Route sections marked in red on the map are Day Trips.
A flexible itinerary for a tour of the Scottish Highlands Northern Coast. This itinerary can be adapted from 4 to 15 days depending on the day trip options followed.
This tour provides a circuit of Scotland's Northern coastline. Starting from Inverness, the coastal loop could be done in 4 days, but we have provided day trip options for exploring around Applecross, Orkney and Inverness. You may also wish to extend the trip with a stopover in Durness as this would allow you time to explore Cape Wrath or Handa Island. If you follow all of the suggested day trips, this itinerary will fill easily fill 2 or more weeks.
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Inverness to Gairloch – Starting from Inverness, you travel the northern shore of Loch Ness and then head north west. We suggest detour options to a pretty Victorian Spa town and some short walks to waterfalls where you may see salmon leaping in autumn. Further west, you pass our favourite Loch and then arrive in the Gairloch area. Here you can visit some great beaches, a famous garden or just relax with a drink in one of the best pubs in the North West Highlands.
Stopover in Gairloch Area
Gairloch Day Trips
• Local Activities - Information is provided for a variety of Activities from pony trekking through to boat trips with a local fisherman who will sell you the catch of the day at “fishermen’s prices”.
• Applecross - We supply directions for a drive into the dramatic scenery of Glen Torridon where you may wish to grab some exercise with a challenging hill-climb. If the weather isn’t good enough for walking, you can follow our suggestions for a drive around Applecross.
Gairloch to Ullapool – This day is just a short drive so you can take the time to relax and enjoy the scenery and solitude. There is tremendous variety in the landscape here, with wide open sandy beaches, steep sided sea lochs, wooded gorges and open moors surrounded by towering mountains. The day ends around Ullapool, and directions are given for a short tour of the Inverpolly Nature Reserve where you can see the distinctive mountains of Suilven, Canisp and Stac Pollaidh.
Stopover in Ullapool / Lochinver Area
Ullapool to Durness or Thurso – We have divided this route into 2 sections with a mid-way point at Durness. Breaking the journey with a stopover in Durness would allow time for an exploration of places such as the Handa Island bird reserve or the wilderness of Cape Wrath. Alternatively, you can continue the drive along the north coast and end this day in the Thurso area with views across to the Orkney Islands.
Stopover in Durness or Thurso areas
Visit Orkney - From Thurso you have the option of taking the ferry crossing to the Orkney Islands and we have provided a guide that gives you all the information you need for planning a stay on these islands. The guide includes suggestions for 4 days trips to explore the Orkney Mainland and the smaller islands of Hoy and Rousay. As always, we recommend walks, picnic spots, the best value attractions and restaurants.
Stopover on the Orkney Islands
• Alternative - Orkney as a Day Trip – If you don't have time to stay a few nights on Orkney you have the option of a day trip visit. The guide provides details of a recommended organised day trip that takes you around the best tourist attractions without the hassle of taking your car.
Thurso to Inverness - We guide you south to Inverness via a road that hugs cliffs and coastal inlets of the North Sea. Highlights along the route are: the ornate castle of the Dukes of Sutherland, Glenmorangie Distillery and the pretty villages of the Black Isle.
Stopover in Inverness Area
Inverness Day Trips
• Loch Ness, a round trip tour of the Loch,
• Glen Affric, where you can see the last remains of the Ancient Caledonian Forest,
• Black Isle, a short tour with opportunities for Dolphin spotting boat trips.
• The Moray Coast, includes Culloden, Clava Cairns, Cawdor & Elgin Cathedral.