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NC500

place to discuss doing things round and about the UK or to ask advice about other locations
Dod101
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Re: NC500

#508430

Postby Dod101 » June 20th, 2022, 10:18 am

pje16 wrote:I have just been invited to do this with a group of guys from a BMW forum
planning to go in September
any wise words on what to see/do/not do
would be greatly appreciated
thank you
PS I didn't ask on the BMW forum as it's being kept to a small group


What not to do is drive around it as fast as you are legally permitted, that is mostly 60 mph. Plan to take your time over the course of a week. Respect the locals and the fact that they are living and working in the area. Avoid John O' Groats or, if you must, see it take a look and move on. Do not plan to eat there. A good place to stay in that area is the Granary at the Castle of Mey. Hope I am allowed to mention it.

Contrary to what jackdaww has said earlier in the thread the main roads are pretty much all two way although there are plenty of single track roads as well where great care needs to be taken, and on those roads do not attempt to drive in convoy and for heaven's sake keep your speed down and be prepared to reverse at times.

Accommodation probably needs to be booked now if not before.

Enjoy.

Dod

Snorvey
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Re: NC500

#508456

Postby Snorvey » June 20th, 2022, 12:43 pm

I would cut off the whole JoG / Thurso corner if it was me. it's a much shorter route, but last time I was up there, I turned off to the Lairg / Tongue road.

Its far more pretty.

Ok, it's not 'NC500' but you'll have far more time to pull in and take the time to enjoy some pretty decent scenery.

[Edit] Loads of single track on that road. The only thing to watch out for is suicidal deer and maniac postie vans.

Dod101
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Re: NC500

#508490

Postby Dod101 » June 20th, 2022, 3:42 pm

Snorvey wrote:I would cut off the whole JoG / Thurso corner if it was me. it's a much shorter route, but last time I was up there, I turned off to the Lairg / Tongue road.

Its far more pretty.

Ok, it's not 'NC500' but you'll have far more time to pull in and take the time to enjoy some pretty decent scenery.

[Edit] Loads of single track on that road. The only thing to watch out for is suicidal deer and maniac postie vans.


I agree. That is a very attractive road and not so busy either. I go to the the north east corner because I have relatives there, not there for the sights. It is pretty bleak anyway unless it is a day like today but of course those driving round the NC500 presumably want to see John O' Groats.

Dod

scotia
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Re: NC500

#510785

Postby scotia » June 29th, 2022, 11:00 pm

I don't think a group of cars travelling together round the NC500 is a good idea. Much of it is single track road with passing places - totally unsuited for a convoy of nose to tail driving. If you want to see that part of the country, do it by yourself. Alternatively - at least let each participant start out at a staggered time. And make sure you are competent at reversing on a narrow twisty road - because you are likely to find other drivers (e.g. in Motorhomes), coming in the opposite direction, who are incapable of reversing. And try to avoid getting another driver on your tail, because you may find yourself (as I have) with vehicles approaching in front, and a vehicle close behind - neither of which could apparently reverse.
There is no guarantee of fair weather at any time, but September is getting on in the season - so remember to pack up your wet and cold weather gear.
Take your time - and explore. I'm most familiar with the east and north coasts, and the west coast down to Ullapool, but I have travelled over the other sections.
A few things I like to do. From Inverness, proceed over the bridge and onto the Black Isle, and visit Chanonry point to hopefully see the Dolphins. Continuing up the East coast, passing Dornoch you should see the controversial statue of the Duke of Sutherland on Ben Bhraggie, and further up his abode at Dunrobin castle, built in the form of a French Chateau. Its well worth a visit. Continuing north, via the (much improved) Berriedale Braes, there are a number of small villages with harbours - Lybster is my favourite. I'm not so keen on the vast array of Wind Turbines recently built just off the coast. Wick (my wife's birthplace) now has a busy harbour servicing the Windfarm, and it contains a large (and busy) marina for yachts. The main fishing port is now at Scrabster. The Wick harbour is surrounded by posters showing past days when you could walk from one side of the harbour to the other on the decks of fishing boats. There is also an interesting museum. Down near the harbour we like to eat at Bord de l'eau. The wife (front of house) is a Wicker, her husband (the cook) is French.
Don't miss out the John O'Groats corner. From the harbour you can take a day trip to Orkney, or take a shorter nature cruise, although in September the sea birds will have departed from the cliffs. The Castle of Mey is worth a visit - particularly the walled garden which is impressive, given its northerly position. You can head for the most northerly point at Dunnet Head, and the 2 mile long sandy beach of Dunnet Bay. On its far side is a harbour which exported Caithness flagstones all around the world ( until concrete slabs took over). We have stayed several times in the John O'Groats Hotel and its associated Lodges, and have been pleased with the accommodation.
Further west lies Thurso - and if any of your companions are keen surfers, then they will know that "Thurso-East is probably the most perfect right-hand breaking wave in Europe". Further west we have previously stayed (and dined) in the Forss House Hotel which we also enjoyed. From that point westward, the population density is low, and although hotels exist, we never seem to have discovered one that we really liked. There are numerous beautiful sandy beaches - often with nobody but yourself for company - e.g. at the Kyle of Tongue. Further west there is Loch Eribol (or called Loch 'orribol by the Navy seamen stationed here in WW2). There's a plan to setup a space port nearby. Then onto the village of Durness. You may wish to take the trip out to Cape Wrath - by boat and mini-bus along a rough track. Now travelling south, there is little population on the road, but you can divert out to Kinlochbervie, which is/was a very busy fishing port. The beach (near Kinlochbervie) at Oldshoremore is particularly attractive, especially when the surrounding machair is in bloom.
Continuing south you will reach the Kylesku Bridge - which has been described as one of the most beautiful bridges in the world (I agree!). The Kylesku Hotel has undergone a major upgrade and is now one of our favourite eating places in that area. From Kylesku to Lochinver, you can take the narrow, twisty, hilly route passing through Drumbeg, Clashnessie, Stoer and Clachtoll. You need to divert seaward to Achmelvich bay - but its worth the effort.
Finally - on to Lochinver, where I'll leave someone else to describe the remainder of the route. When discussing eating in Lochinver, often the Pie place is mentioned. Its fine - but there are several other good eating places. There used to be a Chez Roux at the Inver Lodge Hotel, but on our last visit it had been replaced with new management - although the replacement was still pretty good. For those with deep wallets, a stay at the Inver Lodge may provide a touch of luxury.

Dod101
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Re: NC500

#510801

Postby Dod101 » June 30th, 2022, 7:18 am

Excellent travel guide. I am familiar with it all and could write about Ullapool south and back to Inverness but it contains a lot of places that I prefer to have more or less to myself so I will not except to say that just south of Gairloch a visit to the Inn at Badachro is very much worthwhile for fresh seafood for lunch or dinner. Of the entire trip, Wester Ross, which is the bit I am not writing about is my favourite area.

Despite what Scotia says, John O'Groats is horrible in itself and is not a place where you want to spend much time.

Dod


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