• Discover
  • Route planner
  • Features

North Coast 500 Cycle Route – Scottish bikepacking adventure

Mark Beaumont

North Coast 500 Cycle Route – Scottish bikepacking adventure

Bike Touring Collection by Mark Beaumont



40:37 h

496 mi

26,350 ft

This slightly alternative North Coast 500 was made in collaboration with the people behind the official driving route, to make an official NC500 Cycle Route.

This more bike-friendly course takes in smaller roads on the West Coast, that motorhomes and caravans can't go on and away from the busy A9 on the East Coast, as well as including the beautiful Black Isle. Although it does miss a visit to John O'Groats, this option is much prettier and quieter than the NC500 driving route.

I rode this route over three days with Simon Richardson from the Global Cycling Network in April 2019, and you can watch the video from our trip below. We wild camped overnight on the Scottish coastline and even met Jenny Graham for a coffee at Ardgay Stores!

To ride this route in three days really pushes the daily distances (although the first time I rode the route non-stop in 37 hours and 8 minutes, which definitely took the fun out of it)! To enjoy it more and stop off I would advise between five and seven days.

If you're dreaming of incredible coastal and mountain views, breathtaking roads and some pretty challenging climbs too, this is the challenge for you.

On The Map


Do it yourself

Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.

North Coast 500 Cycle Route

497 mi

28,975 ft

28,950 ft

Last updated: May 23, 2022


  1. Day 1: Inverness to Poolewe — North Coast 500

    148 mi
    10.0 mph
    7,500 ft
    7,500 ft

    Leaving Inverness is fairy flat and through farmland for the first few hours until you reach the first lochs and sea lochs of the west coast.


    There is a prevailing north easterly wind here, so you may have a bit of a headwind if riding anti-clockwise (which most people do).


    Everyone talks about Beallach


  2. 11:28
    151 mi
    13.2 mph
    9,350 ft
    9,350 ft

    The beautiful north west of Scotland. This is probably the most challenging and hilly section of the route, but once you reach Durness at the top, things do start to flatten out a bit as you head east.


    Stunning scenery, some very quiet roads and amazing beaches if you have time to stop. Carry enough


  3. Sign Up To Discover Places Like This

    Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.

  4. 14:16
    196 mi
    13.8 mph
    9,500 ft
    9,550 ft

    The traditional NC500 route to John O'Groats becomes a bit of a commute back to Inverness on the often busy A9, whereas this route that cuts inland is constantly changing and stunning.


    Quiet roads, a beautiful climb, the small roads inland to Lairg and a fast blast around the Black Isle.


    You might have


Like this Collection?



Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    496 mi
  • Duration
    40:37 h
  • Elevation
    26,350 ft

You Might Also Like

Around the edge in 80 days — cycling the coastline of Britain

Bike Touring Collection by Alice Baddeley

The world's most epic cycling roads

Bike Touring Collection by komoot

Hiking in the rolling hills of Heilbronn Country

Hiking Collection by HeilbronnerLand

A 5-star cycling trip – ‘Lovely Tauber Valley: The Classic’

Bike Touring Collection by Liebliches Taubertal