North Coast 500 motorhome Information- Route, Highlights and Suggestions

North Coast 500 motorhome Information- Route, Highlights and Suggestions

North Coast 500 motorhome Information- Route, Highlights and Suggestions

Planning to drive the North Coast 500 (NC500) in Scotland with a motorhome or campervan? Wish to know the route, highlights and locations to see alongside the best way, campsites, wild tenting and suggestions? Right here’s every part you could plan your North Coast 500 motorhome or campervan highway journey.

Don’t overlook to seize your FREE NC500 motorhome itinerary beneath to search out among the greatest locations to go to

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North Coast 500 Motorhome Journey

The North Coast 500 is a round driving route in Scotland, created by the Scottish Vacationer Board to encourage individuals to go to components of the nation that are off the overwhelmed observe.

It was created a number of years in the past, and is now generally known as one of the crucial scenic drives in Scotland, encompassing breathtaking seashores, rugged and wild panorama and a few unimaginable views.


How lengthy does it take to drive the NC500 in a motorhome?

The route is 516 miles lengthy (therefore the identify!), though there’s nothing to cease you veering off and exploring extra locations and sights alongside the best way, such because the Isle of Skye or perhaps a journey to Orkney.

Bear in mind, though it’s ‘solely’ 500 miles, you may be driving totally on small, windy nation lanes and due to this fact won’t be going quick, particularly should you’re driving in a motorhome.

At greatest, you possibly can anticipate to do 30mph on many sections- and that’s assuming there isn’t any farm visitors or wildlife within the highway.

There are additionally PLENTY of highlights and locations to see alongside the NC500 route, so you’ll most likely be stopping commonly, both for hikes, images or picnics.

Taking all this under consideration, we advocate permitting at the least per week to drive the North Coast 500 in a motorhome, campervan or perhaps a automotive. That is the 7-10 day itinerary and North Coast 500 route planner we used.

It’s doable to do it in much less, however you’ll miss loads. Conversely, some individuals permit two and even three weeks to discover the route and all it has to supply.

One of many large benefits of driving the North Coast 500 with a motorhome is that you’ve got your property with you, that means you don’t must rush fairly a lot to make a sure city the place you’ve booked a lodge reservation.

We’ll speak about wild tenting with a motorhome alongside the NC500 shortly, but when you’re going to ebook campsites upfront (important in summer season), then remember to permit loads of time to get there.

Finishing this way permits you to obtain emails with motorhome journey and highway journey suggestions from Wandering Fowl.

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Is the NC500 appropriate for motorhomes or campervans?

So, with all these small lanes, can you actually drive the North Coast 500 in a motorhome?

Completely… with circumstances.

Firstly, anticipate to need to reverse your automobile steadily, particularly on the sections that are single lane with solely passing factors to let visitors from the wrong way move (a motorhome reversing digicam is ESSENTIAL in these conditions.)

You’ll need to have the ability to reverse your automobile alongside a slim lane each in a straight line and round tight corners, till you attain the earlier passing level.

If you’re unable or unwilling to do that, a North Coast 500 motorhome tour may not be best for you. (Don’t fear, there are many different locations to go to on a UK motorhoming vacation.)

READ MORE: The BEST NC500 campsites for motorhomes and campervans


Driving Bealach Na Ba/ Applecross Highway with a motorhome

That is the highway between Ardarroch and Applecross- both known as Bealach Na Ba or the Applecross Go. It’s one of many steepest roads within the UK and has an indication originally warning learner drivers and drivers of enormous automobiles to go round.

