Best Routes for Touring Scotland in a Motorhome or Campervan
There are several scenic routes in Scotland that you can explore by motorhome, car, campervan, and motorcycle None of them are cast in stone so it’s a great idea to add road trip excursions to the routes.
North Coast 500
This 500-mile route is one of the most popular self-drive routes in Scotland, offering stunning views of the coast, mountains, and castles.
Some of the popular places to visit on Scotland’s North Coast 500 are:
Inverness: A vibrant city on the east coast of Scotland, known for its history, culture, and scenery. John o’ Groats: A remote village on the northeastern tip of Scotland, with stunning views of the Pentland Firth and the Orkney Islands. Dunrobin Castle: A grand castle near Golspie, with gardens, falconry displays, and a museum. Smoo Cave: A dramatic sea cave near Durness, with an underground waterfall and a chamber. Ullapool: A picturesque fishing village on Loch Broom, with a harbor, beaches, and seafood restaurants.
This is the most popular campervan and motorhome route with probably the best views in Europe. It can be very busy at certain times of the year, but for the best colours the Autumn months are the most spectacular and even snow-capped mountains.
South West Coastal 300:
This 300-mile route takes you through the Galloway Forest Park, the Mull of Galloway, and the Solway Coast.
The South West Coastal 300 is a circular route that follows the coast of Dumfries & Galloway and into southern Ayrshire. Some of the popular places to visit on this route are:
Galloway Forest Park: A vast forested area with scenic drives, hiking trails, wildlife, and stargazing opportunities. Mull of Galloway: A rugged peninsula that offers panoramic views of the Irish Sea and the Inner Hebrides. Whithorn Priory: An ancient monastery that dates back to the 12th century, with ruins, a museum, and a visitor center. Portpatrick: A charming coastal village with a harbor, beaches, cliffs, and a lighthouse. Culzean Castle: A grand castle that sits on a cliff overlooking the Firth of Clyde, with gardens, trails, and a visitor center.
These places offer a variety of attractions and activities for motorhome travelers, such as hiking, sightseeing, photography, and more. You can also find many other interesting places along the South West Coastal 300 route that suit your interests and preferences.
North East 250 Route
This 250-mile route covers the Cairngorms National Park, the Moray Firth coast, and the Speyside whisky region.
Some of the popular places to visit on Scotland’s NE250 route are:
Braemar: A pretty town in the Cairngorms National Park, known for its Highland Games and royal connections Aberdeen: A vibrant city on the east coast of Scotland, with a rich history, culture, and nightlife Dunnottar Castle: A dramatic cliff-top fortress near Stonehaven, with stunning views of the North Sea Whisky distilleries: Speyside is home to some of the most famous whisky distilleries in Scotland, such as Glenfiddich, Macallan, and Glenlivet Forvie National Nature Reserve: A wildlife haven on the Moray Firth coast, with sand dunes, salt marshes, and seabird colonies Slains Castle: A ruined castle near Cruden Bay said to have inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula
The NE250 is a route that shows the beauty of the east coast of Scotland, Aberdeen (Granite City) is the gateway to the North Sea, Iceland, The Shetland Isles and the Orkneys and is the Hub of the North Sea Oil. It boasts a bustling port and plenty to see and do!
Argyll Coastal Route
This 129-mile route follows the west coast of Scotland from Tarbert to Fort William, passing through picturesque villages, lochs, and beaches.
Some of the popular places to visit on Scotland’s Argyll Coastal Route are:
Tarbert: A picturesque fishing village on Loch Fyne, known for its seafood, yachting, and castle ruins. Kilmartin Glen: An ancient valley with over 800 prehistoric monuments, such as standing stones, cairns, and rock art. Crinan Canal: A scenic waterway that connects Loch Fyne to the Atlantic Ocean, with nine locks and stunning views. Oban: A bustling town on the west coast of Scotland, with a lively harbor, seafood restaurants, and ferry connections to the Hebrides. Mull of Kintyre: A rugged peninsula that offers panoramic views of the Irish Sea and the Inner Hebrides.
