North Coast 500

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Route information
Length516 mi (830 km)
Major junctions
Tourist loop
Inverness, Lochcarron, Applecross, Gairloch, Ullapool, Lochinver, Durness, Thurso, John o' Groats, Wick, Helmsdale, Dornoch, Invergordon, Dingwall
Road network

The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile (830 km) scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle.[1] The route is also known as the NC500 and was launched in 2015, linking many features in the north Highlands of Scotland in one iconic touring route.


The route runs through the traditional counties of Inverness-shire, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland and Caithness.

Working clockwise, the route starts at Inverness and runs via Muir of Ord, Applecross (including the notorious Bealach na Bà), Gairloch, Ullapool, Scourie, Durness, Thurso, John o'Groats, Wick, Dunrobin Castle, Dingwall then back to Muir of Ord and Inverness.[2] The route of the North Coast 500 takes in many areas of the North Highland Way, a walking route along Scotland's North Coast.


The concept of the North Coast 500 was launched in March 2015 by the Tourism Project Board of the North Highland Initiative (NHI) in an attempt to work with all aspects of the tourism sector to bring unified benefits to businesses across the route.[3] It was identified that a gap existed in the market within the North Highlands for a tourism offering that included each county of the area (Caithness, Sutherland & Ross-shire) and that the North Coast 500 would address that. The initiative was supported by Visit Scotland and Highlands & Islands Enterprise.

In 2015 the route was named fifth in Now Travel Magazine's "Top 5 Coastal Routes in the World".[4] It has been described as "Scotland's Route 66".[5]

The NC500 is also regarded as a challenge for endurance cyclists.[6] In August 2015 adventure cyclist Mark Beaumont established the record for the 516 mile route, completing it in 37 hours and 58 minutes. On 18 June 2016 former pro cyclist and commonwealth games medallist James McCallum completed the ride in 31 hours 23 minutes beating the initial record by more than 6 hours.[7]


  1. ^ Kerr, David (6 August 2015). "North Coast 500 named in top five coastal routes in the world". The Press and Journal. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  2. ^ North Coast 500,
  3. ^ Munro, Alistair (5 March 2015). "Huge drive to promote 'Scotland's Route 66'". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Scots coastal route named one of world's top drives". The Scotsman. 7 August 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  5. ^ "North Coast 500: Does 'Scotland's Route 66' live up to the hype?". The Daily Telegraph. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  6. ^ "North Coast 500 increased tourist visits, says VisitScotland". BBC News. 13 December 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Cyclist James McCallum demolishes Mark Beaumont's North Coast 500 record". Edinburgh Evening News. 20 June 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2018.

External links[edit]