The North Coast 500 Sojourn (April - May)

A journey into the northern frontiers of Scotland on a 500 mile stretch of stunning coastal scenery, small town charm, maritime heritage and unparalleled magic of the Highlands. This is a journey that uncovers beyond the stereotypical Scottish sights and more. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Witness astounding landscapes and highlands of Scotland

Savour exquisite whiskys and gastronomy 

Stay in refined boutique hotels 

Enjoy an insightful experience with the local characters

ITINERARY

DAY 1: INVERNESS / TAIN

Our journey begins as we depart Inverness with a beautiful drive through the villages of Beauly and Muir of Ord where you will receive a private tour at Glen Ord Distillery - one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Watch their distillers at work creating a magical malt whisky which is sweet, fruity and subtly spicy on the palate. Thereafter, en route to Dornoch now you will drive past the Cromarty Firth (a narrow inlet of the sea), a great spot to watch seals bask on the rocks along the shoreline. Spend the latter part of your afternoon exploring the charming, historic town of Dornoch. We then continue further north where we make our second whisky distillery visit of the day to the Glenmorangie Distillery - established in 1843, the distillery has been producing its famous Glenmorangie malt on the shores of the Dornoch Firth, in the malt heartland and its range of whisky is available in a wide range of “finishes” – meaning the whisky can be finished in sherry, port wine, madeira, and burgundy casks, illustrating the difference in taste the wood can make to the whisky. Finally, we arrive nearby to the stunning Glenmorangie House, a warm and homely estate in a stunning setting that provides a "home-away-from-home" experience and tonight, your opportunity to sample to award-winning Chef John Wilson's exquisite creations where some courses are prepared in 18 Years Glenmorangie whisky. 

Overnight: Glenmorangie House, Tain

Meals: Dinner

DAY 2: TAIN / WICK

Enjoy a lovely morning before we leave in the afternoon, heading north on a short and pleasant drive to arrive at the Dunrobin Castle, the largest castle in the north highlands and seat of the Clan Sutherland. Learn about the castle's medieval origins and subsequent additions that transform it into a stately and ornate estate which resembles a French chateau with its towering conical spires. Thereafter, continue north along the shimmering coast of the North Sea to Dunnet Head with its iconic lighthouse in one of the most spectacular coastal settings in the UK. We then embark on a RIB boat tour to witness the amazing puffin colony (May - July) where the lovely birds come back to their burrows to breed. Spot a rich array of seabirds and marine wildlife; gaze at stunning geological formations such as caves, arches and stacks, or marvel at precipitous coastal castles! Finally, we will arrive at the splendid Ackergill Tower, a stately castle hotel set against the stunning North Sea and this evening, enjoy a remarkable dinner, highly-revered all around Scotland!

Overnight: Ackergill Tower, Wick

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 3: WICK

Begin the day with a visit to the tiny hamlet of John O'Groats and perhaps an obligatory photo pose of the iconic "Journey's End" signpost. Not far away is Duncansby Head, which has two spectacular sea stacks, with the greatest stack towering at 60m high. Take a wonder by foot along the coastline to get a better view. Thereafter, we make a visit to the Castle of Mey - the most northerly castle on mainland Britain and is afforded beautiful views across the Pentland Firth to Orkney.  Once the home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother it is now run by The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust. Later, we will visit the unique Dunnet Bay Distillery which produces its exceptional Holy Grass Vodka and Rock Rose Gin, hand-distilled slowly in their special copper still named Elizabeth. 

Overnight: Ackergill Tower, Wick

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 4: WICK / DURNESS / LOCHINVER

We go back onto the North Coast 500 today and pass through some amazing scenery of Ben Loyal, Ben Hope and Loch Eriboll with the occasional sighting of Highland Coo. On the eastern edge of Durness, be sure to take the 20 minute cave tour of one of Britain’s largest sea cave, set into limestone cliffs. Smoo Cave is a popular and unique attraction for the small hamlet. The cave was formed over many thousands of years and was originally a small swallet cave, carved along the line of a weak fault. However the cave has been dually-carved by sea water on the outer chamber, which enlarged the entrance and the internal chamber has been formed by the action of fresh water rivers which flows through it today. From here, we proceed southwards with a stop to admire the Kylesku Bridge before arriving at Lochinver where we check in at the impressive Inver Lodge Hotel where this evening, a sampling of exquisite cuisine at its renowned Chez Roux Restaurant. 

Overnight: Inver Lodge Hotel, Lochinver

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 5: LOCHINVER / KNOCKAN CRAG / ALLADALE WILDERNESS RESERVE

A special day begins as we begin the morning with a morning walk around the tranquil fishing village of Lochinver before continuing our drive south to Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve where we enjoy a 1hr guided walk exploring some of the most stunning and inspiring highlands landscape. Next, our journey continues to the 23,000 acre Alladale Wilderness Reserve in the Scottish Highlands, a pristine gem of a destination blessed with rugged and wild terrain, colorful hills, dramatic glens, glistening rivers and fascinating wildlife. We will spend the next 3 days uncovering the beauty of this spectacular reserve. 