The Argyll Coastal Route Starts in Tarbet on Loch Lomond north of Glasgow and follows a stunning route to the Seaport of Oban (home to Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries and a major sea route to the Outer Hebrides), Kinlockleven to Fort William, a Larger town with all the amenities for shopping, fuel, and food.
Outer Hebrides and Skye
These islands offer some of the most scenic and remote routes in Scotland, with rugged landscapes, white-sand beaches, and ancient ruins.
Some of the popular places to visit on Scotland’s Outer Hebrides and Skye are:
Isle of Skye: A rugged island with dramatic landscapes, such as the Cuillin Mountains, the Old Man of Storr, and the Fairy Pools. Stornoway: A bustling town on the Isle of Lewis, with a harbor, museums, galleries, and shops. Callanish Stones: An ancient stone circle on the Isle of Lewis, with a visitor center and a museum. Luskentyre Beach: A stunning white-sand beach on the Isle of Harris, with turquoise waters and dunes. Dunvegan Castle: A historic castle on the Isle of Skye, with gardens, a museum, and boat trips.
This route has great opportunities to expand your road trip to take in all the Hebridean Islands. Calmac Ferries link all the islands on a regular timetable and booking in advance is a must. Taking your time is the key to the Outer Hebrides, giving you a chance to enjoy the peacefulness of these beautiful islands and an understanding of how these communities live. A truly unique part of Scotland that should not be missed.
Scotland NC500 & Passing Places – How long does the north coast 500 take?
Scotland NC500 & Passing Places
The North Coast 500 is a scenic driving route that covers approximately 500 miles (805 kilometers) around the northern coast of Scotland. The time it takes to complete the NC500 will depend on a number of factors, such as your pace, stops you plan to make, and the activities you want to do along the way.
Typically, it takes around 5-7 days to complete the North Coast 500 route, but this can vary depending on your preferences. Many people like to take their time, stopping at many different locations, while others complete it more quickly. The NC 500 can be challenging at times, with winding single-track roads with passing places, so it’s important to take your time and enjoy this stunning route.
The North Coast 500 is a fantastic way to experience all the stunning scenery and rich culture of Scotlands Route 66 and can be tailored to fit your schedule and interests.
Driving on single-track roads in Scotland can be quite daunting to some people but in a short time you will have it mastered and will be able to enjoy the unique and exciting experience, but it requires some preparation and attention to safety.
Here are some tips on how to drive on single-track roads in Scotland:
Take it slow: Above all take your time, you will enjoy it much more! Single-track roads are narrow and winding, so it’s important to drive at an appropriate speed. Always be prepared to slow down or stop for oncoming traffic or animals.
Single Track-Roads and Passing Places
Use passing places:
Single-track roads often have designated passing places and in most cases they are within sight of each other. Pull into the space on your side of the road or adjacent to the space when it’s on the other side of the road and allow oncoming traffic to pass. Using the passing places to allow drivers to overtake you when they are behind you. ( This practice is recommended by Police Scotland and you will see signs along the roads that advise this) Use these passing places when necessary, and be sure to thank other drivers with a wave or nod. Do not use them as parking spots as this could cause congestion that is very difficult to undo!
Watch out for wildlife:
Scotland is known for its diverse wildlife, including deer, sheep, and cows (The Highland Coo!). Be prepared to slow down or stop if you encounter animals on the road, especially in late winter and early spring during the lambing season.
Always give them plenty of space (Sheep have zero road sense!)
Be prepared for the weather:
Scotland’s weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared for rain, fog, or even snow, however, these conditions make the scenery even more amazing! Ensure your vehicle is in good condition, carry a map or satnav, and take some warm clothing.
Be courteous to other drivers: Let fast drivers that catch you up overtake at the passing places, it’s considered courteous and helps with the flow of traffic. Use your headlights to signal other drivers, and always give way to larger vehicles such as buses or trucks.
