Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 44 total)
  • What is the NC500 really like?
  • Premier Icon jj55
    Subscriber

    I’ve harboured a desire for sometime now to travel round the NC500 in a campervan. Stopping off for a ride, walk or swim. But I’ve recently been reading some awful reports on a Facebook page called ‘NC500 – The land weeps’. Litter strewn campsites and lay-bys, human excrement everywhere, roads blocked, nowhere to stop for the night.

    What’s it really like? 🤷🏼‍♂️

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Subscriber

    It’s just like that – at the moment.

    Over-enthusiastic marketing, lack of facilities, no overseas travel, furlough, holidays. It has all come together in an absolute shit-show (literally).

    The NC500 brand is owned by a private company who are taking money off various businesses and putting nothing back. Meanwhile, self-entitled **** are driving around, proclaiming they’re necessary in order to “support the local economy”.

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Subscriber

    A victim of it’s own success

    Premier Icon jj55
    Subscriber

    Looks like in danger of being an absolute disaster. I can’t believe the piles of excrement being left in this pristine wilderness during a pandemic. Some people are just unbelievable

    Premier Icon phil5556
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    Do it out of season

    Premier Icon dovebiker
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    Did it 4 years ago in our 1974 VW camper from mid-late May so in the main it was pretty quiet. Rather than sticking slavishly to the route, I’d use it as a guide and take the chance to explore some of the smaller roads. I’d also not bother going to
    John O’Groats and down the A9 – head from the Kyle of Tongue across to Lairg. We stopped at Applecross, Calchtoll, Durness, Jo’G (grim) and finally Rosemarkie on the Black Isle.

    I’m pleased I did it in 1979 in a 1600E Cortina. B & B all the way round, no booking just looked for houses with a ‘vacancies’ sign displayed. It was awesome, you lot have missed the boat.

    Too busy.

    You can be very lucky with weather up here in October IME.

    Or not. 😁

    grum
    Member

    It’s full of people who frankly shouldn’t be allowed in the countryside and for whom travel is about knocking off a list of popular selfie locations they’ve seen on Instagram.

    Yes I’m a snob, sorry not sorry.

    Premier Icon richmtb
    Subscriber

    I did it before it was a thing back in 2007.

    A pleasant Easter with some blue skies but lots of snow still on the hills.

    The scenery is stunning. We had bikes with us and cycled up to the summit above Bealach na Bar, out to the Old Man of Storr and a lap of Golspie.

    It’s a shame it’s become a victim of its success. It’s a beautiful part of Scotland and deserves a bit more respect than it currently receives

    Premier Icon felltop
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    I live and work on the NC500 route (west coast, Laide area). The reports you have read are sadly correct at the moment. Not many campsites open, even fewer public toilets. If you step off the tarmac, be very careful where you put your feet.

    Premier Icon duncancallum
    Subscriber

    Full of #vanlife and Instagram influencer type bellends.

    Its ruined I’d not bother.

    What your looking for is now lost. It’s full of bellends in hired motors

    My old man did it with a 7m caravan before it was a thing. Dread to think how that would go now.

    They tried similar nonsense round here, 3 hour ferry waits to Cumbrae and only about 5 miles of road around the island. It was bad enough before, now it’s unbearable. Thankfully less folk go for the drive up the glen to the cuts so you can still get a quiet(ish) cycle.

    I’m on part of it now, doing some cycle touring.

    Doesn’t seem too busy, and folk are camping in decent places and keeping tidy….

    Premier Icon somafunk
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    Good discussion about this on “Out Of Doors” this morning on BBC radio Scotland

    Out of Doors here

    Premier Icon butcher
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    It’s not as bad as you would be led to believe on social media. No idea what it’s like right now under the current circumstances, I imagine it’s a bit mad, but they are exceptional circumstances. My experience is that there are still few places like it in the UK.

    It does make me sad the way it is sold and branded as necessary to support the local economy. And when people talk about putting a dual carriageway all the way around I despair for the human race.

