North Coast 500 - no fun anymore?

We have been considering doing the NC500 but on a recent trip to the Highlands we heard from a number of people that the route has become a camper van traffic jam.

I would be interested to hear from anyone with RECENT experience, and hear their views.

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General concensus from my son, who has ex military friends running a couple of B&B’s up there is that the potential for log-jammed rental staycationers ( too many of whom cannot handle the behemoths ) and tend to from convoys may reduce it all to a joke this year…at least.
He was going to do it with his mates in an Outlander…but they have binned it for 2021.
It’s an expensive lottery…who really knows.


I was just on a VW campervan forum (as I also have one) and was reading a post from today saying that the NC500 is rammed with caravans, motorhomes and campervans - oh and many wannabe boy racers.


Personally I think the movement of motorhomes, caravans, and other such monstrosities should be limited to evenings only, say between 2000 to 0800, and they should be parked up at all other times.
It appears that anywhere vaguely scenic is afflicted by these things, often being driven by muppets who have no concept of space or time, and are oblivious to the fact the road ahead is permanently empty, but the queue behind them is miles long.
Hateful things.
Rant over.


Step daughter back yesterday from going round in a campervan over the last few days (ho hum… she is a Nurse and a generally responsible citizen), around Ullapool the rash of campervans is strong just now, up the east and along the top she reported it as not so busy.

Scottish schools are now on holiday and driving from South Queensferry on Friday to the North East the roads were as busy as I have seen them in the last 15 months, pre-pandemic levels definitely!

Reports today from other sources that the Lecht road is busier than ever seen, and that’s from a local… lots of motoring exotica and camper vans!

Personally I will be avoiding the North until at least October.

We spent a few days in Galloway last week, very pleasant and not too busy (busy enough).

Having done many mountain passes and good progressive roads.

Naa, from an ex caravan owner, motor home owner, ex biker, current class C licence holder and current MX5 owner you are being far too judgemental and stereo typing.
Two of my mate bikers just did the NC 500 last month and encountered no problems at all.
From my experience most of the units will pull over and let the traffic past anyway.
They pay the road taxes as anyone else.
Many opportunities to overtake perhaps……
If you get stuck, stop for 20 minutes and carry on with no traffic.
Enjoy the NC 500 and pick your time.
Just an opinion. :+1::slightly_smiling_face:


Currently in Aviemore, roads up here were awesome, Glen Devon to Crieff, Sma Glen to Aberfeldy, Tummel Bridge, Trinafour over ‘General Wades Military road’ before joining the A9.

Aviemore is rammed…

Personally I think there are loads of excellent and empty roads up here, but if you go to the tourist hotpots, then you join the crowds.

The NC500 is nothing special, just well “branded”, so unless you are fixated on ticking it off the bucket list I would suggest planning your own route. There are plenty roads to choose from.


As an ex caravanner (I sold mine and bought an MX-5) by far the greatest hold up of traffic is the car driver piddling along at slow speeds. The amount of times I’ve been held back behind them, they never pull over to let you by and it’s a big risk trying to pass towing a van. Always get a bad name caravans, I can honestly say I’ve rarely been held up by one since selling mine 12 years ago.
BTW I would never have done the NC500 towing anything or in a motorhome, a small van sized camper maybe, they would be more comfortable to drive on those single track roads.


Apologies, a bit judgemental. Based on experience and having the good fortune of living in some picturesque parts of southern UK.
Overtaking often made nigh on impossible (even on a bike) as the queue is nose to tail with tiny gaps, and even these magically disappear once it’s realised someone has the temerity to try and make progress by passing.
In general, and speaking as an ex driver trainer, the standard of driving in this country is pretty atrocious.


Will be be up to Aberfeldy in July with bikes and MX 5’s touring around on excursions around the areas. :+1::slightly_smiling_face:

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I sold my Kawasaki GPZ900R and bought a caravan.:flushed: What an earth was I thinking :joy: (young family).


