North Coast 500

The Hill O'Many Stanes, Caithness, Scotland

The signs of ancient history are visible everywhere you go in Scotland. From the heart of Neolithic Orkney to Inverness-shire’s Clava Cairns to Kilmartin Glen in Argyll, history pierces the sediment of modernity. Despite Scotland’s apparent wealth of history, incredibly, there are even more sites that remain unexcavated and undiscovered, and this is especially true in Caithness. The far northeastern corner of Scotland is a gentle landscape of coastline, moors, and pasture where the thick, green grass rumples and bunches over hidden geology.

Or so it seems. Many of the low rippling hills are actually ancient drystone structures buried… Read more...


Castle Girnigoe Sinclair, Caithness, Scotland

As the North Coast 500 corners the northeastern highlands and travels through Caithness, a host of ancient sites scatters before you. Coming from the west, this is a nice change of pace as the west coast of the North Coast 500 is firmly focused on stunning scenery and austere coastal communities. Here, in Caithness, the landscape is level and unremarkable off the coast, but it’s along the water where you’ll find crumbling castle ruins and antediluvian drystone brochs still half-buried in the emerald turf.

Just north of Wick stands my favorite castle in the region, Castle Sinclair Girnigoe. The Sinclairs are a famous family in Scottish history… Read more...


Mountains and see along Scotland's northwest Sutherland coast

Sutherland lies to the north, beyond the tourist trail stretching from Inverness to Skye, beyond even Ross-shire’s emerald sweep. It occupies three different coastlines with only a small slice of the northeast given to Caithness, with countless folds, glens, and lochs waiting quietly in the interior to be discovered by the transient visitor. The natural beauty of Sutherland is one of variety where the mountains of the south slide down to level pastureland in the northeast, and while the beauty is undeniable Sutherland’s history follows it like a shadow. The Highland Clearances struck this part of Scotland hardest, and as you make your way along the coasts and upon the narrow inland roads you will see little of man’s presence… Read more...


The loch's bounty at the Kylesku Hotel, Sutherland, Scotland

Western Sutherland is one of the North Coast 500’s most sparsely populated stretches. Much of the road from Ullapool to Durness is one lane meandering out of the mountains among boulder-strewn heath, and you’re rewarded for exploring the even smaller coastal roads, like the Wee Mad Road of Sutherland, that run through the region’s small settlements. It’s here where you’ll find some of the best eating options in the northwest highlands, and so I figured it would be helpful to collect a few ideas for you to reference the next time you’re exploring the North Coast 500.

One of my favorite finds was SALT Seafood Kitchen… Read more...

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Achmelvich Beach, Sutherland, Scotland

Scotland’s northwestern coastline is studded with pristine strips of white and red sand beaches. More often than not you’ll find yourself alone with the wind, waves, and gulls with nothing to remind you of the current era. As with so many places in Scotland, hiring a car and exploring into Sutherland’s nooks and crannies yields treasures you’ll never lose and which take up no room in your luggage. These off-the-off-the-beaten-path beaches blossom under the onslaught of north Atlantic waves amidst incredibly ancient cliffs falling into crystal-clear waters. The beaches in this post are for solitude seekers and adherents to inner philosophies, for even a short while among the wind and waves is enough to clasp the unnameable… Read more...

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