An ultimate Staycation North Coast 500 road trip

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Located along the rugged coastal edges of the North Highlands in Scotland, the North Coast 500 (NC500) is much more than your average road trip.

With its picturesque mountains, moorlands, hidden lochs and Highland Glens it’s not hard to see the appeal of this 516-mile route. With Dad’s BMW Z4 packed up for the weeks’ long drive ahead, we set off from London before reaching Inverness to start our trip.

The feeling of remoteness and the simple pleasure of driving through quiet scenic roads started from Beauly to Ullapool with some beautiful spots along the way like Bealach Na Ba Pass which, on a clear sunny day, is a petrolhead’s dream as you climb almost 2000ft on long winding road with the most picturesque view.

A road trip isn’t complete without a lunch spot and for me it had to be The Apple Cross Inn at the bottom of the Bealach Na Ba Pass. They’ve set up a ‘takeaway’ serving freshly caught monkfish and chips – the perfect fuel to get you going again after the seemingly never-ending climb up the single-track pass!

There were a few like- minded drivers on the road along the way which was great to see in their pride and joys as we passed other points of interest like Kylesku Bridge with its distinct curve and Puffin Cove one of UK mainland’s largest puffin colony. There were many fantastic landmarks along the unspoilt terrain that you almost take for granted but the favourite had to be seeing John O Groats signpost which marks ‘Journey’s End’ the very top part of the UK mainland.

After a few days and 250-300 miles of negotiating single-track lanes and passes, Bettyhill was a very welcomed stopover with beautiful coastal views of the Norwegian Sea and a well-earned whiskey – Highlands, of course!

We racked up some serious miles coming close to 1,700 miles of pure scenic driving experience. But nothing really comes close to experiencing the freedom of driving the long winding roads with a few pit stops (and some distilleries) along the way.


If you're looking for a scenic trip, I can thoroughly recommend the NC500 route - take a look at my tips below: 

Sam's NC500 Road Trip Tips 

Favourite landmark: There were many fantastic landmarks along the unspoilt terrain on our trip that you almost take them for granted. However if I had to choose, the favourite had to be at John O’Groats, looking across the coast and knowing you’re at the mostly northerly part of the UK mainland!

Favourite stopover: Bettyhill was definitely our favourite stopover. After 2 days and 250-300 miles of negotiating single-track lanes and passes, this was a very welcomed stopover with beautiful coastal views of the Norwegian Sea and a well-earned whiskey – Highlands, of course!

Favourite view: Looking back down the winding road of the Bealach Na Ba Pass after ‘climbing’ almost 2000ft is a petrolhead’s dream. A clear day is definitely recommended!

Favourite lunch/coffee stopover: The Apple Cross Inn at the bottom of the Bealach Na Ba Pass. They’ve set up a ‘takeaway’ serving freshly caught monkfish and chips – the perfect fuel to get you going again after the seemingly never-ending climb up the single-track pass!





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