North Coast 500 (Self-Drive):
Inverness, Gairloch, Ullapool, Durness, and Thurso
The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle. The North Coast 500 (Also known as NC500) was designed to bring together the best of the north Highlands of Scotland in one iconic touring route.
2 Nights Inverness Area
2 Nights Gairloch/Ullapool Area
1 Night Durness/Tongue Area
2 Nights Thurso/Wick Area
Entrance to Corrieshalloch
Gorge Nature Reserve
Entrance to Glen Ord
North Coast 500 Map
8-Day Compact Manual
Note: All the entrances are only offered April-October
You arrive today in Inverness and pick-up your rental car. Head out to Fort George to exchange your Scottish Heritage Pass (Only April-October) voucher for actual pass and visit Culloden Battlefield, the scene of the 1746 battle between the Jacobite and the British armies. As the last battle being fought on British soil, Culloden marks the beginning of the dismantlement of the structures of Highland society. In the aftermath of the battle, kilts and tartans were banned. It was here that the Jacobite army fought for a Stuart king in order to reclaim the throne of Britain from the Hanoverians. Overnight in Inverness area hotel.
After your breakfast continue towards the Applecross peninsula. Home to just 238 people, and accessed by only two roads, this is a haven from the noise and clutter of modern life. The Gaelic name for the area, 'a Chomraich', means 'The Sanctuary'. Its not the easiest place to get to but you'll never forget the journey or the time you spend here, however brief. Panoramas to the Outer Hebrides and south to the Kintail mountains will keep you gazing until you need to descend to the village for warmth and sustenance. Overnight in Torridon / Gairloch area hotel.
(Breakfast, Inverness; Accommodations, Torridon or Gairloch)
After your breakfast continue towards the Applecross peninsula. Home to just 238 people, and accessed by only two roads, this is a haven from the noise and clutter of modern life. The Gaelic name for the area, 'a Chomraich', means 'The Sanctuary'. Its not the easiest place to get to but you'll never forget the journey or the time you spend here, however brief. Panoramas to the Outer Hebrides and south to the Kintail mountains will keep you gazing until you need to descend to the village for warmth and sustenance. Overnight in Gairloch or Ullapool area hotel.
(Breakfast, Inverness; Accommodations, Gairloch or Ullapool)
In the morning, you'll enjoy a visit to Inverewe Gardens, a lush, tropical oasis perched on a peninsula at the edge of Loch Ewe amid the rugged landscape of Wester Ross. Continue on to Corrieshalloch Gorge Nature Reserve. Corrieshalloch may mean 'Ugly Hollow' in Gaelic, but there is nothing ugly about it, a deep tree-shrouded chasm and beauty spot that cuts through a Highland wilderness rich in flora and fauna. Corrieshalloch is a slot gorge, or box-canyon, that was cut as far back as 2.6 million years ago by Ice Age glacial meltwater. The River Droma forges through the gorge, dramatically dropping 328 ft through a series of waterfalls, including the thunderous 145 ft high Falls of Measach. Numerous trails open up the gorge to walkers, with a Victorian suspension bridge where you'll have a dizzying and exhilarating experience looking down on the torrent of water plunging below. Overnight in Gariloch or Ullapool area hotel.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Gairloch or Ullapool)
As you depart Durness this morning, visit Smoo Cave, a dramatic and spectacular sea and freshwater cave set into the limestone cliffs in Sutherland. Partway through the cave you'll view the 65ft waterfall of the waters of the Alta Smoo. In the afternoon, visit Caithness Horizons Museum in Thurso, an enthralling visitor attraction which acts as a hub for the surrounding Caithness area. The magnificently restored building houses a permanent exhibition which tells the story of the county from the geological period known as the Devonian (about 416 to 359 million years ago) to the present day. Overnight in Thurso/Wick area.
(Breakfast, Gairloch or Ullapool; Accommodations, Durness or Tongue)
Today, after a hearty Scottish breakfast, you might head to John O'Groats, a small Highland coastal village and the most northerly place on mainland Britain. Situated in an extreme location, the village boasts fantastic unspoiled scenery and offers wonderful landscapes and wildlife that is very special to this area, including a breathtaking array of birdlife on the local cliffs as well as seals, dolphins, and Minke and Killer whales. Discover the unusual site of the Waligoe Steps, a man-made stairway of between 330 and 365 flagstone steps, leading to Whaligoe Haven, which was originally a landing place for fishing boats.
(Breakfast, Accommodations, Thurso or Wick)
On your way to Inverness, you'll want to call ahead before making a detour to Muir de Ord to visit the Glen Ord distillery the only remaining single malt scotch whisky distillery on the Black Isle. Watch distillers at work creating a magical malt whisky which is sweet, malty and dry on the palate. Taste their principal product, an eponymous 12-year-old single malt whisky. Return to Inverness for your last night.
(Breakfast, Thurso; Accommodations, Inverness)
After breakfast, drop off your rental car or continue on to another Avanti destination!
** Itinerary and inclusions are subject to change