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What To Do On The West Coast of the NC500

The West Coast of Scotland is often considered the most scenic. It has hidden white sandy beaches and imposing rugged mountains. It is a photographer’s dream! You’ll want to spend no less than 3 days on the West Coast to really appreciate its beauty and all it has to offer when doing the NC500.

 

Creating an itinerary for the NC500 is strongly advised so you don’t miss any of the best sights! To help with planning your trip, we have split up the NC500 into manageable chunks: North, East, South, and West, and showcased the highlights from each!

 

The attractions have been listed in geographical order (if you are doing the NC500 anti-clockwise)

 

 

Cape Wrath

 

View of Cape Wrath from sea. Lighthouse on top of cliff can be seen. View of west coast of NC500.

 

Beginning with the most north-westerly point in UK we find Cape Wrath.

 

Cape Wrath is known for its rugged landscapes, wildlife, and very cute lighthouse. So if any of those things interest you, you may wish to add it to your itinerary.

 

Unfortunately, you cannot reach Cape Wrath on your own, however, there are buses and a ferry the will get you there. Tours of Cape Wrath take approximately 3 hours.

 

Cape Wrath is an excellent viewpoint for the North Coast of mainland Scotland and a fantastic place to watch colonies of sea birds in their natural habitat.

 

Fun Fact: Cape Wrath is also home to Britain’s most remote restaurant!

Handa Island

 

 

Working down the west coast you will find Handa Island. This is a slight detour from the traditional NC500 circuit. Handa Island is a short ferry ride from the small village of Tarbet. If you want to see puffins, this is the place to find them!

 

As well as adorable puffins, you will also find a picturesque beach with white sands and crystal clear water. You’ll hardly believe you’re still in Scotland.

 

Note: the best time of year to see puffins is from May to July.

 

Again, this is a day trip, so factor this into your itinerary if you plan on visiting. For more information on the island itself check out this website.

 

Scourie

 

Small town of Scourie pictured from above with view of coastline and houses.

Scourie is a quaint little village with a sandy beach and a harbour. The main reason this is on our list is that it is approximately halfway around the NC500 route and it has a petrol station. This is a great place to refuel and relax with an ice cream before heading back on the road.

 

Kylesku bridge

 

Drone image of van crossing Kylesku Bridge on the west of the NC500

 

This award-winning curved bridge crosses Loch a’ Chàirn Bhàin on the West coast of the NC500 route. The bridge really is quite spectacular.

 

There are carparks/viewing points on each side of the bridge – perfect if you intend on driving over the bridge multiple times to get a photo!!

 

Achmelvich Bay Beach

 

beach with white sand and turquoise water

 

Achmelvich Bay Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the NC500. Its white sands and inviting turquoise waters wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean. It’s quite popular with campers and walkers alike. There is a caravan park looking directly onto the beach making it a little bit busy.

 

A word of warning: the roads to get to this beach are a bit of a nightmare. It is exclusively single-track roads with passing places. The roads are also reasonably steep at some points. If you a driving a particularly wide vehicle we do NOT advise going to this beach – it’s not worth the hassle.

 

Knockan Crag Nature Reserve

 

A rock arch on the crag top trail at Knockan Crag NNR  ©Lorne Gill/SNH For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.snh.gov.uk

 

Knockan Crag is the epitome of a classic Scottish landscape – lochs, rolling hills, and a lot of midges!! There are some nice walks in this area which aren’t too long or too steep (thank God).

 

This area is of particular geological importance, there is a pavilion not far from the car park that goes into depth about the geology of the area and history of Scotland geology!

 

If you don’t fancy walking, the visitor centre has a great viewpoint as well as toilets and a drinking water tap.

 

To be perfectly honest you don’t need to stop at Corrieshalloch for too long; once you’ve seen the waterfall there is not too much to see. However, we recommend staying here overnight so you can avoid the crowds! Find out more here.

 

Mellon Udrigle Beach

 

White sandy beach with clear blue water

 

This beach is another slight detour from the NC500 route. Mellon Udrigle beach is absolutely picture perfect! The water is clean, crystal clear, and incredibly inviting (if you can brave the cold).

 

Not only is the beach stunning, in the distance there is a mountainous landscape, the perfect juxtaposition to the calm beach! We were in awe.

 

Unfortunately, there are no facilities here so we would recommend bringing a picnic.

 

Inverewe Gardens

 

path with lots of flowers overspilling from sides

 

Inverewe Gardens are located near the town of Poolewe and are privately owned by the ‘National Trust Scotland’. For a fee of £14 per person, you can explore these wondrous gardens. Tropical plants from all over the world can be found here.

 

Personally, we thought that £14 was a bit excessive to view the gardens, so chose to avoid it.

 

Applecross Peninsula

 

 

Applecross is a pretty little village that is the perfect pitstop before tackling the Baelach na Ba. There is not much to go here except eat! If you like high-quality pub food, we recommend booking a table at the award-winning Applecross Inn.

 

Note: The Applecross Inn does not cater to “walk-ins” therefore you must book online in advance. However, the internet in Applecross is none existing, so if you want to dine here, make sure you book it when you have internet e.g. when you are in Ullapool!

