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North Coast 500

NC500 Campervan Hire

North Coast 500

This is your resource for all the up to date routes and the treasures that are just waiting for you to find in your Staycation Scotland Campervan! This 10 day route round the North Coast 500 includes Inverness, Rogie Falls, Tarbert Lighthouse, Dunrobin Castle, Whaligoe Steps, John o’Groats, Thurso, Durness, Cape Wrath, Clachtoll, Ullapool, Poolewe, Lower Diabaig, Applecross and Skye.


• Before wild camping, please ensure it’s allowed.
• Be considerate towards local residents
• Treat our vans as you would like yours to be treated.
• This guide was compiled in 2022, please advise us of our of date information.
We can also arrange transfer from the airport if you are flying in from another country.

10 Day Plan

Day 1


Day 1

Rogie Falls (stay)

Day 2

Tarbart Lighthouse

Day 2

Dunrobin Castle (stay)

Day 3

Whaligoe Steps (stay)

Day 4

John o’Groats

Day 4


Day 4

Durness (stay)

Day 5


Day 5

Ullapool (stay)

Day 6

Lower / Diabaig (stay)

Day 7


Day 8

Skye (stay 2 nights)

Day 10

Return Van by 11am

Day 1


After leaving Staycation in Dalmuir, your first satnav point is Inverness which is just under a 4 hour journey.

Food & Drink in Inverness

We stayed overnight in the grounds at Rogie Falls, 30 minutes from Inverness, Rogie Falls allows a free short stay and has public toilets but please bear in mind, there is no van hook-up available.There is one local shop in Rogie Falls with a limited range of stock. Our advice would be to eat in Inverness, the River House Restaurant or the Fig and Thistle are worth a visit, then stock up on the things you need for the night before returning to Rogie Falls.

FUEL: A835, Contin, Strathpeffer IV14 9ES

Day 2

Tarbat Ness Lighthouse

According to Highland folklore the site of the lighthouse was used as a meeting place for witches covens and prior to that it used to be a Roman Fort.

Engineered by renowned lighthouse builder Robert Stevenson, Tarbat Ness Lighthouse is an ‘A’ listed building, although not open to the public, it’s a beautiful site and there is a lovely walk around here.

We stayed here and enjoyed the sun then moved on to our next stop on the list which was Dunrobin Castle.

Rogie Falls to Tarbat Ness Lighthouse. Travel time 1 hour.

Dunrobin Castle

Adult £ 13.50
Senior/Student £ 11.50
Child £ 8.50
Family (2 adult + 3 child) £ 42

Dunrobin Castle is a stately home with the grounds looking like you are at Alice’s tea party. There is an entrance fee for admission to the castle but there also is a path that takes you round the back with a walk along the waterfront.

Stay the night

As our van was fully charged we stayed in the car park in the outer grounds of Dunrobin Castle, there was just so much to see we wanted to take a longer walk through the grounds.

We had a throw-away barbecue and Staycation vans come with BBQ tools, we got supplies from a local shop and made our dinner in the grounds. If that isn’t wild camping I don’t know what is! If you are using throw away barbecue please ensure you aren’t on grass and dispose of them correctly.

Food & Drink
Dunrobin Castle (cafe)
Luigi’s Restaurant, Castle Street,
Dornoch, IV25 3SN

Sandstone Cafe
High St, Dornoch IV25 3SH
Victoria Garage,
Victoria Road, Brora, KW9 6QN Closes at 8 pm
Local shop
SPAR Benview Stores 34 Ross St, Golspie KW10 6SA
NC500 Campervan Hire

Stay the night

As this stretch of the journey with not much apart from the most beautiful scenery and being at one with nature there isn’t as many camp sites available I would highly recommend wild camping at this stage just ensure your battery is fully charged. Here are a few that we recommend.
• Wick River Campsite, Riverside Drive, Wick KW1 5SP
• Ferry View •

Day 3 – Travel to Whaligoe Steps

Sadly, when we got to Whaligoe Steps, due to very wet weather they were closed, if they are open it’s a great walk/hike and amazing for taking photos.

Day activities

As the steps don’t take very long to climb here are a few other options of things to occupy your time.

Pulteney Distillery Visitor Centre, Huddart Street Wick, KW1 5BA

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

We recommend stocking up on supplies and petrol before you start this step of the journey as it is probably the most derelict part of the NC500. Until you get to John o’Groats you won’t see any supermarkets or towns so make sure you plan your petrol stops to be on the safe side.

