Your adventure starts today, close to Liverpool (or optionally, Inverness) and with 35 minute rail or airport transfers available from Liverpool or Manchester to our base, your vehicle pickup could not be easier.
Here, you will collect your Land Rover, (where we also offer free secure parking). Alternatively, you can take the Highland Train from London or other points to Inverness, and collect your vehicle at your hotel (optional). It's also possible to enjoy a couple of nights in Edinburgh or Stirling before your adventure.
After a short safety briefing, you will head out on the road, guided either with our in-car tablet based APP (standard), or by our expert local guide and safety vehicle (optional).
You will head North on an easy fast drive to the historic Dunkeld, on the north bank of the scenic River Tay. Frequently described as the "Gateway to the Highlands", you will have the option to head into the hills and become familiar with your Landrover on the private Dunkeld Estate and its network of offroad trails exclusive to us.
Nearby, you can also enjoy a Land Rover Experience training course, the best way to learn how to use the awesome Land Rover 4x4 capabilities.
In 280 acres of unspoiled Perthshire countryside, the Dunkeld House Hotel features sumptuous rooms, an outdoor activity centre and luxury health club in the grounds of this relaxed country house retreat.
An indoor swimming pool, spa, shooting, and salmon fishing, with the River Tay running through the grounds, makes for a wonderful introduction to Scotland.
The Riverside Restaurant serves a creative menu using local and seasonal produce, whilst the Lounge Bar has an open log fire and a varied collection of local whiskies.
Guests joining their vehicle in Inverness or Stirling will be provided with equally high standard country house accommodations.
Bed & Breakfast.
Land Rover Experience 4x4
A great familiarisation course with expert Land Rover instructors using new factory Land Rover Defenders on a challenging training zone. An exciting way to start your adventure.
The centre is located on the shores of Butterstone Loch in Perthshire. The centre is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and has some of the most stunning scenery imaginable.
If you are lucky you may spot an Osprey fishing for Trout in the loch and visitors often see Red Squirrels and Fallow Deer when driving.
Off-road facilities include an obstacle/assault course with rutted tracks, steep hills, boulders, slippery slopes and woodland tracks. Facilities on site include a large reception area, tea and coffee facilities and a small retail shop selling official Land Rover merchandise.
Today, you will take the main highland route North via the Cairngorms National Park or Loch Ness,to Inverness and cross the Moray Firth. Your final destination today is the Black Isle, and remote coastal village of Cromarty.
Your route transits the Ciarngorms, with stunning scenery, lochs, and a stop in the lovely riverside city of Inverness, before crossing the Moray.
A taste of dry aged local Scottish beef at the Glenmorriston overlooking the river in Inverness, and an optional Fly Fishing experience at Evanton is great fun, not to mention Glenmorangie distilliary.
Despite its name, the Black Isle is not an island, but a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water – Once you have crossed the Cromarty Firth bridge, this a location to enjoy wildlife - from dolphins to deer, from osprey to otters, from seals to Scots Pine.
It's also steeped in history, with castles and cairns.
You can see Ben Nevis on a clear day, as well as the immense Fort George, the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain if not europe (Built following the 1746 defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at nearby Culloden).
The guides books don’t mention the immense oil rig service facility at Cromarty, and at certain times of the year, the old village sits in the shadow of a couple of these imposing structures offshore, making an unusual contrast.
A hidden favourite of ours, set in private grounds overlooking the Cromarty Firth, just a short walk to the beach and harbour, and listed in the 2018 Michelin Guide.
Roll top baths and thoughtfully implemented decor, homemade organic luxury toiletries, a lounge with log fire, comfortable sofas and lots of books to settle down with, all complement a garden with amazing views over the firth.
Winning an AA rosette has set the benchmark for the breakfasts, and dinners prepared and served by the owner, Fiona with homemade breads, pastries and preserves. The excellent seasonal three course dinner is available by pre booking only.
Bed & Breakfast. (Optional Set Dinner Served in the Dining Room, Recommended)
Day 3 takes us on an easy drive from the Cromarty Firth, to the charming historic village of Dornoch.
In the morning you can explore Cromarty, or take a dolphin spotting fast Rib Boat Tour into the firth with an excellent local company, or enjoy a tour of the Balblair distillary.
Balblair is what you imagine a distillery should be, sitting on an ancient Pictish gathering place, tucked away near the banks of the Dornoch Firth.
On the distillery doorstep you will find the Clach Biorach, a four-thousand-year-old standing stone that archaeologists believed to be part of a prehistoric working calendar. The time-intensive methods at Balblair make for more flavour-intensive malts. In the words of the Distillery Manager, John MacDonald, “making whisky should be a craft, not a process.” Hand-stencilled casks, dated by the men who fill them, affords whisky the respect it deserves at this lovely location.
The small seasonal ferry ( June to Sept ) crosses the firth to Nigg, or a small lane takes you off the peninsular, and heads up to Dornoch.
Aside from having the smallest cathedral (from the 12th century) in Britain, and one of Scotland finest golf courses, the Royal Dornoch, the village was also the site where, 300 years ago, the last woman to be accused of witchcraft in Scotland was burnt alive.