 

Baelach Na Ba

 

narrow road winding down side of hill

 

This infamous mountain pass is known mostly for the way it zig-zags down the side of the mountain with hairpin bends. The Baelach na Ba actually has the largest ascent/descent of any road in the UK!

 

It looks like something that would be on top-gear – and in fact, has been featured on the show. The road really is quite the spectacle! We would definitely recommend driving it if you’re able.

 

Due to the road’s steep and winding nature, it is not recommended for new drivers or large vehicles. Our van managed fine on a dry, sunny day. However, a vehicle larger would likely struggle.

 


Conclusion

 

The West Coast leg of the NC500 will leave a lasting impression on you. The landscapes are awe-inspiring and the beaches are pristine. It will make you proud to be Scottish – or jealous that you are not!!

 

Driving (or cycling) the NC500 will truly make you fall in love with the Scottish Highlands. Every day of our trip was filled with excitement and wonder.

 

More content about the NC500 coming soon!

 

If you have any questions regarding the West coast of the NC500 or just the NC500 in general, don’t hesitate to comment down below and we will get back to you!

 

IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, PIN IT – PRETTY PLEASE XOXO
With so much to do and see on the NC500, meticulously planning your itinerary is key. This post geographically lists the top things to do and see on the West Coast leg of the NC500. From stunning crystal clear beaches to epic mountains, and wildlife encounters. There is something for everyone. North Coast 500 | NC500 | NC500 must-see | NC500 Scotland | Road Trip | Scottish Road Trip | NC500 Scotland map | West coast of Scotland | What to do on the West Coast of Scotland |
 

 

We recommend spending a couple of days in Ullapool to unwind, relax, and appreciate a slower way of living. If you intend on staying in Ullapool, find out where to park overnight for free here!

 

Corrieshalloch Gorge Nature Reserve

 

Birds eye view of suspension bridge over gorge. Corrieshalloch Nature reserve on west of NC500 route.

 

Corrieshaloch Nature reserve is home to the most impressive waterfall on the NC500. The 45-foot waterfall is made even better by the suspension bridge that straddles the 100-foot gorge! If that isn’t enough there is also a viewing platform 100 meters away from the bridge where you can truly admire the waterfall from. The Nature reserve also has a few gentle walks around it which are quite pleasant.

 

To be perfectly honest you don’t need to stop at Corrieshalloch for too long; once you’ve seen the waterfall there is not too much to see. However, we recommend staying here overnight so you can avoid the crowds! Find out more here.

 

Mellon Udrigle Beach

 

White sandy beach with clear blue water

 

This beach is another slight detour from the NC500 route. Mellon Udrigle beach is absolutely picture perfect! The water is clean, crystal clear, and incredibly inviting (if you can brave the cold).

 

Not only is the beach stunning, in the distance there is a mountainous landscape, the perfect juxtaposition to the calm beach! We were in awe.

 

Unfortunately, there are no facilities here so we would recommend bringing a picnic.

 

Inverewe Gardens

 

path with lots of flowers overspilling from sides

 

Inverewe Gardens are located near the town of Poolewe and are privately owned by the ‘National Trust Scotland’. For a fee of £14 per person, you can explore these wondrous gardens. Tropical plants from all over the world can be found here.

 

Personally, we thought that £14 was a bit excessive to view the gardens, so chose to avoid it.

 

Applecross Peninsula

 

 

Applecross is a pretty little village that is the perfect pitstop before tackling the Baelach na Ba. There is not much to go here except eat! If you like high-quality pub food, we recommend booking a table at the award-winning Applecross Inn.

 

Note: The Applecross Inn does not cater to “walk-ins” therefore you must book online in advance. However, the internet in Applecross is none existing, so if you want to dine here, make sure you book it when you have internet e.g. when you are in Ullapool!

 

Baelach Na Ba

 

narrow road winding down side of hill

 

This infamous mountain pass is known mostly for the way it zig-zags down the side of the mountain with hairpin bends. The Baelach na Ba actually has the largest ascent/descent of any road in the UK!

 

It looks like something that would be on top-gear – and in fact, has been featured on the show. The road really is quite the spectacle! We would definitely recommend driving it if you’re able.

 

Due to the road’s steep and winding nature, it is not recommended for new drivers or large vehicles. Our van managed fine on a dry, sunny day. However, a vehicle larger would likely struggle.

 


Conclusion

 

The West Coast leg of the NC500 will leave a lasting impression on you. The landscapes are awe-inspiring and the beaches are pristine. It will make you proud to be Scottish – or jealous that you are not!!

 

Driving (or cycling) the NC500 will truly make you fall in love with the Scottish Highlands. Every day of our trip was filled with excitement and wonder.

 

More content about the NC500 coming soon!

 

If you have any questions regarding the West coast of the NC500 or just the NC500 in general, don’t hesitate to comment down below and we will get back to you!

