North Coast 500 – a circular route around the
lesser-travelled northerly coast of the Highlands – is Scotland’s
answer to Route 66. Most road trippers start out in the city of
Inverness, heading out west and from there before digressing to
explore the ruins of 13th-century castles and make a pitstop to
search for Nessie.
Isle of Skye isn’t part of this route but I allocated a couple
of days there. It’s an island of panoramic vistas, where jagged
mountain ranges cut through the miles of green, velvety moors.
Back on the mainland, my drive took in Applecross Pass, a single
track winding its way through the Applecross Peninsula via a series
of hairpin bends. A large sign at the base of the pass warns that
it’s not a journey for the faint-hearted or new drivers – but the
views are well worth the adrenaline-fuelled trip.
Further up the west coast the landscape becomes even more
dramatic. There is an abundance of walks along the route – my
favourite involved a particularly high climb where I picnicked
between giant rocks under a blanket of clouds. Sheep outnumber cars
on the road and often I was forced to drive at a crawl accommodate
the wanderings of our four-legged friends.
My last evening was spent in a cosy B&B on the east coast
overlooking the North Sea. Here, the landscape is noticeably
different; gentle rolling hills replace the rugged backdrop, and
the palette of burnt oranges and mustard yellows makes way for