NC500 far North West day Tour
For the far North West day tour on the North Coast 500 (NC500) we head north through the Struie Hills. Great views of the Dornoch Firth from a mountain location. We stop at the beautiful Falls of Shin, because of the short but lovely walk to a viewing platform. Heading up Loch Shin, northwest from Lairg this tour passes through beautiful and rugged scenery before reaching the beaches of the far north west of Scotland. In Durness we visit Smoo Cave and take some lunch before heading eastwards along some of the finest scenery of the north coast. Branching south at Tongue we see Ben Hope and Ben Loyal and then pass Loch Loyal. We can stop at The Crask on our way south, the most remote Inn in the country, and we end by crossing the Cromarty Firth and the Black Isle to Inverness.
Falls of Shin
The River Shin cascades prettily down Achany Glen. The largest cascade – the Falls of Shin – is one of the best places in Scotland to see Atlantic salmon leaping. The most likely time to see them attempt to leap up the Falls is between May and September. This is the main reason people like to stop here – but the site’s popularity has led to the establishment of gift shop and coffee shop too. As a result, this makes a very good location for a short break on the route north.
Durness is the most north-westerly village in the UK. The name is Norse – Drya Ness, meaning wolf-cape, as this area was, in the past, the haunt of wolf packs. John Lennon of Beatles fame had an auntie in Durness and there is a garden in his memory near the village hall. Durness is also the home of Scotland’s most northerly golf course, where the ninth hole is a 155 yard drive across an inlet of the Atlantic.
Smoo has the the largest entrance of any sea-cave in Britain. Its vast interior is floodlit and the innermost depths can only be explored by boat. Recent excavations show that the cave was in use 6000 years ago by the earliest settlers in the north. Smoo is a Norse name meaning creek or cleft. A river thunders 25 metres through the roof of the second chamber into a deep pool, and the third chamber is full of stalagtites.
Tongue is an attractive village on the Kyle of Tongue on the north coast. Being located in a limestone area, the surroundings are a little like a fertile oasis on the north coast – green fields and native woodland. The Vikings settled here and may have built nearby Castle Varrich. The village and castle then became the main centre of power for Clan Mackay. It was 1828, however, before Tongue could be reached by road. Prior to that it’s only links were by sea.
There will be a stop during the journey back south. It may be at Altnaharra Hotel at the end of pretty Loch Naver, and if so then there may be time to visit the ruins of the village of Grummore, forcibly cleared in the 1800’s to make way for sheep. Alternatively, the stop may be at the Crask Inn – the most remote inn in the UK.
NC500 far North West day Tour – Price
£490 for the tour.
NC500 far North West day Tour – Departure
The tour departs from your Inverness accommodation, or any transport hub, such as bus station, train station or airport. You tell us, and we’ll be there.