Right here’s the deal on should you ought to drive Bealach Na Ba with a motorhome or not:

  • When you’ve got a motorhome longer than 8m, go round.
  • If you’re towing a trailer/ have a caravan, go round
  • If you’re a brand new driver/ hiring a automobile which you’re not used to/ are a nervous driver (no disgrace), go round.
  • When you’ve got nervous passengers, go round (it’s not value scaring somebody only for a reasonably view)
  • If you’re driving by yourself, suppose very fastidiously earlier than driving it. Lots of the hairpins are simpler you probably have a spotter to search for oncoming visitors.
  • If the climate is dangerous/ heavy rain/ snow/ thick fog- go round. You received’t see any of the views anyway.
North Coast 500 Motorhome Tour, Route, Map and Itinerary
North Coast 500 Motorhome Tour, Route, Map and Itinerary

Having stated all of the above, I drove Bealach na Ba in my motorhome, alone, in thick fog. And it was fricking epic! 🙂

When you’ve got accomplished any driving in massive mountains with a motorhome, just like the Vrsic Go in Slovenia or up within the Alps, and are assured with hairpin bends, reversing, letting visitors move and coping with different highway customers, you may be completely advantageous.

The views are SPECTACULAR and nicely definitely worth the effort. I might strongly advocate staying close by and driving this highway as early as you can- first gentle is ideal.

Get there earlier than the vacationer buses and idiots who don’t perceive how a big automobile wants swinging room with a view to go round corners.

Simply bear in mind, native lorries use this highway every day with none issue- it’s the vacationers who typically trigger the issue.

Nonetheless, should you’re undecided, the choice route may be very scenic too, so both manner works.


B869 from Lochinver to Kylesku

One other highway which may trigger points is the B869 from Lochinver to Kylesku. If you’re heading to that peninsula, take the A837 again East after which keep on the A894 and you may be advantageous.

Scotland scenic drives
Kylesku Bridge

Highlights of a North Coast 500 motorhome journey

A number of the greatest locations to see on the NC500 motorhome route embrace:

  • Smoo Cave
  • Clashnessie Falls- this was magic!
  • Inverness- probably the most northerly metropolis within the UK
  • Corrieshalloch Gorge
  • Bealach Na Ba- the UK’s steepest highway.
  • Clachtoll Seashore 
  • Kylesku Bridge
  • John o’Groats 
  • Dunrobin Fort
  • Brora Seashore
Scotland road trip travel planner route map guide

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  • Maps and itinerary options
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North Coast 500 Route Planner

The NC500 is round, which suggests you possibly can be part of and go away the route wherever you want. There’s additionally nothing to cease you solely driving a small part of it- like we included in our 10-day Scotland highway journey itinerary.

Historically, the route begins and ends in Inverness, on the fort. From right here, you possibly can select whether or not you go across the route clockwise or anticlockwise. The most well-liked route is clockwise, nevertheless it actually doesn’t make a lot distinction.

The route is pretty nicely signposted, and far of it’s alongside quiet and distant lanes, so there’s not an excessive amount of likelihood of getting misplaced (nonetheless, you possibly can at all times put the route into your motorhome sat nav, simply in case!)


North Coast 500 Route Map

North Coast 500 Route Map

North Coast 500 motorhome Itinerary

To offer you an thought, right here’s a tough itinerary for driving the North Coast 500 with a motorhome or camper (or perhaps a caravan!)

Day One- Inverness to Ardarroch

Distance: 68 miles

Estimated Time: 1h half-hour driving

Campsite Suggestion: The Wee Campsite– small however with nice views of the loch.

When you’ve got time, head east from Inverness to go to the historic Culloden Moor and be taught extra in regards to the clans, the battle and the historical past of the realm. It’s extremely shifting and nicely value a go to earlier than you head off into the Highlands.

It’s additionally value a go to to Eilean Donan fort, and should you can, do a detour to the Isle of Skye for a day or two.


Day Two- Ardarroch to Applecross/ Sands

If you wish to drive Bealach Na Ba, rise up early. If not, go round.

Distance: 76 miles in total- 12 miles over the move, then one other 17 miles to the Applecross Smokehouse, and 47 miles to Gairloch

Estimated Time: 2h 45 minutes should you don’t cease (which you’ll!) 35 minutes driving (plus additional for photograph stops) over the move, 38 minutes across the coast, then one other 90 minutes as much as Gairloch and Sands campsite

Campsite Suggestion: Sands Campsite in Gairloch- beautiful views. Keep right here an evening and even two you probably have time.

