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North Coast 500 Private Tour

Discover the NC500 - Scotland’s own ‘route 66’ - with a private tour of one of Europe’s last great wildernesses. The spectacular 516 mile coastal touring route takes you on a circular journey from the Highland capital of Inverness to the dramatic and remote coastal roads around the north coast of Scotland. Explore one of the world’s greatest road trips in the comfort of one of our chauffeur driven vehicles. With around 200 miles of the North Coast 500 route on single track roads, you’ll be glad you let someone else do the driving while you relax and take in the striking scenery.

 

Book a three- or five-day tour with us and choose which stops you want to make along the way. The NC500 showcases the best the Scottish Highlands has to offer. Visit fairy tale castles, famous distilleries, world-renowned golf courses, dramatic cliffs and deserted white sandy beaches. For those looking for more action, there are watersport centres, wildlife tours and coastal and mountain walks to enjoy. As locals originally from the area, we can organise private boat trips and other activities for those who are looking for a bit more adventure.

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NC500 highlights include:

 

  • A visit to the world-famous Glenmorangie Distillery in Tain.

  • The fairy tale Dunrobin Castle near Golspie.

  • John O’ Groats – the famous start point of many ‘End to End’ challenges to Land’s End.

  • Smoo Cave and the headlands of Durness.

  • Suilven and the awe-inspiring Assynt mountain range.

  • Torridon – home to the Torridon Activities centre.

  • The award-winning botanical gardens at Inverewe on the Atlantic coast.

 

Our private North Coast 500 tours are for parties of up to six people and include:

 

  • Your own tailored tour itinerary.

  • Chauffeur driven transport to some of the most beautiful, remote parts of Scotland.

  • Guidance on hotel stays and places to eat.

  • Information sheets about the landmarks, villages and attractions that you visit.

  • Photographs taken at every location and posted on Google Photos to enjoy and share.

  • Pick-up and drop-off from your accommodation or the airport of your choice.

 

We’ll work with you to make the most of the time you have for your NC500 tour and create a breathtaking experience that you will remember forever. 

Beautiful Torridon

boat tours available on Loch Torridon

www.torridonribcharter.com

North Coast 500 Scotland's Route 66

This can be a 3 or 5 day trip ..... you decide

Clockwise

DAY 1 - AM

 

Hope you enjoyed the trip up to Inverness.
It may be lunch time already so after your visit to Inverness Castle, take a stroll round across the bridge to The Kitchen Brasserie for a delicious lunch time menu. 

PM

 

Time to hit the road, follow the NC500 out of Inverness and through the towns of Beauly and Muir of Ord before heading west-bound. Enjoy the stunning scenery as you drive, spotting the islands of Skye and the Hebrides from the west coast. Be aware of the infamous Bealach Na Ba with its steep gradients and bends – worth it for the stunning scenery! Stop past the hidden gem; The Potting Shed Caféif you are in need of some fresh air and a delicious pick-me-up. 

Get ready to unwind at your home for the evening; the luxurious, 5* - The Torridon offers an unparalleled welcome in the grounds of the amazing retreat. Explore the grounds and book yourself in for dinner at the 3 AA Rosette ‘1887’ restaurant followed by a nightcap in the Whisky Bar, which has over 350 whiskies to choose from.  

DAY 2 - AM

 

Torridon


After a wonderful evening and a sumptuous breakfast, it is ready to resume the adventure.  Begin the day with the an activity with the Torridon team, whether it be archery, mountain-biking or clay pigeon shooting, you will of course, have a great time. 

Please note, activities must be booked at least 24 hours in advance.

PM

 

Gairloch/Poolewe


Once you have had a bite to eat, it is time to get back on to the road. Following the North Coast 500, you will find yourself immersed in amazing scenery.  Big Sands beach in Gairloch is calling your name!  Stop past for fresh air, a walk and of course an obligatory photograph!

A short drive away will bring you to Poolewe. Check in to your hotel for the evening; The Poolhouse. The gorgeous and elegant boutique hotel has an emphasis on design and you can find rooms inspired by the destinations of the HMS Naval Unit who were based in Poolewe during the Second World War.  The hotel also has an accredited restaurant serving delicious local produce – book your seats for a wonderful evening in the restaurant. 

