Anyone Here Done the North Coast 500?

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Anyone Here Done the North Coast 500?

Post  Lonterra on Wed Jan 11 2017, 14:47

As per the title, has anyone on here done the North Coast 500?

Me and a couple of mates are looking at doing it this year and wondered if anyone had any hints / tips / avoids for the trip?

Ta Very Happy
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Re: Anyone Here Done the North Coast 500?

Post  FatCat on Wed Jan 11 2017, 16:16

I've never done the complete circuit in one go but have probably done most of it at various times. We did a good portion of it at the 2015 Big Mac from Ullapool. At least those of us who didn't head back early after lunch in tongue. We even had Chris (Greencat) with us as he followed the wrong group. Smile

Here are some of Gillybaby's pics from Big Mac 2015
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And some more from our week up there the year before.
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And links to others pictures from the 2015 Big Mac.
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Some great roads. If you ask Rosco he'll even swear he saw Prince Charles but he may have just been trying to divert attention as he applied more cable ties to his sick cat.
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Re: Anyone Here Done the North Coast 500?

Post  terry lees on Wed Jan 11 2017, 19:07

Love that post.
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Re: Anyone Here Done the North Coast 500?

Post  Rosco on Thu Jan 12 2017, 02:20

We definitely passed Prince Charles on the way to Dunnet Head on the very North Coast and yes I probably added at least one cable tie that year.

I've just realised I never uploaded my pictures from Big Mac 2015....must find them.

I'm sure you'll love it Matt.

It depends how many days you want to spend doing it tbh and your journey up and back down can either be a one or a two day trek too.

Ullapool is defo worth a stay (we've always stayed in the SYHA Youth Hostel there) and John O'Groats has recently been done up (there still isn't too much there though) so maybe Thurso would be an alternative sleepover.

Applecross Inn is a must for something to eat. The road in over the hill is switchback tastic and the scenery looking over to Skye heading North is spectacular.

More often than not we've done it clockwise but a few of us did it anti-clockwise a good few years ago and it pissed down.

If you are strapped for time then you could base at Ullapool and do a top circuit one day and applecross on another day.

Make sure you suss out your fuel stops as they are quite sparse although I expect you guys might have behemoth fuel tanks.

If you can wait another year then we'll be doing it in 2018 for BigMac (probably staying north of Inverness) - maybe here - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Once you've done it you'll definitely be back for more.

I'm sure you'll already have seen it but there is a "What to see and do" link near the top of the page here - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
and I'm sure you'll find some great ideas there too.

Get in touch nearer the time and if any of the locals are free I'm sure we could join you for bit of your journey on the way up or down.

There are lots of great roads on the way up (and down) too.

The A9 has lots of average speed cameras on the way up to Inverness.

If you want to stay eastish and avoid most of the A9 to Inverness go via Blairgowrie and Braemar.
If you want to stay west you can use the a82 stopping at the Green Welly (in the motorbike car park) in Tyndrum for a bike blether.

If you aren't in a rush to head up (or down) then consider coming via Alston, Brampton, Longtown, Newcastleton, Hawick, Selkirk.

At Selkirk you can either stay east and go via a7 Edinburgh and then plot a route from there OR go west and head onto one of my favourite local roads via Peebles, Carnwath.

It starts to get a bit busy from here -

If you're in a rush just follow signs for Glasgow and then the Erskine Bridge to join the A82.
You can join the A82 in Glasgow City centre but Erskine bridge is normally much quicker.

If you're not in a rush head for Airdrie, Lennoxtown, Fintry, Balloch and pick up the A82 there.

Cheers
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Re: Anyone Here Done the North Coast 500?

Post  Wooster on Thu Jan 12 2017, 10:04

The average speed cameras don't apply to bikes (they face the wrong way), but don't go mental for long stretches since there are still some unmarked and mobile cameras around. Smile

If you stay at Ullapool and want really good food, make a booking for the Arch Inn well before you get there, it's very popular.
(If you stay at the Caledonian Hotel, don't be tempted to eat there...it's terrible, the rooms are serviceable though.)

