NC500 Trip Sep – Oct 2022

This is a blog of our trip to Scotland in September and October 2022 to do the North Coast 500 route. The links to the various web pages for B&B’s, Hotels, Inns, Restaurants, Distilleries and other attractions were correct at the time of publishing.

Summer Isles viewed from Skylark B&B, Ardmair near Ullapool

General tips for people thinking of doing the NC500 themselves

1. Plan ahead! know where you are going to stay each night and where you are going to have dinner. a lot of places get booked up quickly and the chances of finding a bed for the night on spec or somewhere decent for dinner without a booking are slim. We traveled in September/October and all the accomodation was booked by the end of February and venues for dinner mostly were done at the same time. Some places only take bookings 3 months in advance so be aware of that if you like the look of a particular place.

2. Be realistic on the amount of driving you are going to do each day. You will want to stop off and visit various places and with a lot of the roads on the route being single track with passing places, 2 – 3 hours of driving on Google Maps is more like 3 – 4 hours of driving. We planned on 2 – 3 hours of driving and saw just about everything we wanted without feeling rushed anywhere.

3. A lot of the places round the route are seasonal and shut on 30th September until 1st March.

4. Midge season! By traveling late September we avoided the midges, the only place we saw any, and it was only a few, was on the last night near Loch Lomond.

5. Book flights and hire cars early. We booked ours in January and then checked to see if we could get a better deal 6 weeks and again a week before we travelled, the nearer it got to travel dates the more expensive cars and flights were.

6. Think carefully about hiring a campervan/motorhome. With 4 – 5 hours of driving every day on roads that require a lot of concentration, you need to ensure you have had a good nights rest! Also some of the most scenic parts of the route are not suitable for anything other than a car. If you’re thinking of taking a caravan, just don’t!! Roughly 30% of the route is single track roads with passing places that sometimes are half a mile apart with sheer and very long drops to the side of the road.

7. We flew up from Southampton to Edinburgh and picked up the hire car from the airport. The reason for this was it would have been the best part of a two day drive to get to Edinburgh and then a further 5 hours to get to Inverness for the start of the route. Driving from Dorset would have added 4 days to our trip. The hire car we used was a Peugeot 3008 diesel automatic. This worked well as it gave good vision, was economical fuel wise and with the narrow roads meaning a lot of stop/start the automatic gearbox was invaluable.