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NC500 Campervan Adventure

From £110 per night

Scotland, Scottish Highlands

7-15 Nights

Vans Sleep up to 4

NC500 Campervan Adventure

From £110 per night

What You'll Do

Discover one of the world's most incredible road trips, that sits right on our doorstep. Explore ruined castles, sweeping bays and white-sand beaches, incredible mountain landscapes and corners of the UK that seem as if they shouldn't exist in the British Isles, all at your own pace and in true style in a Volkswagen Campervan.

You decide on the amount of time you take to complete the NC500, then pick up your campervan from just south of Lancaster. Note: Pick up is on Monday or Friday only.

Whether you take a week, ten days, or two weeks, you’ll begin by joining the NC500 route, we would recommend starting at Inverness, making the city your base for the start and end of your adventure.

From there, everything is entirely up to you. Drive west to the rugged west coast and the winding passes that take you over to Applecross and the magical bay that overlooks to Isle of Skye. Or, drive north up the east coast, and stumble across whisky distilleries and crumbling coastal castles.

It would be impossible to list everything there is to recommend on this 516 mile coastal adventure, but particular highlights include the bay of Applecross, the unique and unexpected Inverewe Gardens, the dramatic geology of the Assynt region, the stunning beaches of the north-west coast, and the many brilliant gin and whisky distilleries across the north-east region of the country.

For those keen on hiking and willing to go that little bit further for a truly beautiful corner of the world, we’d recommend climbing Suilven in Assynt, the mountain with ‘the greatest views of any mountain in the UK’, or heading to Sandwood Bay, a stunning, mile-long beach with no road access.

Along the way you may spot wildlife as varied as dolphins, seals, otters, red deer, golden eagles, red squirrels, puffins, and much, much more.

There are deep lochs, vast swathes of pine-forest, rugged mountains, cosy pubs and magical little towns and villages along the entire route, but with wild camping legal in Scotland, you can enjoy the freedom of choosing absolutely anywhere along the route to stay.

And you don’t even necessarily have to stick to the NC500 all the way around. With places like the Isle of Skye, Kinlochbervie and Oldshoremore Beach, or the renowned Cape Wrath lying off the trail, the entire ring road is a treasure trove of sights and experiences just waiting to be discovered.

To give you some inspiration for your NC500 road trip, we have provided an example 10 day itinerary below to give you a few ideas for your own adventure.

Choose from Heidi (green), Winnie (orange) and Daisy (yellow)

These are our newly refurbished, 2012 T5 VW campervans in fetching shades of green, orange and yellow. They come with everything you need to have an incredible journey around the Lake District or beyond in total comfort, including kitchen hobs with all cooking essentials, a table, heating, USB ports, power sockets, a fridge, and a rear showerhead. Heidi has a full width bed downstairs and a pop top upstairs with a single bed. Winnie and Daisie have a 3/4 width bed as well as the upstairs pop-up. They each seat 6 and quite comfortably sleep a family of 4, or you could even fit 4 adults.

Experience
Highlights

Enjoy total freedom as you explore independently and enjoy the benefit of wild camping

Explore incredible mountains, caves and nature reserves in Assynt

Try to spot dolphins, otters, and golden eagles along the entire route

Stumble across some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe and have them all to yourself

Your Local Host:

Dean

We are a family run business created in the summer of 2020. Growing up, we spent years exploring the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales. We combined our love for the outdoors and passion for Classic VW Campervans and bought our very first van, Daisy in August 2020.

Having worked in the travel industry for 10+ years, we live by providing outstanding customer service and providing lifelong memories to our customers.

We look forward to welcoming you to the family and Daisy, Winne & Heidi can’t wait to get exploring!

Experience Itinerary

Pick Up Day

Pick up your camper from just south of Lancaster, and waste no time heading north and over the border.

You need to pick up your campervan after 3pm, so we would recommend breaking up the 5 hour 30 minute drive with a night in Edinburgh or Glasgow.

That way you can set off nice and early the next day, to make the most of your time on the NC500.

Explore Inverness

After your stopover night, wherever you decide that may be, head up to Inverness.

Spend whatever free time you have once you’ve arrived exploring the medieval city of Inverness, and enjoy some of the last cosmopolitan sites, go out for a meal and stock up on supplies.

There are numerous campsites and wild camping spots near Inverness where you can spend your first night, and there are some great ideas in this article.