Food & Drink in Whaligoe

Puldagon Farm Shop & Restaurant Stirkoke, Wick, Caithness, KW1 5SD (Closed Monday and Tuesday)

Bord de L’eau

2 Market St, Wick KW1 4AR

Old Smiddy Inn

Stewart Crescent, Thrumster, Wick KW1 5TS

Day 4 – John o’Groats • Thurso • Durness

Travel time from Whaligoe Steps to John o’Groats Is about 34 minutes. Sadly for us this day was the wettest day it down poured from when we woke up till when we got to Durness so we did a fair bit of driving.

John o’Groats

The location of the famous sign and the start of many journeys to Land’s End. Many people like to take a photo of the sign, including me, the typical tourist and proud of it!

There is a big car park here (pay in display). There are a few shops and this is a beautiful area for taking photos and then I would say move on as there is so much more to explore moving forward.

Thurso • 31 minute drive

We did plan to stay here for the night but the town was smaller than we thought with one little shop and we where soaked from the rain so decided to move on which I am so glad we did as the next stop is my favourite but shh don’t tell the others.


We arrived here in the afternoon and the sun finally started to shine through the clouds, you wouldn’t believe how fast the weather changed from a winters day to a Scottish summer! As soon as you arrive in Durness you are greeted by a beach of dreams that many people paddle board or even wild swim in. There is a car park where you can stay overnight, we did and it was perfect.

Durness is famous for its zipline which is open seasonally and weather dependant. We managed to get a shot and was a experience I will never forget. In Durness there are facilities a 5 min walk up the hill and another car park which you pay for at the machine.

One of my favourite meals was Cheese ‘n’ Toasted made in a horse box trailer that makes the best gourmet toasties I couldn’t recommend more.

Another thing to note, there is limited space at the car park, so if you want to stay the night I would advise getting there early. We did the NC500 at the end of May so it wasn’t peak time and there were not so many dreaded midges.

Day 5 – Durness • Clachtoll 1 hour 36 minutes

Clachtoll is known for its breathtaking beaches and long walks on the sand/rocks. Take full advantage if the weather is nice and use your kitchen on wheels, eating out can get expensive so remember you have everything you need in your van for cooking appliances so get your chef hat on and find your inner Gordon Ramsey.

Things to do

• Clachtoll beach • Flossies beach store (coffee) • Ullapool • Corrieshalloch Gorge • Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve • Stac Pollaidh Mountain

Clachtoll has the best facilities especially if you are in a van I would put this down as a shower stop! This was the first proper shower we had since we started our road trip that may be TMI but I fell like we are all friends here 🙂  In the town centre there are signs to the shower blocks and it FREE to use which is amazing. Another thing to note is there is a Tesco here which will be the first supermarket you have seen in a while so can restock on anything you might need to continue on. In Ullapool we used the Park4night app which showed us a place just outside town that was a big lay by. Free to stay and had lots off bins emptied often. this is a great app to use if you are struggling with campsites being booked.

Day 6 – Lower Diabaig • 1 hour 53 minutes

This was the only day I truly felt like you need to plan as it very off the map/grid. This drive was truly something you don’t believe until you see it with your own eyes. Driving through the Scottish mountains and very windy road there is a stop about half way and if you are wanting to stop I would get out and even have a picnic while you take in the sights. Lower Diabaig is TINY, blink and you miss it!

We heard great things about the ONLY restaurant in Lower Diabaig but stupidly thought we wouldn’t need to book, it was fully booked so don’t make the same mistake as us and book in advance. We were so hungry or should I say HANGRY!.

The next restaurant was over 30 minutes back the way we had come. It all worked out for the best though when we got there we had the most amazing fish and chips think our eyes where bigger than our belly as we ordered far to much but I wasn’t complaining.


Gairloch Garage, Gairloch IV21 2BL (Closed Sunday) This is the only station for quite a while so don’t get caught and remember to fill up your fuel when you can.

Day 7 – Achmelvich Bay

After leaving Applecross this is a must!

This amazing spot, with views overlooking Shieldaig island, is picture perfect. Prices ranging from £21- £26 per night plus £4.50 for the optional hookup and the wifi is free! Also situated at the perfect spot to catch the northern lights if you are lucky! The site is situated in ‘Aurora’!