Scottish Castles List Map
Touring Scottish Castles on the NC500 Route
The North Coast 500 is Scotland’s ultimate road trip route, passing by castles, wild animals, and other natural treasures. The route is not set in stone so you can carve your own route and take in other Scottish coastal villages and castles, and there is plenty of them!
Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, is the starting and ending point of the 516-mile route. Inverness is renowned for both its historical and cultural attractions as well as for its vibrant shopping, eating, and entertainment scene. Leaving Inverness, you head westward through a lovely region where, in the fall, leaping salmon may be seen on the rivers.
Next, on the North Coast 500, you’ll travel to one of the UK’s steepest roads, climbing up the Balach Na Ba to Applecross, a remote peninsula in Wester Ross.
Out of this world stunning, views of Skye and Raasay, it has a rich history as one of Scotland’s first settlements and is home to an important archaeological site. When you’re ready to leave Applecross’ seascapes, immaculate beaches, and “edge of the world” vibe, it’s time to go north via the mountain roads of the Torridon district to return to the coast at Gairloch. You may have a picnic on the sandy beaches or go whale watching, deep sea fishing, or snorkeling on a boat tour here.
The Castles of Scotland
After arriving at Ullapool, you can explore the area by sea kayak or go on a trip to view the wild horses, eagles, seals, and dolphins. Ullapool is a great location to attempt fly fishing or just take in lunch by the seaside for a more leisurely excursion (Check out the Fish & Chip Restaurant near the ferry terminal!!).
If time permits, why not get a ferry across The Minch from Ullapool to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides? The Outer Hebrides are not on the NC500 but the island communities provide excellent produce and the landscape will challenge the best of photographers. It is worth the 3-hour ferry trip for a few days exploring these unbelievable islands.
You’ll reach the county of Caithness after traveling along the north coast in your motorhome or campervan and take in the breathtaking scenery. This outdoor playground offers pristine beaches, castles straight out of Game of Thrones, mysterious brochs, and hill-climbing, among other things. There is world-class surfing available here over the clear waves, which may be followed by a hearty lunch of local cuisine.
One of the more amazing sights in Caithness, along with Orca and Minke whales, braying stags, and Highland cattle, is the Northern Lights, which may be viewed in the winter. The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), make for an amazing experience and a true bucket list item. John o’ Groats, which is located at the highest top of the British mainland and provides beachcombing as well as regional foods.
The road now follows the shoreline back to Inverness, where you may relax and think back on all the amazing experiences you had on the North Coast 500.
I’m an NC500 expert – here are my top tips for motorhome & campervan tourists
Tourists who drive the North Coast 500 in a campervan or motorhome should only park in authorised spaces; they should never dump their chemical toilets by the side of the road as this is now being considered vandalism in the eyes of the law. That’s the advice given by the officials of the 512-mile circle from Inverness to the Pentland Firth and back, which has been rated as one of the world’s best road journeys.
Shona Nisbet, the marketing and media manager for the NC500 said “The North Coast 500 has appeared in Hollywood films such as James Bond’s Skyfall and on The Grand Tour with Jeremy Clarkson, but for a really unforgettable experience, guests need to make travel arrangements well in advance.” and added that she thinks that before travelling north, viewers drawn in by Clarkson’s descriptions of the region or the backdrops in movies like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire should check the route’s official website. “Such programmes acknowledge the excellence of the NC500 and is a huge asset for the region.
It’s suggested visitors to our website use it as part of their preparation for a trip, where they will find a wealth of expert advice for organising their experience.
The North Highlands is a very lovely area that is great for exploring.
But finding a place to eat or stay may ruin a vacation more than anything else. Campsites, lodging, and restaurants all fill up.
The road, which was introduced in 2015, has become a victim of its own success since it not only brought about an economic boom but also immediate traffic mayhem. Hold-ups have reportedly occurred when travellers have parked in passing spots to admire the scenery along the single-track parts of the route.
“With such a breath-taking landscape, it’s normal to want to stop and take pictures,” explains Shona. We advise guests to obtain a dedicated parking space so they can enjoy the views, however passing locations are not parking spaces. Then there are the rental motorhome fleets that are clogging the roads as their rookie drivers struggle to navigate the tight turns and tight passing spaces.
