scotland · united kingdom

Photo Friday: 40 Amazing Views From The NC500 Road Trip In Scotland

“I can’t believe how many mountains there are in Scotland!” my friend squealed as we turned another corner to yet another amazing view.

The North Coast 500 had blown both of us away – my friend, because she hadn’t visited Scotland outside of Edinburgh and had no idea how beautiful it all is; and me, because I’ve lived here most of my life and had no idea this was all right on my doorstep.

As the NC500 has been more and more hyped up over the last few years (marketed as “Scotland’s answer to route 66”, which it isn’t, but why let that get in the way of a good marketing campaign?), I felt like I was setting myself up for disappointment.

Spoiler alert: I was not disappointed in the slightest. In fact, holding my expectations firm and not buying into the hype almost made it better, because the entire route is truly incredible.

And in case you’re wondering what it’s all about, here are 40 photos from my recent jaunt around the route.

If you want our full itinerary, head on over to my camping guide for the NC500 route!

Lochcarron, Scotland

Lochcarron – this village was our first official stop on the North Coast 500, as we’d driven up through Glencoe and dipped into Skye for a couple of days before starting it. So although we didn’t start from Inverness, we got a pretty good start to the route!

Bealach Na Ba, Applecross pass, Scotland
Bealach Na Ba, Applecross pass, Scotland, NC500, North Coast 500 road trip

One of the most famous views of the NC500 – Bealach Na Ba, unofficially known as the Applecross pass. This single-track road was so much fun to drive, but isn’t for the faint-hearted!

Highland cows, road from Applecross to Torridon, Scotland
Highland cow between Applecross and Torridon, Scotland

Bumping into some locals on the road between Applecross and Torridon!

Torridon, Scotland

Torridon is one of the most picturesque villages (if you can even call it a village, it is that tiny!) I’ve ever been to!

Sunset at Torridon, Scotland
Sunset at Torridon, Scotland
Sunset at Torridon, Scotland

Sunset in Torridon – followed by one of the best nights of stargazing I’ve ever had! Camping has its moments, and this is one of the best.

Torridon is also a fantastic place to spend some time. We didn’t have much on this trip, but I’ve been back since and it’s fabulous. Even though we spent a night here, I wish we’d given ourselves more time on the days either side.

Viewpoint near Ullapool, Scotland, North Coast 500, NC500 road trip
Heather on the North Coast 500, Scotland
The road to Torridon, Scotland

Driving towards our next stop: Ullapool.

Ice cream in Ullapool, Scotland
Ullapool, Scotland
Ullapool, Scotland

Ullapool is way smaller than I expected it to be – I always imagined it to be around the same size as Kirkwall in Orkney, but it’s absolutely tiny! It’s even smaller than Stromness, which is a quarter of the size of Kirkwall.

It has plenty of facilities though, and is by far the largest stop until Thurso, so stock up on supplies before continuing your journey north.

From Ullapool, you could take a detour from the NC500 and head out to the Outer Hebrides instead – curious? Read my post all about Lewis & Harris here!

North Coast 500 road trip, Scotland, NC500
North Coast 500, Scotland

Enjoying being out on the road again finding these absolutely phenomenal views in Assynt.

North Coast 500 road, Scotland
Sheep near Stac Pollaidh, North Coast 500, NC500, Scotland

Saying hello to some more locals in Assynt.

Assynt is my absolute favourite section of the North Coast 500 – in fact, I’ve written an entire post about it here, complete with even more spectacular photos!

Road to Clashnessie, Scotland, with sheep in the road, North Coast 500 road trip, NC500
Clashnessie, Scotland, NC500, North Coast 500 road trip

Some of Scotland’s many beautiful beaches are also in Assynt – Clashnessie and Achmelvich are two of the highlights.

Achmelvich beach, Scotland
Achmelvich beach, Scotland

Chilling out on Achmelvich Beach for the afternoon – a great place to sunbathe and take a dip in the sea. Yes, you read that right!

Sunset, Achmelvich beach, Scotland, NC500, North Coast 500 road trip

The view from our tent by Achmelvich beach while we cooked dinner!

Clashnessie, Scotland

Spot the sheep – she had been plonked in front of the phone booth when we drove past, which would have made a fantastic photo, but nevertheless she needed to be in the photo even if she had moved by the time we walked there.

We are still in Assynt, by the way – it really is that amazing!

Clashnessie waterfall, Scotland, North Coast 500, NC500 road trip

Clashnessie Falls – the start of a waterfall-filled day!

Path to Wailing Widow falls, Assynt, Scotland
Wailing Widow falls, Assynt, Scotland

Wailing Widow Falls is completely hidden from the main road, but luckily we knew roughly where it was and stopped. Even more luckily… we looked over the edge and noticed a path down below. We had to drive a bit further down the road to find the start of it!

Wailing Widow falls on Loch na,Gainmhich, Scotland, NC500, North Coast 500 road trip

10000000% worth the walk!! In fact, I’d go as far as to say this is my favourite waterfall in Scotland.

