If you’re looking for the ultimate Scottish road trip, then the NC500 route is definitely for you.
As well as festivals, vanlife is much about the great outdoors. So here’s our NC500 guide for campervans, put together with the help of the Dubbed Out Community.
This 516-mile circular route takes you through some of the most breathtaking scenery in Scotland, while passing through a number of charming villages and bustling towns. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to explore some of the country’s most famous landmarks, such as the Eilean Donan Castle and the Fairy Pools. In this guide, we’ve put together a comprehensive rundown of the NC500 route. Including the roads, must-visit attractions, and best camping spots for your campervan.
This NC500 route planner starts in the northern town of Inverness which sits at the northern end of the A9 Road. From there, the route heads west through the town of Beauly and onto the A832. The A832 will take you through the scenic and remote regions of Wester Ross and Sutherland, before heading towards the North Coast itself.
When you reach the town of Durness, you’ll have completed around half of the NC500 route. From there, the route heads south through the Highlands, passing by some of Scotland’s most famous attractions before returning to lnverness.
The NC500 route is predominantly made up of single track roads, which can require a little more attention and patience to navigate. However, the scenery that surrounds you will more than make up for any driving difficulties. Many of the single track roads on this route offer some of the best views of the Scottish Highlands, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to appreciate them.
There are also plenty of wider dual carriageways, or larger single track roads that form part of the route, meaning that you’ll get to enjoy a variety of driving experiences as you go.
Must-Visit Attractions: The NC500 route is filled with potential stops and must-see attractions, but here are some of the best:
1. Eilean Donan Castle: This castle is located on the west coast of Scotland and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
2. The Fairy Pools: These crystal-clear pools in the lsle of Skye are perfect for a refreshing swim, and offer some of the most stunning scenery in Scotland.
3. Dunrobin Castle: This stunning castle overlooks the Moray Firth and is home to some of the grandest gardens and architecture in the country.
4. The Kelpies: These impressive horse head sculptures sit alongside the Forth and Clyde Canal and represent the history of the area.
5. The Bealach na Ba: This dramatic road offers some of the most challenging driving conditions on the route, but it’s absolutely worth it for the stunning views it affords.
Camping Spots: Camping is a great way to experience the scenery and warmth of the Scottish countryside. Here are the best overnight campsites and wild camping spots for your NC500 adventure:
1. Applecross Campsite: This family-run campsite is situated on the west coast of Scotland and has stunning views of the Applecross hills. The campsite offers electric hook-ups and shower facilities
2. Sango Sands: This campsite is situated on the north coast of Scotland and offers stunning views of the north coast’s famous beaches. The campsite offers a range of pitches, including electric hook-ups.
3. Clachtoll Beach Campsite This campsite is situated on the west coast of Scotland and is located next to a beautiful sandy beach. Facilities include toilets and showers.
4. Scourie Caravan and Camping Park: This family-run campsite is situated on the north coast of Scotland and offers pitches with electric hook-ups, as well as toilets and showers,
5. Achmelvich Beach Campsite This campsite is located on the west coast of Scotland and is situated next to one of the most beautiful beaches in the country The campsite offers facilities including toilets and showers.
6. Loch Shin Wigwam Villages This unique campsite is situated on the shores of Loch Shin and offers a range of comfortable and spacious wigwams. There are also camping pitches available, with facilities including toilets and showers
7. Kinlochewe Caravan and Camping Site: This campsite is situated in the heart of the Torridon mountains and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The site offers a range of pitches including electric hook-ups.
8. Gruinard Bay Campsite: This campsite is situated on the west coast of Scotland and is located next to a beautiful bay. The site offers pitches with electric hook-ups, as well as toilet and shower facilities
9. Morvich Caravan Club Site: This campsite is situated in the heart of the Scottish Highlands and is located near to the famous Five Sisters of Kintail mountain range. The site offers pitches with electric hook-ups as well as toilet and shower facilities.
1 0. Sand Beach Campsite: This campsite is situated on the north coast of Scotland and is located next to a beautiful sandy beach, The campsite offers a range of pitches, including electric hook-ups.
wild camping in a campervan is regulated by the same Scottish Outdoor Access Code that applies to tents and other forms of camping.
However, there are some additional guidelines that campervan users should be aware of:
1. Campervans should park in a responsible and considerate manner, avoiding blocking access or causing damage to the environment.
2. Campervans should park only in designated areas, such as laybys or car parks, where overnight parking is permitted.
3. Campervans should not park in areas where there are signs prohibiting overnight camping or parking.
4. Campervans should not discharge waste, including grey water and sewage, onto the ground or into waterways. It is recommended to use designated waste disposal points.
5. Campervan users should respect the environment and wildlife, and avoid causing any damage or disturbance.
It’s important to note that while wild camping in a campervan is allowed in Scotland, there are also a number of campsites and caravan parks available throughout the country, some of which we’ve detailed above. These provide facilities such as lighting, shower facilities, and electricity, and can be a more comfortable option for those who prefer a more traditional camping experience.
Those who know the North Coast 500 well enough will have their own opinions of what are the best places to stop and possibly even the route itself but bear in mind this is a guide, not a law. Ultimately its about exploring this beautiful coastline.
For instance, Skye isn’t part of the official NC500 but as our good friend Baz Christie pointed out when putting this guide together, its so close to the route and such a beautiful place, then why not add it as a place to visit.
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