I've stayed at the Weigh In at Thurso and wasn't impressed, with either the accommodation or the food, but have stayed at The Royal Hotel which was pretty decent and has a nice bar.
Best meal I've had by far there was at the Y Not Bar & Grill, the specials on the boards above the bar are what to go for.
(The Castletown Hotel down the road is quite cheap, the rooms are a bit dated but clean and the food is good)

John O'Groats has been done up, the Seaforth Hotel down the road seems quite popular, but the food is average and you need a booster seat in their restaurant.
I'm 5' 9" and the seats were far too low for the table, so felt like I was eating like a crab (with my elbows above my ears) :p
The Alba Sunrise B&B down the road is excellent, very clean, very friendly.

Wick doesn't have much going for it at the moment.

p.s. I'd agree with Rosco about cutting off the A9 running through Deeside, but I'd do it on the way back, since the A93 is miles better* when travelling south. Cool
Remember the Top Gear review of the Jaguar F-Type Coupe?
Clarkson joked that it was his favourite bit of road in 'Hertfordshire', or something, but it was the A93 around Glenshee:  wink thumb up
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Word of caution though, when you get to the end of the good bit of road below the ski area, take it easy for the next five miles.
It's like a rollercoaster and there are some mental bends (it's an old military road, so the route was originally designed to be followed on foot). Smile


*where that boring video ends, is also the end of the 'good bit' of road. Very Happy


Last edited by Wooster on Thu Jan 12 2017, 10:10; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Anyone Here Done the North Coast 500?

Post  Rosco on Thu Jan 12 2017, 10:08

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Re: Anyone Here Done the North Coast 500?

Post  Wooster on Thu Jan 12 2017, 10:16

The owner of the Alba Sunrise B&B was saying the same to me last year, it's gotten very very busy, so it might be an idea to book your accommodation well in advance.


If you are looking for somewhere close to Inverness, I can also recommend Leanach Farm B&B (right next to Culloden).
It's outside Inverness but it has a really good Bar/Restaurant just up the road from it (Culloden Moor Inn).
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Re: Anyone Here Done the North Coast 500?

Post  Lonterra on Thu Jan 12 2017, 16:40

Thanks guys.

Plenty to think about - Thankfully I'm an "Attendee" rather than the Organiser, but they were asking for any thoughts.

I will pass on your comments, and hopefully it'll be a good trip.

We're looking at June 16th to 23rd at the moment Very Happy
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Re: Anyone Here Done the North Coast 500?

Post  Wooster on Thu Jan 12 2017, 18:27

If you're looking for something a bit different in that region, CalMac do Hopscotch tickets for the Western Isles

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That one is currently about £100 total for each bike + rider, and an extra £30 for a pillion....but the prices and sailings will change for the summer months.

My brother looked into it last year and it was damn expensive, but they had a camper van.....bikes can slot in pretty much anywhere, so they're much cheaper. Cool
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Re: Anyone Here Done the North Coast 500?

Post  Gillybaby on Thu Jan 12 2017, 20:21

We did the Calmac Island Hopscotch to the Outer Hebrides on the way up to Ullapool Big Mac in 2015.  The route we took was Mallaig-Skye-North Uist/Berneray-Harris/Lewis-Ullapool.  That's 4 ferry trips.  Cost £88 per bike/rider.  Great deal and highly recommended.  The trip between Berneray and Harris was amazing.  It can only be undertaken at high tide and it follows a zig zag course between very pointy rocks.  Was fun at the front watching the pilot's last minute turns between the buoys.

Have also done Ardrossan-Arran-Mull of Kintyre and Oban-Mull-Ardnamurchan.    Really need to try more routes Very Happy

Also as an FYI, a number of the average speed cameras on the A9 are now rear facing.  I believe it is fairly random so you need to be extra careful.  They have also turned on some at one of the dual carriageway sections where there weren't any before.

They have done the same on the A77 as well, many are now rear facing - boo sad

I would also recommend a side trip to Orkney.  We had a day trip there when we stayed at John O'Groats.  Took the Pentland Ferry from Gills Bay.  It is currently £64 return for bike/rider.
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