Overnight: Alladale Lodge, Alladale Wilderness Reserve

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 6: ALLADALE WILDERNESS RESERVE

We spend the day on a 4x4 ranger guided tour of the vast reserve, appreciating the wonderful nature. On this unique "game drive", we may come across fascinating wildlife such as red deers, highland cattle, golden eagles, Scottish wild cats, badgers and more and during mid-May, we will visit the Glencalvie falls, to witness the salmon jump upstream.

Overnight: Alladale Lodge, Alladale Wilderness Reserve

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 7: ALLADALE WILDERNESS RESERVE

We spend another day in Alladale Wilderness Reserve where you can go on another 4x4 ranger guided tour or consider a guided hike with experienced rangers in reserve. Other activities include mountain biking, trout fishing, herbs foraging or just sit back and relax over some sumptuous whisky. 

Overnight: Boath House Hotel, Nairn

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 8: ALLADALE WILDERNESS RESERVE / ULLAPOOL / POOLEWE / TORRIDON

Sadly, we leave the Alladale Wilderness Reserve today and head back onto the North Coast 500 to arrive at fishing village of Ullapool, nestled on the shores of Lochbroom, our first stop for the day. Take a stroll through the town, planned by the engineering genius, Thomas Telford who also designed the Caledonian Canal in Fort Augustus. Embark on a 2hrs cruise out to the Summer Islands - an archipelago lying in the mouth of Lochbroom, Wester Ross where you will be fascinated by the abundance of marine life such as seals, porpoise, dolphins, whales, white tailes eagles and a variety of seabirds.   Weather and tide permitting, we visit Cathedral Cave on the south west side of Tanera Beag. From there we navigate through some of the narrower channels before visiting the anchorage of Tanera Mhor, which is the largest and only inhabited island. We then make our way along the coastline of the Coigach peninsula heading back to Ullapool. Thereafter, spend time for some seafood lunch before continuing south towards Poolewe where a visit to the Inverewe Gardens, set amidst the stunning rugged west coast landscape on the edge of Loch Ewe, the world famous garden is regarded as one of the most beautiful gardens in Scotland. Finally, we will arrive The Torridon Resort, 

Overnight: The Torridon Resort, 

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 9: TORRIDON / BEALACH NA BA / APPLECROSS / DEPART INVERNESS

On our last stretch of the North Coast 500, we travel Inverness via the stunning Applecross peninsula, making a brief stop in the picturesque village of Applecross marveling at its small town beauty before finding ourselves at the  spectacular Bealach na Ba, Gaelic for "Pass of the Cattle". The route is an unforgettable drive along one of the most dramatic mountain roads on mainland UK, rising up to 626m above sea level; the third highest road in Scotland. Finally, our journey of the NC500 comes to an end as we arrive at Inverness Airport for our onward journey home or continue your adventures in Scotland and beyond. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

Set amongst the rolling barley fields of Easter Ross, our beloved Highland hideaway, Glenmorangie House, is more of a country house than a hotel. For over 25 years it has welcomed the world to its door, developing an international reputation for Highland hospitality along the way. The house is a magnificent reflection of everything that the word ‘Glenmorangie’ stands for – a retreat to peace and calm, a place for cherished moments.

Glenmorangie House, Tain

For more than 600 years, Ackergill Tower has stood majestically above the rugged shoreline at Sinclair Bay on the northernmost tip of Scotland – The Luxury Highland Estate is one of the remotest, most romantic settings in the entire British Isles. Steeped in history, yet with 21st century luxuries and five star, award-winning service awaiting you, the castle and its 3,000 acre private estate will delight and inspire you. 

Ackergill Tower, Wick

Set amid one of the last great unspoiled wildernesses in Europe, the Inver Lodge Hotel offers visitors a tranquil retreat of outstanding natural beauty. For anglers, walkers, bird-watchers or anyone who loves nature, a stay here gives you the opportunity to experience the spectacular natural environment while enjoying the luxurious facilities and excellent cuisine of one of the best hotels in the Scottish Highlands.

Inver Lodge Hotel, Lochinver

Set against rugged hills and the country’s most northerly ancient Caledonian pine forest, the Alladale Lodge is the ultimate private getaway. This beautiful Victorian manor, refurbished by Laura Ashley, is comfortable and spacious. Its traditional design makes it a true Scottish home away from home. The property boasts a set of lovely extras, such as an in-house sauna, gym and pool room. 

Alladale Lodge, Alladale Wilderness Reserve

Set in 58 acres of parkland at the end of a magnificent sea loch, The Torridon has one of the most spectacular and idyllic locations in the country. The resort offers something for everyone. Perhaps you yearn for a reviving outdoor escape, or simply a relaxing holiday pampered in a luxury hotel, or getting out of your muddy walking boots and sitting by a crackling fire in a welcoming pub. 

The Torridon Resort

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