The North Coast 500 (NC500) has been described as Scotland’s answer to Route 66. Read on to find out more and how you can combine it with a Loch Ness cruise from Dochgarroch.
I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more. Stirring lyrics from Scotland’s The Proclaimers. And, while the idea of actually walking the distance would be daunting to many, driving it is another matter.
In fact, thousands of people are now enjoying a tour of the Highlands of Scotland by following what’s been called the North Coast 500 (NC500). This stunning route – Scotland’s answer to Route 66 – has recently been named in the Top 10 coastal trips of the world.
The route takes you along some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland starting at Inverness Castle and winding its way northwards via Applecross, Kylesku and John O’Groats before heading down the east coast and back to the castle where the route finishes.
The route can be completed in a long week-end or over several weeks on a more leisurely basis and can be explored in a loop or in parts.
The starting point, Inverness Castle, is about to become an official Visitor Attraction over the next few years and, celebrating its 180th birthday this year, it is a magnificent building.
As well as being a great starting point for NC500, the castle is also the starting and finishing point for the Great Glen Way, the walking and cycling route from Inverness to Fort William.
Enjoy a loop of Loch Ness
From the castle you can see down the Great Glen to Loch Ness and another great driving route you can experience. We call it the LN100 as it is about 100 miles to circumnavigate Loch Ness from the castle.
You can drive first to Dochgarroch, to board the Jacobite Rebel for a cruise down mighty Loch Ness. Or you can carry on down to the Clansman Harbour for a short cruise on the Jacobite Warrior across and back to Urquhart Castle.
Then you can carry on to Drumnadrochit to the Loch Ness Monster exhibition and then on to Fort Augustus and round to Foyers where you can see the now destroyed former dwelling of Aleister Crowley and in modern times Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin.
The route can next be followed on to the village of Dores (home of the music festival Rock Ness) and you can return along the River Ness back to Inverness Castle to complete the Loch Ness 100.
The NC500 and LN 100 are two great routes you must get on your bucket list.
I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more … is it ringing in your ears?