Scotland

North Coast 500 Bike / NEW!

Seven nights; eight days of cycling on quiet, single-track paved roads along the new North Coast 500 route from Strathcarron to Inverness via John O’ Groats. This ride visits some of the Outlander TV show/book sites.
“This was a truly wonderful trip – fun, relaxing, physically challenging, and beautiful. And I’ve never giggled so much with 12 people I didn’t know!” - Louise M.




Itinerary



Start: Royal Highland Hotel, Inverness, 09:00, day one.


Finish: Inverness Railway Station, Inverness, 10:00, day eight.


Day 1

Inverness to Kerrysdale 83km (+993m/-988m)

Meet in Inverness at for a short transfer to Strathcarron where your adventure begins. Warm up your legs in the shadow of the majestic peak of Beinn Bhan, towering 3000 feet overhead. Rolling hills and winding single-track roads lead through Torridon, around the foot of the Beinn Eighe massif, and alongside Loch Maree before returning to the sea. Arrive at Kerrysdale, your resting place for the night, where you will be treated to lovely views of Strath Bay. LD (Meal inclusions provided for guided trips. Self-guided trips include breakfast only)
Shieldaig Lodge, Kerrysdale.

Day 2

Kerrysdale to Ullapool 75km (+1188m/-1022m)

Cycle past the sandy bays of Gairloch toward Poolewe, where you will find the splendid Inverewe Gardens, a private collection of sub-tropical plants and trees. Near Laide, around the halfway point of today’s route, is a 10km diversion to Mellon Udrigle Beach, a spectacular spit of white sand tucked between breathtaking rock formations. The afternoon path hugs the sparsely populated coast before veering inland along Little Loch Broom. Snaking through verdant pastureland framed by balding hilltops and craggy peaks, you’ll arrive at the Falls of Measach, a waterfall nestled in Corrieshalloch Gorge. From the falls you can transfer or ride to Ullapool, the largest town you’ll see for days. BLD
Westlea Guest House , Ullapool.

Day 3

Ullapool to Kylesku 95km (+1468m/-1474m)

Today’s long, hilly route can be shortened if preferred, though you should still expect some notable inclines. From Ullapool you will head into the wilds of the northwest. The high moorlands may seem like the end of the earth, and we suggest you take your time on these low-traffic passes to reflect on the beauty of open space, fresh air, and wandering livestock. Stop to ponder the ruins of Castle Ardvreck, a 16th century keep on the shores of Loch Assynt, before heading into the hills on a breathtaking coastal loop though the isolated hamlets of Clachtoll, Stoer, Nedd, and Kylesku. BLD
Kylesku Hotel, Kylesku.

Day 4

Kylesku to Durness – 61km (+859m/-834m)

Begin with one of the most isolated rides in Scotland, through the moorlands to the beautiful parish of Durness. This is the most sparsely populated region in Western Europe, considered by many to be the mostlovely, and is one of the highlights of the tour. Home to towering sand dunes, traversable sea caves, and a golf course thought to be the most playable hidden gem in the UK, the compact community is well worth exploration. John Lennon came here as a boy, and some say the unique terrain of Durness inspired Tolkien’s vision for Middle Earth. Depending on how much time you choose to devout to discovering the area, you may decide to cycle an extra 65km or take a transfer to your inn. BD
Bettyhill Hotel, Bettyhill.

Day 5

Bettyhill to John O’Groats 83km (+855m/-869m)

Today you will ride to the end of the world! Well, the mainland of Britain at least. Striking east, following the fissured northern coastline, the route passes countless bays, hidden sandy coves, and the majestic Castle of Mey. Your destination is John O’ Groats, commonly known as the northernmost community in Britain, and the start/stop point for the famous John O’ Groats Land’s End journey. For a chance to admire stark sea cliffs at the true northernmost tip of land, take an optional 4km ride out to the lighthouse at Duncansby Head. When you’re finished exploring, transfer back to Bettyhill for another night by the sea. BLD
Same lodging.

Day 6

Bettyhill to Dornoch short 72km (+595m/-562m) long 108km (+863m/-910m)

Cycle southward, deep into the interior of the highlands. Following the lush River Naver, famous for its salmon population, your route pushes into the wilds of the central moorlands. Shorter, and less hilly than other days, today’s route offers a slower pace, perfect for stretching your legs and taking in the stillness of this sparsely populated area. Finish in Lairg, “The Crossroads of the North”, and home of the largest single-day sheep sale in Europe. BLD
Dornoch Castle, Dornoch.

Day 7

Dornoch to Dingwall – 75.5km (+827m/-772m)

A challenging day of ascents awaits, beginning with the quiet, single-tracked road past Loch Buidhe to Bonar Bridge. Climb Struie Hill, where, on a clear day, you’ll be able to see Dornoch Firth in the distance as you cross the plateau. Finish in the historic town of Dingwall, whose castle dates from the 12th century. BLD
Tulloch Castle Hotel, Dingwall.

Day 8

Inverness and farewell!

Following breakfast, transfer 25 minutes to Inverness. You can choose to spend some more time exploring Inverness, including its impressive castle which has recently been opened to the public. B



Description



Note about the route:

70-100km/day, lots of climbing, and beautiful descents. Relaxed riders may be encouraged to rely on van support, or to rent e-bikes. Advanced riders will enjoy longer options.






There is a fresh feeling of clean air, water, and mind when you ride the less-traveled moorlands and coastlines of Scotland’s dramatic north. The isolated and profoundly scenic landscape, the ineffably polite and friendly inhabitants, and the echoes of the past among the ancient castles and Iron Age ruins will leave you with a deep appreciation for Scotland, as well as memories for a lifetime.

This challenging adventure starts in Inverness on the northern end of Loch Ness, where you can keep an eye out for Nessie in case she rises from the dark and mysterious depths. Riding north along the west coast you will pass sandy stretches of land that sometimes resemble the Caribbean more than northern Scotland. In Durness you will glimpse Tolkien’s middle earth, and the highest sea cliffs in Britain. Pedal through John O’ Groats, the northernmost community in Britain, before veering south and plunging deep through the interior of the highlands all the way back to Inverness, thus completing the beautiful North Coast 500 loop. The combination of charming villages, gorgeous landscapes, and abundant wildlife on this adventure is likely to inspire your life-long love affair with Scotland, if it hasn’t taken hold already!



Map & Elevations





Click here for the elevation profile
Day # Daily distance
1
Inverness to Kerrysdale 83km
2
Kerrysdale to Ullapool 75km
3
Ullapool to Kylesku 95km
4
Kylesku to Durness – 61km
5
Bettyhill to John O’Groats 83km
6
Bettyhill to Dornoch short 72km, long 108km
7
Dornoch to Dingwall – 75.5km
8
  Inverness and farewell!





Learn more



Explore more of Scotland on our West Coast Bike tour.

Join one of our many tours in nearby Ireland or Wales.



Costs



US 3810 C 4495

8 days, 7 nights, 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners, luggage handling, van and guide support, maps and route notes.

US 3385 C 3995

8 days, 7 nights, 7 breakfasts, transfers as outlined in the plan, luggage transfers, maps, route notes.

Single
Occupancy

US 995 C 1195


Bicycle
Rental

Hybrid: US 245 C 295
Racing: US 375 C 455
Electric Assist: US 465 C 555




All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.