 

IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, PIN IT – PRETTY PLEASE XOXO
With so much to do and see on the NC500, meticulously planning your itinerary is key. This post geographically lists the top things to do and see on the West Coast leg of the NC500. From stunning crystal clear beaches to epic mountains, and wildlife encounters. There is something for everyone. North Coast 500 | NC500 | NC500 must-see | NC500 Scotland | Road Trip | Scottish Road Trip | NC500 Scotland map | West coast of Scotland | What to do on the West Coast of Scotland |
 

 

We even recommend spending the night here. To find out more, check out this post

 

Ullapool

 

two girls on orange speedboat with village in background

 

Ullapool is a quaint harbour village which is the main port for trips to the Outer Hebrides. This village has something a lot of the north coast villages lack – a fantastic atmosphere. There are cute little shops to stroll through and a good selection of restaurants. If you enjoy seafood, this is the place for you!

 

Ullapool also boasts a good-sized shop (Tesco) and a petrol station which is fantastic for replenishing your food supplies!. Another bonus if you are camping – Ullapool has a free public shower. This village undeniably has the most amenities on the west coast of the NC500.

 

What we loved most about Ullapool is that there were boat trips around the loch, and even a speed boat to pack it all in quickly. We spotted porpoises, seals, and many seabirds when a boat tour

 

If you are in Ullapool in the warmer months (July/August) there is also a good chance you will see dolphins and even whales!

 

We recommend spending a couple of days in Ullapool to unwind, relax, and appreciate a slower way of living. If you intend on staying in Ullapool, find out where to park overnight for free here!

 

Corrieshalloch Gorge Nature Reserve

 

Birds eye view of suspension bridge over gorge. Corrieshalloch Nature reserve on west of NC500 route.

 

Corrieshaloch Nature reserve is home to the most impressive waterfall on the NC500. The 45-foot waterfall is made even better by the suspension bridge that straddles the 100-foot gorge! If that isn’t enough there is also a viewing platform 100 meters away from the bridge where you can truly admire the waterfall from. The Nature reserve also has a few gentle walks around it which are quite pleasant.

 

To be perfectly honest you don’t need to stop at Corrieshalloch for too long; once you’ve seen the waterfall there is not too much to see. However, we recommend staying here overnight so you can avoid the crowds! Find out more here.

 

Mellon Udrigle Beach

 

White sandy beach with clear blue water

 

This beach is another slight detour from the NC500 route. Mellon Udrigle beach is absolutely picture perfect! The water is clean, crystal clear, and incredibly inviting (if you can brave the cold).

 

Not only is the beach stunning, in the distance there is a mountainous landscape, the perfect juxtaposition to the calm beach! We were in awe.

 

Unfortunately, there are no facilities here so we would recommend bringing a picnic.

 

Inverewe Gardens

 

path with lots of flowers overspilling from sides

 

Inverewe Gardens are located near the town of Poolewe and are privately owned by the ‘National Trust Scotland’. For a fee of £14 per person, you can explore these wondrous gardens. Tropical plants from all over the world can be found here.

 

Personally, we thought that £14 was a bit excessive to view the gardens, so chose to avoid it.

 

Applecross Peninsula

 

 

Applecross is a pretty little village that is the perfect pitstop before tackling the Baelach na Ba. There is not much to go here except eat! If you like high-quality pub food, we recommend booking a table at the award-winning Applecross Inn.

 

Note: The Applecross Inn does not cater to “walk-ins” therefore you must book online in advance. However, the internet in Applecross is none existing, so if you want to dine here, make sure you book it when you have internet e.g. when you are in Ullapool!

 

Baelach Na Ba

 

narrow road winding down side of hill

 

This infamous mountain pass is known mostly for the way it zig-zags down the side of the mountain with hairpin bends. The Baelach na Ba actually has the largest ascent/descent of any road in the UK!

 

It looks like something that would be on top-gear – and in fact, has been featured on the show. The road really is quite the spectacle! We would definitely recommend driving it if you’re able.

 

Due to the road’s steep and winding nature, it is not recommended for new drivers or large vehicles. Our van managed fine on a dry, sunny day. However, a vehicle larger would likely struggle.

 


Conclusion

 

The West Coast leg of the NC500 will leave a lasting impression on you. The landscapes are awe-inspiring and the beaches are pristine. It will make you proud to be Scottish – or jealous that you are not!!

 

Driving (or cycling) the NC500 will truly make you fall in love with the Scottish Highlands. Every day of our trip was filled with excitement and wonder.

 

More content about the NC500 coming soon!

 

If you have any questions regarding the West coast of the NC500 or just the NC500 in general, don’t hesitate to comment down below and we will get back to you!

 

IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, PIN IT – PRETTY PLEASE XOXO
With so much to do and see on the NC500, meticulously planning your itinerary is key. This post geographically lists the top things to do and see on the West Coast leg of the NC500. From stunning crystal clear beaches to epic mountains, and wildlife encounters. There is something for everyone. North Coast 500 | NC500 | NC500 must-see | NC500 Scotland | Road Trip | Scottish Road Trip | NC500 Scotland map | West coast of Scotland | What to do on the West Coast of Scotland |
 

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