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The North Coast 500: 'Scotland's Route 66'
SUMMARY: Following the beautiful rugged coastline of the North of Scotland, the NC500 has rapidly established itself as one of the truly great driving roads in the world.
Why not relax in luxury as we drive you safely through the very best Scotland has to offer in terms of scenery, history, culture, and more. From the comfort of one of our Mercedes vehicles you can soak up the atmosphere of Scotland’s dramatic landscapes whilst hearing the stories of Scotland’s complex history and sampling the delights of some of Scotland’s finest local cuisine.
This is a flexible tour and has been designed to accommodate a range of starting points before we start the NC500 from Inverness and travel along the rugged coastline to the most Northerly areas of Scotland.
DURATION: Seven Days but can be extended for clients wishing to spend more time in certain areas or split into several shorter trips.
STARTING POINT: The starting point given is Edinburgh but can be readily changed to accommodate client requirements.
HIGHLIGHTS & KEY LOCATIONS: Dunrobin Castle, John O’Groats, Black Isle, Poolewe Gardens, Torridon, Applecross, North West Highlands.
Day One: Departing from Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, we start our journey north by crossing the iconic Forth Bridges and heading towards Perth; Scotland’s former capital. From Perth we follow the Tay Valley to Pitlochry where we will stop for lunch. After lunch we will visit Blair Castle, ancestral home of the Duke of Atholl, before heading to Inverness where we will visit Clava Cairns and Culloden Battlefield prior to checking-in to our hotel for the night.
Day Two: Today we leave Inverness and commence our NC500 journey. Crossing the Kessock Bridge we travel into the Black Isle, an area famous for barley and Scotch beef. Lunch will allow us to sample the later while a visit to Glenmorangie Distillery show us how the former is converted into Malt Whisky. Time may allow us to visit some ancient religious and Pictish sites before we continue our drive north to Dunrobin Castle; ancestral home of the Duke of Sutherland.
Our route continues to follow the scenic coastal road northwards to Caithness, where we will spend the night at a Scottish Castle.
Day Three: We leave the luxury of our Scottish Castle and travel to John O’Groats and Dunnet Head; the most northerly point on the British mainland. From here, on a clear day, we can catch a glimpse of the Old Man of Hoy on the mystical Orkney Islands; 20 miles away across the Pentland Firth.
Our journey now turns westward to the charming town of Thurso and along the dramatic northern coastline to the Kyles of Tongue. We will spend the night in Altnahara famous for its fantastic trout and salmon fishing.
Day Four: Leaving Altnahara we will journey to Durness and visit the curiously named Smoo Cave before turing south through one on the remotest parts of Britain and some of the oldest rocks in the World; this is the UNESCO recognised Northwest Highlands Geopark.
We will take the time to walk amid the heather clad moors, perhaps enjoy a walk along one of the many unspoilt beaches, or to sample some freshly caught seafood before heading to Achiltibuie, where our hotel offers stunning views over the romantically named Summer Isles.
Day Five: Bidding farewell to the Summer Isles we travel through the stunning landscapes of the north-western highlands before stopping at the famous Poolewe Gardens. These gardens, warmed by the Gulf Stream are home to many beautiful and unusual plants.
After sampling some more of the superb Scottish seafood for lunch we continue our journey to Torridon where we will spend the night.
Day Six: Today we drive one of the most dramatic stretches of road in Britain. After lunch in the charming village of Applecross we make the ascent and then descent through the ‘Pass of the Cattle’, the Bealach na Bà, enjoying the thrill of hair-pin bends and dramatic views as we travel to Attadale gardens.
Our journey then continues via Achnasheen and Garve before arriving in Inverness with marks the ‘official’ end to the NC500. We will overnight in Inverness.
Day Seven: We depart Inverness and travel along the side of Loch Ness keeping a watchful eye for the famous Loch Ness Monster! Our first stop of the day is at Urquhart Castle, an ancient stronghold and home to Clan Grant. It was also the site of the first ‘official’ sighting of ‘Nessie’ by St Columba in the 6th century.
Our journey then continues through the Great Glen, along Loch Ness, Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. These natural lochs were used to form part of Thomas Telford’s famous feat of engineering, The Caledonian Canal which connects the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
After lunch we travel south through the haunting Glencoe and across Rannoch Moor before leaving the Highlands to end our journey in Edinburgh.
OVERNIGHT STOPS & ACCOMMODATION: We aim to stay in at least 4* accommodation at all overnight locations on this tour, but we are happy to advise on a range of alternatives from family run B&Bs to restaurants with rooms.