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You take the high road, and I'll take the North Coast 500 by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O'Sullivan

Scottish band The Proclaimers famously promised to walk 500 miles. Now the North Highland Initiative (NHI) is inviting us to drive them. North Coast 500 is a new organised route which runs around the coast of Northern Scotland and aims to showcase the best of the area, from its food and drink, accommodation and culture, to its landscapes, heritage and outdoor activities. (pictured: towards Ardvreck Castle, Sutherland/John G McKenzie).The route starts in Inverness, heads west along the A835, then swings up the west coast, through the North West Highlands, along the north coast towards John O’Groats, then down the east coast and back to Inverness. Of course, you don’t have to start in Inverness and you can go in either direction. NHI believes it has created a route to rival the likes of the USA’s Route 66 and is planning several rallies – including one involving cyclists from the Scottish Commonwealth team – to publicise North Coast 500 this summer. I’m not sure I fancy cycling the route (I prefer somewhere a bit flatter), but I love the idea of driving the whole 500 miles. I’ve done most of it at one time or another, but never gone all the way round.Says Chairman of the North Highland Initiative David Whiteford OBE “This is about bringing together for the first time the west, north and east coasts of Highland Scotland into an experience of 500 miles. While it may be a coastal route, it’s also about the wonderful diversions from it where you will experience the places, the personalities and the craic that make up this extraordinary journey.” (pictured: Talmine Bay, northern Sutherland).Depending on the traffic, you could drive the whole route in eight or nine hours but that would defeat the point. As Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland says, “This particular route really does take in some of the most picturesque parts of our beautiful country, from enchanting wildlife and countless historic attractions, to magnificent mountains, dramatic lochs and sandy beaches, the Highlands is a true touring paradise.” You don’t have to tell me. A week should do it. (pictured: Brora beach, east Sutherland). Further information, Visit Scotland 

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