Situated directly opposite the inspiring 12th century Dornoch Cathedral, and five minutes from the golf course, this historic hotel is full of character, being rated the the number one whisky connoisseurs location in Scotland, with its own highly rated distillery and vast range of labels on site. Dinner can be taken at the hotel or at the excellent Italian restaurant closeby.
Bed & Breakfast.
A longer, wilder drive on day 4, leaves the conventional North Coast 500 route and instead heads inland, accross the remote "Flow Country" a land of wild tundra, peaks, and lochs.
Heading towards the most northerly point is the British Isles, the Royal Castle of Mey (former home of the Queen Mother and summer residence of Prince Charles) is your final destination today.
Leaving Dornoch, you will head North West, with the opportunity to stop at the lovely Dunrobin Castle, seat of the Duke of Sutherland, once Europe's biggest landowner, with a staggering 1.3 million acres under his control.
From here you cut into the mountains, climbing to stunning vistas of this vast empty landscape on a small trail road. An optional off road trail on a private estate skirts Loch Badanloch, and takes you to an area few have explored. Keep an eye out for Stags, as you transit this remote and magical place that exudes the spirit of Scotland.
At what is known as Britains most remote lodge, The Garvault, Adrian and Eva provide a welcome coffee or soup stop, and give a great inight into the sometimes harsh life in this remote outpost. We can provide trout or salmon fishing by prior arrangement on the nearby estate.
Heather and bracken hillsides, lead towards Kildonan lodge, and its tiny rail crossing, to cross the River Helmsdale, with the option to head to the Forsinard Flows reserve, a haven for birdlife.
Eventually you will descend to Bettyhill, where the road opens into magnificent views of the rugged coast and pristine beaches and cliffs. You can pull off into any number of coves for a picnic, including Melvich, Farr Bay and Port Skerra.
Then, you continue east to the 200ft seastacks and abundant birdlife of Dunscanby Head and its lighthouse (the actual most northerly point in Britain). John O Groats, is nearby for a windswept photo alongside that famous sign!
Returning to the Castle of Mey is a real treat, as you enter the gardens and grounds of this former residence of the Queen Mother and summer residence of HRH Prince Charles.
His Royal Highness has now opened a 10-bedroom boutique b&b, metres from the Castle of Mey, and provides your luxury accommodationss. A calming destination in rugged scenery, with sweeping views over to Orkney, it nestles between the castle and a beautiful beach and coastal walk. With carefully thought out rooms that are brimming with character, plus a blazing log fire and cosy lounge, service here as you would expect, is exceptional, but equally is truly friendly and not overly formal. Another of our favourites.
Bed & Breakfast.
Day 5 sees you head west, following the North Coast 500 route again, via Durness to the beautiful Kylesku.
Enjoy a nice coastal walk at Strathay Point, and stretch your legs before arriving into Tongue, a delightful croft village set overlooking the Kyle of Tonge.
Ovelooked by the ruined Castle Varrich, (former medieval stronghold of the Mackay clan) on the hill above, there is a nice trek to the castle from the village, with the offer of fresh seafood and local cask beer in the Ben Loyal pub below.
This stretch of the NC500 is breathtaking, as you cross the Kyle bridge to Loch Eriboll, and a beautiful road to Durness. A stop at the golden sands of Ceannabeinne beach just before Durness offers a great picnic spot with a grandstand view of the Golden Eagle Zipline that traverses the beach from cliffs, 37 meters above.
The route heading west is simply superb, and you may spot Stags and Deer in the area. At Scourie, you will find a beautiful bay for a swim or paddleboard, and a quiet picnic location. You than take the road to Assynt or stop off for a trip out to Handa Island Wildlife Reserve.
Assynt is probably the most geologically impressive part of your trip, with Britain's highest waterfall at 650ft near the head of Loch Glencoul.
Here, a short diversion takes you down to Kylesku inlet, the lovely location of your lodge and a departure point for a boat to take you through the Loch to the falls, where you will also encounter Puffins and Seals.
At the end of the day, sample a Bablair scotch on the terrace overlooking the Loch, as inquisitive seals pop up less than 50 meters away, and then retire to the lounge and log fire for a dinner of freshly caught langoustines or crab.
A charming, almost Nordic air surrounds this lovely lodge location, set in a truly stunning location. With cosy rooms, outsanding views, and a relaxed ambience, dinner here is recommended. Next morning, after a hearty Scottish breakfast, take the boat trip to Britain's highest waterfall from the adjacent jetty
Bed & Breakfast.
Day 6 is an easy driving day, with a short stretch to the fishing town of Ullapool and a chance to enjoy the numerous walks and waterfalls in between, via Lochinver.
Depart the normal NC500 route onto our suggested alternative, a single track drive, taking in the beautiful scenery to Drumberg.
Mountains, moorland, mist, and scree, border peach coloured beaches, before descending into Lochinver, and its scattering of eateries around the small fishing jetty.
