The North Coast 500

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JackDM
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The North Coast 500

#1 Post by JackDM » Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:49 am

Hi folks,

I want to plan a trip for next summer, specifically the North Coast 500.
I’ve looked at NC500’s interactive map, but is there anyone here who has done the route and can tell me:

- What it’s like?
- What was your schedule?
- Any advice for my first ever motorcycle trip?

I have two weeks available but there are so many things to see and places to stay that I am absolutely spoiled for choice.
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Re: The North Coast 500

#2 Post by raesewell » Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:18 am

You need to plan and book well in advance. It has got very popular and the hotels and B&Bs prices have gone up significantly. It has been a victim of its own success.

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Re: The North Coast 500

#3 Post by megawatt » Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:47 am

I did all those roads last year, in my van and caravan. Pitched the caravan in Lairg for a week and rode all the roads from there, six in total. Loads of places to camp and loads of pubs. The scenery is stunning.
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Re: The North Coast 500

#4 Post by JackDM » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:58 am

raesewell wrote:
Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:18 am
You need to plan and book well in advance. It has got very popular and the hotels and B&Bs prices have gone up significantly. It has been a victim of its own success.
Yeh I’ve heard about the tourist boom in the last 5 years, it’s unfortunate that you can’t just go without having to worry whether you can get accomodation or not.
I was camping in Glen Nevis a few years ago and I couldn’t believe I actually had to book that!
I’d be planning on fishing so would likely be pitching up on the side of lochs along the route - although staying at an inn would be more ideal.
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Re: The North Coast 500

#5 Post by JackDM » Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:06 pm

megawatt wrote:
Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:47 am
I did all those roads last year, in my van and caravan. Pitched the caravan in Lairg for a week and rode all the roads from there, six in total. Loads of places to camp and loads of pubs. The scenery is stunning.
Did you visit any breweries or distilleries?
I’ve been eyeing up the Black Isle Bar & Restaurant as a starting point in inverness, they also have a brewery just outside Inverness that I fancy visiting.
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Re: The North Coast 500

#6 Post by megawatt » Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:05 pm

No mate, always riding, so no alcohol. Worth it though.
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Re: The North Coast 500

#7 Post by onesea » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:39 pm

25 years ago I used to work up there and peak time the need to book in advance existed even back then.

We did it one April in the Landy before it became known as the NC500, just out for Jolly visiting old friends.

Personally I would plan it the same way we did, in April or May one year in the next 5 years. Then have alternative holidays planned in Europe for the same time, one year you will probably get lucky and the weather be good to go north without Midges or tooo many tourists.

The other years there's Europe...
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Re: The North Coast 500

#8 Post by Throttled » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:53 pm

I would recommend you do the route anti-clockwise, get the A9 bit over with first and go south down to Ullapool. I camped at Sango Sands, Durness both times, a nice place with great facilities. There are a few petrol stations where the pump can be accessed 24 hours if you pay by card, otherwise assume they will be open 9-5 and less particularly on a Sunday. Places also often still close for lunch and many cafes etc are seasonal and only open about easter time, closing down at the end of the October week (which is the week before the English one).

I have heard some anecdotes about dangerous parking as people stop in stupid place because it would make a good photo. There was one about a car club who blocked the Kylesku bridge for a massed photo and they got pissed off at people being annoyed at them!

Learn about using single track roads

http://www.scotlandinfo.eu/driving-sing ... -scotland/

The popularity has also seen a rise in the number of traffic cops patrolling the area. Remember Scotland's drink driving limit is half that of the rest of the UK.
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Re: The North Coast 500

#9 Post by JackDM » Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:57 am

onesea wrote:
Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:39 pm
25 years ago I used to work up there and peak time the need to book in advance existed even back then.

We did it one April in the Landy before it became known as the NC500, just out for Jolly visiting old friends.

Personally I would plan it the same way we did, in April or May one year in the next 5 years. Then have alternative holidays planned in Europe for the same time, one year you will probably get lucky and the weather be good to go north without Midges or tooo many tourists.

The other years there's Europe...
I have always loved the idea of touring Europe, you should tell me how you plan a big trip like that.
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Re: The North Coast 500

#10 Post by JackDM » Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:14 am

Throttled wrote:
Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:53 pm
I would recommend you do the route anti-clockwise, get the A9 bit over with first and go south down to Ullapool. I camped at Sango Sands, Durness both times, a nice place with great facilities. There are a few petrol stations where the pump can be accessed 24 hours if you pay by card, otherwise assume they will be open 9-5 and less particularly on a Sunday. Places also often still close for lunch and many cafes etc are seasonal and only open about easter time, closing down at the end of the October week (which is the week before the English one).

I have heard some anecdotes about dangerous parking as people stop in stupid place because it would make a good photo. There was one about a car club who blocked the Kylesku bridge for a massed photo and they got pissed off at people being annoyed at them!

Learn about using single track roads

http://www.scotlandinfo.eu/driving-sing ... -scotland/

The popularity has also seen a rise in the number of traffic cops patrolling the area. Remember Scotland's drink driving limit is half that of the rest of the UK.
I absolutely hate the A9 especially since they restricted the speed limit for comercial vehicles and the addition of average speed cameras. I tend to go up the A82, even on that road I’ve seen people stupidly parking on solid white lines on dangerous sections for a picture so can’t say I’m surprised people seem to be doing it even further up - oh well.
I’m actually surprised how many people don’t know how to use a single track road - have you found this?
I travel all around Scotland during the fishing season and on the single track roads, it is very easy to distinguish between the residents and ‘outsiders’. Three times I’ve almost been in a collision just in the last year!
one of those incidents resulted in the oncoming vehicle (driving too fast) to swerve into a ditch in the side of the road.