First Day on the NC500

Your first day road tripping on the epic NC500!

Drive west towards Applecross, drinking in the views of mountain valleys and clear rivers before approaching the breathtaking Bealach na Bà, a twisting mountain pass that climbs 626 metres.

Full of switchbacks and hairpins, if you take it steadily it’s an easy enough drive, and this single track road provides some of the most breathtaking views on the entire route.

Camp in Applecross, with spots set up along the beach for camping and views over to Skye, and a cosy local pub to visit in the evenings, it already feels as if you’ve dropped off the edge of the earth here.

Up the West Coast

Make your way northwards, driving through what feels like total wilderness with only small villages and hamlets, and wandering highland cattle dotting the rugged coastline.

Much like the entirety of your next few days, this section of the drive includes some stunning mountain and loch panoramas, as well as some beautiful beaches, so pick a spot, go for a short walk, a full hike, or a pub or cafe for some lunch.

Arrive in Poolewe, and we would recommend leaving enough time for a visit to the unique Inverewe Gardens. These botanical gardens stand alone in Scotland and are renowned for the ability there for subtropical plant species to thrive, thanks to the gulf stream which sweeps it’s way up the bay and into the inlet.

Thanks to the rich plant life, you also have a chance of spotting otters, sea eagles and red squirrels here.

Mountains, Beaches, Lochs and Castles

Today, enjoy one of your shorter driving days when you head towards Ullapool. But for what it might lack in length, it more than makes up for in aesthetics.

The brooding Beinn Dearg looms above the road, providing a tempting and spectacular ascent for any hiking lovers, and there are countless little coves, inlets and beaches we would recommend along the twisting coastal road.

There’s Ullapool itself, a fascinating little village and port to explore, and for the really intrepid types to the north the hidden gems of Dun Canna and Rhue Lighthouse.

We’d also recommend a boat trip to the Summer Isles, and there are many tour operators in Ullapool that can take you.

Ancient Geology and True Wilderness

The next section of your journey is likely to be the most remote section, and the most spectacular. You’ll head north from Ullapool and towards the Assynt region, where rock laid down more than 1,000 million years ago has been slowly carved into a stunning maze of isolated mountain peaks, deserted beaches, and deep lochs.

The drive takes you past Knockan Crag Nature Reserve and the nearby mountain of Cùl Mòr, the renowned ‘Bone Caves’ set high in the surrounding cliffs, the lonely peak of Casnip, and that’s all in the first section of your drive!

All of these spots are worth a visit, as are the many villages and beaches just further north of them, but we would highly recommend the reasonably arduous hike up Suilven, one of the most spectacular mountains in the British Isles.

You could easily spend three or four days exploring this entire region and the road leading up to Kinlochbervie, but as we’re demonstrating a week’s itinerary we would recommend driving to this small port village, where you’ll find a couple of pubs at the end of a long day, as well as one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland.

Oldshoremore Beach lies a little further along the coast, and is an incredible place to spend the night in your campervan.

Sandwood Bay, Cape Wrath, and the North Coast

Your overnight stop at Oldshoremore provides the perfect starting point for your next day, provided you want to stretch your legs for 3 miles and so to discover Sandwood Bay, a mile long beach with no road access, and one of the most remote beaches along the entire NC500.

Alternatively, head further north to Durness, where you can catch a ferry to Scotland’s most north-westerly point, Cape Wrath. It’s also possible to complete a two day hike to reach these jaw-dropping sea cliffs, but you’d need to bring a tent and put aside a little more time to fit that in.

Whatever you choose, the next leg of this particular journey takes you along the north coast, past Durness and the dramatic Smoo Cave, before you reach Thurso.

There are a number of great beaches near Thurso to camp, and for any surfing enthusiasts, it’s potentially the very best place in Scotland to get your board out.

John O'Groats, Castles and Distilleries

Today is a fairly long driving day, with just a short journey to Jon O’Gorats to begin with, where you can drive up to Duncansby Head Lighthouse to look out at the Orkney Islands and the dramatic sea stacks.

Then, you’ll start to head south along the east coast, a region dotted with great whisky distilleries and dramatic, crumbling castles like, Bucholie and Old Keiss Castle. Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is particularly worth a stop.

The scenery on this drive back down south is less dramatic and the driving a little smoother, but there are still plenty of great sites, and we would highly recommend a visit to Glenmorangie Distillery, with plenty of great scenery around the Dornoch Firth to search for a place to spend the night nearby.