Ullapool, at least for these parts, is a sizeable, but highly likeable fishing port and small town, situated in a sheltered arm of Loch Broom.
Founded in the height of the herring boom in the 1700's, a handful of tiny pubs and two or three bistros face the pretty loch, and this is an ideal base to explore the surrounding area.
Live local music and the "The Seafood Shack" (BBC streetfood of the year winner) liven up summer evenings, while your hotel for the night offers shabby chic rooms, roaring log fires, friendly staff, and some of the best food in town.
Set back from the Loch, this lively family run pub and hub has a bookshop, bar, and great restaurant, serving seasonal and local specialities, such as an exquisite stuffed crab or fresh Loch salmon and langoustines. Wood burning stoves warm the public areas, and the rooms are cosy and proudly "TV free". The smart balcony lounge gives views of the Loch while enjoying the honesty bar. Breakfast is equally up to expectations, with fresh smoked salmon from the local smoke house with poached eggs, just one of many choices.
Bed & Breakfast.
Todays route takes you from Ullapool on a delightful trail that again leaves the NC500, and goes off route to the incredibly remote Rua Reidh Lighthouse, for taste of the rugged wildness of this remote location.
Start the day with a visit to the local deli & bakery close to your hotel, and then to the Ullapool Smokehouse to pickup some fanatstic local produce for lunch, especially the sublime smoked salmon.
Stop off at the Falls of Mearch, especially lovely early morning, or for a picnic where the falls plunge 160ft into the imposing Corrieshalloch Gorge. Take in the view from the Victorian era foot bridge, spanning the sheer 200ft walls of lichen covered rock.
From the lovely coastal village of Gairloch, A sinewy detour takes you on a tiny single track road to Badrallach and an excellent walk with views over the Loch from the tiny crofting village.
From here, its another spectacular drive along Gruinard Bay, with Golden Eagles and Seals frequently spotted, and a narrow viewpoint only accesible to 4x4, with one of the most breathtaking highland views possible.
A fascinating stop is the Pool House on Loch Ewe, where the owner, Elizebeth Miles offers historical insights into this oppulant Georgian Manor as well as the local history of the World War 2 Atlantic Convoy base here. Amongst its previous guests is Winston Churchill, and a lunch or afternoon tea here is a must, perhaps with a walk to the 4000 year old Pictish Fort nearby, a refuge from marauding Vikings.
Built in 1912 by David Alan Stevenson, cousin of the writer Robert Louis Stephenson, the Rua Reidh Lighthouse is one of the most remote and wildest locations in Britain.
A narrow, winding single track road follows precipitous cliffs to the end of the peninsula. This outpost is an ideal chance to watch seals at play and spot otters and the 37 variaties of seabird here. Star gazing, and the Northern lights are wonderful experiences to be had from this entirely unique location, where you can choose to stay for the night.
With only two simple rooms facing the ocean, and its utterly remote location, The Rua Reidh Lighthouse is a unique and unforgettable stay. It's an amazing opportunity to experience what a turn of the century lighthouse keepers life would have been like, in the daily battle with Mother Nature.
If this option is not for you, we do have an alternative Highland Lodge set in 58 acres of woodland on the shore of Loch Torridon, which offers lovely accommodations, and an excellent bar and restaurant.
You can opt for either choice when booking.
Bed & Breakfast (+ Simple Evening Meal included at the lighthouse)
You are reaching the end of your adventure, but the last day offers probably the most spectacular drive of all via the Bealach Na Ba pass over the Applecross Peninsula.
Leaving the shores of Loch Torridon, the route takes you the gentle and picturesque bay at Shieldaig, where a maze of inlets creates a great location for paddleboarding or kayaking and the Badachro Inn is a a great waterside refreshment stop.
From here, transit the nature reserve, Bienn Eigheand with its epic highland scenery and wildlife. Continue on towards the Applecross Peninsula, and start the 2045ft ascent on the daunting 1:5 gradient Bealach Na Ba pass, probably the most iconic section of the NC500 route and the must do drive.
This former drovers road, is a challenging one, and offers incredible views over to the Isle of Skye and beyond. Other than a tiny monastery founded here in AD 673, it's all wilderness and incredible scenery as you descend to the tiny village and the welcoming Applecross Inn, a seafood lovers delight. The calm waters, views, and general feel of Appplecross is enchanting, and a great location to round off your Scotland adventure.
Leaving Applecross, you can route south to one of Scotlands most classical scenes, the Kyle of Lochalsh, overlooked by the magical Eileen Donan Castle. Alternatively a speedier route takes you east accross to Inverness.
If you wish to break the journey south, we can offer an excellent B&B farmhouse lodge, sitting just off the A9, and adjacent to the river Truim with its crystal clear snow fed waters. During the warmer months, you can relax along the river banks with a glass of wine, a pot of tea or a good book. There are also a maze of 4x4 tracks to explore, that head into the hills surrounding the property. Inverness also offers an elegant small riverside hotel, with a great restaurant, bar, and terrace.
Optional on request, available- Dalwhinnie or Inverness, both riverside.
Bed & Breakfast