Sometimes after a delicious dinner, an evening walk is just what you need. Enjoy the fresh Highland air and take a stroll through the town of Poolewe, admiring the views of Loch Ewe. 

DAY 3 - AM

 

Poolewe


Rise and shine! Perhaps you fancy another taste of adventure? Ewe Canoeis close by in Aultbea and offers kayaking adventures across the Loch Ewe, alternatively, take the short drive back to Gairloch to try one of the, Glass Bottom Boat Wildlife Cruises.

PM

 

Aultbea – Ullapool - Lochinver


Time for lunch, the Perfume Studio Café in Aultbea is the perfect stop for a delicious light lunch and also boasts a gift shop featuring amazing local produce and  locally crafted soaps and gifts. 

Spend the afternoon driving through the amazing scenery of Gruinard Bay, Loch Broom, the An Teallach mountains and of course take a moment to explore the main town of Ullapool. 

With many options to choose from tonight, we suggest The Albannach, the home of the North Highlands’ only Michelin Star. Another boutique hotel situated in the lovely village of Lochinver, The Albannach’s welcoming hosts will ensure you experience a stay you won’t forget. Check in for dinner in the evening to sample some of the Michelin-starred produce available here.

DAY 4 - AM

Durness


We hope you slept well. Back on the road and just a short drive away is the picturesque Durness. explore Smoo Caves, Britains largest sea cave and admire the sights of Sango Sands and Balnakeil Bay. Why not also take a stroll along to see the John Lennon Memorial Garden. Did you know, John Lennon used to holiday here when he was young, so much so, that it is said that this location inspired many of his songs? 

If you are fan of golf, don’t miss an opportunity to get a few holes in on the Durness Golf Club, which overlooks a stunning seascape. (Please note, visitors to the course are asked to contact the secretary in advance to inform them of their arrival at lucy@durnessgolfclub.org)

Why not try Mackays Hotel, Durness  for a spot of lunch before you head off? With all locally sourced produce, you can certainly get a taste of the area! 

Before you leave remember to refuel and why not stop past the luxury chocolatier Cocoa Mountain and pick up some truffles for friends and family (or yourselves!).

PM

 

John O’Groats - Wick


Back on the North Coast 500 route now, passing through the amazing scenery of Ben Loyal, Ben Hope and Loch Eriboll. Be careful whilst driving as our friendly sheep and Highland Coo’s tend to like walking along the road too! 

After a beautiful drive east-bound you will find yourself in John O’Groats! Take a picture of yourself with official signpost with the Orkney Islands in the background. You don’t get much more north than this!  

Heading south now, check yourself in to Ackergill Tower? Set in a stunning 3,000 acre private estate, overlooking Sinclairs Bay, you can enjoy another night of indulgence in this classic Castle.

DAY 5 - AM

 

Wick – Helmsdale - Golspie


Time to get back on to the road; remember to refuel before you leave.

Follow the billowing road down the coastal edges of the east coast, soaking up the beautiful seascape as you go. Remember to take caution at Berriedale as there is a sharp hair-pin bend here on the edge! Have time? Why not pop in to the award-winning Timespan in Helmsdale to discover more about the heritage and culture of the area. 

With so much history to discover along the east coast, it wouldn’t quite be right without a stop to the stunning fairytale Dunrobin Castle just outside Golspie. The castle is the family seat of Clan Sutherland and boasts extravagant grounds featuring a awe-inspiring falconry and gardens.

PM

 

Dornoch – Tain – Inverness


After a busy morning stop by Dornoch Castle Hotel for a delicious lunch and warm hospitality. Dornoch is also home a mile-long stretch of beautiful sands – perhaps a walk in the sunshine is a perfect way to walk off a delicious lunch? 

On the route down, stop past the famous Glenmorangie Distillery in Tain to take the managers tour of the distillery and discover more about the range and what goes in to the whisky to make it one of Scotland’s finest. 

Jumping back on to the North Coast 500, follow the long stretch of road back down the east coast, taking in the stunning scenery. It is your last night, so why not spend the evening discovering the Capital of the Highlands a little more. Check in to Culloden House Hotel and enjoy your last night of premium Highlands hospitality.