Start Your Return Leg

Today, drive down past Inverness and all the way through Scotland, finding yourself somewhere en route to the pick up point that you can rest for the night.

If you stopped in Glasgow on the way up, why not try staying in Edinburgh? Or, if you want to have one last night in the wild, there’s always Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

Wherever you decide to spend your final night, ensure you have enough time to arrive at the pickup point between the hours of 8-11am.

Return Your Campervan

Today, set off from your chosen stopover point for the night and drop your camper back off in Lancaster at any time between 8-11am.

We hope you have had an incredible time exploring this magical region of Scotland, and that this itinerary has been able to inspire your very own NC500 road trip.

Of course, this itinerary is also the MINIMUM amount of time we would want to spend exploring the region. It’s well worth staying multiple nights in the same spot, as all along this road there are incredible hikes, great pubs and fascinating hidden gems to discover.

Location Information

The pick up and drop off point for the campervans is in Lancaster, just off the M6 and en route to the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and Scotland.

Pick up is between 3pm  and 7pm , and drop off on your return date is between 8am and 11am.

Below is an example seven night itinerary, starting in Inverness and running clockwise around the NC500, with night stopovers at Applecross, Poolewe, Ullapool, Kinlochbervie, Thurso, and Glen Morangie. Of course, as wild camping is legal in Scotland, we would actually recommend just driving and finding the most picturesque spots you can!

  • The Classic VW Campervan of your choice (availability dependent)
  • Fully Comprehensive Insurance. No extra costs for additional drivers. Must meet criteria noted in the drivers section.
  • Full National Breakdown Cover with RAC
  • Fully Equipped Kitchen - 3 gas hobs, pots, pans, cutlery
  • Sink with running water
  • Fridge
  • Radio with in built bluetooth and speakers
  • BBQ
  • 2 Camping Chairs
  • Sheet and mattress protector included
  • Leisure Battery and Electric Hook Up
  • Power socks & USB Ports
  • Heater. There is an electric heater for when you have a hook up and a gas heater too.

FAQs

Drivers:

1. Must be 23 years of age or older
2: Must have at least 2 years driving experience (Full UK or EU Licence)
3: Maximum of 6 points on your driving license.
4: No more than one fault or outstanding accident/claim/incident in the last 3 years
5: We will need valid id and documentation for proof of address.

Once you have collected your VW Campervan there is secure parking ready for you onsite for you to safely leave your vehicle whilst on your trip. The storage facility is secure and monitored with 24/7 cctv but please note we hold no responsibility for your vehicle during this period.

Pick up days are on Monday and Friday only. You can drop the campervan off at any time of the week.
Pick up is between 3pm and 7pm , and drop off on your return date is between 8am and 11am. 

Some choose to wild camp for a few nights, but there are many great campsites located near most villages on the NC500 which can be ideal for the campers.

Wild camping can be tricky, as there are certain rules to abide by. Make sure wherever you park up for the night you have permission, only stay for two nights maximum and always use common sense and show courtesy towards the locals.

There is a a £25 flat fee for cleaning if you bring a dog. We do our best to accommodate all pets but there are limitations. Small, medium and large dogs are okay. XL - St Bernards are a no no. Even 2 dogs can be accommodated if they are well behaved.

However we ask guests to bring their own blankets to put over the vinyl seats to avoid scratches and marks. Please note any rips or damage will result in loss of some deposit so we can repair, so the risk is up to you, but we do try to be as accommodating as possible.

We have our own dogs (Lucy & Jessie) so we know how enjoyable bringing them along can be.

Yes a £500 deposit is required before or on the day of your hire. You can pay this by bank transfer. Please allow us 48 hours after your booking to return this to allow us time to check over the vehicle for any damages.

The excess is £500 if a full claim were to be made. This can be reduced depending on the circumstances and note it's the same amount as the deposit.

To add you to our insurance policy we will need the following:

1. Copy of your drivers’ licence
2. Online DVLA Check code (you will need your driving licence and national insurance number to get the code)
3. Two forms of proof of address
4. Cleared a traceable security deposit of £500
5. Signed rental agreement featuring all drivers wishing to drive the vehicle, which we'll send you ahead of your booking.

Yes. Our vans are 4 berth and we have 3 point seat belts so child seats can be fitted securely.