We pulled up and on a noticeboard there was a list of the free pitches where you’re welcome to just drive in and to hook up. The toilet and shower block is newly renovated and spotless and it’s a short walk to the Shieldaig Bar & Coastal Kitchen where the langoustines are a real treat. – Would highly recommend and always top of our customers ‘best sites’ lists!

Day 6 – Lower Diabaig • 1 hour 53 minutes

Applecross is the best place to go for street food! We arrived in the morning to the smell of fresh bacon on the grill, what more can you want! They have a wide variety and something for everyone from from seafood too ice cream. we went in May, I’m not sure if the street food venders are seasonal but I don’t think they would trade in the winter so keep that in mind. There is also a pub here and tables outside to sit by the water which you need to book – when it’s sunny they fill up quickly. As we don’t get much sun, as soon as we see any resemblance of a cloud in the sky we Scots like to make the most of it.


This station is open 24 hours and is card only payment This station is run by the community so please support in any way you can as they try to keep the costs low as possible. Shore St, Applecross, Strathcarron IV54 8LN

Things to note

The village is small with limited parking so it’s good to get their early or even park and walk in from somewhere not too far away. Stay • Applecross Campsite, Strathcarron, IV54 8ND (Open March 1st to October 31st) • Sands Caravan and Camping Park, B8021, Gairloch, IV21 2DL

Day 8 – Skye • 1 hour 56 minutes

Skye • 1 hour 56 minutes

Although Skye is an island there is a bridge that you can drive over from the mainland so a ferry is not required unless you want too. Skye is just in a world of its own with fairy pools and unique small businesses waiting for you to take a piece of your holiday home with you.

Things to do

• Fairy pools
• Take a boat to Loch Coruisk
• Have a meal at the Three Chimneys
• Walk up to the Old Man of Storr
• Climb the Cuillin
• Try the local Skye whisky
• Throw an Axe with Ace Skye
• Walk the Cuillin Ridge


• Camping Skye, Pairc Nan Craobh, Broadford, Isle of Skye IV49 9DF
• Camus More Campsite Kilmuir, Portree, IV51 9YS

Day 9

Fairy pools

Fairy pools are very well known in Skye and I can confirm they are a must to go and see or for a natural shower which was what we used for a wash! They do have a car park there which you do need to pay for but they have a separate car park for vans which is handy. You can do lots of different walks but I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone that isn’t up for a big hill as it’s steep.

Thoughts on Skye

Skye is such a beautiful place so if you have more time you can stay here longer but remember on return day, check-in is by 11am so allow plenty of time to refill up your diesel and take it through the car wash. we can’t wait for your return to hear all about your travels and the amazing places our beautiful vans have been.

Return • 5 hours from Skye

Skye is a 5 hour drive so it is a long drive, another suggestion is driving somewhere that is closer, for example: • Inverness
• Loch Lomond
• Luss
• Helensburgh
• Fort William
These places are all a lot closer so you can always return the night before your return so you don’t have so far to drive and can have a lie in! But as always, everything is unique to your journey and you can adjust any off this to suit your preference.
NC500 Campervan Hire


Things to remember on return

• Fill up your diesel
• Check out is 11am
• We offer a complimentary car wash service but this must be arranged prior to departure
• All toilets hired must be emptied
• Please leave time for us to do checks when returning

Goodbye for now!

We love our customers and would not be here if it wasn’t for your support. We love what we do and sharing that with fellow van enthusiasts is at the heart of what we do. We hope you loved your journey and are already planning on coming back for more. Scotland is just waiting to be seen. Love from all the Staycation family. X

Included with your van

Frying pan

Complimentary in van WI-FI

Dinner plates x 4

Side plates x 4

Bowls x 4

Mugs x 4

Tumblers x 4

All cutlery


Chopping board

Bread knife

Paring knife



Tin opener

Pots x 2

Oven glove

Whistling kettle

Small cafetière

Travel hairdryer

Brush and shovel

First aid kit

Camping chairs x 4


Washing up liquid

Eleanor Bowmer leopard print tea towels

Optional extras

Early pick-up if available


Bike rack (limited vans)

Storage bag (for vans with a bike rack)

Grazing food box

Excess reduction

Dog friendly van (cleaning fee applies)

Full gas

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