Friday, September 29, 2023

North Coast 500 motorhome Information- Route, Highlights and Suggestions

Planning to drive the North Coast 500 (NC500) in Scotland with a motorhome or campervan? Need to know the route, highlights and locations to see alongside the way in which, campsites, wild tenting and ideas? Right here’s every little thing it’s worthwhile to plan your North Coast 500 motorhome or campervan highway journey.

Don’t overlook to seize your FREE NC500 motorhome itinerary beneath to search out a few of the finest 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 elements of the nation that are off the crushed monitor.

It was created a number of years in the past, and is now referred to as one of many most 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 title!), though there’s nothing to cease you veering off and exploring further locations and sights alongside the way in which, such because the Isle of Skye or perhaps a journey to Orkney.

Keep in mind, though it’s ‘solely’ 500 miles, you can be driving totally on small, windy nation lanes and subsequently won’t be going quick, particularly when you’re driving in a motorhome.

At finest, you may count on to do 30mph on many sections- and that’s assuming there isn’t a 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 frequently, both for hikes, images or picnics.

Taking all this into consideration, we advocate permitting no less than per week to drive the North Coast 500 in a motorhome, campervan or perhaps a automobile. 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 enormous benefits of driving the North Coast 500 with a motorhome is that you’ve your private home with you, which means you don’t have to rush fairly a lot to make a sure city the place you’ve booked a resort 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 time), then make sure to permit loads of time to get there.

Finishing this way means that you can obtain emails with motorhome journey and highway journey ideas from Wandering Chicken.

We are going to by no means spam or promote your electronic mail particulars (yuck!) You possibly can unsubscribe from our emails at any time.

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, count on to should reverse your automobile incessantly, particularly on the sections that are single lane with solely passing factors to let visitors from the wrong way move (a motorhome reversing digital camera is ESSENTIAL in these conditions.)

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

In case you are unable or unwilling to do that, a North Coast 500 motorhome tour won’t 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 Street with a motorhome

That is the highway between Ardarroch and Applecross- both referred to as Bealach Na Ba or the Applecross Cross. It’s one of many steepest roads within the UK and has an indication initially warning learner drivers and drivers of huge autos to go round.

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

  • If in case you have a motorhome longer than 8m, go round.
  • In case you are towing a trailer/ have a caravan, go round
  • In case you are a brand new driver/ hiring a automobile which you’re not used to/ are a nervous driver (no disgrace), go round.
  • If in case you have nervous passengers, go round (it’s not value scaring somebody only for a fairly view)
  • In case you are driving by yourself, assume very fastidiously earlier than driving it. Lots of the hairpins are simpler when you 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, by myself, in thick fog. And it was fricking epic! 🙂

If in case you have performed any driving in massive mountains with a motorhome, just like the Vrsic Cross in Slovenia or up within the Alps, and are assured with hairpin bends, reversing, letting visitors move and coping with different highway customers, you can be completely effective.

The views are SPECTACULAR and effectively well worth the effort. I’d strongly advocate staying close by and driving this highway as early as you can- first mild is ideal.

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

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

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

B869 from Lochinver to Kylesku

One other highway which might trigger points is the B869 from Lochinver to Kylesku. In case you are heading to that peninsula, take the A837 again East after which keep on the A894 and you can be effective.

Scotland scenic drives
Kylesku Bridge

Highlights of a North Coast 500 motorhome journey

Among the finest locations to see on the NC500 motorhome route embrace:

  • Smoo Cave
  • Clashnessie Falls- this was magic!
  • Inverness- essentially 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 Citadel
  • Brora Seashore
Scotland road trip travel planner route map guide

Planning a visit to Scotland?

We’ve performed the onerous be just right for you!

Seize our full Scotland journey planner and get:

  • 80+ concepts for locations to go to
  • Maps and itinerary recommendations
  • Routes and issues to see alongside the way in which
  • Suggestions, customs and far way more!

North Coast 500 Route Planner

The NC500 is round, which implies you may be part of and depart 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 citadel. From right here, you may select whether or not you go across the route clockwise or anticlockwise. The preferred route is clockwise, however it actually doesn’t make a lot distinction.

The route is pretty effectively 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 may 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 present 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.

If in case you have time, head east from Inverness to go to the historic Culloden Moor and study extra concerning the clans, the battle and the historical past of the world. It’s extremely transferring and effectively value a go to earlier than you head off into the Highlands.

It’s additionally value a go to to Eilean Donan citadel, and when 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, stand 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 when you don’t cease (which you’ll!) 35 minutes driving (plus further 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- gorgeous views. Keep right here an evening and even two when you have time.

In fact, you may cut 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 it’s worthwhile to begin making some powerful selections when you solely have a number of days to do your complete North Coast 500 route, because it’s not possible to see every little thing.

Among the finest campsites alongside the west coast of Scotland is Clachtoll Seashore so, no matter you determine to see on the way in which, that’s the place I like to recommend ending up for the night time (in excessive season, you could have to 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 not possible to do every little thing on this space, particularly when 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 might simply be damaged into 2 and even 3 days when you have time.

At this time 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 way in which and stroll/ benefit from the surroundings, simply make sure to park effectively out of the highway. Wailing Widow Falls is a well-liked cease.

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

Smoo Cave is the most important 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 effectively signposted. It’s free to stroll to and across the cave and there may be typically a waterfall inside throughout moist climate.