Renting a motorhome has long been a well-liked mode of transportation, says Shona.
“However, we advise people who might not feel comfortable travelling on such tight roads to use the alternate routes that are accessible, these are prominently marked on the NC500 route map and have clear signage. Worst of all, though, is the awful accounts of campervan and motorhome owners disposing of their chemical toilets alongside the road.
The camping population has responded on online discussion boards by stating that there aren’t enough amenities available for them to utilise.
According to Shona, “We are in constant contact with the Highland Council and other significant stakeholders to identify the most important regions that require enhanced infrastructure. As part of its visitor management strategy, “The Highland Council” has put in place a number of chemical disposal stations during the past two years, and more are on the way.
Due to the area’s popularity with tourists, a variety of road users may be seen along the route, including buses, campervans, agricultural vehicles, heavy freight vehicles, bicycles, walkers, and bikers, therefore, always keep in mind that a variety of road users will be travelling the NC500 route and keep an eye out for them, especially the more vulnerable ones,” the statement continued.
She adds: “We have always said to visitors to be aware that due to the nature of the roads it may take longer than planned to reach your next stop. So our message is simple – slow down and enjoy the magnificent landscape that is the NC500.”
But Shona insists she does not want to disparage folk who have seen the route on their screens and are just desperate to just jump in a car and visit.
She says: “I don’t want to put them off at all as the North Coast 500 doesn’t have to be completed in one journey – there are some fantastic day trips to be had.
However, “always plan ahead if you’re going to dine out or stay the night.” Visit northcoast500.com for additional details about the NC500 and what it has to offer.
I’m an NC500 expert – here are my top tips for motorhome & campervan tourists
Welcome to the NC500. This tourist route takes in over 500mi (900km) of some of the UK’s most stunning scenery. The North Coast 500 winds its way through the North Highlands of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness. On the way, it passes mountains, glens, beaches, cliffs, castles, ancient sites, and picturesque villages.
The 516-mile route around Scotland’s stunning north shore is a legendary Scottish motorhome road trip. To help you have the greatest Scottish vacation ever, we give highlights, suggestions for activities and things to do along the route, suggested NC500 campgrounds, and travel information.
The route is not cast in stone and it is very much encouraged to venture off the route and explore the smaller communities along the way. This is where a small amount of planning is needed but don’t overthink it, just take your time, the leisurely pace will make the whole experience much more enjoyable.
NC 500 Route
The NC500 Route
The North Coast 500 route, which begins and ends in Inverness, travels through lonely and rugged areas along Scotland’s stunning shoreline. The NC500 route is one of the must-do motorhome routes in the UK, featuring dramatic roads and amazing vistas.
Many people wonder how long it takes, and the answer is always dependent on how much time you have! You might do the entire thing in a couple of weeks (at most), or you could pick a section that interests you, take your time, and be careful on the road.
Inverness, one of Scotland’s seven cities, is located in the south of the Highlands, on the banks of the River Ness, and serves as both the start and finish point for your North Coast 500 journey. Inverness is a lively city with a great range of sites to see and activities to do, both in the city itself and in the surrounding region, crowned by a wonderful castle and tastefully planted with flowers.
Follow in the footsteps of the many legendary Loch Ness monster hunters. Hire a boat, take a packed lunch and your camera out on the water. You won’t see Nessie, but you will be surrounded by beautiful landscape, fresh air, and plenty of space to relax.
Make your way to Inverness’s evocative Old Town, the Victorian Market will provide you with all the Scottish souvenirs you could ever want!
Visit the eerie battlefield of Culloden, the site of the Jacobite rising’s last and brutal fight which led to the fall of Charles Stuart’s army in 1745. At the adjacent Culloden Visitor Centre, you can learn much more about this pivotal period in Scottish history.
Admire Inverness Castle, which stands high on the banks of the River Ness and has a pink crenellated exterior. The Area around Inverness is home to a total of 67 Scottish castles!
