Plan your trip of a lifetime around one of Scotland’s most beautiful coastal routes with exclusive use stays.
We want to tell you about a new driving route through the west Highlands of Scotland that is full of adventure and scenic views. It’s called the North Coast 500; a 516-mile (830.4 km) route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle. Here we suggest how best to enjoy Scotland’s very own Route 66 starting with a luxury exclusive use stay at the resplendent Aldourie Castle and stopping partway to relax and recharge at the idyllic Kinloch Lodge in Sutherland. Aldourie and Kinloch are both part of the Wildland group of properties and are available all year round for private hire rental.
Experience more than 500 miles of the best scenery the North Highlands has to offer. The route runs from to and from Inverness, then round the capital of the Highlands, up the West Coast and back via the rugged north coast.
How many miles is do-able in a day? It’s personal preference and it depends what kind of experience you want to have. The sightseers amongst you may prefer to stop every 50 miles to appreciate the famous landmarks in all their glory. If you are a keen motorcyclist or driver you and your beloved vintage car or Harley you may be in it more for the ride and rank up a lot more mileage in a single day.
Stay in your own castle on Loch Ness
Whatever mode of transport you’ve chosen to travel along the North Coast 500, there’s plenty of outdoor space at the Castle to park up your vehicles. Ideally situated just six miles from Inverness, Aldourie Castle Estate is your starting point for this epic adventure. The 500 acre Highlands Estate is accessed off the main road into Inverness; simply into the huge iron gateway and follow the drive down to the Castle.
A warm welcome will greet you here and our dedicated hospitality team will help you settle in straight away with a drink in the Drawing Room or if nice weather out on the terrace. Aldourie is designed for exclusive use rentals only so the property and immediate grounds are solely yours for the duration of your stay. Enjoy these first few days of your North Coast 500 road trip in your own luxurious holiday setting on Loch Ness. The Castle can accommodate up to 30 guests in 13 bedrooms and larger groups can fill the four holiday cottages on the Estate.
House party before road trip
Off site of Aldourie Castle Estate there are various ways to spend your days before you begin travelling up the Highlands. The ruins of Urquhart Castle is close by and can be reached by boat and Invernesshire houses numerous famous whisky distilleries. If you want to head out in the car or on bike visit Fort Augustus for its winding walks and hikes or simply stay local around Dores Beach and Loch Ness. You’ll find quaint market towns and villages a short drive away – visit Beauly for a spot of local culture and shopping.
Back at your luxury base Aldourie Castle can organise any type of outdoor sport or activity. So there’s plenty for your exclusive use group to enjoy. Take advantage of being so close to Loch Ness and book onto the Nessie Hunter or a canoe ride against the magnificent Highlands backdrop. A stay at Aldourie is complemented by our five star catering cooked in house by the Castle’s chef. Why not book your own House Party Experience at Aldourie before setting off from Inverness to start your North Coast 500 road trip.
The Black Isle
The Black Isle is located just north of Inverness. Eathie Road is one of the most scenic roads of the North Highlands and from here you can actually see Ben Nevis. There are many sightseeing opportunities on the Black Isle including wonderful views of Fort George, bright green fields above the deep blue waters of the Moray Firth, and not to mention the chance to see dolphins at Chanonry Point. The Muir of Ord distillery is a must-see. Designated drives can take their whisky tasting samples with them to enjoy that evening. This is a great Scottish Highlands experience; read more about whisky tasting in the Scottish Highlands in our previous blog post.
This is your next stop along the stunning highlands route boasting amazing scenery. Wester Ross is famous for its stunning mountains, glorious lochs and white sandy beaches. Travel along the Bealach Na Ba, a steep and winding stretch of road, an exciting route for experienced drivers and riders. Extravagant sights will ignite your senses for the start of a memorable road trip. Here you will find some useful information if you are planning to bike along the NC 500.
Ullapool is the main town of Wester Ross, a lively and friendly spot with a varied music scene. If you like your music festivals it’s well worth stopping here. Another great pit stop is the picturesque village of Aultbea located on the shoreline of Loch Ewe. Adrenaline junkies will revel in Wester Ross; take advantage of the varied outdoor activities strewn across the region.
The next leg of your journey will take you to Caithness; a hive of history, nature and landscapes. Its dramatic flat lands and skyline give it an otherworldly feel. The district itself has an adventurous soul being home to the village of John O’Groats, the starting point to the UK’s famous end-to-end journey to Land’s End. Once you arrive here you are well established into your NC500 road trip. So, take some quality time to relax and discover, and devour some dramatic scenery on the very edge of Europe.
Caithness is an escapist’s dream. A fascinating heritage will enthral curious minds that want to learn as they travel whilst a breath-taking coastline will capture imaginations. If you’re interested in royal connections visit the Castle of Mey, the official holiday home of the late Queen Mother. On a clear day nature lovers may like to take the nice stretch of 71 miles in one go – Cape Wrath to Duncansby Head. Make sure you get off your bike/out of your car to witness the magnificent Dunnet Head, the northern tip of the UK.
This region makes up a significant portion of your NC500 road trip and is full of beautiful jaw-dropping scenery. Northwest Sutherland boasts unspoiled natural landscapes and world famous beaches. Particularly seek out Achmelvich and Clachtoll for some scenic strolling. You can not the spectacular mountain ranges of this part of Sutherland.
The east coast is a real treat for golfers and here is home to the 18-hole championship Royal Dornoch golf course. Luxury lovers will meanwhile enjoy visiting the fairytale castle Dunrobin, the seat of the Earl and Clan of Scotland. Spend a few hours if you wish admiring the stunning formal gardens and experiencing falconry up close. If nature is one of the reasons for your luxury road trip more wildlife can be found at the RSPB Forsinard Flows Nature Reserve, which serves to exhibit and preserve the peatlands of Scotland.
Kinloch Lodge, Sutherland – group catered stays
Offering solitude and comfort in the wild, magnificent setting of Sutherland, Kinloch is available all year round for private rental by one group/booking. A private holiday here is best enjoyed with a group of family or friends and is all about appreciating nature, good food and company whilst residing in a remote, rural paradise. Laidback luxury and tranquillity come hand in hand making it easy to nurture friendships or spend quality time with your clan. There is no need to lift a finger as the lodge has a private chef (who sources only fresh, local produce) and hospitality team as well as a head keeper to help organise any outdoor experiences.
Kinloch was originally the private lodge of the Duke of Sutherland and the classic sporting property has been newly refurbished in a Scandi-Scot style. The interior has been inspired by its outdoor setting with lots of wooden furnishings, natural colour schemes and open stone fireplaces. Generous, light living spaces allow for time alone with a good book whilst cosy corners invite fireside chats over a glass of wine. Admire the rugged open landscape of Ben Loyal during dinner in the conservatory and make yourself at home in beautifully decorated spacious bedrooms.
The unspoiled landscape of Sutherland
This hideaway from the real world is ideal for your second exclusive use stay during your memorable North Coast 500 road trip. You are surrounded by miles of land to roam and explore so whilst you’re on foot make the most of your idyllic setting. This area is vast and full of landmarks and attractions, history, shopping and culture. Before you take the last leg of your NC500 road trip spend some quality time in Sutherland and enjoy the remoteness of Kinloch Lodge.