North Coast 500 – Five day Photo Tour
“Scotland’s NC500 may be the best road trip in the world” Conde Naste Traveller magazine.
Those of us who have lived in the Highlands for many years have come to know the area has many secrets. One of those secrets is now out.
For those who make the effort to travel beyond the nation’s capital, Edinburgh, and the Highland capital Inverness, the wild and twisting Highland roads that dissect the mountains and hug the rugged coastline can be some of the most scenic you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Until recently the route was just a means of getting from one remote Highland location to the next, known only to locals and the occasional adventurous visitor. In this quiet corner of Scotland the route “over the top” now has a name – the North Coast 500, and it’s one to rival other great touring routes around the world.
I’ve been guiding photographers around the northern Highlands for the past 10 years. Due to the increased interest in the NC500 route, I’ve put together a 5 day photo tour that features the most dramatic locations on and around the route.
Beautiful, lonely beaches and glittering lochs punctuated with charismatic mountains are just some of the locations that lie in wait. In Inverpolly and Assynt there is a saying “this is where the Viking gods practiced making mountains” and you’ll believe it when you see it for yourself.
A land of deep glen’s carved out by glaciers from the last Ice Age have shaped the landscape for thousands of years and coupled with a long, and at times troubled, history it’s a journey that will leave a lasting impression.
The NC500 Route
The 500 mile circuit of the Northern Scottish Highlands is nothing less than spectacular. It’s full of stunning scenery and magical wild Highland light. It can also throw up a mixed bag of Scottish weather too, so be prepared for anything, at anytime of year.
There are so many locations and features on the route to mention here but we’ll be photographing the best of it. Making both scheduled stops and unscheduled ones to photograph the best of the light and landscapes as they unfold before us.
Your photographic journey will start and end in my home town of Inverness. From here we travel west to the Applecross Peninsula and the Torridon Mountains. Views across to Skye from the top of the Bealach na Ba (pass of the cattle) on a clear day are breathtaking and we’ll factor in plenty stops for photography and some longer ones for when the need arises.
From Torridon we make our way along the shore of Scotland’s forth biggest loch, Loch Maree, through Inverewe and up towards Inverpolly and Assynt, said to be “Scotland for the connoisseur”. Charismatic peaks such as Suilven, Stac Pollaidh and Cul Mor rise out of the loch strewn landscape like beacons of rock. This is one of my favourite locations anywhere and we’ll capture some of the great mountains of the area.
As we travel through Sutherland we cut across the wild landscapes around Cape Wrath and the Kyle of Durness where the light often dances across the washed clean sands at low tide. Some of the beaches around the North West have to be seen to be believed. Pristine sand and crystal clear aquamarine waters slip quietly up into small rocky inlets and empty coves.
Often overlooked by many visitors to Scotland this is one of the most evocative and visually stunning parts of the Highlands. We’ll take time out to explore on foot one of the sad remnants of a troubled Highland past. The 18th and 19th century Highland Clearances were a time when the local population was forcibly cleared off the land by landowners and sent to the new world or harsher climbs in favour of the more profitable rearing of sheep.
We’ll continue following the winding NC500 as it skirts the shore of beautiful Loch Eriboll as we now head east along the top of the UK mainland to Caithness . Wild open moorland and stunning sea vistas set the scene for part of the way as we get closer to our destination; Dunnet Head and John O’ Groats. Just across the Pentland Firth The Orkney Islands can be seen, stunning at sunset as are the nearby Duncansby sea stacks at dawn and we’ll make sure we have plenty time to photograph both.
After a night near John O’ Groats we’ll make our way south into Sutherland once more. This is where my family and ancestors are from and we’ll pass by the small settlement of Loth where the old crofts (small Highland farms) clung to the steep hillsides and had huge views out over the North sea. I spent some summers as a small child here and they form some of my earliest memories. Further south we’ll pass through the coastal towns of Helmsdale, Golspie Brora and Tain before completing the route back in Inverness.
I run many workshops and tours around Scotland and overseas so at this moment in time The NC500 Grand Photo Tour will be ran on demand and is subject to availability.
Participants and fees
minimum 1 / maximum 4 participants
Single participant per tour £1395.00 p/p
2 participants per tour £1195.00 p/p
3 – 4 participants per tour £995.00 p/p
Please note that these fees to not include accommodation for guests or myself. They include a 5 day photographic itinerary with guiding, photography assistance, transport and refreshments during the day.
The level of accommodation is your choice during the 4 nights – There are options from basic shared bunk houses for around £25 per night to comfortable guest houses and hotels along the route (estimated cost £80- £110) for a twin room, at certain times of year demand may outstrip supply, options may be limited and prices may vary. I can advise of options and take care of all bookings if required.
Pick up in Inverness – overnighting in Torridon area / Ullapool / Durness / John O’ Groats – drop off in Inverness
A deposit of £250 p/p is required to secure each booking and accommodation must be booked in advance.
If you’d like to enquire about this tour or would like more information please email me at email@example.com .