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Join us on this 5 day tour (from Inverness) or 7 day tour (from Edinburgh) around the famous North Coast Five Hundred, a classic touring route showcasing the best of the far north. ‘Scotland’s Route 66’ is a spectacular 516 mile round trip from Inverness through stunning coastal scenery, peppered with iconic Scottish sights - castles, wild beaches, whisky and some of the best views in Scotland. The North Coast Five Hundred offers a truly unique touring experience, quite unlike anywhere else in the world.
- Glenmorangie Distillery
- Dunrobin Castle
- Strathnaver Folk Museum
- Smoo Cave and Durness
- Achmelvich Beach
- Assynt and Torridon mountains
- Fishing villages of Ullapool and Shieldaig
- Corrieshalloch Gorge
- Inverewe Gardens
- Bealach na Ba mountain pass
Optional extra day of touring to Inverness – see Day 1 of the following tour.
Inverness to Thurso: We leave the pretty capital of the Highlands and travel to our first stop in Tain at the famous Glenmorangie whisky distillery. One of the best-known malt whiskies in the world there will be an opportunity to tour the distillery and sample the ‘water of life’.
We cross the Dornoch bridge and hug the coastline towards spectacular Dunrobin Castle; a towering, fairy tale castle of the Northern Highlands inhabited since the early 1300s. There will be time for lunch, a castle tour and a stroll through the magnificent Versaille-inspired ornamental gardens.
It’s not long before we reach the famous photo stop and signpost at John O’ Groats. We’ll also visit wild Duncansby Head to admire the spectacular sea stacks before overnight in the delightful wee town of Thurso, a relative metropolis in these parts!
Thurso to Durness: We bid farewell to the most northerly town on the UK mainland and continue west towards Strathnaver Folk Museum to hear the tragic story of the Highland Clearances. At this picturesque folk centre we’ll also learn about the Gaelic and Norse heritage of northern Scotland.
As we travel towards Tongue we stop for a lovely short walk at ruined Castle Varrich. The views across the Kyle of Tongue towards Ben Hope are stunning. After a spot of lunch we continue our spectacular route around Loch Eriboll to Durness. The rocky coastline, pristine beaches and turquoise waters are truly a sight to behold.
We’ll visit Smoo Cave, an impressive sea cave set into the limestone cliffs of Sutherland and one of the most popular tourist attractions on the north coast. Overnight in Durness.
Durness to Ullapool: Our leisurely drive around the north-west corner of Scotland takes us along single-track roads through the sleepy crofting settlements of Scourie and Kylesku to the Rock Stop café in the North-West Highlands Geo Park.
Some of the oldest rocks in the world surround us here. There will be time to visit the remote white sands of Achmelvich beach before lunch in the fishing port of Lochinver.
The remarkable mountains of Inverpolly Nature Reserve such as Stac Pollaidh and Suilven are never far from view as we continue to 15th century Ardvreck Castle on the shores of Loch Assynt. From here it’s a short, spectacular drive to the pretty seaside village of Ullapool where we’ll spend the night and perhaps enjoy some harbour-fresh fish and chips.
Ullapool to Gairloch: Our first stop this morning is the hair-raising Corrieshalloch Gorge, a mile-long box canyon where you can test your head for heights by walking across the Victorian suspension bridge and viewing platform. There are fabulous photo opportunities of the dramatic crashing waterfalls.
We travel past whitewashed crofting cottages on the Gairloch peninsula to Inverewe Gardens. This National Trust for Scotland property is a unique botanical garden celebrating mankind and the natural environment. The warm currents of the Gulf Stream have nurtured an oasis where exotic plants from all over the world flourish on a latitude more northerly than Moscow.
We spend the night in Gairloch, a thriving West Highland community with sweeping views to the Isle of Skye.
Gairloch to Inverness: Our final day is another classic drive. We follow the beautiful shoreline of Loch Maree to Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre in the rugged landscape of Torridon. This area is well-known to climbers, photographers, wildlife enthusiasts and lovers of wild places. Mountains like Liathach and Beinn Eighe rise steeply from the road adding to the drama of this Wester Ross scenery.
We’ll stop at the picture-postcard fishing village of Shieldaig on Loch of Torridon. After coffee we follow one of the most famous roads in the country, the Bealach na Ba, a 2000 foot mountain pass to the village of Applecross for lunch. Weather permitting the views from here to the Isle of Skye and Outer Hebrides are sensational.
The final leg of this wonderful trip takes us cross-country to Rogie Falls for a delightful woodland walk and viewpoint over the famous salmon leap. Time to reflect on this epic road trip before the short journey back to Inverness.
Optional extra day of touring to Edinburgh – see Day 2 of the following tour.
Looking for a shorter tour? How about the Five Day Tour of Scotland?