Campervan Tour of NC500 Highland Route

Campervan Tour of NC500 Highland Route

Embracing the Wild and Winding Ways of Scotland’s North Coast 500

As I gazed out the window of our trusty campervan, the rugged landscapes of the Scottish Highlands unfolded before me like a grand storybook. Towering mountains, pristine lochs, and charming seaside towns – this was the stuff of dreams, and I felt incredibly fortunate to be exploring it all from the comfort of our cozy home on wheels.

You see, my partner and I had made the bold decision to tackle the renowned North Coast 500 route in the Highlands, and we were determined to do it the right way – by immersing ourselves in the breathtaking scenery and embracing the unique challenges that came with navigating these winding roads in a campervan.

As we set off from our base camp at Loch Ness Shores, I couldn’t help but feel a flutter of nervous excitement. The North Coast 500, often referred to as “Scotland’s Route 66,” is a 516-mile scenic driving route that loops around the northern Highlands, and it’s quickly become one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. And for good reason – the sheer beauty of this region is simply breathtaking.

Mastering the Art of Narrow Roads and Passing Places

One of the first things we learned, thanks to the helpful advice from the team at North Coast 500, was the importance of navigating the narrow, winding roads that characterize much of the route. These single-track roads, with their hairpin turns and steep gradients, can be a daunting prospect for even the most experienced drivers, let alone those piloting a hefty campervan.

But with a little patience and a keen eye for those all-important “passing places,” we quickly got the hang of it. As we encountered oncoming traffic, we’d pull off to the side, flash our lights, and politely wave the other driver through. It became a well-choreographed dance, and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of camaraderie with our fellow travellers as we all worked together to safely share these incredible roads.

The Harrowing Ascent of Bealach na Bà

Of course, not all of the North Coast 500’s challenges were easily overcome. As we approached the infamous Bealach na Bà, or “Pass of the Cattle,” we felt a surge of trepidation. This winding, steep road, with its hairpin turns and gradients of up to 20%, is widely regarded as one of the most daunting drives in the country – and not one to be attempted in a large motorhome.

With our trusty Aero model campervan from Bunk Campers, we decided to tackle the challenge head-on. As we slowly made our way up the pass, our knuckles turning white and our hearts racing, we marveled at the stunning vistas that unfolded around us. It was a breathtaking (and, at times, literally breathless) experience, and one that left us with a deep sense of accomplishment.

Discovering Hidden Gems and Unforgettable Moments

But the North Coast 500 wasn’t all about navigational challenges and white-knuckle driving. As we meandered our way along the route, we stumbled upon countless hidden gems – quaint fishing villages, secluded beaches, and historic castles that seemed to beckon us in for a closer look.

At Clashnessie Beach, for example, we found ourselves utterly captivated by the rugged beauty of the coastline, with its towering cliffs and crystal-clear waters. We spent hours exploring the nooks and crannies, searching for hidden caves and marveling at the sheer power of the crashing waves.

And then there were the moments of pure serendipity, like when we happened upon a herd of free-roaming Highland cows grazing peacefully by the roadside. We pulled over, our cameras at the ready, and spent what felt like an eternity watching these majestic creatures go about their business, completely oblivious to our presence.

Embracing the Unpredictable Nature of the Highlands

Of course, no trip to the Scottish Highlands would be complete without a healthy dose of unpredictability. As we discovered, the weather in this part of the world can be as changeable as the tides, and we found ourselves constantly adapting to the ever-shifting conditions.

One day, we’d be basking in the warm glow of the sun, marvelling at the seemingly tropical beaches that dotted the coastline. The next, we’d be battling fierce winds and heavy rain, huddled in our campervan and hoping for the storm to pass.

But you know what they say – when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And that’s exactly what we did. We embraced the unpredictability, donning our rain jackets and wellies and venturing out to explore the moody, atmospheric landscapes that the Highlands had to offer. After all, isn’t that what a true adventure is all about?

Discovering the Joys of Responsible Camping

As we explored the North Coast 500, we quickly learned that responsible camping and waste management were of the utmost importance. The team at North Coast 500 had provided us with a wealth of information on the subject, and we were determined to do our part in preserving the pristine beauty of this incredible region.

We carefully planned our stops, making use of the designated campsites and disposal facilities along the route. And when we found ourselves in more remote areas, we followed the Scottish Outdoor Access Guidelines to the letter, ensuring that there was no trace of our presence left behind.

It was a small but meaningful way for us to give back to the land that had so generously shared its wonders with us. And as we drove away from the North Coast 500, our hearts full of cherished memories, we knew that we had left the Highlands a little bit better than we had found them.

Embracing the Unexpected on the Road Less Traveled

As we reflect on our incredible journey along the North Coast 500, we can’t help but feel a deep sense of gratitude and wonder. This route has a way of challenging you, pushing you out of your comfort zone, and rewarding you with moments of pure magic that you never could have anticipated.

From navigating the narrow roads and passing places to conquering the harrowing Bealach na Bà, every step of the way was an adventure. And yet, it was the unexpected discoveries – the hidden beaches, the free-roaming Highland cows, the ever-changing weather – that truly made this trip unforgettable.

So if you’re considering taking on the North Coast 500 in a campervan, I say, embrace the challenge and the unpredictability. Pack your sense of adventure, your patience, and your sense of wonder, and let this incredible route sweep you away on a journey you’ll never forget. After all, as they say, the road less traveled is often the one that leads to the most remarkable destinations.

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