After all, you possibly can break up this into two days, and keep at Applecross for an evening if you want earlier than driving as much as Gairloch.


Day Three- Gairloch to Clachtoll Seashore

That is when you could begin making some powerful selections should you solely have a couple of days to do the complete North Coast 500 route, because it’s unimaginable to see every part.

Among the finest campsites alongside the west coast of Scotland is Clachtoll Seashore so, no matter you resolve to see on the best way, that’s the place I like to recommend ending up for the night time (in excessive season, chances are you’ll must ebook for a few nights.)

North Coast 500 Motorhome tour
North Coast 500 Motorhome tour- Clachtoll Seashore and Campsite

As I discussed earlier than, it’s unimaginable to do every part on this space, particularly should you solely have a day or two.

Corrieshalloch Gorge is value a go to and so is Clashnessie Falls, which is close to the breathtaking Clashnessie seashore. Ullapool, Lochinver and Achiltibuie all deserve a go to too, so do your analysis and see what appeals most.


Day 4- Clachtoll to Durness

One other longish day which may simply be damaged into 2 and even 3 days you probably have time.

Immediately you’ll drive over the well-known Kylesku Bridge, in addition to having fun with some extra unimaginable surroundings. There are many locations to cease alongside the best way and stroll/ benefit from the surroundings, simply remember to park nicely out of the highway. Wailing Widow Falls is a well-liked cease.

Close to Durness, you’ll additionally discover Smoo Cave, which is nicely value a go to.

Smoo Cave is the biggest pure sea cave within the British Isles, with proof of human inhabitance from as early as 8000 BC!

The cave is only a mile east of Durness Village and is nicely signposted. It’s free to stroll to and across the cave and there’s typically a waterfall inside throughout moist climate.

It’s also possible to take a ship tour to the cave. You may’t ebook the boat- it’s run on a first-come, first-served foundation and solely when the climate and water circumstances are proper. The tour takes about 20 minutes (value is round £6pp in money)

Scotland Travel Planner
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Day 5- Durness to Dunnet Bay

Dunnet Bay is considered one of our favorite campsites in Scotland. It’s a Caravan and Motorhome Membership web site, and has probably the most unimaginable views.

If you happen to get time, we extremely advocate taking a day journey to Orkney. Sure, you possibly can take your motorhome or campervan and get there and again on the ferries.


Day Six- Dunnet Bay to Dornoch (by way of John o’Groats)

Sure, John o’Groats is tacky and touristy and overhyped… however you possibly can’t come all this fashion and NOT get a photograph. You may’t drive your motorhome as much as the publish, however you CAN get your motorbikes up there…

In addition to John o’Groats, there are additionally the stacks at Duncansby Head and the magnificent Dunrobin Fort- the gardens are stunning and the views are attractive.


Day Seven- Dornoch again to Inverness

Distance: 45 miles

Estimated Time: 1 hour

And that’s it- you’ve accomplished the NC500!

After all, you possibly can at all times select to spend an additional day on the west coast and ignore at the present time, however there are some beautiful issues to see within the space, together with the Dornoch Firth, Dornoch cathedral, Skibo Fort, Inverness Fort, and looking Nessie on Loch Ness.

Finishing this way permits you to obtain emails with motorhome journey and highway journey suggestions from Wandering Fowl.

We’ll by no means spam or promote your e mail particulars (yuck!) You may unsubscribe from our emails at any time.


North Coast 500 motorhome rent

If you happen to don’t already personal a motorhome or campervan, you possibly can rent one for the journey. Make sure you ask the proper questions earlier than you ebook, as lots of the ‘greatest quotes’ are lacking among the important belongings you may want, like bedding or utensils.

Additionally, make it possible for motorhome insurance coverage is included within the quote- that may add loads in any other case.


When is the most effective time to discover the North Coast 500 with a motorhome or camper?

Scotland, like many Northern European international locations, has ‘correct’ seasons. Nevertheless, there’s a purpose the locals have a phrase- ‘all 4 seasons in at some point’… the climate is legendary for altering wildly on the drop of a hat.

