True Highlands Blog
The North Coast 500 has been a remarkable success in bringing motorists to Scotland by highlighting the terrific scenery and historical attractions around the north. While it is certainly possible (and legal) to cycle the entire way, the differing priorities that cyclists have over motorists mean that a few diversions are advisable for two wheeled tourists to get the most from the route. Here are a few alternative suggestions for day trips and scenic detours to get away from the crowds while still staying on the road (watch out for our guide to off road cycling in the Highlands coming later in the year).
The North Coast 500 route finally reaches the north east corner of mainland Scotland at John O’Groats. Be sure to take the obligatory photo at the famous sign, then head a whisker further east along the single track road to Duncansby Head. From the lighthouse it’s a three kilometre walk across the grassy cliff tops to the Stacks of Duncansby, two stunning sea-stacks with dramatic cliffs as their backdrop.
The North Coast 500 route hits the top-left corner of the mainland at Durness. Just outside the village is the beautiful Balnakeil Beach, where cows often wander along the sand. Check out the nearby Balnakeil craft village, created in the 1970s from a disused military camp and now a creative community of artists. Don’t miss the hot chocolate and sweet treats at Cocoa Mountain.