    Don’t expect an authentic Scottish experience. You could literally travel the whole thing and not meet any Scots.

    Premier Icon gordimhor
    Subscriber

    The NC500 runs through some fantastic areas. I’d recommend visiting those areas to anyone. I don’t live on the NC500 but have visited parts of the route for many years and my daughter lives just off the route. Don’t go right now.

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Subscriber

    I can’t believe the piles of excrement being left in this pristine wilderness

    Do it out of season

    I don’t think I can hold it in that long

    Premier Icon doom_mountain
    Subscriber

    I cycled it four years ago in late September, it was busy in places but fine overall. There were a few campervan traffic jams on the singletrack roads.It definitely doesn’t have the infrastructure or facilities for the amount of traffic it seems to be attracting. John O Groats to Inverness is not that exciting. I’d much rather spend more time on the west coast.

    I’ve since been touring in the highlands but followed my own route or focussed on a specific area. I think this is a much better idea. Spend a week around Torridon and you actually get to explore the area and support the pubs, shops and cafes nearby. I think driving the NC500 (even cycling it…) you actually miss a lot of the best parts of the area.

    bear-uk
    Member

    I loved the experience but I was the back up car for 7 motorbikes and I just followed the snake everywhere. It put me off campervans though as they and some shit driving were causing plenty of holdups.

    We went clockwise and I would like to go anti if I do it again.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
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    I cycled bits of it as part of day-long circular CX rides. Spent a couple of days in Ullapool area doing different rides each day. This was in September 2016. The NC500 bits were noticeably busier than the other roads; a few convoys of MX5s, Minis etc plus a few instances where camper vans had met head on at pinch points on narrow roads.

    Weird because you could get to a cafe on the 500 and there’s be a big queue there. A mile away just off the 500, there were empty cafes which were far more pleasant to stop at!

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    The lack of camp sites mean there’s a lot of extempore car camping going on.

    Sadly that means anywhere a car or van can be driven off the road into a nice spot, it has been done, then done again the next night, and etc.

    The nice spots don’t look so nice now, churned up with wheel tracks, circles of dead grass where there’s been campfires, and as the weather warms up the unmistakeable smell of outdoor toilet as you ride past.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen campers cleaning up these spots when they’ve obviously just arrived.

    We should probably have closed off the Highlands to campers until the facilities were capable of handling them.

    But not to worry, the landscape will recover. There used to be more people living in the Highlands than the south, now there is so little trace of them people think it’s wilderness.

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    It seems like its growing popularity followed by covid meaning that a lot of the supporting industries are closed and there’s less alternatives has been a bit of a perfect storm tbh. I’ve driven or ridden most of it, maybe all, and it really is good but there’s roads in the west that are pretty much as good, and almost empty.

    I do want to do it “properly” now that it’s officially a thing with a name and that, but not just now.

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
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    A mate was planning on going up to do this next week. I’ve pointed h at this thread, I may no longer be his mate….

    Premier Icon chakaping
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    Going to “do” a very popular tourist route as a drive seems daft to me.

    Scotland is **** massive and there’s loads of stunning bits you can visit in and around that route without actually following it.

    grum
    Member

    It’s just one of the great UK drives, along with clockwise and anticlockwise around the M25 in the same day… which I did manage last year when I had a day to kill. I was dismissed from jury service. They wanted an ethnic balance, and I was the fall guy.

    Mate’s Mum has a cottage in Applecross. Since pubs reopened, the Inn have operated a booking system only for all tables. Been getting groups of NC500ers turning up and kicking off because not allowed in. Mate said it was turning nasty at one point that the pub nearly closed. There’s a lot of pillowcase about at the minute. Sooner Benidorm is properly open the better.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
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    It’s just one of the great UK drives, along with clockwise and anticlockwise around the M25 in the same day… which I did manage last year when I had a day to kill. I was dismissed from jury service. They wanted an ethnic balance, and I was the fall guy.

    It’s more likely that they spotted you were the kind of psychopath who thinks an M25 double is the perfect way to spend a free day.

