Inverness , Scotland
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The North Coast 500 was created in 2014 in an effort to boost tourism and economic growth across the North Highlands. Bringing together a route of just over 500 miles of stunning coastal scenery, the route follows the main roads across the coastal edges of the North Highlands taking in the villages and towns of places like Ullapool, Durness, John O'Groats, Dornoch and Inverness. The Official North Coast 500 route begins and ends in Inverness at Inverness Castle. The Castle is a perfect starting point to the route as perched on the hill, it overs unparelled views over the capital city of the Highlands.
Mark holds the official fastest time on the NC500, completing the route in 37 hour and 55 minutes, but is quick to point out that this hilly, rugged and beautiful route is best enjoyed by bike over 5 to 7 days! It takes in iconic cycling roads including the Applecross Pass and the Berriedale Braes near John O’Groats. Along the north coast you have views across to the Old Man of Hoy and the Orkney Islands. Best to book ahead if you are not cycle camping, as accommodation options are few and often far between. These are some of the quietest roads in the British Isles and best enjoyed mid-summer when you can ride without lights for up to 20 hours of the day.
The entire west coast in undulating, with the toughest stretch in the North-West corner near Lochinver. A prevailing westerly means on this circular route means that you will have help some of the time and the route can be completed clockwise or anti-clockwise.