There is more to Scotland than the NC500 - A guided motorcycle tour
This was a Bespoke Tour for a private group. Variations of this tour are available for groups of riders
4 star hotels, dinner, bed and breakfast
The north coast 500 circuit is a fine route but just scratches the surface of what Scotland has to offer, this Scottish motorcycle trip delves a little deeper and takes you much further showing you some of the best biker roads in Scotland.
On this guided motorcycle tour you will ride some of the best motorcycle routes in Highlands
We have not set dates for this tour yet and there may have added a new variant, so, check our tour diary. If you are interested in this tour or something similar then please contact us and we shall set a date, alternatively, browse our upcoming tours to see what's new.
The North Coast 500 circuit also referred to as NC500 is hailed as Scotland’s Route 66 and it's a fine costal route. It helps tourists explore parts of northern Scotland that have long been overlooked and no doubt local businesses along the route have benefited from the increased tourism. We would also expect that many of those taking the route will deviate from the circuit to find what might be lurking around the bend or over the hill. Likewise, we expect that to reach the start and end point at Inverness that most will traverse other parts of Scotland to experience both Lowlands and Highlands to see more of what Scotland has to offer. However, if you need some help in doing that then this is the tour for you.
This Scottish motorcycle tour is not that north coast route although this tour embraces the best of the north coasts 513 mile long route we omit some of the less interesting roads, such as the east coast run along the A9, replacing with more interesting less travelled roads further inland in some of the most remote areas of Scotland. Naturally we also chose some of our favourite roads south of Inverness to take you to and from the north coast circuit and no trip to Scotland would be complete without visiting at least one island and so we include parts of Skye.
We hope you will agree that this circa 1100 mile trip makes a more interesting motorbike tour and allows you to see a bit more of Scotland although you may have to return again and again and take part in other motorcycle tours we operate if you really want to see all Scotland has to offer the biker!
N.B. NC500 and North Coast 500 are registered trade marks of North Coast 500 Limited. McTours is not affiliated with this company in any way.
Look at this itinerary and discover some of the most interesting motorcycle routes in Scotland
Your accommodation in Glasgow will be the Hilton Hotel. As clients will arrive at various time of day and this is intended to offer rest for those who have travelled long distances and gives others a chance to do some sightseeing in Glasgow.
There is much to see and do in Glasgow. For those wanting somewhere free and indoors we have the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum other museums and art galleries include The Riverside Musuem of Transport and Travel, The Burrell Collection, The House for an Art Lover, Huntarian Art Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Gallery of Modern Arts, Glasgow Science Centre, The Peoples Palace and Winter Garden, The Botanic Gardens and Kibble Palace, Scotland Street Museum, The Police Museum, The Tenement House and many more. The city has a plethora of historic buildings and if you simply want to perambulate the streets and look up and down you will find no shortage of interesting architecture. Glasgow means ?dear green place? and hosts many large and interesting parks. If you want entertainment you will find live entertainment in many of the city?s bars, concert hall and theatres. If you are into sports there are many stadia and arenas. The city also has places of worship for all religions so there are cathedrals, churches, synagogues, mosques etc. In short you will find little difficulty finding something to do in Glasgow.
Glasgow, Callander, Crannog, Pitlochry, Dalwhinnie, Folk Museum, Aviemore 170 miles about 5 hours riding
We depart from McTours, Glasgow heading in a westerly direction to cross the Erskine bridge then its more or less onwards north. Scotland has at least 31,460 fresh water lochs but only a few lakes, along the route we pass one of them; The Lake of Mentieth. A little further on we make our first stop of the day at Callander which is a pretty town on the banks of the river Teith. Geographically is an important point because it lies on fault line that separates Highlands from Lowlands so as you look to the South you see rounded rolling hills and to the North rugged mountains. We take a brief stop in Callander and have a light refreshment before continuing.
The next section of the route passes Loch Lubnaig and Loch Earn and at Killin we join Loch Tay. We traverse the north shore of Loch Tay to Kenmore where we stop at The Scottish Crannog Centre where you will learn about ancient life in Scotland. About 20 miles further on we reach Pitlochry where we break for lunch. Pitlochry has been a popular tourist spot since the railway arrived here in the 1863. Although the largest town in the area the town's population is less than 3,000 so it is not very big, but it has an attractive Victorian centre with covered shopping area along Atholl Road.
As we leave Pitlochry we deviate to the East taking the road alongside Loch Tummel then we turn north again to join the A9. The A9 is a busy trunk road and so we don?t stay on it long, instead we divert off the road passing the Dalwhinnie Distillery (a great place to visit but as we are riding we shall give it a miss) then onwards to the Highland Folk Museum where you can learn about highland life in the 1700?s.
