o Groats- Famous end sign, car park, cafe, toilets

Dunnet head the most northerly point of Scotland, parking, lighthouse, sea cliffs and lots of wildlife.

Final destination was Kyle of Tongue Hostel and Holiday Park

This section the 2nd time round we used a base at Dornoch for 4 nights which was easier than camping somewhere new each night. We  also visited The Falls of Shin this time round, where we got to see plenty of salmon leaping across the falls, it also had a cafe, crazy golf and childrens play area.



https://www.tonguehostelandholidaypark.co.uk/

OTHER THINGS TO DO IN THE  AREA

  • Dornoch has shops, take away, beach and play area
  • Pentland Ferries
  •  Hill o’ Many Stanes
  • RSPB Scotland Broubster Leans Nature Reserve
  • The Castle and Gardens of Mey
  • Sinclair’s Bay
  • Possibly catch the northern lights

DAY 5 KYLE OF TONGUE TO UNAPOOL


Todays first stop was Smoo cave which was fantastic, steps to go down to reach the large cave opening which sits a waterfall at the back, you cross a small bridge platform to see the fall, small car park and sometimes a little honesty box selling some bits, toilets also at the caves.

Next was a good drive around to the western coast, in which we did stop off at the cafe along  Loch Eriboll which seemed to be the only place to stop and get a drink and toilet for 20-30 miles at least. The loch is a beautiful drive though, one of my favourites.

There is various view points you pass along this coast line, which we stopped at to take photos, in fact there probably isn't enough places to stop and admire the views.

The second time round we were told by a local shop to visit  Wailing widow falls, and wow it was worth the walk, really muddy, narrow and rocky path to the falls but it is beautiful.

Tonight it rained quite bad so we stopped at a couple of places for a BNB and eventually found one that had space for us all, this was the only time we struggled for a while to find accomodation


OTHER THINGS TO DO IN THE  AREA

  • Cairn Liath,
  • Brora Beach
  • Eas a’ Chual Aluinn – Britain’s Highest Waterfall
  • Stoer Head Lighthouse
  • Balnakeil Bay

DAY 6 UNAPOOL TO ULLAPOOL


Todays plan was to drive over the famous Bealach na Ba Road to Applecross and head over to Isle of Skye which isn't on the NC500 but we felt it was worth adding on.
First stop was Next stop was Aardvark castle ruins, a great view of the  surrounding fells and loch.
Some of the roads on the next section were quite narrow and steeper than expected so we took it slow.
When we reached the cafe at the bottom of the Bealach na Ba where we stopped for cake and hot chocolate ( i must admit i felt nervous for this section after reading the comment sonline)

It was actually a really nice drive, wasnt too steep and plenty of places to pull over for on coming traffic, it was wet and foggy but we stopped at the top to get a trig point photo before driving into Applecross and returning back over the pass.

Tonight we camped at Ullapool, it was so windy we wasnt sure the tent would survuve the night, but thankfully it did.

We then drove over to the Isle of Skye to camp for a couple of nights and explore.







OTHER THINGS TO DO IN THE  AREA

  • Red Point Beach
  • Gairloch Beach
  • Acheninver Beach
  • Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve
  • Inchnadamph and the River Caves

DAY 7-9 ULLAPOOL TO ISLE OF SKYE


We got to Isle of Skye just in time to pitch the tent, it was the first time we had experienced midges on this trip, they are worse when camping and nothing i find stops them biting, but lucky the kids dont get bitten.

The first trip here was the Fairy pools, the weather was cloudy and much cooler but they were magical and worth the visit, we had to weave our way over the boggy sections to be able to walk up to the top of the waterfalls. We stopped and let the kids paddle in the water.

We also took a walk to Walk up to the Old Man of Storr which was fantastic, and enjoyed a drive through the amazing hills and scenary with a stop at  the Quiraing, which is the largest landslip in the country is on the east coast of Trotternish.





OTHER THINGS TO DO IN THE  AREA

  • Walk to Neist Point Lighthouse
  • Explore the Fairy Glen
  • Visit Armadale Castle & Gardens

  • Climb the Cuillin

  • Seaprobe Atlantis

  • Loch Mealt

MORE DETAILS ON THE NC500

https://www.northcoast500.com/