The North coast 500 is a scenic route along the coast through the highlands of Scotland. It’s divided into 6 main regions, 516 miles long and the official starting point lies in Inverness. Depending on what you prefer, you can either drive the route in 2 days or take 2 weeks to explore the regions and everything it has to offer.
Traveling from Lewis and Harris by ferry, we started driving the North coast 500 in Ullapool, a small fishing town off the west coast of Scotland. Before heading North, we did drive as south as Inverewe Gardens for a day trip. The gardens showcase plants from all over the world. Due to a mild climate temperatures never drop below 0 degrees celsius. When we were there the Rhododendrons were blooming, a beautiful sight! We spent about two hours in the gardens and had a nice lunch in the visitors center.
Ullapool is a nice little village. Fishing and tourism are the main sources of income. Two times a day a ferry leaves for Lewis and Harris and the village is a convenient stop along the NC500. We stayed here for two nights and you can plan several trips from here. There are some nice restaurants, a museum and several shops.
After Ullapool our next stop was Scrabster, all the way up north. We did not really spend a lot of time exploring the NC500 regions, we just enjoyed the scenic route to get to our next big destination: The Orkney Islands. On our way we made a view beautiful stops and had great lunch in a very tiny restaurant called 'The Shorehouse' close to Tarbert. We also visited Smoo caves just outside Durness. Unfortunately we could only visit the first cave, due to high waters the boat was not able to take us into the second and third cave.
After our stay on the Orkney Islands we drove our second part of the NC500 from Scrabster to Inverness. We also did this in one day, with some stops along the way. The first one was Castle of May, the summer residence of the Queen mum. After taking pictures from the outside, we drove to Duncansby Head, the most North-Eastern part of the UK. Here you can walka beautiful scenic route along the cliffs!
Next stop was Dunrobin Castle, a very different type of castle compared to what we have seen so far. It looks more like a romantic German style castle and it has a more French oriented garden. A small part of the castle is open for visitors.
Two more stops on the NC500; the Glenmorangie distillery and of course Inverness! unfortunately weather was not on our side. We walked trough the small city center and visited the beautiful Leakey's secondhand bookshop which is stated the largest in Scotland and located in a former church!
Inverness was the end of our NC500 road trip. We really enjoyed it! Next time I would definitely spend more time along the route, but as already mentioned, de road trip itself was not our main destination.
And what about photography? Unfortunately we had a lot of rain during the two days we drove the NC500. Photography-wise I found it difficult to take my time in the rain and look for nice pictures. For this reason I also did not use my tripod and only once made use of the golden hour at the end of the day. Trying to become a better photographer definitely asks more besides taking a whole lot of pictures. Although quantity is important for learning, I need to start planning my trips more carefully!