It may be sunny within the morning, windy and cloudy by lunch, and even snowing within the afternoon (though it’s uncommon to get snow in summer season.)

One of the best climate is normally between April-October… however that’s additionally when this route is at its busiest.

We advocate avoiding driving the NC500 throughout July and August utterly should you can- the colleges are on vacation and all over the place is over-crowded. The draw back with this route is that EVERYONE is following the identical roads, on the identical velocity, so it’s very exhausting to get away from the crowds.

Our favorite instances are Might/ June or October- many of the crowds have gone, however the climate is normally nonetheless heat sufficient and the times are lengthy sufficient to actually benefit from them.

Having stated that, rain can strike at any second, so at all times be ready with applicable clothes, it doesn’t matter what month you’re visiting.

Spring in Scotland

Spring in Scotland (March, April and Might) is wonderful- so many wild flowers and all the child animals are out to play. Common temperature is 10°C and there’s nonetheless the excessive likelihood of rain, however crowds are fewer and also you’ll have the ability to discover with out too many automobiles.

Summer time in Scotland

Summer time (June, July and August) is peak season in Scotland because it has the warmest months, with common temperatures round 17°C (63 °F). Days are lengthy and the additional north you go, the longer the daylight lasts.

Rain can occur, however much less steadily than Spring. The largest problem throughout summer season is the midges- extra on them beneath.

The primary summer season holidays within the UK are July and August, so if you’re driving the North Coast 500 throughout peak season, you may profit from reserving up campsites upfront.

Scotland road trip
Scotland motorhome highway journey journey

Autumn in Scotland

Autumn (September, October and November) is considered one of our favorite instances to go to Scotland. The altering colors of the leaves, the wildlife and the pretty heat temperatures make it excellent for a highway journey.

Common temperatures are round 14°C (57°F), however drop sharply in November.

Winter in Scotland

December, January and February are normally the coldest months, with common temperatures of round 5°C (41°F). The daylight are additionally a lot shorter and there’s a excessive likelihood of snow, particularly in greater areas.

While we take pleasure in motorhoming all 12 months spherical, winter could make campervanning in Scotland tougher than throughout different seasons.

Lots of the campsites shut so, though the roads are quieter and also you’ll have some unimaginable areas to your self, you may discover emptying waste or getting recent water tougher.

Having stated that, one large benefit of driving the North Coast 500 throughout winter is the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights– sure, you possibly can often see them in Scotland.


Midge Season in Scotland

You’ll have heard of the midges in Scotland- small flying biting horrors which may flip a nice night right into a depressing affair.

Sadly, regardless of not being a goal for mosquitoes, they appear drawn to each me and my husband, so now we make an effort to keep away from peak season, which is Might to September.

Some tricks to fight the midges if they’re out to get you might be:

  • Keep indoors at dusk- that’s once they’re at their worst
  • Gentle Citronella candles/ use citronella spray
  • Use Avon Pores and skin So Smooth physique spray (this factor is superior!)
  • Put on a midge veil/ hat
  • Avoid nonetheless water
  • Go someplace windy (no jokes about baked beans please…!)

One other horrible insect/ bug to concentrate on is ticks- particularly you probably have pets. They’re frequent throughout Scotland, so ensure you examine your pet and your self steadily, particularly should you’ve been mountaineering or strolling in lengthy grass.

North Coast 500 Motorhome Tour, Route, Map and Itinerary
North Coast 500 Route, Map and Itinerary

Wild Tenting with a motorhome on the NC500

We love motorhome wild tenting in Scotland. It’s considered one of our favorite methods to discover and we take pleasure in staying away from campsites and having fun with the great thing about nature.

Nevertheless, as you might have seen within the information, the NC500 has had some tough and heartbreaking experiences just lately.

Study extra about how we discover free in a single day motorhome parking stops within the UK and Europe

Through the summer season of 2020, there have been numerous tales of egocentric and ignorant van homeowners leaving locations broken and strewn with all method of disgusting waste.