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
    Subscriber

    It sounds like they need a permit system to control numbers. Auction off the 1st 5% of permits to pay for facilities and administration costs etc.

    While they’re at it, ban overnight parking in Glen Etive, or control access with permits etc etc.

    They can do it in the Rockies and other honeypots in Canada, don’t see why they couldn’t make it work here…

    Spin
    Member

    They can do it in the Rockies and other honeypots in Canada, don’t see why they couldn’t make it work here…

    Anywhere I’ve seen that done has been National Park or such like with limited numbers of residents and limited access points. Some sort of campervan permit system might be easier but I think there would be a lot of resistance.

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    The roads are generally wider in the Rockies…..

    grum
    Member

    It’s more likely that they spotted you were the kind of psychopath who thinks an M25 double is the perfect way to spend a free day.

    I put on my leather driving gloves with the contrasting-colour piping and get in the Rover Vitesse Fastback and go – it’s just a classic day out. Maybe followed by a Bond marathon.

    epicsteve
    Member

    We did the NC500 (or at least most of the route) long before it was called that, both in a motorhome and by motorbike. Lovely part of the world and back then, very quiet.

    These days we still go up the north west coast in the motorhome at least once or twice a year, but definitely wouldn’t go in the summer as it’s far too busy and this year looks like it’s a lot worse than normal – especially as some of the campsites aren’t opening.

    We’ll be back up that way again in October or November (and possibly again at New Year) and really hope this summers antics won’t have done too much damage. We use campsites most of the time up there but do wild camp a bit (without leaving any traces and we usually do the arrive late and leave early approach) especially later in the year when there aren’t many campsite options.

    Premier Icon kilo
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    I was dismissed from jury service. They wanted an ethnic balance, and I was the fall guy.

    Amazing they managed to do that when juries are randomly selected.

    grum
    Member

    Reminds me of a time in 1974. I was catching the London train from Crewe station. It was very crowded; I found myself in a last-minute rush for the one remaining seat beside a tall, good-looking man with collar-length hair, it was the seventies; Buckaroo! I looked up and saw it was none other than Peter Purves, it was the height of his Blue Peter career. He said, ‘You jammy bastard’ and quick as a flash, I replied, ‘Don’t be blue, Peter!’

    mboy
    Member

    Did it out of season in October last year, it was superb! Camper vans and motorhomes will be the bain of your life if you’re doing it in season, and I hear horror stories of those that go all that way and insist on being self sufficient… I really don’t understand people who insist on going anywhere, but taking their own home and “creature comforts” with them myself, but hey ho… We stayed in a mix of AirBnB’s and a couple of nice hotels en route, had an incredible time, and went via Loch Ness, Fort William and Glencoe etc on the way back…

    This was a little about mine and my GF’s adventure… 👍🏻

    http://www.singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/a-what-car-for-x-budget-thread-with-a-difference/page/4/#post-10883313

    shinton
    Member

    Happened to be watching the Grand Tour the other day and they did a 287 mile shortened version From the program the A838/9 looked quite spectacular but that may have been the editing. Is this route any good?

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    OP – can I suggest you plan a route for yourself that perhaps has more to offer than the NC500?

    I’m on holiday in Lairg this week. Today we saw the beaches at Brora to Golspie and then at Dornoch. The A9 (NC500 and main route North) was a queue of vehicles. Dornoch (a mentioned stop on Nc500 I now realise) packed with people and the beach busy.

    Meanwhile the beach at Brora and walk down past cairns and castles, all but empty. The road back over to Lairg, barely a car. We stopped and saw wild goats. A Sparrowhawk stooped at us. We walked empty shoreline. We’ve just done an hour’s walk this evening on road and local woodland and seen no-one. We’re a few miles off the NC500.

    Tomorrow some biking, Tuesday is wet wet wet so we’re off hunting waterfalls with the help of a 1970’s book I’ve got, which has taken use to some stunning places.

    Wednesday we might head up a mountain.

    Premier Icon zippykona
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    Pictures ,as always would be nice.

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