10. Achmelvich Beach
This place is a hidden gem (becoming more popular) on the NC500. Just a 20 minute drive from Clachtoll beach and 3 miles north of Lochinver, Achmelvich is one of a kind. White sands & turquoise waters galore! There have been multiple sightings of porpoises, dolphins and minke whale off the coast of Achmelvich and it’s a fantastic place for waters ports and rock pooling.
9. Big Burn Walk Golspie
This really is a hidden gem that we completely missed on our first NC500 trip. The Big Burn is a spectacular short walk up a scenic gorge where you’ll criss-cross over footbridges to reach a final crescendo of waterfalls. The walk is super easy and takes around 1 hour as a round trip from the car park (approx 3km for the whole walk). Get your camera ready and keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels! We visited in early November and the autumn leaves were immensely beautiful.
8. Castle Sinclair - Wick
Just 3 miles north of Wick is the absolute must see Castle Sinclair. Located just a 10 minute walk from the car park, the spectacular castle sits on the edge of a cliff which provides great views out to sea. The original castle dated back to the 14th century and was revamped in the 17th century. It’s a good place for exploring and perfect to get some cool photos! The rocky cove to the right of castle is also a known place to spot wildlife including seals, dolphins and if you’re lucky enough maybe even orcas!
7. Fairy Glen Falls - Black Isle
This place is massively underrated! We loved it! The Fairy Glen Falls is a charming and very easy woodland walk that leads you to a climax of two main waterfalls which are staggeringly beautiful. The round walk takes about 45 minutes with a total distance of about 1.5 miles. This is a perfect walk if you have kids, it’s great for dogs and if it’s just you and the other half, it could even be romantic 😉 Located on the Black Isle, you have to give yourself an hour to enjoy this natural beauty.
6. Ardvreck Castle
Just around the corner from the Kylesku Bridge and Wailing Widow Falls is the mighty Loch Assynt and the iconic Ardvreck Castle. Dating back to about 1490 when the lands were owned by the Macleods of Assynt, the castle ruins stand on a rocky promontory jutting out into Loch Assynt. The dramatic backdrop makes for a wonderful photo and is a must see stop off on the NC500. There are multiple parking stops on the A837 near to Ardvreck which offer different views of the castle.
5. Kylesku Bridge
One of the most iconic sights on the NC500! The Kylesku Bridge, opened in 1984 by the Queen is a 276m long bridge that crosses the Caolas Cumhann channel. What really makes this place special is the surrounding Sutherland scenery. Huge mountains, vast lochs and rugged vistas dwarf the Kylesku Bridge. There’s also a relatively large parking area on the right just before you cross the bridge itself.
4. Strathy Beach
As far as Scottish beaches go, they don’t come much better than Strathy! We were gobsmacked when we discovered it! The car park (next to a cemetery) doesn’t give much away. Once you walk over the brow of the hill this magnificent beach is revealed. The short walk down the hill through the dunes to reach the beach is wonderful. You’ll be pushed to find whiter sand or bluer seas anywhere in the world. It can be equally wild as it is beautiful but that’s really what sells this hidden gem on the NC500! There’s also a fantastic locally operated toilet facility at the car park, don’t forget to make a small donation after using.
3. Torridon / Beinn Eighe
Just around the corner from Beinn Eighe is the truly wonderful area of Torridon. The A896 road from Kinlochwe past Beinn Eighe to Torridon is personally my favourite part of the NC500. It has everything that is good about the Highlands crammed into a 10 mile stretch of road. From huge mountain landscapes to epic Lochs, this is also a great place to spot Red Deer such as the infamous stag who goes by the name of ‘Callum’. Pull into the Bein Eighe (Torridon) car park using the post code to the left and see how many deer you can find. A little further down the road towards Torridon is the Deer Musuem which is perfect as a backup option if you haven’t managed to spot any wild deer.
2. Bealach Na Ba Pass
The famous Bealach Na Ba is the iconic mountain pass linking Applecross to the A896. The winding single track road passes through some epic mountains and descends with views of Loch Kishorn. Whilst many drivers are understandably apprehensive to take on the Bealach Na Ba with its steep gradients and sharp hairpins, as long as you are cautious, sensible and patient, you should have no problems whatsoever. Most cars and motorhomes are great to drive on the pass, however, extremely large vehicles should avoid it. Remember there are really sharp bends on a steep single track road, if you’re vehicle doesn’t have a particularly great turning circle then maybe think twice.
1. Wailing Widow Falls
One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the whole of the UK! If you’re able to visit this place, you absolutely must! The waterfall which can be viewed from below and above spills 50ft from the huge Loch na Gainmhich and crashes into the ridge below. It’s a spectacle to behold. To access from below, use the small parking area marked on Google Maps. You won’t be able to see the waterfall from the parking area but follow the left hand side of the ridge for around 10 minutes and after some scrambling here and there you’ll reach the falls. If you access the falls from above, please keep dogs on leads and children close by. There’s a nasty drop into the ridge and no obvious paths. Access to the top can be gained by following the road around to Loch na Gainmhich. Please be careful!