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Scotland's North West, Route 500 & Orkney

Scotland's North West, Route 500 & Orkney

An exhilarating tour with stunning coastal scenery, including a magical day on Orkney Mainland and a visit to the Castle of Mey

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An exhilarating tour with stunning coastal scenery, including a magical day on Orkney Mainland and a visit to the Castle of Mey

North Coast 500 Route

The North Coast 500 is one of the world’s most beautiful road trips and brings together a route of just over 500 miles of stunning coastal scenery, white sandy beaches, rugged mountains, remote fishing villages, hidden gems and a wealth of unforgettable experiences.

 

Portree

Portree, the main town on the Isle of Skye, is a bustling port and a thriving cultural centre. Situated on the east side of the island, Portree is set round its natural harbour and fringed by high ground and cliffs. The town is a popular tourists’ holiday destination and the harbour continues to be used by fishing boats as well as pleasure craft.

 

Gairloch

Gairloch is a fantastic place to visit and of course for exploring Wester Ross and the north west Highlands. Situated on the shore of Loch Gairloch amongst the awe-inspiring scenery of Wester Ross, Gairloch offers a wealth of spectacular scenery and activities for visitors together with several good sandy beaches. It is a typically strung out highland village linked historically to the sea - a superb and complex coastline that is both rocky and sandy by turn, islands, lochs and views that include some the the best mountains anywhere.

 

Orkney

The main town and Capital of the islands is Kirkwall and with its narrow main street with many craft and gift shops, cafes, hotel restaurants & bars is a great central location from which to explore the islands. Grey and Common Seals which can be seen all around the shores of Orkney as they haul out to bask on the skerries and shores. A walk along a beach will almost always attract an inquisitive eye from the local seals as they bob in the surf just off shore. Porpoises, whales and dolphins are also common around the shores, best spotted from a boat or ferry and if you are lucky you may spot a pod of Killer whales. 'Must see' sights include the Churchill Barriers, 2000 year old Scara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar and the Italian Chapel.

 

Castle of Mey

The Castle of Mey is located in Caithness, on the North Coast 500 route, about 6 miles west of John o' Groats. In fine weather there are views from the castle north to the Orkney Islands. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother first saw what was then Barrogill Castle in 1952 while mourning the death of her husband, King George VI. Falling for its isolated charm and hearing it was to be abandoned, she decided to save it and today it is a lasting tribute to her commitment to the local community. Having acquired the most northerly inhabited castle on the British mainland, it was renovated and restored and work was completed to create the beautiful gardens you see today. For almost half a century she spent many happy summers here and shorter visits at other times of the year.

 

Day 1

A morning departure from Cumbria as we travel north via Glasgow, the shores of Loch Lomond and Fort William, to Skye and our overnight stay at the Dunollie Hotel. Dinner in the hotel.

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Day 2

This morning we tour Skye, stopping in Portree, the island’s colourful capital, before turning northwards into the vast region of Wester Ross. Along the shores of Loch Maree, regarded as one of Scotland's bonniest lochs. Time free to take in the Highland air in Gairloch with its pretty harbour. From here the drive snakes it’s way along the coastline, dotted with islands, inlets, beaches and cliffs before descending into the picture perfect harbour town of Ullapool . Overnight and dinner at the Royal Hotel.

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Day 3

After breakfast today our journey take us on the most spectacular section of the North Coast 500, mile upon mile of crumbling cliffs, sheer rocky headlands, picturesque lochs, sheltered bays & deserted perfect white beaches. We stop for lunch at the Smoo Cave Hotel, Durness, before continuing along route 500 to Thurso and a 2 night stay at the Pentland Hotel. Dinner in the hotel.

B, D

Day 4

Today we head to John O’ Groats and a 40 minute sailing across the Pentland Firth, here we join a local coach and guide who will show us a magical day on the Orkneys, crossing the Churchill Barriers, visiting 2000 year old Scara Brae, Ring of Brodgar, The Italian Chapel and Kirkwall with it’s 12th century cathedral. Dinner and overnight in Thurso.

