If you’ve always dreamed of an American road trip along Route 66, with the wind in your hair and a mile long stretch of road ahead of you, it may be more accessible than you think. The North Coast 500 (or Highway 500) encompasses the whole North Coast of Scotland in one 5 day trip. Starting in Inverness, it’ll take you clockwise, taking in the beautifully remote Applecross, Sango Sands, and John O Groats to name some of the main stop offs.

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Launching in 2015, it’s only just finding its feet. I found that if you don’t keep track on the online map, it’s quite easy to stray from the road itself, as there isn’t many sign posts or signals that indicate it is, in fact, the Highway 500. Nevertheless, the website offers an amazing knowledge on where to stay, eat and play, you’re really spoiled for choice. Don’t be fooled by the idea of straying off track though, as the roads itself are sparse, with one main road ( you really are out in the wilds!) Getting a bit lost just adds to the fun, we ended up in a small village hidden away in the hills with breathtaking views of the sea and mountains. Although we were a bit miffed, you can’t really be mad when you’re surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

Here’s a list of some of the highlights of our trip, bear in mind that we camped, but there are options to stay in complete luxury also, it’s’ your choice!

The Beaches…

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A Scottish beach can’t be that great right? Well, I never thought I’d find a beach to rival that of the Caribbean Sea’s but… Surprisingly I did. The north coast is dotted with huge, untouched beaches. Believe it or not, they’re also the clearest seas you may ever see, with sky blue shallow waters going for miles out. No, I’m not lying. The road travels alongside dozens of beautiful waterfronts, most of them completely empty. Make sure to stop off at a few along the way. Sango Sands campsite is located on a cliffside, with its very own beach tucked away between two cliff faces, it’s really a must-see of Highway 500.

The Food…

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being away, it’s that you’ve got to eat well, it’ the fuel that keeps you going, after all! The Applecross Inn was the only pub in the whole of the village, so it’s a good job it was one of the nicest pub meals I’ve had in awhile. Another standout meal was from the Oasis located in Sango Sands, within the campsite. You wouldn’t think much of it from the outside, but the food was to die for! I had the pork belly, and honestly, I think I died and went to heaven.

The Scenery…

IMG_4118It goes without saying, but I really have to say. I can guarantee you’ll see more beauty packed into this 5 day trip then you might see out of the whole of Europe. You’ll be venturing into untouched lands, and places with a population of perhaps 20? If your aim is to get away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life, Highway 500 gives you this and more. With lochs and mountains encompassing you in your own little bubble, the outside world simply doesn’t exist.

The Roads…

IMG_4088Not always fun for everyone, however, if you have an adventurous side (which you obviously do if you’re reading this article) then you’ll be pretty ecstatic about the crazy roads you’ll encounter. The drive into Applecross is the most extreme road of the trip, taking you on a one-way track all the way across a mountain. The hairpin bends may be a little scary at first, but once you look back on it, it’s total bragging rights of the crazy road trip you’ve just been on.

Article by Laura Jackson.

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