It was terrible and I don’t blame the locals for being offended. It made me offended that a couple of egocentric idiots had been ruining the expertise and fame of each different motorhome and van proprietor and tarring us all with the identical brush.

In the intervening time, tensions are nonetheless excessive between the locals, the councils and van homeowners. The reality is that the recognition of the route has grown to the purpose that the infrastructure can now not assist the numbers of visitors- particularly those that deliver their very own vans.

For that purpose, we at the moment do NOT advocate wild tenting alongside the NC500 till the realm (and the harm emotions of the locals) subside- we recommend discovering permitted in a single day motorhome parking spots close to you as an alternative.

The councils are apparently working exhausting to create new areas for motorhomes and campervans to remain and we extremely encourage you to make use of these at any time when you possibly can.

Motorhome wild tenting guides for the UK & Europe

Motorhome wild parking guide

North Coast 500 motorhome Campsites

The North Coast 500 has many beautiful campsites, a lot of which accommodate motorhomes and campervans. We’ve listed some options within the North Coast 500 motorhome itinerary above, however there are lots extra throughout summer season.

The issue with many of those campsites is that they shut throughout winter and the low season, so it’s fairly exhausting to get water or empty waste or discover in a single day parking in these instances. Nonetheless, there are a couple of that are open all-year round.

TOP TIP: Many campsites solely help you examine in from 3 or 4 p.m, after which the workplace closes round 7pm. Timing your arrival could be tough, so permit loads of time to ensure you don’t arrive too late.

If you happen to’re early, there’s no hurt in turning up and seeing if they’ll allow you to check-in early- most locations are very accommodating if they’ve area.

In addition to campsites, you would use Brit Stops that can assist you discover locations to remain in a single day.

Clachnessie Falls - North Coast 500 motorhome tour
Clachnessie Falls – North Coast 500 motorhome tour

Suggestions for driving the NC500 with a motorhome or camper

  • Remember that lots of the rural roads are single observe and there’s a lot of farming within the space, so chances are you’ll nicely encounter farm automobiles and animals on the highway.
  • As well as, the wildlife within the space is ample and it’s frequent to see foxes, deer, badgers and different animals on the roads. Watch out, particularly at night time.
  • On a single observe highway, should you encounter a automobile coming in direction of you, anticipate there to be a second the place you stare at one another to see who will blink first. If you happen to’re in a motorhome and are going through a automotive, there’s a excessive likelihood they’ll reverse to help you move (remember to thank them). Nevertheless, in the event that they’re actually not budging, or if there’s a passing place near you, you possibly can point out that you’ll reverse for them, except you might have a automobile behind you… which is when the enjoyable actually begins. On hills, the automobile going uphill has precedence, so the automobile going downhill ought to reverse however, once more, a automotive may nicely reverse for a motorhome.
  • Speaking of which, if you’re driving slowly and holding up visitors, use a passing place to wave by means of automobiles, bikes or anybody caught behind you- they’ll thanks for it.
  • Do NOT get sucked in by one other driver telling you that ‘you may get a bus by means of there’. Automotive drivers should not at all times used to the width of motorhomes, and are steadily unsuitable about what you possibly can/ can not get by means of safely. If you happen to’re not proud of the area they’ve left you, both ask them to maneuver over extra, otherwise you reverse till you discover a passing place you’re proud of.
  • Equally, be alert for automobiles reversing in direction of you. Cease instantly and see the place they’re going. Additionally, bear in mind that they might not see you. Some drivers get so intent on reversing straight and never hitting the facet of the highway that they overlook to look straight behind them. In the event that they get too shut, beep your horn.

NOTE: a passing place is NOT an in a single day parking spot. Neither is it someplace to park up and go for a stroll/ take a photograph/ make a phonecall. If you happen to block this area, you block the highway, for each vacationers and locals. Please be thoughtful.

  • Having a paper map is a good suggestion, simply in case. Additionally, you probably have wifi in your motorhome, some areas have very poor sign, so it may not at all times work.

Listed here are another guides you may discover helpful:

Don’t overlook to seize your motorhome logbook to document all your wonderful adventures!

Scotland Travel Planner
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