Yes. If you stay at a site our vans have hook up which power domestic plug sockets and usb ports, lights etc. We also have a leisure battery which powers the lights and USB ports if you decide to wild camp. This vans battery will charge up as you drive around and all have a usb port for charging phones.

In the unlikely event of a breakdown, all of our vans are covered with 24/7 RAC national breakdown cover. We also include a box of emergency spares which can be used to fix common problems. Hopefully the breakdown mechanic can fix a possible issue and you can be on your way.

There are no official rules prohibiting wild camping in the UK, but it tends to be up to each local government and law enforcement.
These tend to follow the unofficial rule of allowing it unless it’s on private property.

Staying in a public lay by or car park most likely won’t get you in any trouble.
But if you stayed on someone’s property or the car park of a business then you’ll likely be asked to move on.

If you follow the general rules of the trucker, parking just overnight, take up one spot, be respectful and courteous then there shouldn’t be any issues.

Car parks can be practical but don’t always make for the most scenic of spots to wake up to.

Please always ''Leave only Footprints, Take only Photographs''

Plan ahead and prepare. 
-Dispose of waste properly - leave no trace!
-Avoid overcrowded spots. If there’s already too many campervans find somewhere else.
- Respect others - Keep noise to a minimum
-Take care of the environment
-Be prepared to moved on if asked and always be polite
-Always use a stove and leave no trace of a campfire
-Chose your toilet carefully, especially away from any open water
-Always camp away from houses, public pathways or farms 

You should bring bedding for the double bed and also for the extra bed if you are using it

You will need mattress protector or topper if you want to be more cosy, sheets, duvets and pillows.

The Heidi has 6 seats/seatbelt points, so if the kids don't mind sharing - go for it!

Yep! You absolutely can bring your kids along for the trip! There’s no shortage of activities for children, whether that’s adventure activities, nature & wildlife, arts & crafts, history, or even play parks. You can even go sea glass hunting on the beaches across the NC500, there’s plenty to be found and it’s a great activity for little ones.

Believe it or not, the North Coast 500 Route is home to loads of excellent places to eat and drink - a foodie’s dream. Here are some of the most-loved restaurants and eateries on the northern Scottish coast:

John O’Groats: Stack’s Coffee House & Bistro
Balnakeil: Cocoa Mountain
Ormiscaig: The Isle of Ewe Smokehouse
Inverness: The Mustard Seed Restaurant
Ullapool: The Seafood Shack
Doornoch: The Courtroom Bar and Brasserie

Plus, if you like a tipple, this route has plenty of breweries and distilleries for you to whet your whistle.

You can take a tour of some of the breweries and distilleries on the route, or just stop off for a drink or two. (Psst! These could be great souvenir stops, too!). Here are our recommendations:

Glenmorangie Distillery
Old Pulteney Distillery
Clynelish Distillery
Dunnet Bay Distillery
Cromarty Brewing Company
John O’Groats Brewery
Black Isle Brewery

To really make the most of your NC500 road trip, we recommend giving yourself at least 7 days. You can do it in 5 days if you’re stuck for time, but the longer the better (or at least we think so!).

There’s no one way to do the route - you could go clockwise or anticlockwise. It’s up to you.

Research in advance to find the activities and sights that are most exciting to you. And you don’t just have to stick to the NC500 Route! There will be so many fantastic attractions off the beaten path.

Make sure you allocate enough time for driving each day. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all the adventures you’re having out of your vehicle, but it can be really stressful if you’re racing against the clock to get to your next location.

Similarly, don’t always rely on your SatNav for journey times. Single-track roads can take a while to drive through.

Pack mindfully. The weather in Scotland can turn on a sixpence, so make sure you have plenty of layers, waterproofs, and clothes for all weathers. Comfortable shoes are a must and, if you’re going in the summer, remember to pack insect repellent.

There isn’t really a bad time to visit Scotland. Throughout the year, it’s a strikingly beautiful country and there are pros and cons to visiting in each season.

If you choose to go in the spring or summer months - especially during the school holidays - then you can expect it to be busy and crowded at times. But the weather will be on your side and you’ll have longer periods of daylight to go out to explore.
If you choose to go in the autumn or winter months, you’ll have shorter days and colder weather, but it will be quieter.

In whichever season you visit, the views will be spectacular (including amazing views of the Isle of Skye). The most popular time to do the NC500 Route is between May and September.