Thea’s Route 500 – Part 1
Welcome to my site to read my Route 500 part 1 post. You see, I got a brand new car recently. It’s my first-ever, brand new car, so the next logical thing was to do was hit the road.
In the first week that I got her, I’ve taken a few shorter trips – to Ayrshire (to deliver a talk at Ayrshire Chamber’s “Women Mean Business” lunch), which was in gorgeous setting. I also ventured up to Luss, Loch Lomond, Inveraray and back via Helensburgh too.
Really what I wanted to do, was to break her in on a long road trip, so that’s what I did. While I drove for days, across the stunning Scottish scenery, I brainstormed how I could best highlight my views on the journey…This is the first of what I suspect will be several on the topic of my Highlands jaunt.
“Scotland’s Answer to Route 66”
So I ended up traveling a large portion of Scotland’s answer to Route 66 – the Route 500. You may also hear it referred to as the North Coast 500 or NC500 – it seems it has numerous names. Regardless of what you call it the Loop itself is the same. It effectively starts in the Scottish Highlands in Inverness.
Note: There are more articles worth a read on the route below.
A Little Research
To be honest with you, I’ve wanted to go up north for more than a year now. In 2015, I saw (and shared on a social) a variety of newspaper articles detailing this newly named, but long-standing route. Some people like to research their trips to new places but I tend not to. I did very little by way of research of the region before heading out.
Previously to this occasion, I’d only ever been as far north in Scotland as Ulapool and that was for just one night. I cruised all the way up and back (more than 225 miles – each way!) So being a Californian, long drives don’t scare me.
When it came to research the one thing I did do was find places to stay up there. I knew my time was limited, and that I’d only be away for a few days in total. Due to time and financial constraints, I fired up Booking.com and Air BnB and searched for accommodation that fell within my budget.
First I found a place in Lochinver, the Park House B&B (£29 incl breakfast) . Then I found another in Armadale (£35 incl breakfast). I used booking.com for the first, and reached out via email to book direct with the second.
Having been a Social Media trainer in Scotland for many years now, I’ve meet many B&B owners who have expressed a preference for people to book direct. Accommodation owners have to pay, in some cases, substantial rates to the booking engines.
So I do try to book direct when I can.
My Over Night Experiences
Both place I chose to stay were very adequate. Neither was brilliant by any means, but nor were they bad. Both were set in lovely locations. Each was run by older women – Alison and Detta respectively. Both ladies were kind and helpful, and both were happy to chat.
Breakfasts were good. I tend to just do tea, toast, and maybe some eggs over hard. I consumed them happily before starting out on long road journeys.
I think the worst thing I could say about either place was simply that they were shared bathrooms rather than en suite. Other than that really, I can recommend both of them overall. If you go, please pass on my regards.
A Few Thea Tips
Book your accommodation ahead of time if you’re doing the Route 500 in the peak season. Try to book direct to support the local businesses. They need your money more than the large international booking engines and sites.
Download the official Route 500 map. It’s also handy to have a physical one to refer to now and again too. I picked one up in Lochinver at my B&B.
Make sure you have cash as well as cards. Banks are few and far between and they’re not open as long as city banks. I found that out the hard way! (I did manage to get cash back at the wee store in Bettyhill which was a life saver).
Next time I’ll talk a bit more about the food/drink that I had, and the scenery that I loved. Scotland has both these in abundance.
Are you considering the Route 500 or have you done it already? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
A Few Articles About the NC500
- Route 500 Does Scotland’s Answer to Route 66 Live Up to the Hype?
- Finding Scotland on a Drive Along the North Coast 500