A hike up to Craig Phadrig, which is located to the west of the city, provides excellent forest treks and magnificent views of the Moray Firth, it was also formerly the stronghold of Pictish rulers.
Fans of the novel and television series ‘Outlander’ may also explore the region’s filming locations and venues. Outlander Locations
The Best Campsites in Inverness
Ardtower Caravan Park is in a beautiful setting, high above Inverness and close to Culloden. An award-winning site with modern facilities and spacious hard-standing pitches, this is a great base from which to explore Inverness and the surrounding area.
Bunchrew Caravan Park is on the edge of Beauly Firth and enjoys wonderful views over the water to Ben Wyvis and the hills beyond. Another great spot to explore from.
Situated on the banks of the Caledonian Canal, Torvean Caravan Park is located just over a mile from the centre of Inverness, perfect for those wanting to explore the city.
Easter Ross is a historic territory north of Inverness, bordered on the east by the Moray Firth, the north shore of the Cromarty Firth, and the south shore of the Dornoch Firth.
There’s a lot to enjoy here, with coastal settlements giving spectacular vistas and lots of sea life to look out for, as well as the Highland remoteness in the inland forestry regions. Take your time and enjoy the route northwards.
Learn about The Picts at the Tarbat Discovery Centre in Portmahomack, as well as the lovely seaside villages of Shandwick, Balintore, and Hilton. The Picts were a wild tribe in late Iron Age Scotland who held their territory and stopped the Romans from capturing all of Britain.
Visit the Dalmore Whisky Distillery in Alness for a tour. The Dalmore whiskies are considered one of the top luxury whiskey brands in the world, and they retail for thousands of pounds. Take a tour and maybe a wee dram (but only if you’re not driving!) to see what all the hype is about.
Hike up to the massive Fyrish Monument for panoramic views of the Cromarty Firth.
Hike up to the massive Fyrish Monument for panoramic views of the Cromarty Firth and Ben Wyvis Mountain.
Visit the Touchstone Maze near Strathpeffer, which is made out of 81 different rock types from all across Scotland and is an excellent opportunity to learn about the country’s complicated geology.
Walk up to the magnificent Black Rock Gorge, a one-mile-long, 40-meter-deep gorge in the rocks carved out by the River Glass pouring down to the Cromarty Firth during the Ice Age. The ravine was used as a filming site for ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ in 2004 and is essential for Harry Potter lovers.
Campsites in Easter Ross
The Black Rock Caravan Park in Evanton, about a mile off the A9 North Coast 500 route, is in a fantastic location. This is a fantastic stop on the route north, with excellent touring pitches and services.
Dornoch Caravan & Camping Site is a quiet, family-run campground in the Scottish Highlands. The east coast property, which is surrounded by gorgeous rural and coastal landscapes, with vast views of the magnificent Dornoch Firth.
The Black Isle’s Fortrose Bay Campsite is located on a pebble beach with direct access to the Moray Firth and spectacular views. Chanonry Point, a wide natural sand bar to the east of the campground, is a twenty-minute walk away.
Caithness lies right at the top of the UK, home to John O’Groats and Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of the UK mainland. Because it is so far north, it is possible to see the Northern Lights from here under ideal conditions and Sun rises at 4am and Sunsets as late as 10:35 pm in mid-June.
The broad open countryside is rich in ancient artefacts, and the rugged coastline has soaring sea stacks and towering headlands, which are home to puffins and many other marine birds.
See the enigmatic Hill O’Many Stanes, where 200 tiny stones were set out in a radiating pattern over 4,000 years ago…for no apparent reason.
The five-mile stroll from John O’Groats to Duncansby Head is a great opportunity to take in the sea air then continue along the scenic coastal route to see the two magnificent pointed sea stacks.
Visit the Castle of Mey, which The Queen Mother purchased in 1952 and had it rebuilt after it was abandoned. This is an amazing site, with fantastic grounds and an interesting insight into a castle that functioned as a holiday getaway for the royal family.
