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North Coast 500

In 2015 the North Highland Initiative started a project to boost tourism in the northern counties of Scotland. The idea was to publicise a 500 mile route through Inverness-shire, Ross & Cromarty, Sutherland and my home county of Caithness, and promote it as a superb road trip. I don't know how successful they expected it to be, but it has quickly become very popular and has been called one of the top five coastal routes in the World. In fact its popularity is becoming a problem for the local residents: some of the roads are single-track, with bays at intervals to allow two vehicles to pass each other, but there is an etiquette for their use that strangers are not always aware of. The result is that local people going about their business find themselves held up by slow-moving tourist vehicles, so if you use the route please pull over and allow other vehicles to pass. The amount of traffic will probably also cause damage to the roads, which were not intended for heavy use. Despite the problems though, the North Coast 500 has the potential to bring a welcome boost to the economy of these remote areas.

Here are some of my own photographs of some of the highlights, travelling in a clockwise direction.

Bealach na Bà, or Pass of the Cattle, is the longest road climb in Britain, with over 600 metres of ascent and tight hairpin bends.

Liathach, one of the Torridon Range of mountains, with rocks that are 1,000,000,000 years old.

Stac Pollaidh, one of the distinctive mountains of the North West Geopark, an important area for the science of geology.

Lochinver, one of the attractive fishing ports found around this coastline. The distinctive profile of Suilven dominates the skyline.

Canisp, Suilven and the wild country north of Lochinver.

Smoo Cave, one of several cave systems in the limestone rocks of Northwest Sutherland. Bones of animals from the last Ice Age have been found in some of the caves.

Ruined cottages beside Loch Eriboll, evidence of the crofting communities which used to exist throughout this area.

Ben Loyal and the Kyle of Tongue, one of the scenic jewels of Northern Sutherland.

A view of the Orkney Islands from the coastal community of Strathy.

Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the mainland of Britain.

Spectacular rock stacks at Duncansby Head.

The flatter landscape of Caithness, near Lybster.

The Bishop's Palace in the historic town of Dornoch.

For more details about the route, and what to see and do, visit the North Coast 500 website


  1. Nice set of photos but Torridon rocks are a billion years old not a million.

    1. Thanks, yes I didn't add enough noughts!

  2. Okay, ... that's the edge indeed.
    What a views!


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