Driving The North Coast 500
Driving is one of the most versatile ways to travel on a holiday or a predetermined journey for the sake of leisure. You will have complete control over when you leave, where and when you stop and how long your sojourn will be.
The Coastal Route 500 is one of the most popular scenic routes in Europe and certainly amongst the top five in the UK. For this reason, you will encounter other visitors during your journey so be sure to be on the lookout for other cars as well as cyclists, motorcyclists and motorhomes, especially along the narrow stretches. Also, hikers as pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users and the least visible.
Apart from the obvious ensuring that your vehicle is well serviced, that you have four good tyres and plenty of screen wash, it is advisable to make sure that your spare wheel is in working order and that you have a wheel spanner in the emergency kit. Do not commence this route without a full tank of fuel and fill up regularly, a Highland mile feels much longer, and you do not want to run the risk of no fuel.
There are a lot of towns, villages and hamlets along the way and if you’re using a reliable map, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a filling station as you progress along the journey. Don’t forget to take a paper copy of the map as well, the signal can be varied and will usually cut out when you need it most.
When driving this route, you can choose whether you’d like to camp overnight or indulge in greater luxury by booking a B&B or a hotel room where available. It won’t take long for the Wow factor to kick in so be prepared to pull into your accommodation on the first night or two later than expected. It’s not simply the views; you’ll want to feel the sand on those pristine beaches and listen to the birdsong.
It’s important to remember that this is an experience, not a race and you may get stuck behind other vehicles on the bends and narrow stretches, don’t let that annoy you. Rather stop off and enjoy a piece of scenery, a cup of tea in a remote spot or slowly relax and rejuvenate with those awe-inspiring sea views.
During the high season, you may want to book ahead to ensure that there is somewhere to stay overnight and don’t be afraid to hunt to find the little gems that are hidden away off the beaten track. Weather is unpredictable so be sure to have multiple changes of both warm and cool clothing and the sun gets very bright during the summer, so eye protection is essential.
Don’t forget that while a mile is a mile no matter how you measure it, travelling a mile on a highland road will take considerably longer than going a mile on the motorway, so when planning your journey, bear this in mind. You will want to stop and take in the glorious natural beauty, rather than experiencing the frustration of making it to the next evenings overnight stay. Rather add a day or two to the trip and enjoy it more.