Author Topic: North Coast 500  (Read 1266 times)

IJL

North Coast 500
« on: December 21, 2020, 08:22:59 am »
I'm sure some people on here will have done this.
is it a good route or is it 500 miles of Motorhomes on your back wheel and motorbikes screaming past ?

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2020, 10:15:52 am »
You forgot the classic performance cars and the percentage of all kinds of drivers that have no idea how to drive on single track roads.

The 500 has changed many roads and places in the last 5 years or so. However the game changer this year has been staycations, with campervan hell and many lay-bys being used for “wild camping” and shitting.

It will be interesting to see if it is better after the pandemic, or if goes back to normal 500 traffic. I doubt it will ever go back to a level of traffic ten years ago, which was quite enjoyable. Long stretches in the north with almost no traffic.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Karla

  • car(e) free
    • Lost Byway - around the world by bike
Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2020, 10:57:05 am »
I did the northwestern half (Fort William - Cape Wrath - JOG) this September.  It's still mostly deserted: Bealach na Ba was campervan hell but the rest was fine.

Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2020, 12:27:32 pm »
I did part of the NC500 route during the Eightsome Reel 1500 perm, with the Great McNasty about 15 years ago, long before the NC500 became a thing. We joined the route at Laxford Bridge, up to Durness, along the coast to Dunnett, then Wick, and down the A9 as far as Beauly before turning down the Great Glen towards Fort William.
There's a piece wot I wrote in Arrivée, in late 2004. I recall commenting then about the number of camper vans and tour coaches that we had to contend with.
That was 15 years ago! I wouldn't go anywhere near it now.  :hand:


Genosse Brymbo

  • Ostalgist
Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2020, 03:24:24 pm »
Completed it with Bianchi Boy otp and another rider in the last week of June 2018.  We rode it clockwise in 4 days and then added an extra day to ride 200km from Inverness to Perth over the Lecht and Glenshee.  We had no problem with the traffic, although I do recall a rather straight section of the A9 coming back into Inverness as being more main road slog than scenery.  BB created the route, which you can obtain in GPX format from here http://browning.myzen.co.uk/public/NorthCoast500.gpx *  It isn't exactly the same as the official motor vehicle route; there are places where you wouldn't really want to take a car unless you absolutely had to, although they're not bad enough to require a gravel bike.

I recommend it, and would do it again at the drop of a hat.  The best 5 days of cycling I've experienced.

*note that some of the cafes and hotels marked by waypoints may no longer be in business.
The present is a foreign country: they do things differently here.

Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2020, 04:52:47 pm »
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Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2020, 05:50:16 pm »
Many years ago I drove and also motorcycled round the NC 500 long before it became a tourist 'feature'.  The roads then were much quieter and is a super route - although I tend to make my own modifications to the published route.  I drove round part of it again a couple of years ago and it had turned into a procession of campervans and SUVs with drivers who either couldn't cope with narrow roads or just didn't care how many people they inconvenienced.

For example, we drove over the Pass of the cattle (having pulled in a few times to let locals get past us) and stopped at Applecross for munchies.  We got chatting to one of the locals who advised that they were heartily sick of tourists who would not pull over to let faster traffic pass.  Apparently, local one van driver was kept behind a motorhome driving at 20mph all the way over the pass by someone who refused to let him get by.  Apparently, this resulted in a fist / nose interface for the driver of the motorhome.  Obviously, I don't condone that sort of action, but I can understand it.

That said, I think there is still some merit in trying the route, as the scenery is quite something and not every driver / motorcyclist is completely selfish.  In my experience, German or French plates on a vehicle normally mean you'll be given a decent distance when they pass and they don't seem to get as impatient as Brits.

Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2020, 05:59:11 pm »
It's not as quiet as it was ten-fifteen years ago, and yeah, you get loads of motorhomes, convoys of supercars and other comedy vehicles, but realistically it's still quieter than (most of) the rest of the UK.

Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2020, 07:03:18 pm »
It's not as quiet as it was ten-fifteen years ago, and yeah, you get loads of motorhomes, convoys of supercars and other comedy vehicles, but realistically it's still quieter than (most of) the rest of the UK.

Particularly at the moment I reckon.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2020, 07:16:07 pm »
It's not as quiet as it was ten-fifteen years ago, and yeah, you get loads of motorhomes, convoys of supercars and other comedy vehicles, but realistically it's still quieter than (most of) the rest of the UK.

I think that is certainly the case.

Maybe we just need to come to terms with the fact that, if humans can mange to survive and not do terminal damage, it will be like the South East everywhere.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2020, 11:52:35 pm »
It's not as quiet as it was ten-fifteen years ago, and yeah, you get loads of motorhomes, convoys of supercars and other comedy vehicles, but realistically it's still quieter than (most of) the rest of the UK.

I think that is certainly the case.

Maybe we just need to come to terms with the fact that, if humans can mange to survive and not do terminal damage, it will be like the South East everywhere.

Or, to turn it around a bit, if humans make it like the south east everywhere we won’t survive

Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2021, 12:44:47 pm »
Is that NC500 a thing?  We just used to call it visiting the relatives.  With my wife's parents hailing from Diabaig and Wick and relatives over the whole of the North of Scotland  and the islands that was just a normal drive to see the family and be fed on  cake, scones, etc.  Fresh Salmon was used to make fish cakes!

We have literally stopped in the middle of villages for a cup of coffee from the flask (there were no cafes in those days) and got talking with someone who would be related to my wife, or been to school with my FiL.  It really was a very small world.

We can both remember when the Loch Fyne shop was just a small shack at the side of the road.

Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2021, 10:06:57 am »
They seemed to have followed the model of the Wild Atlantic Way. Promoting it at car and motor home travellers. Fortunately apart from the Ring of Kerry and Dingle, it mostly remains quiet for cycling.

Re: North Coast 500
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2021, 10:07:19 am »
I did the west coast section - Inverness to just past Durness - last August. 

Is it busy?  It depends on the time of day.  I did early starts so usually had a few hours to myself.  But in the peak times - mid morning, early evening - there were quite a lot of camper vans, bearing in mind that it is mostly single track road with passing places, so you have to pull in to let them past.  Mostly good natured: lots of waves and I can only recall one angry motorist (who had mountain bikes on the back).

I came back through the middle, via a version of the Great Highland Trail.  After I turned off the NC500 route, I felt a real relief to have got away from the camper vans.  On the inland roads, traffic was very light - 1 or 2 per hour on an A road.  One passing motorist wound his window down and slowed down for a chat.

Next time I go back up there, I'll stay inland, for the solitude and the majestic views.  The coast, as wonderful as it is, gets a bit samey after a couple of hundred miles and I found the traffic enough to be irritating.