B, D

Day 5

This morning we have a visit to the Castle of Mey, the late Queen Mothers homely castle with beautiful gardens. Since 1952 she spent many happy summers here and it is still used annually by the Royal Family, we then follow the coastal road between Wick and Inverness which passes many interesting places, historical Helmsdale, white sands at Brora & fairytale Dunrobin Castle, on our way to our last overnight in Speyside. Dinner in the hotel.

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Day 6

A final breakfast before returning home to Cumbria.

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B=Breakfast Included, D=Dinner Included

Dunollie Hotel Skye

The Dunollie Hotel is set by the serene waterside of Broadford Bay, at the foot of the mountains that lead to the famous Cuillin Hills. With 84 en suite bedrooms, a bar and restaurant it is perfectly placed to explore an area rich in history across the Isle of Skye. Broadford derives its name from Old Norse, meaning the wide bay. In later years, legend has it that this was the site where Bonnie Prince Charlie gave the recipe for Drambuie to Clan MacKinnon, to thank the clan for helping him escape to France. So as guests unwind in the restaurant or bar, it would be perfectly apt to sample a wee dram of this historic liqueur.

 

Royal Hotel Ullapool

The Royal Hotel is undoubtedly one of the premier luxury hotels in the Scottish Highlands and will delight the most discerning of guests. The hotel offers 55 rooms, half of which boast breathtaking views over Loch Broom and the rugged mountain landscapes beyond. Having undergone complete renovation, The Royal Hotel is the definitive venue for a relaxing stay. The owners proudly present the hotel as a matchless and precious jewel of the Highlands, uniquely situated to offer the perfect combination of comfort, a stunning seaside location. The Royal Hotel is thought to have originally been a coaching inn, in a more basic form than that of today. It is referred to in local books as far back as the 1890’s, but believed to be substantially older, pre-dating any tourist activity in the area and would probably have served as a ‘local’ for the fishing fleet of the day and to serve the Garve-Inverness mail.

 

Pentland Hotel Thurso

The Pentland Hotel is located in the central of Thurso, a small town situated on the northern coastline overlooking the Orkney Islands. Each of the 42 en-suite bedrooms has been stylishly decorated and made to accommodate your various needs to ensure that your stay will be as comfortable and relaxed as possible. All rooms offer as standard:

 

  • En-Suite Bathroom

  • Tea & Coffee Facilities

  • Freeview TV

  • Hairdryer & Luxury Towels

  • Cole & Lewis Toiletries

  • Direct Dial Telephone

  • Complimentary Wifi Access

 

The restaurant uses only the freshest local Caithness seafood and produce with vegetarian choices. The reception foyer is an attractive area where guests can relax after their meal in comfort. The focus of this room is the fireplace with its carved wooden mantel on a Caithness stone hearth. Alternatively, choose the cosy, welcoming atmosphere of the lounge bar.

Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.

Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.

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Name Address Contact Details
Appleby The Sands Appleby
Aspatria Car Park beside Spar Aspatria
Brough Monument Bus Shelter Brough
Carlisle Entrance to Sands Centre Car Park Carlisle
Cockermouth Monument Main Street Cockermouth
Dearham Commercial Corner Dearham
Distington Outside Prospect Works Distington
Egremont Conservative Club Egremont
Flimby Railway Station Flimby
Harrington Galloping Horse bus stop Harrington
High Hesket Palmerstons Furniture Store
Keswick Bell Close Car Park Keswick
Kirkby Stephen Market Square Kirkby Stephen
Maryport Outside Coop Maryport
Penrith Sandgate Bus Station Penrith
Thursby Bus Stop Thursby
Waverton Bus Stop Waverton
Whitehaven Bus Stop Tangier Street Whitehaven
Wigton Old Bus Station Wigton
Workington Lay By opposite Grahams Travel Jane St. Workington
From Price Call Back Telephone Favourites
28 Jun 2022 £635.00 Loading
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