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.
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Last updated: May 23, 2022
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…
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…
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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.
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