A biker mate from Surrey contacted me about the ‘Scottish Clover’ which is a road trip which is centred in Crieff and goes out on day trips and back to the same hotel each night. Lots of lovely roads and places to explore with out the daily hassle of packing and carrying everything and worrying about finding the next hotel.

It is a good plan.

I have done quite a lot of European trips and one of the best was when we had a week in Riva Del Garda - one hotel, no luggage and excellent biking roads and day trips across the North of Italy.


That’s absolutely correct. Having said that, I did fpretty well follow the NC500 in May 2019, in the week following the bank holiday week, and it was not overly busy. We went anti-clockwise and most of the motorhomes we did meet were going the other way. About half are pretty rubbish when put to any sort of manoeuvring, fortunately an MX-5 is not difficult to reverse with.

I can well believe it is busier this year, and regardless of the pandemic will probably only get busier.

I certainly wouldn’t do it as part of a convoy. I hate convoy driving anywhere but especially on roads like these where they become a rolling road block, half the point is being on your own.

I did the NC500 a couple of years ago, taking 2 weeks (including the travel to and from the midlands) staying in airbnb/hotels for a couple of days and exploring each area. This seemed a better way to do it as there was less pressure to get the mileage done. It also meant that staying a bit further off the route wasn’t a problem and that we could find accommodation, albeit still expensive.
There were a lot of camper vans!
We found one struggling to get round a hairpin pin ( 3 point turn) the Applecross pass in the fog. I also had one who tried to run me off the road as i overtook him (not a single track section!) - a trick he then repeated to my mate who was following.
In general there was a lot of traffic on the route but very little on nearby roads. Lots to explore/enjoy in a spirited manner and then take a chilled drive on ‘the route’.

Convoy driving by any group is a pain in my opinion, with people too busy keeping together to notice the scenery or be aware of what’s going on around them. It’s just another example of the “sheeple” mentality.
Convoy driving should be left to the military as they’re the only ones who NEED to do it and are the only ones TRAINED to do it PROPERLY.

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Agree, it’s bad enough just travelling with another car behind you. I’ve done that twice over a distance of about 25 miles, me wanting to do 50 mph where possible, those behind absolutely crawling along so had to keep slowing. The other time I was behind them, shouting put you ****** foot down.:dizzy_face::roll_eyes:


We went in early May this year - started out from Cardiff and went via Penrith, Livingstone (friends) then long route through Cairngorms to Inverness. Then spent 10 days going anti clockwise. 2500miles of brilliant driving - almost totally clear roads all the way round. West is definitely the best. We did Airbnb all way round except 2 places… combo of 1, 2 & one 3 night stay in Ardelve…
I blogged our trip on Facebook MX5 Owners Group with lots of pics…
Probably time of year but we had a brilliant trip…

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We had a planned trip cancelled for last year (mostly paid for in part or full) wanted to give it a go again this year. Anyways as it’s panned out we thought hold back until 2022.
We got nigh on all of our money back except for a 1 night stop in the Boat of Garten, they rebooked us for this year. Not strictly on the NC500 route but it was on our way to it from Aberdeen.
Anyone wanting a 1 nighter at said place in September this year you are welcome to it, it’ll only go to waste.

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hmm, maybe overall, but the west coast is one of the best bits of Europe to drive in my experience, so maybe forget the east bit and the top right bit, but the rest is fab, so WC 150 would be more appropriate :wink:


I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I was up on Skye and then up the NC500 in Assynt to Kylescue and LochInver a couple of weeks ago, probably the most scenic parts of the route in my opinion. Assynt is spectacular, special . It’s certainly a lot busier than usual for this time of year but the roads are still pretty quiet by Southern standards. The main roads are very good, although if you go off the beaten track you’re quickly into a single road with passing places. You really do need to book ahead for accommodation and restaurants, don’t expect to be able to just turn up. If you have time it’s possible to take detours out to places like Portree on Skye which has some great restaurants and places to stay, but once again you’d need to book ahead.
Camper Vans are very common and a good way to do the NC500. You’ll also see a lot of high end sports cars, vintage and modern, and the odd MX. Be patient and enjoy.
Dave MacPherson