Explore the route’s diverse and unique brochs. The broch is a massive stone tower and ancient house found solely in Scotland, dating back to 500 B.C. Both Dunbeath Broch and Nybster Broch are great examples, and both are near to the Caithness Broch Centre, where you can learn more about them.
Take (another) brisk stroll across the wild and untamed environment of Dunnet Head, an RSPB nature reserve. You could spot puffins in this loud sea-bird nature reserve if you’re lucky, especially if you go during the nesting season, which runs from late spring to early summer.
Best Campsites in Caithness
Dunnet Bay Caravan & Motorhome Club Site is a great place to stay. You do not have to be a member to stay, but you will receive a discount if you are. It’s one of the nicest campgrounds on the north coast, ideal for individuals who prefer privacy, breathtaking vistas, and lengthy beach walks.
Murkle Caravan Park in the same-named settlement is simple, yet it provides everything you need and is pet-friendly. This is a wonderful setting for a few days exploring the nearby region, with a nice one-mile beach stroll right from the property.
Windhaven Cafe, Camping and B&B, the most northerly campsite on the UK mainland, is a favourite NC500 camping destination. In addition, the café is the furthest north on the NC500! From its fantastic cliff-top location, the facility overlooks Brough Bay, where you can relax and watch the seals from their seal observation point.
A substantial portion of the NC500 route runs through this rugged and magnificent countryside, which is one of Europe’s remaining big wildernesses.
The shoreline on this portion of the journey is unspoiled, with wide sandy beaches and the jagged and aptly called Cape Wrath cliffs.
This is a favourite section of the journey for many people because of the breathtaking beauty and rich natural history.
Spend a day at Dornoch, a lovely ancient town in Sutherland’s southeastern corner that overlooks the same-named firth. The town is definitely worth a visit, with its 13th-century cathedral, mediaeval prison, and Dornoch Castle, a former bishop’s seat, among its attractions.
Smoo Cave has one of the biggest entrances to any sea cave in Britain, measuring 15m high and replete with its own waterfall.
Enjoy the raw and wild sea air of Cape Wrath, a site of Special Scientific Interest and mainland Scotland’s most northerly point. This is a really secluded location, only reachable by ferry or minibus.
Hike to Sandwood Bay Beach to see the Am Buachaille sea stack, a vestige of millions of years ago when the Highlands and North America were united.
The UNESCO Global Geopark of the North West Highlands is worth a visit, it has a geological rich landscape of world-class quality, significance, and relevance. And a fantastic site to study the 3,000-million-year old geological history of one of Europe’s least-populated regions.
Explore Stoer Head, a few miles north of [Lochinver’s] charming hamlet. Beautiful views of islands and interior bays can be seen here, as well as the stunning white Stoer Lighthouse and the magnificent Old Man of Stoer, a 60-meter-high sandstone sea stack.
Stoer Head Lighthouse
With white sands and brilliant blue waves, Achmelvich Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the vicinity. It’s a hotspot for water sports like windsurfing and water skiing, and if you have an inflatable canoe or SUP board, here is a perfect spot to inflate it and get out on the loch. You may find it easier to take the A894 main road from Ullapool and bypass the bulk of the B869 from Kylesku to Lochinver, which may be a difficult route for larger vehicles.
Best Campsites in Sutherland
Stay at the gorgeous Clachtoll Beach Campsite, which is situated on the edge of Clachtoll Beach and features crystal blue water and fantastic snorkelling; it’s one of Scotland’s top campgrounds. Before driving there, double-check the roads and the size of your vehicle; driving the long route on the coastline B869 won’t work if you’re in a huge motorhome.
Because you won’t have to go as far down the B869, the Shore Caravan Site at Achmelvich Bay would be a better alternative. This is one of our favourite North Coast 500 campsites since it is located on the beach and has pleasant and welcoming proprietors.
Sango Sands Oasis Campsite, set on cliff tops above magnificent beaches with wonderful sea views, is highly recommended for camping. This is a spot where you might easily spend a week exploring the surrounding region and discovering the vistas and wildlife in the region.