Anti-Clockwise

DAY 1  AM  Accommodation recommendation Culloden House or Kingsmill Hotel  

Inverness – Tain – Dornoch

Hope you enjoyed the drive up to Inverness. Fonab Castle in Pitlochry (voted no1 in Europe) is a good place to stop en-route. The new viewing platform for the salmon fish ladder is located in the grounds and opened in Sept 2018.

 

After discovering the city It may be lunch time already so after your visit to Inverness Castle, take a stroll over the river Ness to The Kitchen Brasserie for a delicious lunch time menu.


You may also want to get on the road so stop by Dornoch Castle Hotel for a great lunch and warm hospitality. Dornoch is also home to a mile-long stretch of beautiful sands – perhaps a walk in the sunshine is a perfect way to walk off a delicious lunch. Royal Dornoch golf course is rated the 6th best in the world, Dornoch Cathedral is also highly rated for beauty and architechture.

Jumping back on to the North Coast 500, follow the long stretch of road back up the east coast, taking in the stunning scenery.

PM

 

Golspie – Helmsdale - Wick

With so much history to discover along the east coast, you have to stop at the stunning fairytale Dunrobin Castle just outside Golspie. The castle is the family seat of Clan Sutherland and boasts extravagant grounds featuring an awe-inspiring falconry and gardens. Look out for the imposing statue of the Duke of Sutherland that dominates the landscape.

Follow the billowing road up the coastal edges of the east coast, soaking up the beautiful seascape as you go. Remember to take caution at Berriedale as there is a sharp hair-pin bend here on the edge! Have time? Why not pop in to the award-winning Timespan in Helmsdale to discover more about the heritage and culture of the area. 

Accommodation recommendation Mackays Hotel in Wick

Located on the shortest street in the world, Ebenezer Place, rated No1 accommodation in Wick, the hotel restaurant No 1 Bistro is also highly rated.

DAY 2 - AM 

Wick - John O’Groats

 

If you want to explore Wick there is the 5 star rated Heritage Museum telling of the time 2,000 Herring boats were moored in Wick harbour. This generated the successful Old Pultney Whisky distillery in the heart of the town which allows you to bottle your own personal whisky momento. Heading north, Ackergill Tower is worth a visit. Set in a stunning 3,000 acre private estate, overlooking Sinclairs Bay, you can enjoy another night of indulgence in this classic Castle. Unfortunately from January 2019 this has returned to a private residence.

 

After a beautiful drive east-bound you will find yourself in John O’Groats! Take a picture of yourself with official signpost with the Orkney Islands in the background. You don’t get much more north than this!  


Back on the North Coast 500 route now, passing through the amazing scenery of Ben Loyal, Ben Hope and Loch Eriboll. Be careful whilst driving as the friendly sheep and Highland Coo’s tend to like walking along the road too! 

 

Lunch at the Castle of Mey, Highland residence of the Queen Mother, is highly recommended. The coffee shop/ restaurant is located outside the castle. You have the option of visiting the castle or the grounds but don’t forget to bring a packet of polo mints to feed Alice the Donkey!

PM

Durness


Back on the road and just a short drive away is picturesque Durness. explore Smoo Caves, Britain’s largest sea cave and admire the sights of Sango Sands and Balnakeil Bay. Why not also take a stroll along to see the John Lennon Memorial Garden. Did you know, John Lennon used to holiday here when he was young, so much so, that it is said that this location inspired many of his songs? 

 

Why not stop past the luxury chocolatier Cocoa Mountain in Balnakeil and pick up some truffles for friends and family (or yourselves!). Balnakeil beach is also one of Scotlands finest.

If you are a fan of golf, don’t miss an opportunity to get a few holes in on the Durness Golf Club, which overlooks a stunning seascape. (Please note, visitors to the course are asked to contact the secretary in advance to inform them of their arrival at lucy@durnessgolfclub.org)


Accommodation recommendation Kinlochbervie Old School B&B, IV27 4RH

 

DAY 3 - AM

 

Lochinver – Ullapool – Aultbea

 

Now you start to see the real highland mountains.

