After waking to the unusual sounds (for us) of human voices we left the campsite behind and took a short drive to Dunnet Head. This is actually the most northerly point of mainland UK. There’s a car park at the end of the road at the lighthouse which looks like it would be a lovely place for a nights stop. Unfortunately it was really really misty this morning so we couldn’t see beyond the lighthouse but recommendations tell us the views are normally really good and you can spot whales and dolphins at times.
Driving back we then took the A836 to John o’ Groats. Along this road is the Castle of Mey which was the Queen Mothers holiday home. The castle, gardens and animal centre are all open to visitors and you could probably fill most of a day here
We however travelled on to John o’ Groats stopping for the obligatory photo by the famous sign and a coffee in the rather nice Storehouse cafe.
The John o’ Groats ferry runs trip to Orkney and bird/wildlife watching trips too, alternatively there are also trips from Wick. At this time of year it’s not uncommon to see Orcas. It’s worth checking times/trips in advance and booking ahead. There’s plenty of parking to leave the motorhome in both places.
This part of the route is less remote than the west coast and there’s plenty of places with shops, cafes and petrol stations. The roads are also much quicker.
Although there are more frequent villages or towns along the route there are still some lovely beaches including Lothbeg, Berridale and Brora.
We stopped off at Nybster and drove down a small road to the harbour. A short cliff top path leads to Nybster Broch. For those of you who don’t know (like me) a broch is an Iron Age roundhouse. Approximately 3000 years old the basic layout is still visible and it’s pretty amazing to think people were living here all those years ago. There are actually brochs you can visit all along the route, most are in the Caithness part of the route with some very well preserved examples on Orkney.
Carrying on through Wick, Lybster, Helmsdale and Brora all of which have tons to do (Timespan, heritage centres, distillery, Badbea clearance village) we came to Golspie
Dunrobin castle is another place you could spend a whole day. It looks like a cross between a French Chateau and Disneyland, truly fairytale. With period decorated rooms, museum, gardens and best of all falconry displays.
Also in Golspie is the small unassuming Orcadian Stone Company which has a really comprehensive free exhibition of hundreds of geological, mineral and fossil specimens aswell as a shop with gifts small and large. Well worth a visit.
This was the last stop on our adventure and we packed up the van for the final time and headed back to Inverness then Glasgow.
We cannot recommend the NC500 in a motorhome enough. We were blessed with amazing weather but there’s so much to do for all tastes in all weathers, we feel we could have taken three weeks and still not done it all.
We would say that unless you feel you need a site all nights or hate the idea of wild camping to just go with the flow and not schedule too much as the route lends itself to being spontaneous.
As we were short on time we have done some days with a lot of driving, you obviously wouldn’t need to do this if you had more time.
Final days stats:
Hours driving: 7
Final verdict: we loved it and will definitely be back.