Known for its stunning scenery, which includes old glens, Caledonian woods, steep mountain peaks, and beautiful beaches. The drive through Wester Ross is an experience and a highlight for many NC500 tourists, with classic roads and breathtaking views. There are loads to keep you occupied in this lovely region of Scotland, from bagging a Munro to whale watching, touring castles, and admiring stunning gardens.
You could encounter dolphins, otters, sharks, seals, puffins, and even a white-tailed eagle if you go whale watching from Gairloch. From mid-June to late September is the ideal season to watch whales off the west coast of Scotland.
Admire the Corrieshalloch Gorge, a magnificent gorge that passes across a lush Highland landscape. Watch as the River Droma cascades over a succession of waterfalls, culminating in the massive 45-meter Measach Falls.
Inverewe Gardens, positioned high on a peninsula at the edge of Loch Ewe, is a verdant, tropical sanctuary. One of Scotland’s most popular botanical attractions, this world-famous historic garden is bordered by estates managed for conservation.
Explore the forests of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, which are home to 350-year-old Scots Pines, relics of the ancient Caledonian forest that originally stood here.
Climb Beinn Eighe, one of Torridon’s greatest Munros (mountains that exceed 914 metres), one of the NC500’s 37 Munros. From the peak, the vistas of the Torridon Hills are just breathtaking.
Drive the fabled Applecross Pass, one of Scotland’s greatest and highest roads. Bealach na Bà is a small slip of a road with hairpin fast turns and steep gradients that your motorhome may or may not be able to handle. If you insist on going ahead, do some study on the ideal times to travel and potential risks to be wary of, especially if this is your first trip on this sort of road (there are loads of videos on YouTube). Many motorhomes are capable of doing so, but you should only undertake it if you are competent at driving your motorhome in these conditions.
As an alternative to getting to Applecross, the coastal road via Ardheslaig and Kalnakill is fantastic and has equally good if not better views and some superb places to stop for coffee or lunch.
The three videos below are driving to Applecross in a 7.5m Autotrail Motorhome, via Shieldaig along the coastal road. The first video is a heavily edited version, about 3:30 long. The second two cover the whole drive in 2 parts, one at 59 minutes and the other at about half an hour. Combined these two are the entire drive from Kinlochewe to Applecross.
Kinlochewe to Applecross via Shieldaig coastal route
Kinlochewe Caravan Club Site sits at the foot of Beinn Eighe’s craggy slopes, at the end of a scenic journey from Achnasheen down Glen Docherty. Stop here for a few days to explore the Torridon Hills and the surrounding region.
The Applecross Campsite is located at the bottom of the pass, which snakes down to Applecross. It’s a great place to stop after a long day of travelling, with great views of Applecross Bay and Skye. The Applecross Inn provides great meals and in the summer, a relaxing evening watching the sun go down over a few drinks.
What time of Year is the best?
Late April is an excellent time to take a road trip to Scotland. As the milder weather arrives and the transition to summer begins, the countryside comes alive with wildflowers and newborn animals. However, it will be cold, especially at night, and you will require some form of heating in your vehicle.
Summer Summer is one of the greatest times to visit Scotland in a motorhome, with summer temperatures averaging approximately 20°C. On the downside, popular routes, attractions, and North Coast 500 motorhome stops (both campsites and popular wild camping spots) will be crowded, so a summer road trip through Scotland will necessitate a little more planning, and you may need to book your favourite North Coast 500 campsites ahead of time. During school holidays is the busiest so try and plan around them, but note, Scottish School summer holidays are different to England’s.
The months of July and August are also the worst for biting midges, especially if you plan on visiting the west coast, where they are most prevalent. They love a still, warm and humid day just after a rainy spell. There is repellant on the market such as Smidge and Avon’s Skin So Soft, the latter used by the army when on exercise. Hats that have mosquito nets are a great form of defence and, they are a favourite with fishermen.