 

With many options to choose I suggest The Albannach, the home of the North Highlands’ only Michelin Star. Another boutique hotel situated in the lovely village of Lochinver good for a coffee break. The Albannach’s welcoming hosts will ensure you experience a visit you won’t forget. Sample some of the Michelin-starred local produce available here. Imposing Suilven dominates the landscape along with the breathtaking Assynt Mountain range.

 

Spend the afternoon driving through the amazing scenery of Gruinard Bay, Loch Broom, the An Teallach mountains and of course take a moment to explore the main town of Ullapool.

 

Time for lunch, the Perfume Studio Café in Aultbea is the perfect stop for a delicious light lunch and also boasts a gift shop featuring amazing local produce and  locally crafted soaps and gifts.

PM 

 

Poolewe - Gairloch

 

Perhaps you fancy another taste of adventure. Ewe Canoeis close by in Aultbea offers kayaking adventures across the Loch Ewe, alternatively, take the short drive back to Gairloch to try one of the Glass Bottom Boat Wildlife Cruises.

 

A short drive away will bring you to Poolewe. Depending on time this is an option for accommodation check in to The Poolhouse Hotel for the evening . The gorgeous and elegant boutique hotel has an emphasis on design and you can find rooms inspired by the destinations of the HMS Naval Unit who were based in Poolewe during the Second World War.  The hotel also has an accredited restaurant serving delicious local produce – book your seats for a wonderful evening in the restaurant over looking Loch Ewe. If it is still too early to stop drive on to Gairloch.

 

Following the North Coast 500, you will find yourself immersed in amazing scenery.  Perhaps the Big Sands beach in Gairloch is calling your name!  Stop past for fresh air, a walk and of course an obligatory photograph!

 

Passing through the beautiful town of Gairloch you come to our highly recommended second recommendation for accommodation after Poolewe (a few miles south of Gairloch) from the victorian era The Shieldaig Lodge Hotel, Gairloch, IV21 2AN   Tel: 01445 741333

 

DAY 4 - AM

Torridon - Shieldaig

 

As you leave Gairloch you could hire a boat Glendale Boat Hire Tel 01445 712228 take a sail out to sea fish off the side or look out for seals, dolphins and whales.

 

Get your cameras ready. I recommend driving the couple of miles south to the view point at the south end of Kinlochewe there is a car park that gives you the view down the valley to Loch Maree (see photo above, top right, with winding road).

 

Back down the road to Kinlochewe and turn into Torridon. The luxurious, 5* - The Torridon offers an unparalleled welcome in the grounds of this amazing retreat. Explore the grounds and book yourself in for lunch at the 3 AA Rosette ‘1887’ restaurant followed by a dram in the Whisky Bar, which has over 350 whiskies to choose from.  The Torridon Inn also do a great lunch at more reasonable prices. Book an activity with the Torridon team, whether it be archery, mountain-biking or clay pigeon shooting, you will of course, have a great time (activities must be booked 24 hours in advance).

 

Continue to Shieldaig where you can charter a rib charter boat (see above) for a trip around Loch Torridon. Why not get dropped off across the bay in Diabaig (where they filmed the Hollywood movie Loch Ness starring Ted Danson) for another lunch option at The Gille Brighde then get collected again.

 

PM

Lochcarron – Eilean Donan Castle – Fort William - Glencoe

You must take the Applecross Road don’t miss the turning! Taking you past the iconinc red roof croft (photo above) Enjoy the stunning scenery as you drive, spotting the islands of Skye and the Hebrides from the west coast. Stop past the hidden gem; The Potting Shed Café if you are in need of some fresh air and a delicious pick-me-up. Be aware of the infamous Bealach Na Ba (gaelic for cattle pass) with the steepest descent in the UK – worth it for the stunning scenery! Better going down than up!

 

Eilean Donan Castle is the most photographed castle in Scotland. If you want to explore Fort William stay in the Inverlochy Castle Hotel for your last night. If you fancy the run for home then through beautiful Glencoe and you are into the Loch Lomond National Park and safely home.

Well done!

You have completed the North Coast 500

Completed it Clockwise now try it Anti-Clockwise ....