Viewing 17 posts - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)
  • Cape Wrath/NC500 Advise
  • Premier Icon plop-pants
    Full Member

    In June I’m doing something called bikepacking, somewhere in Scotland, NC500 was mentioned. The group I’m going with want to divert to Cape Wrath for a night’s stay at the lighthouse YHA.
    Is this something that needs careful planning? I understand we need to get a ferry to join the track to the lighthouse. Also we really want to avoid being bombed along the way so need to find out when the track might be closed. Any help gratefully received.

    Any advise on bike and equipment for the NC500 would be great too, bearing in mind we are staying at hotels/YHAs each night so no tent or sleeping bag etc. I was thinking cx bike, mudguards, 28mm + tyres. I think a handlebar dry bag, top tube and frame bag, plus seat bag would be enough for my clobber but what essentials to put in the bags?! Tyre choice could be important especially for the Cape Wrath bit.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Any touring tyre will do it – say 28mm and up.

    The lighthouse isn’t YHA/SYHA affiliated (I’m not even sure it’s still operating)

    Have you booked accommodation? Might be essential depending on when you are travelling.

    Are you on Facebook? If so, then get on to the NC500-Cycling group https://www.facebook.com/groups/242593866208238

    Lots of good advice particular to cyclists and you’ll find the answers to most of your questions there (or, indeed on here if you do a search).

    Premier Icon plop-pants
    Full Member

    Brilliant, thanks scotroutes! We have managed to book accommodation for the whole trip (6 nights) which surprised me seeing how popular the NC500 is now. Looks like we are sticking to main roads which is a shame as I think there are some nice alternatives.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    There are bits you really want to avoid – and a bit you really should do.

    For the former (and assuming riding clockwise) getting off the A9 south of Golspie should be high on your list. It’s unpleasant, busy and fast. As regards the latter, the official NC500 route bypasses the Wee Mad Road of Inverpolly. This is understandable as regards motor traffic but you really do not want to miss it on a bicycle. For many folk it’s the highlight of the route.

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    The wee mad road is brilliant

    Premier Icon plop_pants
    Free Member

    Is the wee mad road of Inverpolly and wmro Sutherland one and the same?

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Indeed.

    Premier Icon mboy
    Free Member

    Looks like we are sticking to main roads which is a shame as I think there are some nice alternatives.

    Having driven this route in October, “main” roads in places are anything but what we are used to in the rest of the UK…

    As for Cape Wrath… Not sure, but we turned up, and had missed the ferry. Bit annoying, but we didn’t have time to hang about to catch the ferry the next day sadly!

    Premier Icon StirlingCrispin
    Full Member

    Cape Wrath. The ferry – basically a rowing boat with an outboard – does not run in strong winds so be prepared for that risk.

    I used to help lead the Cycling UK tour of a very similar route. <span style=”font-size: 0.8rem;”>My last tour that way was 2008 so my info’ may be out of date (</span><span style=”font-size: 0.8rem;”>we stopped because the NC500 made everything too busy).</span>

    The wee roads round the coast (Mad wee road of Inverpolly) is awesome and you have to do that.  Be prepared for shops, cafes and hotels opening and closing on an annual cycle. Always carry enough food to get you through the day and night.

    Premier Icon StirlingCrispin
    Full Member

    Correction:
    2013 was my last tour to Cape Wrath. Last week in May and we didn’t get to the Cape because the ferry wasn’t running (strong winds).

    Also had a lass collapse at Scourie, resulting on me having to call paramedics. Ended up putting her into a B&B for the night with a friend, and she completed the rest of the tour using the bike-bus. A long, cold, wet day with some massive hills – coupled with her not eating enough – had just exhausted her, despite being a regular cyclist. The hills are steep and no gear is too low.

    From Durness we had galeforce winds and sleet coming down to sea-level (The snow-gates were closed on the Braemar road – which was the tour we’d run the previous year!).

    The group had a night of luxury in the Altnaharra Hotel. There’s some bargaintastic deals to be had on week nights in early season so don’t always assume you have to slum it in hostels.

    And make sure you go to the Crask Inn.

    Enjoy!

    Premier Icon StirlingCrispin
    Full Member

    And three times I’ve taken a group to Nigg to catch the Cromarty ferry to the Black Isle and every time the ferry has not been running. Can’t start the engine, pissed off to deliver to the oil rigs, not woken up yet.

    So, three times I’ve had to do a tedious detour via Dingwall, attempting to keep off the main road using a not-fit for purpose Sustrans route. Pah!

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Crask/Altnaharra aren’t on the NC500 of course and it’s correct that some folk skip the NE section from Tongue to Tain but this is a real shame as Caithness and the East Coast have their own highlights.

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    I don’t think we are officially on the wee mad road here but this is one of the good bits the nc 500 misses out
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/PVDzrD]DSC_0436[/url] by TandemJeremy, on Flickr

    Premier Icon CraigW
    Free Member

    And three times I’ve taken a group to Nigg to catch the Cromarty ferry to the Black Isle and every time the ferry has not been running. Can’t start the engine, pissed off to deliver to the oil rigs, not woken up yet.

    The new operators seem to be a lot better, and actually providing a reliable service. Usually does run as planned, apart from extreme winds or weird tides. Just check the timetable beforehand , or their Facebook for any updates.

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    We used the Nigg ferry a couple of years ago. someone turned up in a mahosive camper van to use it, saw the size of the thing and realised they would have to back off it and left again

    [url=https://flic.kr/p/K4wjA2]DSC_0518[/url] by TandemJeremy, on Flickr

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Ah yes, the Nigg Ferry. Run by the locals…

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    Don’t start that again!

Viewing 17 posts - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.