Autumn is a fantastic season to visit Scotland in a motorhome since the autumn colours are some of the most spectacular in the world, and much of the tourist traffic has left, and the roads are much quieter.
Winter — Visit Scotland during the colder months for winter sports, stunning scenery, and the chance to view the Northern Lights, or ‘Mirrie Dancers,’ as they are commonly referred as in Scotland. As a general approximation, the country averages 15-20 snow days per year, with the Scottish Highlands seeing over 100 snow days per year, therefore certain routes may be blocked. Autumn is a fantastic season to visit Scotland in a campervan since the autumn colours are some of the most spectacular in the country.
Is it possible to camp in a campervan in Scotland?
In Scotland, there are lots of motorhome wild camping spots. Park4Night is a great way to discover the finest NC500 wild camping areas and campsites but make sure you respect the restrictions. There is a post here to give a few pointers on what to do and not to do.
Is it possible to rent a motorhome to travel the NC500 route?
Yes, you certainly can! Check out Open Road Scotland if you’re looking for an NC500 Scotland motorhome rental. Within three hours, you can pick up your Motorhome in Glasgow and be in Inverness. Open Road Scotland also rents out campervans and motorbikes so no matter what kind of road trip you’re looking for, they’ve got everything you’ll need.
Are there any roads on the NC500 that aren’t appropriate for heavy vehicles?
In certain spots, driving the North Coast 500 in a motorhome may be difficult, and there are a few routes you may wish to avoid, as well as several that would be a genuine challenge in a larger van. The North Coast 500 official guide is a great source for information on the route.
In general, campervan and motorhome drivers should keep the following in mind:
You should be comfortable driving on single track roads and you must be familiar with reversing your vehicle appropriately and securely.
Use a layby or one of the passing places if you are travelling at a leisurely pace to allow other road users to pass you safely.
Travelling in convoy, especially on single-track roads, can cause traffic congestion. Travel at least one passing place location apart at all times and consider two-way communication between your vehicles. This greatly helps with the separation of your convoy allowing cars to pass you and oncoming vehicles to move between you and the rest of your convoy.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind
Just take your time. It would be a pity to rush because there is so much to see and do along this wonderful route. You could do everything in seven days, but two or three weeks will give you the opportunity to explore and learn about this fascinating region of Scotland.
Always respect the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, whether you stop at NC500 campgrounds or wild camp since it helps to maintain the delicate flora and animals of this lovely nation.
The local authorities may impose limits on when motorhomes can use the road from time to time, many are beginning to provide European Aire style places to park up for the night or a few days. Check the official North Coast 500 website ahead of time.
Regularly check ahead to see what attractions are off the North Coast 500 motorhome route map that you might want to divert to — this is where you’ll discover the true hidden treasures and off-the-beaten-path locations, including fantastic wild camping options.
Make sure to stop and talk with other motorhomers about routes, limits, and favourite locations to visit — you’ll discover a lot of hidden treasures this way along the North Coast 500!
In the summer, book campsites ahead of time to avoid disappointment when you arrive.
If at all feasible, get a satnav that you can customise for your Motorhome if possible. This will allow you to avoid any restricted routes that may not be suited for your vehicle’s size, as well as any roads that are blocked due to bad weather.
Please dispose of any motorhome waste and rubbish appropriately and leave no evidence of where you’ve been, whether you’re wild parking in your camper for lunch or visiting campgrounds along the North Coast 500.
Many regions have restricted 3G and 4G services, so if you have vital information, insurance documents, or reservations, make sure you download them before leaving Inverness.
Midges are a part of life in Scotland, especially along the NC 500 route’s west coast. Their bites can range from moderately uncomfortable to creating an allergic reaction, so avoid them if at all possible on your trip.
Travel between November and February, which is the low season.
Use your fly screens at all times if you have them.
Before dusk, change into long sleeves and trousers and wear a midge veil or cap. Also socks and they have a liking to ankles believe it or not.
Parking or camping near stagnant water is not a good idea.
Make your way to a windy location to spend the night, but decide which is the worst first!