Anyway, anti-clockwise sounds like a good shout, I’d rather get any stretch of the A9 done and over with as soon as possible.
Do you reckon end of summer, start of school term is the best time of year to plan this trip for?
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Re: The North Coast 500

#11 Post by onesea » Thu Nov 30, 2017 7:25 am

JackDM wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:57 am

I have always loved the idea of touring Europe, you should tell me how you plan a big trip like that.
I have not done it by bike, have done by car.
Passport
Insurance vehicle and personal,
Recovery & Breakdown,
Possible Destinations and route's,
Check for events world cup/ Olympics F1 school holidays etc to either avoid or accept costs and book in advance,
Estimate costs double them,
Keep vehicle maintained have a few rides on it after any servicing/repairs.

I have a few routes in mind, it depends to me where weather will be good and other factors. I don't plan on holidays in school holidays busy periods so have more choice in accommodation. I try not to get choosy over accommodation so options are open on type. If you are determined to stay in one hotel it can be restricting.

My roughly planned tips how far can I ride in a day. Is there fuel accommodation in the right place.

The times Frances was on the cards by bike I have changed to uk because of French fuel strikes.

We where going to try France this weekend, some friends went. We took the car to Cornwall instead. They said they where cold and wet and they needed heated gear but it was nice.

For £30 each for 2 nights we swam in a pool, sat in hot tub and Steam room looking at the rain, frost and hail at various times. Yesterday coming through Exmoor with the roof down and no traffic was a good run home glad we where not on bike the roads where muddy and hedge cutting was every where.

We have now planned tips to Norfolk and Lancashire to add to the ones to France Switzerland Holland when? and how? depends on weather and or mood on the day.

To me some get very excited about details I go with the flow.
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Re: The North Coast 500

#12 Post by Throttled » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:52 am

JackDM wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:14 am
........

I absolutely hate the A9 especially since they restricted the speed limit for comercial vehicles and the addition of average speed cameras. I tend to go up the A82, even on that road I’ve seen people stupidly parking on solid white lines on dangerous sections for a picture so can’t say I’m surprised people seem to be doing it even further up - oh well.
I’m actually surprised how many people don’t know how to use a single track road - have you found this?
I travel all around Scotland during the fishing season and on the single track roads, it is very easy to distinguish between the residents and ‘outsiders’. Three times I’ve almost been in a collision just in the last year!
one of those incidents resulted in the oncoming vehicle (driving too fast) to swerve into a ditch in the side of the road.

Anyway, anti-clockwise sounds like a good shout, I’d rather get any stretch of the A9 done and over with as soon as possible.
Do you reckon end of summer, start of school term is the best time of year to plan this trip for?
I would go up the A82 to Inverness and only join the A9 there. But I live near Glasgow and that end of the road

I lived in a village on a single track road and it is amazing how many people do not prepare for them or know they will encounter them on their travels.

I think autumn would be a good idea. The weather has been good then for the past few years and if you stop at a windy west coast place, the midges will not be too bad.
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Re: The North Coast 500

#13 Post by Pie man » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:08 pm

Went up there many years ago before it was recognised as the NC500. Did the west side this year and going again next year; however the west is best and 4 nights was enough.

We changed it a little this year and stayed Arrochar, Ullapool and on the way back Dunfermline.

:D

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Re: The North Coast 500

#14 Post by Sven » Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:23 pm

Throttled wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:52 am
JackDM wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:14 am
........

I absolutely hate the A9 especially since they restricted the speed limit for comercial vehicles and the addition of average speed cameras. I tend to go up the A82, even on that road I’ve seen people stupidly parking on solid white lines on dangerous sections for a picture so can’t say I’m surprised people seem to be doing it even further up - oh well.
I’m actually surprised how many people don’t know how to use a single track road - have you found this?
I travel all around Scotland during the fishing season and on the single track roads, it is very easy to distinguish between the residents and ‘outsiders’. Three times I’ve almost been in a collision just in the last year!
one of those incidents resulted in the oncoming vehicle (driving too fast) to swerve into a ditch in the side of the road.

Anyway, anti-clockwise sounds like a good shout, I’d rather get any stretch of the A9 done and over with as soon as possible.
Do you reckon end of summer, start of school term is the best time of year to plan this trip for?
I would go up the A82 to Inverness and only join the A9 there. But I live near Glasgow and that end of the road

I lived in a village on a single track road and it is amazing how many people do not prepare for them or know they will encounter them on their travels.

I think autumn would be a good idea. The weather has been good then for the past few years and if you stop at a windy west coast place, the midges will not be too bad.
I’d use the A9/A939 via Braemar on the way up to Inverness. On the way back just follow the West Coast south from Ullapool all the way to Ardelve/Dornie next to Eilean Donan Castle (of Highlander movie fame) via Gairloch and Applecross. The A87 and A82 will then take you back to Glasgow via Glen Coe

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