It’s also possible to take a ship tour to the cave. You possibly can’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 (worth is round £6pp in money)

Scotland Travel Planner
Click on to study extra concerning the Scotland Journey Planner

Day 5- Durness to Dunnet Bay

Dunnet Bay is one in all our favorite campsites in Scotland. It’s a Caravan and Motorhome Membership website, and has essentially the most unimaginable views.

For those who get time, we extremely advocate taking a day journey to Orkney. Sure, you may take your motorhome or campervan and get there and again on the ferries.

Day Six- Dunnet Bay to Dornoch (through John o’Groats)

Sure, John o’Groats is tacky and touristy and overhyped… however you may’t come all this fashion and NOT get a photograph. You possibly can’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 Citadel- the gardens are lovely and the views are beautiful.

Day Seven- Dornoch again to Inverness

Distance: 45 miles

Estimated Time: 1 hour

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

In fact, you may at all times select to spend an additional day on the west coast and ignore this present day, however there are some beautiful issues to see within the space, together with the Dornoch Firth, Dornoch cathedral, Skibo Citadel, Inverness Citadel, and searching Nessie on Loch Ness.

Finishing this way means that you can obtain emails with motorhome journey and highway journey ideas from Wandering Chicken.

We are going to by no means spam or promote your electronic mail particulars (yuck!) You possibly can unsubscribe from our emails at any time.

North Coast 500 motorhome rent

For those who don’t already personal a motorhome or campervan, you may rent one for the journey. Make sure you ask the correct questions earlier than you ebook, as lots of the ‘finest quotes’ are lacking a few of the important stuff you may want, like bedding or utensils.

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

When is one of the best time to discover the North Coast 500 with a motorhome or camper?

Scotland, like many Northern European international locations, has ‘correct’ seasons. Nonetheless, there’s a purpose the locals have a phrase- ‘all 4 seasons in someday’… the climate is known 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 time.)

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

We advocate avoiding driving the NC500 throughout July and August fully when you can- the faculties are on vacation and in all places 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 onerous to get away from the crowds.

Our favorite occasions are Could/ June or October- a lot of the crowds have gone, however the climate is often nonetheless heat sufficient and the times are lengthy sufficient to essentially benefit from them.

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

Spring in Scotland

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

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 incessantly than Spring. The largest problem throughout summer time is the midges- extra on them beneath.

The primary summer time 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 one in all our favorite occasions 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 often the coldest months, with common temperatures of round 5°C (41°F). The sunlight hours are additionally a lot shorter and there’s a excessive likelihood of snow, particularly in larger areas.

While we take pleasure in motorhoming all 12 months spherical, winter could make campervanning in Scotland harder 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 contemporary water harder.

Having stated that, one enormous benefit of driving the North Coast 500 throughout winter is the prospect of seeing the Northern Lights– sure, you may often see them in Scotland.

Midge Season in Scotland

You could have heard of the midges in Scotland- small flying biting horrors which might 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 Could to September.

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

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

One other horrible insect/ bug to pay attention to is ticks- particularly when you have pets. They’re widespread throughout Scotland, so ensure you test your pet and your self incessantly, particularly when you’ve been mountain climbing 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 one in all our favorite methods to discover and we take pleasure in staying away from campsites and having fun with the great thing about nature.

Nonetheless, as you will have seen within the information, the NC500 has had some troublesome and heartbreaking experiences lately.

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

Throughout the summer time of 2020, there have been numerous tales of egocentric and ignorant van house owners 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 number of egocentric idiots had been ruining the expertise and status of each different motorhome and van proprietor and tarring us all with the identical brush.

For the time being, tensions are nonetheless excessive between the locals, the councils and van house owners. 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 present do NOT advocate wild tenting alongside the NC500 till the world (and the damage emotions of the locals) subside- we propose discovering permitted in a single day motorhome parking spots close to you as a substitute.

The councils are apparently working onerous to create new areas for motorhomes and campervans to remain and we extremely encourage you to make use of these each time you may.

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, lots of which accommodate motorhomes and campervans. We’ve listed some recommendations within the North Coast 500 motorhome itinerary above, however there are loads extra throughout summer time.

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

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

For those who’re early, there’s no hurt in turning up and seeing if they may allow you to check-in early- most locations are very accommodating if they’ve house.

In addition to campsites, you possibly can 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 monitor and there’s a lot of farming within the space, so you could effectively encounter farm autos and animals on the highway.
  • As well as, the wildlife within the space is considerable and it’s widespread to see foxes, deer, badgers and different animals on the roads. Watch out, particularly at night time.
  • On a single monitor highway, when you encounter a automobile coming in the direction of you, count on there to be a second the place you stare at one another to see who will blink first. For those who’re in a motorhome and are dealing with a automobile, there’s a excessive likelihood they’ll reverse to assist you to move (make sure to thank them). Nonetheless, in the event that they’re actually not budging, or if you recognize there’s a passing place near you, you may point out that you’ll reverse for them, until you could 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 automobile may effectively reverse for a motorhome.
  • Speaking of which, if you’re driving slowly and holding up visitors, use a passing place to wave by way 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 way of there’. Automobile drivers are usually not at all times used to the width of motorhomes, and are incessantly mistaken about what you may/ can’t get by way of safely. For those who’re not proud of the house 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 autos reversing in the 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. For those who block this house, you block the highway, for each vacationers and locals. Please be thoughtful.

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

Listed here are another guides you may discover helpful:

Don’t overlook to seize your motorhome logbook to document your whole superb adventures!

Scotland Travel Planner
Click on to study extra concerning the Scotland Journey Planner


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