Mellow Expeditions - @peaksandpubs

Mellow Expeditions - @peaksandpubs

For this month’s mellow expeditions feature we spoke to @peaksandpubs about his 500+ mile road trip around the Scottish Highlands. From caves, to beaches, to abandoned castles, all bases were covered during this trip. Here’s what he had to say..

Over the past 4 or 5 years there's been many different adventures & challenges I've took on, whether it be for charity, for content or just for the love of the outdoors. I've completed both the National & the Yorkshire 3 peaks challenges, done a fair share of wild camping, & ran my first trail half marathon in the Peak District to name a few. But one stand out for me has to be when myself & my girlfriend decided to do the NC500 on a whim. And for anyone who doesn't know what it is or what it entails; the NC500 is a 500+ mile road trip around the North Coast of Scotland, exploring the Scottish Highlands. It was something we'd toyed with the idea of doing for a while but on a week's notice we had a 'f*ck it' moment, got a load of necessities together and headed on up to Inverness.

Despite only officially launching in 2015 by the Scottish tourist board, this is a fairly popular driving route amongst those in the know. Yet to most, it still remains quite an obscure thing to have done. Most of my friends & family had no idea what we were doing when we told them about it, and part of me likes that. It's almost like you're part of an exclusive club of people who can say they have explored some of the most breathtaking parts of this silly little island we live on. Even though I did my research, nothing could have prepared us for what the Scottish Highlands had to offer. And in typical, cliche fashion, I have to say the pictures don't do it justice in the slightest.


The route itself can be 'completed' in as little as 3 days, but is advised to be done in 5-7. It all depends on how much you want to explore & how long you want to spend at individual landmarks. We chose to do it over 6 days and honestly, that felt rushed. Safe to say, we will be back, let's put it that way. I can't think of many other adventures where one night you're sleeping in your car, the next you're waking up at the foot of a lakeside mountain & the day after that you're knocking back Guinness down the local of a small fishing village. There really is something quite liberating, but equally stressful, about not knowing where you're getting your head down that night.

Some highlights included: Whaligoe Steps, Castle Sinclair, John O'Groats, Puffin Cove, Smoo Cave, Ceannabeinne Beach, Sango Bay & Klyesku Bridge to name a few. On one day alone we visited an abandoned castle that you had to almost paddle over to reach & ended up at Wailing Widow Falls- a place where it's beauty has to be seen to be believed. Along the way there's also a 10km hike around Loch Coulin, which could easily be mistaken for the Canadian rocky mountains. If you do the (recommended) anti-clockwise route then you'll finish up around the Isle of Skye; a true sight to behold no matter which way you look. Traditionally the route will start & finish in Inverness but we decided to take a detour on the way home via Fort William. The home of Ben Nevis, which is famously the British Isles tallest & most feared mountain, standing at a ridiculous 1345M elevation. Probably not recommended after such a heavy 6 days but we couldn't resist.

To this day, I've not experienced anything quite like it, and when I tell people Scotland is the most surreal & beautiful place I've ever been I almost don't even believe the words coming out my mouth. We will be revisiting the Scottish Highlands in the coming months, Glencoe to be exact, and my balls tingle with excitement at the thought of getting back amongst those Scottish hills! I'm not quite sure if I'll ever experience anything as exhilarating as the NC500 again but it's not going to stop me trying.

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