The final leg of the journey is a mere 15 miles and this brings us to the 4 star Hilton Coylumbridge Hotel just outside Aviemore.
Coylumbridge, Grantown-on-Spey, Nairn, Inverness, Strathpeffer, Portmahomack, Dornoch, Dunrobin Castle 160 miles about 4 1/2 hours riding
We depart Coylumbridge heading north along the course of the River Spey to Boat of Garten and Nethy Bridge before reaching Grantown on Spey. We then head towards to coast and on reaching Nairn to alter course to the west to reach our first stop of the day at Inverness.
Departing Inverness we head inland along the Beauly Firth to Beauly and on to Strathpeffer a leafy Victorian spa town. These towns are not really scheduled stops but we will make a short stops for photographs before progressing through Dingwall and along the Cromarty Firth onwards to Portmahomack where we break for lunch. The village dates back to AD975 when St Colmac established a priory. By the 19th century it had become a major fishing port. Although this is on the east coast of Scotland the village it on a peninsula and so faces west towards the mainland.
The next section of the route is just under 20 miles and will take about 30 minutes where we reach our hotel Dornoch Castle. After check in we shall take a brief trip up the coast to Dunrobin Castle, the home of the Earl of Sutherland. The restyling was the work of famous Scots Architect Robert Lorimer the building is more akin to a French Chateau at first glance but on closer inspection you will find it is an interest blend of Scots Baronial and French Renaissance. After the castle tour we make the 12 mile trip back to our 5 star hotel
Dornoch to Scourie 170 miles about 5 hours riding
The first major habitation we pass through is Lairg after which we shall mainly be riding single track roads. There will be very little traffic but when we do meet other vehicles especially travelling in the opposite direction it can prove challenging because many cars don't realise that most bikes have no reverse gear so pay added attention when passing other vehicles. We shall make our first stop at The Garvault which claims to be Britain's most remote hotel. We are not staying but we shall get a refreshment break here because they serve lovely cakes.
The next section of our route takes us up to Scotland's north coast at Melvich where those who really must add John O'Groats to their bucket list head east and the rest turn west either way traversing the north coast. We shall all regroup at Bettyhill where we break for lunch. The beaches in this part of the world are quite spectacular and generally have very few people on them so we may well take a wanted down to Farr Bay which is a short stroll from Bettyhill whilst waiting for the John O'Groats group to return.
We complete our days journey by travelling towards Britain's most north westerly town, Durness, where we shall refuel because our hotel is in an isolated spot 25 miles to the south of Durness. If you want to see what is one of Scotlands nicest beaches then you could make the trip along the coast passing Kinlochbervie and going as far as you can where you must park at the end of the road. From here it is a hike across the hills to Sandwood Bay. It is very remote and well worth the walk.
Scourie to Gairloch 150 miles about 5 hours riding
You will notice another significant change in scenery now we are on the west coast. Here the coastline is more rugged as will become apparent when we make our way south to Kylesku and then west to Nedd. Along this road at the Assynt Crofters Lodge we come close to the Old Man of Stoer a 60 metres high sea stack but we do need to hike a few miles to see it so I?ll leave that for you to decide if you are up for the walk. We continue our route to Lochinver where we take a refreshment break.
After tea break we continue on the single-track roads with a mixed landscape offering mountains, sea views and fresh water lochs all the way to our lunch stop at the Summer Isles Hotel in Achiltibuie. From here you will have great views south to the Summer Isles.
After lunch we make our way to Ullapool then hug the coast around Little Loch Broom and Loch Ewe where you will see the Isle of Ewe then on to where we stop for the day.
Gairloch, Applecross, Plockton, Dornie, Glenelg, Greshornish 180 miles 6 hours riding
We depart Gairloch heading alongside Loch Marie to Kinlochewe then on to Torridon and Shieldaig. From here we hug the coast all the way to Applecross. Along this route you will have great views across to Rona and Raasay with Skye lying beyond. We shall take a refreshment break in Applecross before crossing the Bealach na Ba Scotland’s third highest road and Britain’s steepest climbing 624m with 20% gradients and multiple hairpin bends. The road is also single track so be ready for a challenge! As the road drops back down to Loch Kishorn we make our way around the Loch and on to Loch Carron where we find our next stop at the village of Plockton. Although on the West Coast, Plockton faces East and so is sheltered from the prevailing wind. The surrounding waters are warmed from the Gulf Stream allowing tropical plants to grow. Depending on our rate of progress we might break for lunch at Plockton or our next stop.