View somewhere towards Durness, Scotland, NC500, North Coast 500 road trip

Even when the weather takes a turn, Scotland still throws up the good stuff.

Durness beach, Scotland

Durness beach – finally on the north coast, and it was so windy the night before that I was convinced our tent was going to end up down there!!

Smoo Cave, Durness, Scotland
Smoo Cave, Durness, Scotland
Smoo Cave, Durness, Scotland

Smoo Cave is a highlight of any NC500 road trip! It’s blimmin’ massive (in fact it’s one of the biggest sea caves in the UK)! We also took a boat tour inside the cave and got our geology on. The tour is really interesting and highly recommended!

Unfortunately the waterfall inside the cave wasn’t turned on, even though it had been raining a lot. I didn’t even know it dried up, so that was a surprise. So here’s a bonus photo, because I’ve been back since when the waterfall was back doing its thing!

Smoo Cave, Durness, Scotland
View along to Tongue, Scotland, NC500, North Coast 500 road trip

I thought the scenery might calm down along the north coast… nope!

Sangobeg beach, North Coast 500, Scotland, NC500 road trip

We passed SO MANY amazing beaches along the north coast, but this was probably one of the best ones… I think this is Sangobeg beach, although I may be wrong because there really were quite a few beaches!

It certainly gives the west coast a run for its money!

Dunnet Head lighthouse, the most northerly point of Scotland mainland

Dunnet Head – the most northerly point of mainland Britain (NOT John O’ Groats, as many people think!). In the background you can see Orkney!

We did of course make an obligatory stop at John O’ Groats too, because you have to.

Duncansby sea stacks, Scotland

If you make it to John O’ Groats, DO NOT MISS these amazing sea stacks out at Duncansby Head, as I did for almost 30 years. Ridiculous, huh? The stacks are gigantic and so impressive in real life – I’ve noticed that photos rarely do them justice.

Dunrobin Castle, Scotland

And finally – one of my absolute highlights of the whole route and in my view an outstanding way to end the trip. Dunrobin Castle is absolutely magical! Make sure you also catch the falconry show if you’re there before April and September, because it’s easily the best part of visiting the castle – followed by a meander around the absolutely stunning gardens.

Please feel free to check out our itinerary for this fantastic route around northern Scotland. Keep an eye out for more posts too as I’ve got plenty more where this has come from!

The more I explore Scotland, the more I am so happy to call this place home.

And with these views around, I’m sure you can see why!

Where are some of your favourite stops on the North Coast 500?

Want to read more about the North Coast 500? Excellent! I’ve actually driven most of it a few times, so I’ve got a few more posts here:
A Camping Guide To The North Coast 500
Adventures In Assynt: My Favourite Area Of Scotland
50 Photos To Make You Want To Visit Orkney
Climbing Stac Pollaidh, One Of Scotland’s Best Hikes
7 Coastal Walks In Orkney You Need To Take

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40 Amazing Views From The North Coast 500 Road Trip In Scotland

26 thoughts on “Photo Friday: 40 Amazing Views From The NC500 Road Trip In Scotland

  1. Great photos and the North Coast 500 looks fantastic, well worth doing. Been to Scotland so many times and it never fails to impress. There aren’t many more beautiful places in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a few Scottish relatives and one great Aunty we literally call ‘mad Margaret’ as she is quite frankly, MAD. Anyway she always says that if Scotland had hot weather it would be the worlds most popular holiday destination. And these photos show exactly why!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The next time I’m in Scotland I really want to take this road trip! All your photos are beautiful and showcased the landscape so well. If you hadn’t said, I would never have guessed those beaches were in Scotland! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s funny how easy it is to miss amazing places to visit near home. I am really glad you explored this Clazz, now I feel like Marc and I need to do this too. What a ridiculously pretty route! It makes me itch to go hiking!

    I love the way Scottish mountains are so sort of curved. I guess they are older, so more worn down by glaciers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, they are definitely not as jaggedy (or snowy!) as Canadian mountains! Or tall! lol. There are so many fantastic hikes you’d love here. We did one in Glencoe that was really tough because there were thousands (!) of steps, but the views were PHENOMENAL. Like nothing that I’ve ever seen – or expected – in the UK!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You have me convinced already! It’s similar in Ireland. The mountains are not that big, but they can still feel tough, and the views are faaaabulous.


  5. These pictures are absolutely stunning. I just landed in the UK and they make me want to abandon all my plans, get on a car and drive to Scotland for these amazing views. Also, the highland cows might be my favourite thing, they’re so cute

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the northern parts of Scotland (though the rest is pretty nice too). I’ve done most of this route so many times, including many times before it had a name and a marketing campaign but I’ve never done the Applecross bit. Massive oversight I know and I will get there one day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh the Applecross pass was definitely a highlight! I really enjoyed the drive between Applecross and Torridon too, it’s all coastal single track road and that’s where we bumped into the herd of highland coos. 🙂 Apparently deer are common around there too but typically we didn’t see any on our entire trip! (EVEN IN GLENCOE, DAMMIT)


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