The journey from Plockton to Dornie is short. Here Loch Alsh, Loch Long and Loch Duich converge and one of Scotland’s most photographed castles can be found; Eilean Donan Castle. There are recordings of a structure on this tiny island as long ago as 580AD but for centuries all that remained was a ruin until the current castle was rebuilt in 1932. We shall stop here for photographs and if we didn’t dine in Plockton we can grab a bite to eat in the castle visitor centre.
If we were to proceed down the road to Kyle of Lochalsh there is a bridge to Skye but a far more novel way to reach the island is by travelling along the old military road to Glenelg where we will find the last operating manual turntable ferry in the world. This small ferry crosses the 600m sea between the mainland and Skye approximately every 20 minutes. When we reach the Isl of Skye we continue to our hotel the former Manor House of the MacLeod Family on the remote and unspoilt Greshornish peninsula.
Isle of Skye Circuit 140 miles about 4 hours riding
This day circuit of helps you see much of the Island. There are many dramatic and scenic spots in Skye and on this journey, we will stop at some of the islands best. Our first stop is at the Fairy Pools. We cannot ride all the way so a little walking is necessary if you want to see the beautifully crystal clear blue pools on the River Brittle that are famed for Wild Swimming.
We continue to Dunvegan Castle. The seat of the Clan Macleod and the only castle in Scotland that has been continuously occupied by the same family for over 800 years. The building has significant architectural importance because it contains work from ten different periods ranging from circa 1200 through to the 1850’s. We shall stop to tour the castle and gardens and enjoy a coffee break in the castle café.
The next section passes an area of Skye much favoured by hill walkers “The Quiraing” a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish. The whole of the Trotternish Ridge escarpment was formed by a great series of landslips; the Quiraing is the only part of the slip still moving, indeed the road at its base, near Flodigarry, requires repairs each year. Parts of the distinctive landscape have earned particular names. The Needle is a jagged 120-foot (37 m) high landmark pinnacle, a remnant of land slipping. As you might gather it is a most dramatic area.
A short distance further on we come to another of Skye’s landmarks, the dramatic waterfall at Kilt Rock so named because the vertical basalt columns form the pleats along a sea cliffs that resemble a kilt. The Mealt Waterfall freefalls 60 meters from the cliff into the Sound of Raasay below. When there is a strong northerly wind the water can be blown away and so it doesn't actually reach the bottom at all! Care must be taken in this area and you are advised to stay inside the security fencing at the viewing point.
After stopping for photo taking we will make our way to Portree, the largest town on the Island. Along the way we pass the Old Man of Storr a large pinnacle of rock that stands high and can be seen for miles around. We shall break for lunch in Portree. The town is relatively modern having been established about 200 years ago when Lord MacDonald formed a fishing village. The name Portree means “Kings Port” or “Port on the Slope” in Gaelic and as such the area name predates the town. It is known that King James V (of Scotland) visited the area in 1540.
We leave Portree to return to the hotel on some of the road we rode in the morning, but the view is in the opposite direction and so there will be new sights to see.
Broadford, Mallaig, Glencoe, Luss, Glasgow 170 miles about 5 hours riding
We begin our journey back to Glasgow by making our way to Armadale and taking the ferry to Mallaig. Once back on the mainland we pass the Sands of Morrar one of Scotland's most beautiful beaches used in the movie Local Hero which was one of Burt Lancaster's last acting roles. A little further along the road we reach Glenfinnan where the exhibition tells the story of where Bonnie Prince Charlie returned to Scotland and the Jacobite Rising commenced. Here you will also see the Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct used as a location in several films and television series, including Ring of Bright Water, Charlotte Gray, Monarch of the Glen, and several Harry Potter films.
Further along this route as we approach Ft William we stop to look at Neptunes’s Staircase, a set of locks that form the gateway to the Caledonian Canal built by Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822 . From here we can also see Ben Nevis, Britain's tallest mountain towering over the town. Our journey continues Connell and Ballachulish bridge crossing and from there we enter Glencoe where we make a stop at the Glencoe and Dalness information centre. Here you will learn about the massacre of the MacDonalds on 13th February 1692 by the visiting Campbell's. A few mile on we break for lunch at the Clachaig Inn.
After lunch we continue through Glencoe and on to Crainlaraich before making our next stop at the village of Luss a picturesque spot on the banks of Loch Lomond where we shall take a refreshment break and no doubt take some photographs before we complete our journey back in Glasgow.